When school’s out and the weather’s hot, the best way to cool down is by tossing around some water balloons. Water balloon games are easy to plan, require few materials, and can lead to hours of fun. Some of these games are even educational, useful for athletes, and easy to arrange for parties. That’s why we’ve put together this list of 27 fun and unique water balloon games to play with your kids this summer.
Popular Water Balloon Sports
Some of the best water balloon games are riffs on already popular sports. If you have an athlete in the family (or someone who just has a lot of energy), why not try one of these out?
1. Batting Practice
Two players will stand several feet apart from each other. One player will toss a balloon, and the other will use his bat to try and hit it.
If the swing is a success, the balloon will splatter, and the batter earns a point. If he misses, the batter can try swinging twice more – but just like in real baseball, three strikes, and you’re out!
2. Tennis Practice
An easy variation of water balloon batting practice involves using a tennis racket instead of a baseball bat. The fun thing with this version is that multiple players can play at once.
The first player will use her racket to gently serve the balloon. The next player will try to use his racket to catch the balloon, and then, serve it back.
The first few times, the balloon will likely pop quickly. But once players get the hang of it, it’s possible to serve the balloon back and forth several times before the inevitable splash.
3. Balloon Basketball
Another sports-related water balloon game is balloon basketball. For this game, players will form a line and each take turns throwing water balloons through a hoop.
Like HORSE, each player will have to mimic the location and throw-style of the player before him. If someone fails to mimic that player, or if they throw a balloon and it splashes against the backboard, they get a letter; the first one to spell WATER loses.
Whoever loses first must stand under the net and wait for someone to throw a balloon. They might get lucky if the player misses, but if not, they’re about to get soaked!
This next game is intended for older kids, including teens and extra responsible pre-teens.
Like with the other games, you’ll first want to fill up several water balloons. Next, write a number on each balloon in increments of 10, ranging from 10 to 50.
Tape these balloons to a target and give each player a dart. One by one, the players will throw the darts at these balloons, intending to pop the ones with the highest numerical value.
Whoever gets the highest score will be declared the winner. Then, you can start an entirely new, more difficult game by placing the targets farther away or by making the balloons smaller.
Ok, this game isn’t exactly the same as volleyball — if it were, the balloons would pop instantly!
Instead of normal volleyball rules, players will break up into two teams and each hold a towel between them. This towel will be used to propel the balloon over a volleyball net, and the opposing team will use their own towel to attempt to catch it.
Depending on the ages and experience of your players, this game might be over soon. But once you learn the correct way to catch, you’re in for a challenging, competitive game.
The classic kid’s game dodgeball works especially well with water balloons. The rules are similar to the original: players will break up into two teams and throw their balloons at the opposing side, with each team intending to get the other side out.
If the opposing team catches a balloon, the player who threw it must stand on the sidelines. In turn, the player who caught the balloon can bring back a teammate who was previously out.
If a water balloon hits a player and explodes, then that player is out as well.
This game has a tendency to devolve into all-out water balloon war, with players laughing, shrieking, and turning on their own teammates. Should this happen, we suggest you stop keeping score and join in on the battle instead.
7. Back-to-Back Race
This game may sound easy, but once you try it out for yourself, you’ll realize it’s not so simple.
To start a back-to-back race, players divide into groups of two, and they must run across a finish line without bursting their balloon. The problem? The balloon is wedged between their backs, and one player must run backwards while trying to keep up with his teammate.
If a team’s balloon slips, they must go back and retrieve a new one, then start the race all over again. Because of the slippery nature of these balloons, chances are that each team will retrieve several new ones before crowning a winner.
Classic Games with a Twist
Like with sports, some classic games are made especially fun when you add a water balloon. If your kids are looking for something to do this summer, these water balloon games are a perfect choice.
8. Hot Potato
In this twist on the classic hot potato game, players will form a circle and toss around a water balloon. Each player can either toss the balloon to the person beside them or randomly throw it to a different player.
As the balloon is thrown around, turn on some background music; when the music stops, whoever has the balloon loses and must admit defeat by smashing the balloon on his head.
The game will keep going until only one player remains. This player then has the choice of popping the balloon on himself, throwing it at a friend, or using it to start a new game.
9. Duck Duck Goose
Duck duck goose is a fun game in its own right. Add water balloons, and it’s even better!
To begin this game, every player will be handed a water balloon. Players will sit in a circle, and one person will volunteer to be “It.” Whoever’s “It” will walk around the circle, tapping each player on the shoulder and saying, “Duck, duck,” until they find someone to be “goose.”
The “It” player will then throw a water balloon at their chosen goose. The chosen player will stand up and chase whoever’s It around the circle. In the normal version of this game, the goose will try to tag whoever’s It; however, in this version, the goose will try to hit It with a balloon of their own!
