I don’t know about you, but summer seems to have arrived with a vengeance this week. We are hot, hot, hot!
With all this hot weather, my thoughts turn to ways to cool down. I remember days of running in the sprinkler with joy. Today we want to give you ways to incorporate water play into your outdoor activities, but incorporating them responsibly. Water is a precious resource we don’t want to waste.
Oh, and be sure to read to the end… we have a rocking giveaway thanks to our partners over at Wham-O!
A great way to cool off without using too much water? Play sponge toss! Tools needed are: two large sponges (like the ones you use for washing cars) and a bucket of water. Bucket can be refilled as necessary, but often one bucket equals an hour or more of fun. For the most moisture and spray, soak the sponge but don’t ring it out. This way as your child tosses the sponge, they will be sprayed and sprinkled with cooling water!
There are a bunch of variations of this game, which include tossing the sponges back and forth in a game of catch, playing hot potato with the sponge as potato, or setting up a target either on the driveway, against the garage or brick wall. Don’t be afraid to mark your target with sidewalk chalk and aim for the bullseye. The sponge/water combination will clean off the target as your child plays.
Cost: I am assuming you have a bucket or large bowl around the house… so cost of sponges: as little as $1/sponge! I recommend you have a dedicated sponge for kids’ games that you don’t use for washing. Unless you are a dedicated buyer of eco-friendly cleaning products, sponges can harbor small amounts of detergents from previous cleaning activities. These are toxins we don’t recommend getting on your child and detergents can be irritating to the eyes if some of the water splashes in your child’s face.
A great variation on the classic game of tag. Children soak large sponges in buckets of water, ‘It’ tosses the sponge at the other children to tag them. The tagged child becomes ‘it.’
Cost: Large sponges retail for as little as $1/sponge. (See our note above for sponge cautions!)
There has been a lot of information out there about the importance of taking your car to a car wash. Run off from washing your cars doesn’t drain into the same places your laundry or dish water does, it goes straight into storm drains where it isn’t filtered or cleaned. This means that the detergents you are using for washing your car are going directly into our rivers, streams and wetlands as is the dirty residue you are cleaning off.
For many of us, the local car wash can be pricey, so there are ways to get your car clean while minding our environment. Added bonus, this is an activity most pre-schoolers LOVE. For initial and final rinse, wet your auto with the hose. Turn off the water during the washing phase to reduce water usage. We highly recommend that your car not be hot to the touch… not only can this hurt your child, but spraying a hot car with cold water can crack your windshield (Take my word for it, been there done that. It was the world’s most expensive car wash.). Use a bucket and large sponges and an environmentally friendly cleaner. You can make your own cleaner, we love this article by Green Your: http://www.greenyour.com/transportation/car/car-driving/tips/give-your-car-an-eco-friendly-wash. They also suggest washing your car on your lawn to so you are watering your lawn at the same time.
Of course, any incidental squirting with hoses or water fights are all part of the fun, so go out and get wet!
Cost: Sponges (as little as $1/sponge) and cost of carwashing soap ($5-10/batch or bottle, but can be used many, many times)
Squirt Gun Battles!
A classic way to have massive amounts of fun. Save water by filling a bucket or two which can be used for refilling as opposed to leaving a hose running. Because pre-school children tend to be very concerned with rules and fairness, you should establish some basic rules before letting them have at it. Refill buckets can be ‘bases’ where the child is safe and can’t be sprinkled, for example.
Cost: Squirt guns can be purchased at the dollar store… but I have to say for eco-friendliness, I prefer more durable models that last for years. My favorite are some of the pump models, like the ones NRS makes. They are more expensive, but work well and last and last. They also refill quickly and easily from the buckets, so your child can get back into action quickly. I have seen these on sale for as little as $10 for the smaller models.
Just running through a sprinkler can be the source of hours of cooling fun, but keep in mind these considerations to keep your activities eco-friendly:
1) Water your grass while you are sprinkling. Move your sprinkler around your yard so you are doing double duty and watering your lawn while providing water play. Your yard needs about 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water weekly, so make sure you are not over-watering!
2) Don’t run your sprinkler during the hottest part of the day. If you run your sprinkler between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., as much as 75% of the water is evaporating and not soaking into your lawn. Reserve this activity for late afternoons… your child will get to cool off and you will still get all of the grass watering benefits!
Cost: Minimal. Assuming you own a hose and sprinkler, of course!
One of our favorite ways to incorporate water into your play is the classic Slip N Slide. Take it from me, it is as much fun now as when you were a child! Our friends at Wham-O have thoughtfully provided one of their new Slip ‘N Slide Extreme Freestyle Boogie sets for a giveaway. Here is the link… you need to check this one out! http://www.wham-o.com/default.cfm?page=ViewProducts&ProductID=213&Category=1
To win: Give us your best idea for incorporating water into outdoor play. Extra points for eco-friendliness! Leave a comment below with your suggestion. Contest closes July 15, 2010. Winner will be announced July 18th. We can’t wait to hear all of your great ideas!
Have something you want us to blog about? Want to chat? Tweet me: @kimatsprig, I would love to hear from you!
Hi! We like to make a water play station with a large but shallow plastic storage tote. Fill it with water, add plastic measuring cups, spoons, etc. from the kitchen. Uses only the water to fill up the tote, and repurposes household items for FREE fun!
Put the sprinkler on under your trampoline (if you have the mesh kind). Hours of fun!
Well,we have a big old plastic storage box that we fill up with water and the kids use it as a pool.It is so big that you can fit 3 toddlers in it! They love that thing and play in it all the time.
our kids LOVE the kiddie pool (reusable year after year!). when we are done, we take sand buckets and use the water from the pool to water the plants and flowers around the yard. Kids love it almost as much as swimming in the pool!
We used to fill a large kiddie pool (on sale after the summer) with water, then put one of those Little Tykes plastic slides in it. We’d race around the yard then clamber up the slide and down *splash!* into the pool! When we were done, there wasn’t much left to water the grass with..but it did get watered! This summer, DS is finally old enough to go down teh slide by himself, so we can’t wait to try it with him!
The kids love playing with one of those squishy balls that soak up water! They hold a bit to keep them entertained without angering the water bill. 😉 They love monkey in the middle and a basic came of catch!
jessicanunemaker at littleIndiana dot com
Our kids love to incorporate water in their play by taking rain water that drains from off the roof and they put take the buckets of water and fill an old pool up. They catch frogs and put them in the pool, but we have them let the frogs go at the end of the day. This is an environmentally friendly way of reserving on water and the kids have fun.
A good way to get my kids outside during the summer is with water. I like to send them out with a squirt bottle to get all the bugs wet. Or when we don’t have a squirt bottle (or enough of them), I have used an empty dish soap bottle with the squirt top and filled that with water. They love to soak their feet and the bugs!
We love to paint at our house but doing it outside is a huge production. I like to have my kids outside as much as possible in the summer. I give them each a cup of water and a few paint brushes of different sizes and let them paint outside. They paint the driveway, fence, chairs, and anything else they feel like. There is no mess and the paint brushes come from the water color paints so there is no cost and only a bit of water used. We sometimes even use rain water. My boys can do this for an hour at a time which gives me time to do the yard work.