For kids, few things are more amusing than playing around with plain old water. Let the ideas flow!
Water xylophone. Fill drinking glasses with water at varying heights. Use a wooden spoon to tap the glasses and have your toddler pay attention to the different sounds coming from each.
Water paint. "Besides being a mom, I run a daycare and have done this activity with dozens of children; it’s always a big hit," says Leslie Stigers, a mom of one in Frankfurt, Kentucky. "Fill spray bottles with watered-down tempera paint. Hang a sheet of white paper on a fence, and then let the kids spray the sheets of paper to create colorful art."
Water limbo. Put on some tunes, grab a hose, and let kids shimmy under a stream of water. How low can they go?
Water-float fun. "I get my kids thinking about water and weight with a simple game. First, I grab objects like pieces of cloth, sponge, cotton, and corks, and then we see which ones float and which ones sink in a pail of water," says Kimberly Lowell, a mom of four in St. Louis, Missouri. "They are consistently fascinated by this."
Water the car. You may consider hosing and sponging down the car a chore, but kids consider it a good time. By all means, put them to work—er, play!
Water park (the home version). "My son enjoys playing with toy dinosaurs in our kiddie pool," says Renee Cole, a mom of four in Lombard, Illinois. "He’s picked up a ton of new vocabulary because we talk about what he makes them do—running, diving, drinking, or whatever else he can dream up."
Water balloon catch. Fill up balloons and toss them back and forth, or have kids try to balance them on their heads and race. Hot tip: wear bathing suits.