If the goose succeeds, then the current It will stay It, and they’ll go around the circle once again. However, if It successfully dodges the balloon, then the goose will become the new It and walk around the circle instead.
10. Water Balloon Spoon Race
Similar to an egg race, a spoon race is a good way to keep your kids active and having fun. All you need for this race are several tiny spoons, several tiny water balloons, a bucket, and a hose.
First, fill several balloons, but don’t use too much water. Then, hand one balloon to each racer, and tell them to balance the balloon on their spoon.
Players will run from one end of your yard to the other end while trying not to drop their balloons. Whoever gets his balloon safely across the yard first wins, and he can celebrate his victory by popping his balloon over his head or by throwing it at one of his friends.
With water balloons, finding the right game for a party is easy! Whether you’re celebrating a birthday or a holiday, try one of these water balloon games out for an extra dose of fun.
11. Balloon Toss
This party game is a classic, one that you’ve probably played before. Similar to a game of catch, players split into teams of two, and then face each other and stand a foot apart.
One player will toss his balloon to his teammate, who will be tasked with catching it. The catcher will then take a step back and toss the balloon himself.
This game will continue in the same way – with one person stepping back when he catches a balloon, then throwing it — until someone misses a catch. The balloon will hit the ground and explode, and the team who dropped it will be out.
Water balloon pinatas are a fun addition to birthday parties. They offer all the fun of pinatas and all the fun of water balloons combined.
One by one, each player will be blindfolded and tasked with swinging at a giant collection of balloons. Instead of candy, these balloons will cover the player in water; however, for each balloon popped, a player will receive a piece of candy as well.
The game only ends once the last balloon is popped. Whoever hits this last balloon will be rewarded with an extra piece of candy and the option to choose the next game.
13. Kick the Balloon
This water balloon game can go on for minutes or come to a quick and watery end. To start, give each player a balloon and task them with kicking it across the yard. Whoever gets her balloon across first wins, and as usual, she can celebrate by choosing a balloon target of her choice.
Though this game may sound easy, balloons have a tendency to pop, especially when kicked across gravelly or grassy yards. Chances are your kids will need to start over with a new balloon several times, so make sure to have plenty of extras on hand.
14. Fill the Bucket
This water balloon game is similar to an Easter egg hunt, but with a fun, splashy twist. To begin, fill up several dozen water balloons and hide them around your yard. Next, give each player a bucket and tell them to line up beside each other.
When you say, “Go,” each player will run around your yard, trying to find as many balloons as they can. Have them place these balloons in their buckets and tell them whoever fills their bucket first wins.
For extra hard-mode, have each player pop the balloons into his buckets instead. In this version of the game (which can last a long time), whoever collects the most water wins.
Educational Water Balloon Games
Games with an educational twist are a good way to learn new material and practice skills. Add water balloons, and these games become even more memorable.
15. Sight Words
This version of a water balloon toss incorporates some reading, and it can help your kids learn and grow as they play.
Each balloon will have a word written across its surface, and a player must read that word and figure out which target to hit. For instance, one balloon might say “tree” while another says “sidewalk.”
Once someone has a balloon, they must race to their matching location and be the first one to burst their balloon. Whoever finds their target and hits it first is the winner.
This game can also be a helpful way to learn a new language, as you can write the words in your new language and task everyone with translating them in order to find their target. Then, the rules are the same as usual: it’s a race to pop yours first.
16. Arts and Crafts
This next water balloon game is especially fun for the artistically-inclined.
To start, get several cups of water and add different food dyes. Then, use this water to fill up your water balloons, ensuring each has a different color.
Poke a small hole in each balloon and squeeze water out of the hole onto the cement. You can use this water to create patterns, or you can use several different colors to create an entire image!
We don’t recommend playing on materials that can stain, but if you accidentally do, there are ways to remove these stains.
17. Having Fun with Math
In order to play this next game, you’ll need to prepare some supplies. Along with water balloons, you’ll want to write down some math equations and put their answers on separate sheets of paper.
Tape these answers to nearby trees and give each player a piece of paper with a math equation. In order to win, they’ll need to solve this equation and throw their balloon at the matching answer.
Whichever player answers three questions correctly first wins. For added entertainment, throw in some trivia questions or extra difficult equations.
Some water balloon games have the added benefit of helping with clean-up or a household task. Consider implementing these games to make water balloons less messy and more useful.
18. Garden Helper
If you want a game your kids will enjoy that will also help with gardening, this one’s for you. While several other games have focused on popping or filling balloons, this one focuses on squeezing them out.
Each player will be given a balloon and assigned a specific plant or area of the yard. Like with the color game, each balloon will have a tiny hole, and players will squeeze water from that hole in order to help you water your garden.
Whoever successfully goes through their balloons and waters their patch first is the winner.
You’re also the winner, of course, since you now have a healthier, happier garden.
