Our Poor Man’s Water Park

poor man's water park - Apron Strings & othe rthings

It can be pricey to take the family to one of those large water parks. Even if we save and plan, our larger than average family can blow a lot of money on one trip of wet fun & play. We’ve instead found ways to create our own version of those big theme parks – the Poor Man’s Water Park, for practically free! I challenged the children to find activities to which we could add water in some form or fashion and come up with some really “cool” ways to spend our hot summer days, without leaving home or spending a dime.

Poor Man's Water Park Eight Pin - Apron Strings & other things

They did not disappoint. How about a game of Eight Pin? I had been saving those plastic coffee creamer bottles (with the help a friend – thanks Darla!) for use as a bowling game when the grandkids visit. Partially filled for weight, we set eight these up on a small table, then the children took turn soaking a ‘splash’ frisbee in a bucket of water and hurling it at the pins, competing to see who could knock down the most. A variation on this would be to add more pins, label them with point values and see how many points you can knock off the table, or even set a piece of cardboard between layers and build it up pyramid style.

Poor Man's Water Park Backyard Splash - Apron Strings & other things

And then there’s the Splash Pool.ย  What youngester doesn’t like jumping and splashing and yee-hawing with unabashed joy on a hot summer day. Isn’t that why those water parks are so popular? There was no competition here – our youngest had the most fun of anyone, by far, at our backyard splash pool, performing death-defying feats and daring deeds!

Poor Man's Water Park Hit the Target - Apron Strings & other things

Next up, Hit the Target! Draw colorful concentric circles on a large piece of poster board, attach it to a char, table, wall, etc. Soak little sponge balls in water and let each participant have 3 chances to hit the bulls-eye. The water leaves a mark for the judges, the sun dries it out quickly for the next player.

Poor Man's Water Park Splash Fun - Apron Strings & other things

And how about a Splish-Splash Obstacle Course? We hooked up all the sprinklers we had available, attached the hose to our inexpensive water slide, and laid out a twisty, turning obstacle course for all the children. They had to run and jump and roll and tuck and slide from one end to the other, big guys helping the little guys. Pulling out the stopwatch brought yet another level of fun to the activities, as they worked at beating their times from one attempt to the next.

Poor Man's Water Park - Dodge the WaterBomb - Apron Strings & other things

The favorite activity of all must be Dodge the Water Bomb. Fill a regular balloon (black was the color of their choice) with water and play hot potato and balloon toss and other typical water balloon games. When these little games fail to break the balloon, have big brother climb up on the roof and toss it out while you ‘stop, drop, and roll’ out of the way. Crazy boys! (Now, I understand that rooftop play may not be allowed at your home, but filling a regular latex balloon with water has proven far more entertaining even with our feet on the ground.)

You can take any activity and make it summer fun by adding water – play bean bag toss with sponges or whiffel ball with splash balls. Jump rope and hoolahoop underneath the sprinkler. The possibilities are endless! Now that I’ve shown you how we beat the heat with our own make-shift, Poor Man’s Water Park, tell me how you make the hot summer days more bearable, without breaking the bank.


This post is part of our ongoing Summer Family Fun Series – be sure to visit our weekly linky party this summer for more terrific ideas!

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  1. This looks like so much fun! I love the obstacle course. And who doesn’t like water bombs. I wax an only child, but …… This reminds me of my childhood summers with my neighborhood friends.

    • a little water, a water bomb or two, an obstacle course all make for happy childhood memories ๐Ÿ™‚ Glad to help you relive them, my friend!

  2. Linda, you are a genius!! Why break the bank at a water park when you’ve got all that crazy fun in your own backyard?

    Your photos are fabulous! Great post! ๐Ÿ˜€

    • We do have fun! Crazy thing is – the cheap-o fun is what my grown up kids remember the most ๐Ÿ˜‰ So glad you stopped in to view our summer fun

  3. What a blast they look like they are having! We may have to give a few of these a try.

    Did you mention what those squiggly squirters are? I didn’t catch it in your post, but the photo makes them look like a lot of fun.

    • definitely puts fun into summer! I hope you make the most of these last summer days, Sheryl, so glad you stopped by ๐Ÿ™‚

    • the squiggly squirter things is an expensive hose attachment I found at Aldi a while back – the force of the water makes the little spouts twist and turn for a fun fountain effect.

  4. I love these ideas!


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