There's no better way to beat the heat and bring the family together than by engaging in a full-fledged water balloon battle. Even better, this type of roughhousing with your kids is a perfect learning opportunity, allowing them to test their limits and control in a safe and fun setting [source: Kamenetz].
While a simple selection of water balloons can help cool everyone off and allow you to let off a little steam, the latest water toys and accessories can transform your water balloon fight into a battle for the ages -- complete with plenty of water, games and fun for participants of all ages. Check out our countdown of the hottest water toys to learn how to ensure your next summer adventure is a big splash.
Soak family members and friends from a distance using a slingshot or catapult. Craft your own version using surgical tubing and scrap lumber, or pick up a store-bought model from your favorite toy store. Slingshots and catapults are great devices for protecting your territory in a wet and wild game of capture the flag. If you're playing with younger kids, consider using the slingshot in other ways -- have a contest to see who can use it to fling a balloon the farthest, or have pairs of kids use a towel to try and catch water balloons slung from across the yard. You also can use chalk to create a target or bull's-eye on your driveway or patio to give participants something to aim at.
9: Easy Filler
Everyone knows that the worst part of a water balloon fight is the seemingly endless work required to attach each balloon to the hose, fill it and tie a knot, but what if you could breeze through this part of the process instead of wasting so much time on work? Thanks to the Bunch O Balloons, you can get to the fun much faster. In 2014, a Texas dad to eight kids -- he's probably filled a lot of water balloons in his day -- came up with an invention that eliminates the hardest part of the water balloon battle. His device resembles a 37-legged octopus, which hooks to your hose, allowing you to fill 37 balloons in about 20 seconds [source: Stump]. Even better, the balloons are self-sealing; just give the hose an easy shake and the balloons plop off, filled, tied and ready to be lobbed at your friends and neighbors.
8: Wiffle Bat
If you'd rather not pelt one another with balloons, a Wiffle bat provides countless opportunities to engage your friends in slightly gentler water balloon games. Combine two favorite summer pastimes with a wet and silly game of baseball; just swap your traditional ball for a water-filled balloon and enjoy the splats as each player makes contact. You can even place the balloons on a tee-ball tee to help younger kids get in on the action. Have players start running 'round the bases once they break the balloon, and let other players use balloons or water guns in an attempt to tag them out. You can also play for fun, finding out who can make the biggest splash, or who's able to make contact with the balloon while under fire from a sprinkler or a water gun brigade.
7: Sponge Balls
If your goal is simply to lob bombs of water at your friends, why limit yourself to water balloons? Sponge balls soak up the liquid and hold on to it in the air, guaranteeing a wet time for all. You can pick up these spongy balls at the store or make your own. For about what you'd pay for a pack of balloons, you can create water bombs you can reuse all summer. Cut the sponges into strips and tie them to form a simple star shape. Dunk in a bucket of water and use to replace or supplement your ammo stash during your next water balloon battle. Best of all, you won't have to waste time picking pieces of broken balloons out of the grass when you're done. Simply collect your sponges and move on to the next bit of fun.
6: Paint Set
Washable paints transform a standard water balloon fight into a colorful affair, and also increase the number of games you can incorporate into your day. Simply add a drop of paint to each balloon as you fill them for a rainbow of wet fun. Split your gang into teams and assign each team a color to see who has the best aim as you wage your color war. You can also use your paint set to outline images on one another's bodies -- or to put war paint on players' cheeks, knowing it will all wash away when the water balloon start flying.
5: Water Guns
Looking to get wet without the fear of a water balloon in the face? Water guns of all sorts can help you bring on the splashes without the pain, and without the need to fill and tie dozens of balloons. Go all out with large blasters designed to hold plenty of water -- backpack style models work well for extended battles -- or go the stealth route with a pair of small pistols you can whip out to surprise unsuspecting victims. To enjoy the excitement of water gun fights without the "gun" angle, look for water pump pistols or cannons, which look nothing like the "gun" style toys you're used to, but deliver the same splash.
4: Slip'N Slide
Create the perfect centerpiece for your water balloon battle with a balloon-filled Slip'N Slide setup. Watch guests' eyes pop when they arrive in your backyard to see a trail of colorful water balloons stretched out along the length of the slide. Students at the University of Kentucky came up with this idea on their way to a Guinness World Record for largest water balloon fight [source: Guinness World Records]. The Slip'N Slide can simply serve as a holding place for the balloons while the fight takes place, or you can incorporate the slide into the fun.
Have guests shoot down the slide, and see who can pop the most balloons on their way. You can also have guests try and dodge balloons as they slide -- use food coloring to dye the water in the balloons so you can see who lands the most shots. The store-bought Slip'N Slide works well for this purpose, or you can make your own with some plastic sheets and a bit of baby shampoo for extra speed [source: BobVila.com].
Water balloon fights are fun, but if you're really good at dodging balloons, you'll never actually get very wet. This is good strategy for winning the war and showing off your speed, but can leave you sweating on a hot summer day. Add a sprinkler to the mix to provide an ideal place to cool off while planning your next move or avoiding balloons lobbed by the other team. Sprinklers also give young children who might not want to get smacked with a water balloon the chance to join in the fun. Make your own sprinkler using a large plastic soda bottle with holes poked in it, or splurge on a store-bought version that oscillates or rotates.
2: Water Cannon
Nothing's worse than running out of water in the middle of an epic balloon battle. While balloons and water guns only hold so much H2O, water cannons connect to your hose to provide an endless stream of liquid ammo. Just like those water cannons found at water parks, backyard water cannons typically come with tripods to hold them steady as you take aim. Choose from single and double-barreled units for extra wow factor, or stick to models designed like simple pumps if you don't like the look of toy guns. Like slingshots or catapults, water cannons can help you fend off attackers in a splash-filled game of capture the flag -- as long as no one secretly kinks the hose!
1: Self-sealing Balloons
Tying dozens or hundreds of water balloons can really take a toll on your fingers -- and it's often too difficult for kids, leaving grown-ups stuck doing all the prep work. Self-sealing water balloons like Zorbz take the pain out of water balloon fights; sure, you still have to fill each one individually, but if you pull up on the neck of the balloon as you release it from the nozzle, it seals itself, eliminating the need for tying tiny knots [source: Kulshrestha]. This technology not only leaves more time for fun, but also allows kids to play more independently, without the need for help from the adults. Best of all, these self-sealing balloons are biodegradable, so you're not harming the environment if you miss a few pieces during cleanup.