These fun games to play with water balloons are the best way to keep cool in the summer and have fun outdoors at the same time.
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On a hot summer day, there’s nothing quite like cooling off by getting soaked with water in your own backyard! Our favorite games to play with water balloons are pretty messy, but oh so fun.
For more of these backyard games, you’ll need plenty of space to run and play. For supplies, most of these activities just need some water balloons, water, and a bucket to hold them.
Water balloon safety
- Children under 8 years old can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloon pieces. Adult supervision is required.
- Popping balloons can cause eye injury. Make sure all players know not to throw water balloons at someone’s face. Goggles make playtime even safer.
- Even biodegradable balloons take years to break down, so clean up all balloons and pieces to protect kids and animals.
Different kinds of water balloons
You can use regular balloons that you fill from a hose or faucet. But there are tons of options that are easier to fill or even reusable.
- For an easier setup, try rapid-fill balloons. They all connect to a single hole for filling, which makes filling water balloons quick even if you’ll be using several hundred.
- Refillable water balloons can be used over and over. You can find reusable splash balls that open and close like an Easter egg but are super soft.
- Water sponge balls are soft and easy for kids to refill. They don’t pop like a balloon but are great for getting wet.
Your kids are sure to have a blast with these fun games to do with water balloons.
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Water balloon games
Use water balloons for a silly variation on musical chairs. Instead of using chairs, place filled balloons in a circle – or anywhere – in the yard. You’ll need one less balloon than there are players.
Start some music, then when the music stops everyone has to sit on a balloon and pop it. Whoever didn’t get to a balloon is out. The winner is whoever is the last one left – and probably the wettest!
Water balloon toss
Water balloon toss is an easy game to set up and play. You’ll need an even number of players divided into groups of 2 and a water balloon for each pair. Line up pairs facing each other, about a foot apart. Players take turns tossing the water balloon to their partner, who tries to catch it without breaking it.
After each successful round, players should take a step backward. The team that gets the farthest apart without breaking their balloon wins.
Water balloon battleship
This game is perfect for a group of 6-10 players or more. Just like the classic board game, the goal of water balloon battleship is to sink the other team’s ships.
Divide into 2 teams and give each player 2 water balloons. Use a jump rope or plastic cones to mark the middle and spread across the play area. Alternate teams and have players throw a water balloon to hit someone on the other team. For each player’s turn, have them stand with their back to the “enemy” team. (Younger players can face forward to make it easier.)
If you get hit by a water balloon, you’re “sunk.” The last team standing is the winner!
Water balloons capture the flag
Turn classic capture the flag into a wacky water game! You’ll need lots of water balloons to play with.
Divide into 2 teams. Give each team a bucket full of water balloons and a flag to protect on their home base. Each team must work together to try to take the flag from the other team and get back to their home base to win.
Players throw water balloons to protect their flag. If a water balloon hits a player they are out. You can add extra rules to fit your kids. For example, decide how players who are out can get back in the game. Or create shields that protect players from getting hit.
Water balloon paint war
Paint wars are tons of fun – and very messy! For this activity, you will need a large number of balloons, buckets to hold the balloons, and washable tempera paint. Have players dress in clothes that can be stained. White shirts are fun and show colors best. Washable tempera paint will come off of skin, hair, and your yard, but not clothes. We recommend hosing off players at the end of the game, but you may want to use towels that can get stained also.
Pre-fill balloons with paint diluted with water. Any ratio will work, but we recommend 1:10 with plenty of water. Place buckets of paint balloons around your yard. Decide on the rules of gameplay, then let player throw the balloons.
You can add water balloons as just one step in a relay race or for the whole game. This is great for any number of players. Fill plenty of water balloons and put them in a large bucket. Players will start at one end and carry a water balloon to hand off to the next player.
Some fun relay ideas include carrying a water balloon on a spoon, balancing a water balloon on their heads, traveling through an obstacle course, or doing a series of routines (like hopping, balancing, and climbing) without breaking the balloon.
Water balloon dodge
Make dodge ball a bit more fun with water balloons. For this, you will need to fill a lot of water balloons and divide them into 2 buckets.
Divide players into teams and mark the middle of your play area with a jump rope or plastic cones. Give each team a bucket and have players take one balloon at a time. When the game begins, players throw water balloons at the other team and try to dodge the ones thrown at them. If a player is hit and the balloon breaks, they are out.
The team with the last player standing wins.
Tic tac toe
Water balloon games aren’t always messy. You can fill balloons with water just enough to be squishy, but not too stretched. Fill 2 different colors to play tic tac toe. Use chalk to draw a game board on the sidewalk.
Players will take turns placing balloons to get 3 in a row.
Hide water balloons around your backyard just like Easter eggs. Give each child a small bucket and send them to collect the balloons. When all the balloons are found, declare a battle and let players throw them at each other.
Beach towel ball
Grab a beach towel and a few water balloons. (If your beach towels are small, you can use a blanket that you don’t mind getting wet.) Have 4 players hold the towel, one at each corner, and put the water balloons in the center. Bounce the balloons by waving the towel up and down. The goal is to bounce the balloons toward everyone else and keep yourself dry!
To play hot potato you’ll need a few water balloons and some music. Have players sit in a circle and give one child a balloon. When the music plays, pass the balloon around the circle. Whoever is holding the balloon when the music stops is out. Anyone who pops a balloon is also out.
The last person sitting is the winner. Get a fresh balloon and play again!
Sardines is the opposite of hide-and-seek. One player hides and everyone else tries to find them and hide together.
To play with water balloons, have the person hide with a bucket of balloons. As each person finds them, they hide in the same place and hold a water balloon. When the last player finds the group, the group throws water balloons at them.
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