Water, water everywhere

Mar 19, 2010 at 3:48 p.m. ET

Half the fun of summer vacation is the looser schedules that let you spend more time with your kids. If you're looking for ways to beat the heat and have some family fun, we've got you covered. Take a look at some of our favorite summer family cool-down activities -- whether or not you have access to a pool.

Fun in the Sun

Fill the Cup Relay.

Split your family into teams. At one end of the yard, put a bucket of water. At the other end, place one plastic cup for each team. Have one member of each team start with an empty, smaller plastic cup. Fill it with water from the bucket, and race to the other side to put it in the waiting cup. The first team to fill their cup wins -- and gets to dump all the remaining water in the bucket on whomever they choose.

Obstacle Course.

Turn your backyard into a water-based obstacle course. Participants start by filling three water balloons with water from a watering can. Then drop-kick each one and try to get to a specific distance. Next, keep a hula hoop going to 10 seconds -- with a sprinkler hosing you down. Use a water gun to shoot a target. Soak your shirt with the hose, and try to wring out enough water to fill a cup. Get creative with other water-based stations, and time each player as he goes through the course.

Car Wash.

Get buckets of water and some car cleaning supplies, and have the whole family pitch in to help. Have everyone dressed to get wet, and don't be afraid to turn the hose on every 10 minutes or so to cool everyone down. Bonus: the car will look pretty good when you're all done!

Pool Play

Whac-A-Mole Pool Blaster.

The classic game with a new twist for summer will keep you and your kids moving and splashing in the pool. Once in the water, Whac-A-Mole spins around and travels freely around the area -- with a hose. When he squirts, use the included lightweight mallets to bop him on the head. He'll stop splashing… for a little while anyway. Recommended for ages 4 and up.

Hot Potato Splash.

Grab your kids and the Hot Potato and head to the pool. The potato plays music as you toss it from player to player -- and if you're holding the spud when the music stops, you're out. A fun game that most kids are familiar with already, so you won't worry about complicated rules and wasting time.

Dolphin Races.

As your kids build their swimming skills, encourage them with games like this one, where you'll swim from one end of the pool to the other -- while pushing a ball forward using only your head. Split into teams for a relay, or just race each other.?


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