Easy and Cheap Water and Ice Games for Back-To-School

July 14, 2015 5 min read

It is summertime, but school will be back before we know it. Why not start off the year with some fun water games?!! Even though it gets to be 100 degrees or more during August when school starts our school always saves water days for the end of the year. Well, why wait?!! Having water games now could be a great incentive to have great behavior while learning new procedures and routines!

The games described below I did while I taught Extended School Year (summer school for kids with special needs) but they would be just as fun at the beginning of the year! Most games allow students with mobility issues to participate with little or no adaptations. It is also nice to have ideas you can use again without spending tons of money if you choose to have a water day once a week during ESY.

At first, all we could think of was having a water balloon toss, but soon we came up with other games.  Note: There’s a drought going on here in California so we could not just turn on the sprinklers and let them go crazy. And we did everything on the grass (not blacktop) so all spilled water would not be wasted.

These games were done with kids going into grades 2-5 (special ed). The goal was to have and fun and get wet, so we didn’t stress the competition part of any game.  Plus, any child that did not want to do a particular game could just watch!

A few days before the event, I sent a note home saying kids could bring a towel, flip flops and clothes to get wet in on Friday.

Water Version of “Duck, Duck, Goose”

Materials: small bowl and a tub of water. Directions: Dunk a small bowl in the tub of water to fill it up.  The child with cup walks around the circle and holds the cup over each person’s head and said DRY instead of saying DUCK. Then instead of saying GOOSE, he says WET and dumps the water on the child’s head or back of neck, then runs around the circle.  (Some kids didn’t want to get water in their ears, so consider only dumping water on the back of the neck.). The way we played was that regardless of whether the child got tagged or not, they sat down and the person who got wet went next. We didn’t play with a mushpot.


Our cafeteria has an ice machine so it was really easy to get a large tub of ice for different games listed below.

Ice Grab

Materials: a chair, one plastic shoe box sized tub and a small bowl for each station, water, ice cubes.   Directions: Fill a couple of tubs 1/3 full with water. Each kid sits in a chair and puts their foot in the tub of water. You add ice cubes. Then they need to remove as many ice cubes as they can with their toes and put in small bowl next to them.  I gave them a time limit like 30 seconds or a minute.

Sit on It

Materials: chair and ice cubes.   Directions: We didn’t have large blocks of ice for kids to sit on, so I just dumped some ice cubes in the seat of some chairs, and kids took turns sitting on the ice as long as they could (or you could give a time limit like 2 minutes and see who can last the longest).

For Kids Waiting Their Turn

Kids of any age can get restless when they have to wait their turn for games like “Sit on it.” So below are few ideas to use with kids in line, or you could make their own station!

  • Give each kid a piece of ice hold in their hands – see how long they can hold it.
  • I also put ice down their backs, but only if they wanted me to.
  • Ice spitting: Kids are probably already in a line waiting for games listed above, so just give each one a piece of ice. They put it in their mouths and try to spit it as far as they can. If they aren’t in a line, then have them start on the edge of the grass, and spit out into the grass.


If you want to spend a little money, get some water balloons at a dollar store.  I blew up about 30 water balloons the day before in the janitor’s closet, where there was a faucet higher up (better than bending down at an outside faucet), plus there was a special nozzle so you could turn the water on and off really easy to fill them up.  After each water balloon game, kids had to pick up all the little balloon pieces from the grass and throw away before beginning the next game!

Sit on It Relay Race

Materials: Each team needs a chair and water balloon for each person (put in tubs next to each team). Directions: Put kids in teams. When it is their turn, each person will grab a water balloon and run to their team’s chair. Put the water balloon in the chair, then sit on it until they pop it. If after a few times they couldn’t do it we told them to break the water balloon over their head.  Then run back and tag the next person to take their turn. Go to the back of the line and sit down.

Water Balloon Launch

Materials: 2 people, beach towel, water balloons. Directions: We did this at the end each day with any leftover water balloons. Two people hold ends of a beach towel.  Kids stand 20 feet away.  Put 1 water balloon in the middle of the towel. On the count of three, launch the balloon up in the air for kids to try to catch! We started with just one balloon at a time, then later started adding 2 or 3 at a time. If a water balloon didn’t break, then the kid that got it could break it over their own head!

Final Thoughts

The kids absolutely loved the games and I loved it because it didn’t cost a lot of money!!!!! I did bring a few extra towels for anyone who forgot theirs.  Be sure to send notes home so kids remember to bring a towel and flip flops as a minimum and a change of clothes if they want. Also, be sure the check the bathrooms to be sure no one left anything in there.

We had so much fun that we planned an identical day for the last day of ESY!


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