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7 cheap and simple water toys

If you associate outdoor play with water toys, you may be looking for cheap and simple ways to help your little ones cool off this summer. You don’t need to buy that fancy inflatable pool, slip-n-slide or Super Soaker. You can easily transform items you have around the house – or that aren’t expensive to buy – into props for summer water fun.

Here are seven items you likely have on hand that you can turn into cheap and simple water toys.

Cheap DIY water toys - Funny laughing little girl in a colorful swimming suit running though garden sprinkler playing with water splashes having fun in the backyard on a sunny hot summer vacation day

Photo: Deposit Photos

1. Baby or toddler bathtub

If your children are still small enough to fit into small portable infant and toddler tubs (like this one or this one) and you still have such tubs around the house, you can take the tubs outside, fill them with water and transform them into instant small pools.

But what if your children can’t squeeze into such tubs any more? If you still have them collecting dust in storage, summertime is the perfect time to repurpose a tiny bathtub into a DIY water table. Simply place the bathtub on top of a small table or chair; fill it up with about an inch of water; add cups, pails and shovels; and watch your child splash away. 

2. Plastic bin

If you don’t have a tiny bathtub around the house, a plastic bin can work just as well. Fill a large and deep plastic bin with water and it can double as a small backyard pool for the baby and toddler set. Meanwhile, a more shallow plastic bin can work great as a DIY water table: See the instructions above. (Note that plastic bins also work great for inside play.)

3. Large bowl

If you don’t have, or need, a little bathtub or plastic bin, a large kitchen bowl can also double as the setting of a DIY water table. Just place the bowl on a firm surface, fill it with water toys and watch your kids enjoy the water fun.

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4. Sprinkler

Simple sprinklers make perfect water toys — depending on the sprinkler model, kids can run through the oscillating water waves or jump over the rotating sprays. If you have a simple sprinkler around the house that you use to water your garden and grass (like this one), consider hooking it up to a hose and letting your kids enjoy the water spray.

But what if you don’t have a sprinkler already? Well, there are lots of inexpensive sprinkler models available that may be worth buying for their use as yard toys. Or you could consider making your own sprinkler out of a water or soda bottle, duct tape and a hose by following these instructions.

DIY water toys - Dad breaks water balloon over three girls in colorful bathing suits and swim caps holding water balloons

Photo: Deposit Photos

5. Balloons

Assuming your kids are old enough to play with balloons (i.e., the balloons no longer pose a choking hazard), buy some cheap balloons and help your little ones fill them up with water. The water balloons can then be used for some good old-fashioned water balloon fighting fun or for a game of water balloon splash toss.

6. Sponges

Sponges aren’t just for cleaning. If you have a couple of unused sponges around the house, easily transform them into water toys. Simply fill up a bucket with water, toss the sponges in the water and then let your little ones go wild squeezing and playing with their new homemade water toys.

7. Water hose 

If you have a hose around the house, why not let your children play with it. There’s no better easy water toy than a hose’s constant water stream.

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