Water Play Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers: Fun, Easy and Low-Prep

Water Play. There is absolutely nothing my little pre-schooler and the toddlers I care for love better in the Summer months (or anytime of the year to be honest!) than fun water play activities.

Great for sensory play, and cheap and easy to set up, water play is a popular activity for parents of young kids.

But, do you ever just run out of new ideas for water play? I mean, they can only splash around with a tub of water and bath toys for so long before they’re ready for a bit of a change.

If you’re after some new ideas to spruce up your toddlers water play activities, then check out these fun, low-prep options. They’re super popular with the toddlers I childmind and my pre-schooler!

Pin text reads, 13 easy peasy water play ideas for preschoolers. Image of a fun arctic water play activity in the garden.
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A Tuff Tray Water Play ideas set up in the Garden on a Summers Day, with two kids playing with a Potion Station on it.
This Potion Station Water Play activity on the Tuff Tray was one of the kids favourite ideas this Summer.

Potion Station

A Potion Station is one of my kid’s favorite water play activities. It’s interesting and varied, and you can change it up slightly depending on the season, or what you have in your house, on any given day!

My kids love mixing the different colors, and adding bits and pieces to their potions.

You can use food coloring and edible items if you need to keep it taste-safe for your little one too.

How to Make a Potion Station on your Tuff Tray, goes into more detail about how to set up a Potion Station and has lots of ideas for how to mix it up each time to keep it fresh.

I set up this activity using our Tuff Tray, which I absolutely love! If you’re interested in finding out more about Tuff Trays and all the benefits of having one then check out, Is it worth Getting a Tuff Tray?

A preschooler washing baby dolls in the garden.
My daughter loves this Baby Washing Activity.

Baby Washing

My daughter and the little toddlers I childmind absolutely love this baby-washing activity!

I used my kid’s Picnic Table-Water Tray for this activity. It was just perfect for it! You can check out a similar one on Amazon here.

It was so simple to set up. I simply filled both basins with water, then added some bubble bath and the dolls. Lastly, I set out some soap, shampoo, washcloths, a potty, and some towels for drying.

I personally love this water play activity as it isn’t messy. It’s just water so my kid’s clothes don’t need to be soaked afterward, just hung up to dry!

Tuff Tray Water Play Ideas. A preschooler washing some toy dinosaurs that are covered in taste-safe mud.
This Tuff Tray Water Play Activity is popular with Toddlers, Preschoolers, and School-aged Kids!

Dirty Dino Bath Time

Oh my goodness, this one was messy! But such fun for my little people.

I made some super simple taste-safe mud by mixing some cocoa powder, flour, and water until I got the desired consistency. Then I added the dinosaurs and a bowl of soapy water, old toothbrush and washcloths.

This is nice and quick to set up and I love that it uses items I always have to hand at home so I don’t have to plan ahead. That’s my kind of activity!

If you’re interested in more messy, muddy play you’ll love, Messy Farm Play on the Tuff Tray: Toddler Sensory Ideas.

An image of a tuff tray in the garden set up with an toddler or preschooler water play activity involving making flower soup. There is a bowl of pink coloured water, some smaller bowls, a soup ladle, and 3 heart shaped bowls with different coloured flowers in them.
Tuff Tray Water Play Ideas like this Flower Soup are great for the imagination!

Flower Soup

Ah, Flower Soup. Doesn’t it look beautiful?

You can use any color you like for this one to personalize it for your little one, or for the season.

I had planned on using food coloring to dye the water, but I hadn’t got any in the requested color, so I actually used some paint and glitter instead. It worked just as well.

We picked flowers from around the garden and got mixing.

I think next time I might add some heart-shaped ice cubes to it too, as a little extra.

A piece of old pipe, cut in half length wise to make a water slide for plastic toys. A toddler with a jug of water pouring it down the slide.
An Old Piece of Pipe makes a great Water Slide for Toys in the Summer!

Pipe Slides

The toddlers I childmind loved this one so much!

We simply found an old piece of pipe that we had left over from re-doing the guttering and sliced it in half to make the slide. If you don’t have any old bits of pipe lying around, chances are someone you know does, or you can check out a reclamation yard.

They loved pouring water down it to make it slippery and then sending their little toys sliding to the bottom.

You can mix it up by cutting your pipe into various lengths of slides and setting them up so some are slow and some are steep and fast slides!

If you’re doing this activity inside you could simply put a tub of water at the bottom under the slide to catch the water and toys as they come down the slide.

A Preschooler with a big tub of soapy water and a cleaning cloth, washing her drive in car and tractor in the garden.
This is such an Easy Summer Water Play Activity!

Car Wash

This is another popular water play activity with my toddlers and my kids.

