The summers in Albuquerque can get excruciatingly hot.
We see pictures online of kids running through sprinklers or playing in pools full of suds. They all look so happy and we consider doing the same for our kids. But then we remember that we live in the desert, where water is a very limited resource. We just can’t bring ourselves to waste it!
So, what can we do?
We can take water play and turn it into a conservation effort! (I’m sorry, is my inner biologist showing?) Let’s give our kids the fun, watery summer they dream about but with a good conscience.
Here are five fun ideas for using water play to keep cool in the desert:
- Water Sponge Bombs. Buy a few sponges at the dollar store then cut them into strips. Tie those strips together so they resemble puff balls. Fill up a bucket with water and throw in the sponge bombs. The kids will take it from here. To add a little more fun to this activity, write a note to the neighbors inviting them to a water war! This is a great alternative for water balloons. You won’t have to pick up all the rubber pieces and you don’t have to worry about animals eating them.
- Paint the Driveway. Fill a bucket with water and bring out your painting supplies – paint brushes, rollers, and painting trays. Let your kids entertain themselves by painting pictures and designs on the driveway. They’ll evaporate, leaving a new canvas for your kids to create.
- Melting Experiment: Find three different containers with the same shape and dimensions. Fill them up with water and let them set in the freezer overnight. The next day, have your kids place them in three different locations around your home. Ask your kids to hypothesize which one will melt first. Have them document the experiment by creating a chart to record how the ice changes over time in each location. They could even take pictures every 15-30 minutes. Was your children’s hypothesis correct? Why? Have them share their results with a family member!
- Ice Watercolors: If your kids love art, then why not let them paint with ice? You can do this in two ways – have them paint with popsicles as they eat them (fun but sticky) or freeze ice cubes with food coloring overnight. Some people prefer freezing the ice cubes with popsicle sticks so the kids have something to hold on to as they paint. The next day, let the kids artistic side shine!
- Hidden Treasures: Gather nature items outside like rocks, sticks, pine cones, and leaves. You may want to find a few of your kids’ plastic animal toys as well. Get a large plastic container and add about an inch of water. Add a few items then freeze it overnight. The next day, add a few more nature items and another inch or two of water, then freeze it overnight. Continue this process until the container is full and frozen. Let your kids take the block of ice outside and try to uncover all the hidden nature treasures within! They can try to melt it faster using the sun’s reflection from foil or they can physically break the ice apart using rocks or hammers (if they are old enough).
But wait, there’s more!
And in case you don’t know, using soap outside is not good for nature. Bubbles are fine but filling up an entire baby pool with suds can wreak havoc on the soil and the plants that desperately need that water. Click here to read more about why you should keep your suds in the tub this summer.
If you’d like to try more nature-based activities that are great for summer, join the Facebook group, Nature Challenge, and see the fun activities that other moms are doing with their kids outdoors!
Originally published July 2018.