19. Balloon Pick-up
Water balloon games can leave behind a lot of broken balloon pieces. An easy way of cleaning your yard is by turning the balloon pick-up into a game.
For this game, all you’ll need are the broken balloon pieces and a table or other flat surface.
First, task each player with picking up as many water balloon pieces as possible. Once they have these pieces, they can bring them to the flat surface and try to create a picture.
This game will encourage your kids to pick up multiple balloon pieces in order to ensure they have the colors they need to make the best picture. When the game’s over, take pictures of your child’s artwork and hang them on the fridge.
Other Water Balloon Games
Some water balloon games are hard to categorize because they’re not based on a sport or meant to be educational. Of course, a game can also be worthwhile for simply being entertaining, just like all of these games.
20. Don’t Pop the Balloon!
If your children are old enough to use a hose, this game can be a fun way to keep them entertained.
One at a time, each player will get a balloon and fill it at the hose. The twist is that they’re each trying to create the biggest balloon possible, but if their balloon pops, they’re out.
In cases where the balloons are similarly sized, you can task players with filling a second balloon. You can also make this game into a “who can fill the most balloons the fastest?” relay. The benefit to this second game is that you’ll have a whole bunch of balloons filled, and you can then use them to play other games.
21. Pop the Balloon!
Opposite the intent of the last game, this game focuses on popping as many balloons as possible. Players will be placed into multiple teams, and parents will layout a balloon for each team; when the judge says, “Go!” each team will send a player to run toward, sit on, and pop a balloon.
When the first player successfully pops his balloon, he’ll run back and tag a new player. This second player will be tasked with popping a second balloon (meaning that mom or dad will need to replace the one that was originally popped).
Pop the Balloon! will continue on until each player has successfully popped a balloon. Whichever team finishes first wins and can celebrate by popping even more balloons!
22. Balloon Obstacle Course
This next water balloon game requires a bit of planning and preparation, but it has great replay value and will have your kids doubled over laughing. To create your balloon obstacle course, you’ll want several cones, rope, and a short balance beam.
Arrange the cones in a line and lay the ropes down to form boxes. Players will have to navigate around the cones and jump their way through the rope boxes, all while not dropping their balloon – which they’ll balance on their head.
The balance beam will be the final obstacle. Players must walk across it while keeping their balloons intact. If your kids easily get through this course, you can always switch up the obstacles involved; just make sure not to use anything with hard edges, since the game has the potential to get slippery.
23. Yo-Yo Balloons
Turning a water balloon into a yo-yo is as simple as filling the balloon and tying a rubber band around its tail. Players will then attach the balloon to their finger and attempt to jump it up and down like a real yo-yo.
Some players may get a little too into bouncing their balloon, which will quickly end in it bursting. Others will be able to enjoy their balloon for several minutes before it breaks, and whoever keeps theirs bouncing the longest wins and gets to take it home.
A slip-and-slide is already a favorite of kids, and adding water balloons will only make it that much more fun! If you’re planning to play this game, you’re going to need a LOT of balloons; you’ll also need a slip-and-slide.
The set-up here is simple: fill up your balloons and lay them across your slip-in-slide. Then watch out as your kids barrel forward, each trying to pop as many balloons as they can.
25. Colander Toss
Not so much a game as an excuse to get your friends soaked, this next idea involves two players, several balloons, and a colander. One player will hold the colander over his head, while his teammate tosses the balloons.
Winning is as simple as having a balloon land in the colander before popping and soaking the person holding it. To make this game trickier, see if players can land a balloon without having it pop.
26. Who Can Throw the Farthest?
This next game has two variations. The first is simple: have each player throw a balloon and see whose goes the farthest, regardless of whether or not it pops.
The second version is a bit more difficult. Players will still try to throw their balloon the farthest, but if the balloon pops, it doesn’t count. Chances are that the winning balloons won’t be too far from the start line, but every once in awhile, one will get surprisingly far before popping.
27. Ring Toss
Like several other games on this list, there’s more than one way to play this game. The first version involves a hula hoop, two players, and, of course, balloons.
One player will hold a balloon while the other player holds a hula hoop. The first player will be tasked with tossing their balloon through the hoop without hitting the hoop itself.
The second version of this game also involves hula hoops. However, rather than hold one, these hula hoops will line the ground. Players will be tasked with throwing their balloons into the hoops, trying to land as many as they can.
We recommend you play this version on cement, as it will be easy to see where each balloon lands (just look at the giant wet spots). Plus, your grass won’t get too wet and you’ll have an easier clean-up job.
The next time your child is looking for something to do this summer, one of these water balloon games is a perfect choice. With so many games to choose from, you’re sure to find one (or more) that will entertain your child for hours. And if you go through all these games and still want more, we have some other options.
We hope we’ve given you some ideas for fun water balloons games. And while you’re out there in the sun, remember to wear sunscreen, invest in sunglasses, and brush up on your water balloon skills.