A tub of soapy water, a couple of cloths for washing and a few for drying, and their outdoor cars and tractors.

My daughter did this activity this morning, then after lunch, she noticed her car had dried, and declared she would have to wash it all over again!

Two Trays filled with Water and coloured pom poms. A toddler playing with the water play with spoons and a tub.
This Super-Simple Water Play Activity keeps my toddlers entertained for ages!

Pom Pom Water Play

Don’t ask me why, but transferring the pom poms from one tub of water to another kept my little toddlers entertained for ages!

We do this one inside and outside.

Sometimes I freeze the pompoms in water in an ice cube tray before adding them to the water to mix it up. This is especially great for cooling them down on a hot day.

You could also use food coloring to make different colored water to transfer the pompoms between.

Sensory bins set up with an ocean play scene. There's blue water, a submarine toy, and a whale toy. One of the bins has ice cubes in the blue water, rocks, a penguin, a polar bear, and a person's toy figures.
This ocean play activity makes water play a little more exciting!

Ocean Play

This one is deceptively easy!

It’s just some ice with blue water, some rocks, and a few arctic animal toys and people figures added in.

Blue food coloring would work the best, but since we were out of that I simply mixed blue paint into the water and it did the job. I used a kid’s water-based paint so it didn’t stain any of the toys and came off with some soapy water at the end.

Balls in a tub of water, with a second tub next to it with a few balls in and a ladle.
A tub of water with coloured balls makes a fun and super-quick last minute water play activity.

Water Play with Coloured Balls

If you’re short on time and need a quick activity that entertains, this is it!

It’s super quick and super basic, but yet they love it!

This water play activity helps with color recognition and fine motor skills, so it’s also great for our little ones’ development.

2 sensory bins set up with ice and jugs of water and various bowls, cups, and bottles to pour it into.
This pouring Station is simple, yet so popular!

Pouring Station

This one uses water and ice, with an array of different cups, bottles, and tubs to practice pouring skills.

This may seem a little boring, but from personal experience, I can reassure you that toddlers just love transferring water from one container to another and back again.

It keeps them amused for such a long time!

An image of a Tuff Tray Ice Painting Activity in the garden in summer.
Ice Painting in the Garden is a great Water Play Activity for Toddlers and Preschoolers.

Ice Painting

I could hardly write a list of water play activities for toddlers and Preschoolers and not include ice play ideas. However, I feel it really deserves a post of its very own. I am working on this. Until then, just to wet your appetite, here’s one of the ideas.

Painting ice is fun, interesting, and something a little different.

I simply froze water in different sizes and shapes of tubs, so my kids could learn about shapes too, and then I added paint and brushes to the table for them.

We used our Tuff Tray for this and it worked perfectly. If you’re interested in getting one, you can check out the reasons why I love it so much here: Is it Worth Getting a Tuff Tray?

A tuff tray set up in the garden with a jug of water, bowl of water, 2 cups, a bowl of ice, a ladle, and some fruit for a water play activity. Great ideas for Tuff Tray Water Play.
A great taste-safe sensory tuff tray water play idea.

Icy Drink Station

Make your own icy, fruity drink!

This one is great for fine motor skills, like pouring and scooping, and develops their independent skills.

Great for sensory play, they can mix with their hands, and feel the different textures of the fruits, ice, and water. They can also explore their senses of taste and smell too.

I set this activity up using our Tuff Tray, which works great for limiting mess! If you’re considering getting one check out, Is it Worth Getting a Tuff Tray?

A tuff tray set up with water and duplo bricks to make an adventure swimming pool with little duplo people figures. One of my favourite Tuff Tray Water Ideas.
This Tuff Tray Water Idea is a great one for small-world play and getting our toddlers and preschoolers to use their imaginations.

Duplo Adventure Swimming Pool

My little ones loved playing with this adventure swimming pool set up and this was just the beginning. This quick setup got them started and then they could add to it themselves as they played.

This water play activity is great for small-world play and really got them using their imaginations.

It was great for practicing independent play and fine motor skills too!

Water Play Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

I hope this list of water play activities for toddlers and preschoolers has inspired you with lots of fun and easy ideas to try with your little ones.

As a mom and childminder, to little kids, I know the value of quick and easy activities that are interesting and fun for our little people, whilst helping them to learn and develop.

Related Articles

Summer Tuff Tray Ideas that are Easy and Frugal

Easy Sensory Tuff Tray Ideas your Toddler will Love

Messy Farm Play on the Tuff Tray: Toddler Sensory Ideas

Pin text reads, the best water play activities for toddlers and preschoolers. Image of a preschooler playing in the garden washing her dolls.
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Pin text reads, 12+ Water Play ideas for preschoolers. Easy preschool and toddler activities. 4 images of water play ideas.