Summer is sizzling so most people are looking for ways to cool off.  Whether you head to the beach or the pool, run through the backyard sprinkler, or simply sip an ice cold drink on the front porch, you’ll find plenty of relief with water. Enjoy some activities related to summertime water fun with your group. Here are simple suggestions for eliciting memories of hazy, hot, and humid days.

  • WATER RECORDS: Share interesting facts and trivia about water. Serve a refreshing water-based drink, like iced tea or lemonade.
  • WATER SOUNDS: Listen to various water sounds, including a gurgling brook, a waterfall, and surf at the seashore. Ask participants to identify the sounds and to describe what images the sounds bring to mind. Example: surf – favorite beach vacation.
  • MUSIC: Sing or listen to water-related songs: “Rain, Rain Go Away,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” “By the Beautiful Sea,” “Down by the Old Mill Stream,” “Up a Lazy River.” Listen to Nat King Cole sing “Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer.” Talk about favorite ways to cool off with water on a hot summer day. Serve slices of watermelon.
  • SEASHORE: Cut out beach pictures and share memories of day outings and vacations. List objects commonly found at the beach. Ask participants to wear floppy beach hats and tropical or flowered shirts. Take an indoor group photo beside a beach umbrella. Make a seashell picture frame. Watch an old beach movie like Beach Party, Gidget, or Blue Hawaii.
  • PHOTOS: Display a book of nature photography by Ansel Adams, noted for his landscapes of the West and national parks such as Yosemite and Yellowstone. Look at his pictures of water, including waterfalls, geysers, rapids, thunderstorms, and rainbows. Share memories of summer vacations at national parks.
  • KIDS’ PLAY: Reminisce about water activities in the summer as a kid – swimming in a lake, fishing in a farm pond, running through a sprinkler, splashing in the backyard wading pool, shooting water pistols, running through mud puddles after rain, having water balloon fights. Recite old nursery rhymes related to water (ex: “Rain, Rain, Go Away” or “Itsy, Bitsy Spider”).
  • RAIN: Read the poem titled “Rain in Summer” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Ask participants to explain why the poet calls rain “welcome” and “beautiful.” List types of rain – mist, drizzle, sprinkle, shower, downpour, deluge. Talk about the meaning of  rain idioms – come rain or shine, rain cats and dogs, rain on parade, rain check, it never rains but it pours. Share weather folklore related to rain (ex: Dew on the grass, rain won’t come to pass.).
  • SWIMMING: Pass around a photo of a child swimming. Ask: Where did you go swimming when you were young? Do you like to swim? How did you learn? Could you dive off a pier? Who taught you to dive? What did you usually wear when you went swimming? Did boys and girls swim together or separately when you were young? Show pictures of swimwear from the 1940s and 1950s.
  • WATER SPORTS: Name popular water activities and sports – canoeing, scuba diving, swimming, sailing, surfing, rowing, water skiing, rafting, boating, fishing, snorkeling.  Display some equipment – swim cap, goggles, oar, fishing rod, small surf board, diving mask – and ask participants which activities they have tried and enjoyed. Talk about water safety tips.
  • DARING-DO: Learn about the stunters and daredevils who have attempted to ride Niagara Falls in a barrel or walk across using a tightrope. Ask if anyone has ever visited or had a honeymoon at Niagara Falls. Share any exciting water adventures the group may have had.
  • CAMPING: Share memories of summer camp (Boy Scouts, YMCA, 4-H, Campfire Girls, church) in the 1930s and 1940s. Talk about water activities such as swimming, fishing, and canoeing. Sing some favorite camp songs such as “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore,” “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” “My Bonnie,” “A Sailor Went to Sea,” “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring,” and “Peace Like a River.”
  • IDIOMS: Talk about the meaning of “water” idioms such as the following: be in hot water, water down, water under the bridge, muddy the water, test the waters, like water off a duck’s back, pour cold water on, throw the baby out with the bath water, keep your head above water.
  • REMINISCING: Read the following words to your group: natural springs, hand-dug well, rain barrel, cistern, water dipper/ladle, well bucket, pail, wash bowl/basin, hand water pump. Ask group members to share memories of washing, cooking, drinking, and bathing when they were young.
  • CONSERVATION: Compose a list of tips on how to save water. (Examples: fix a leaky faucet, don’t water the garden during the hottest part of the day, use a rain barrel.) Create a catchy slogan for conserving water. Tell about coping with a summer of drought.


Ask participants to name the word that begins with ‘water’ that describes each clue below.

  1. The place where Napoleon was defeated. Waterloo
  2. Famous crystal manufactured in Ireland. Waterford
  3. A scandal which occurred in the Nixon administration. Watergate
  4. Yosemite Falls in California is an example of this. Waterfall
  5. A fruit with a green rind and sweet pink flesh. Watermelon
  6. A type of painting. Watercolor
  7. A tornado occurring over water. Waterspout
  8. Something that resists water. Waterproof
  9. A slang word for a bar or saloon. Waterhole
  10. A plant that grows in ponds. Water lily
  11. A mattress filled with water. Waterbed
  12. A piece of equipment that dispenses cool drinking water. Water cooler
  13. Boats, ships, and canoes are examples of this. Watercraft
  14. A water sport in which a person is towed by a speedboat. Water-skiing
  15. To reduce the strength of something. Water down


“When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

“SUMMER WATER FUN” written by Sue Hansen. © 2013 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

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