Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Giant "water bed" outside sensory bag



One of my favorite things about working at my dream job is that I get to do fun things like this with my kids during the day.

I saw this idea here and decided to try it out.  I bought the plastic drop cloth and duck tape at Walmart for under $10 for both.  I bought the drop cloth that is in a 10' roll that rips off into ten 10' squares.  I bought the teal duck tape because I thought it was cute.


Originally I was going to use food coloring like the blog said, but after I thought about how it was likely this thing would leak and I didn't want to ruin 3 kids' clothes by them splashing in food coloring water, I decided to leave the food coloring out of it.  (Good call on my part.)

Despite that my husband didn't think this would work very well, it was a HUGE success!  Everyone loved it, and what I planned on being an hour or two activity literally turned into an all day thing because it was such a big hit.

I started out by unrolling the tarp I bought and taping the perforated edges to prevent water from leaking at them.  I made two 40' x 10' tarps, and folded them each in half to make two 20' by 10' double layered tarps.  I double layered it because my tarps were about the thickness of garbage bags and I was a little skeptical they would hold up with 3 kids running and jumping on them.  (Again, good call on my part.)

I put the 20' x 10' double-layered-tarps on top of each other, and rolled the edges and duck taped in place.  I left a hole at one corner for the hose.  This whole process took about 40 minutes.

Once taped I stuck the hose inside so there were 2 layers on bottom and 2 layers on top, and started to fill it up.  I had the kids show me where the initial leaks were.  We patched them up (there were only 1 or 2) and filled the whole thing up.

Things I learned while filling this up:
1. This thing works best on flat ground.  If you start out on a hill, even a little one, one side will be far more full than the other.
2. Once this starts filling up you really can't move it without it tearing.
3. Once it's filled it's pretty sturdy.  The kids can run, jump, roll, and slide on it and it holds up for a long while (a couple of hours) before it starts leaking enough they are really getting wet.
4. Before it's filled it isn't too sturdy.  Their feet tended to get caught on the plastic and drag and stretch and tear it.  I discovered this quickly and made them wait until it was filled to play on it.
5.  You really don't need food coloring, in fact I wouldn't recommend it.


 This could be the best outside toy I have discovered so far.  They LOVED it.  At first they didn't get wet at all, but the cold water kept them cool in the hot sun.  I told them to go for it and play as rough as they wanted because it was there to have fun, and if it popped we could always turn it into a large slip-n-slide.


They would run across the yard and slide on it.  They would roll and watch the ripples go all the way across what they called the "water bed".

After a couple of hours we started getting a few leaks.  I didn't bother taping them up because they weren't too bad.  The bag stayed full enough to be squishy and fun to run across the yard and jump on all day but after a few hours there was just enough water on top to make it splash as you ran or rolled across.


 This picture (above) was taken after 6 or 7 hours of rough play on it.  You can see where it is leaking and wet, but it still squishy and fun.  Everybody loved it.


We paired this activity with lawn chairs, a couple of rounds of popsicles, a kiddie pool, and a water gun fight.


I heard the boys say multiple times that this was the best day ever, and one of the funnest things they have ever done.

90 comments:

  1. we have a daughter with special needs, and we are always looking for ways for her to explore her senses. This is awsome!!!

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    1. Same here! Did you ever try it out?? Let me know!! :)

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    2. Same here! Did you ever try it out?? Let me know!! :)

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  2. What fun! It would be a neat idea for a special party or just a fun day at home.

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  3. We are so doing soon...like this week! I have three little boys who would totally LOVE this!!!!THANK YOU!

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  4. I pinned this some time ago and came back to take a better look. It looks so fun! We recently used this same kind of sheeting to create a slip n' slide and my boys loved it- no doubt this will be an even bigger hit! Thanks for sharing- looks like you have a fun family! :)

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  5. Just FYI, My kids use food colored water in their outdoor water play daily, it has never stained their clothes.

    http://graham-and-parker.blogspot.com/

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  6. I could see adding sequins or some floating flat things in it. But like you said, why bother. If it was just as fun the way it was, why add more work to it. Sounds Great.

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  7. So just to confirm... You essentially taped twice around the edges? Once you urolled it and again after you put the 4 pieces together?

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  8. When you say "boys" did you mean the small ones, or the large ones holding the squirt guns? Or maybe both? LOL looks like fun for all ages!

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  9. My son's birthday is in July so we are always looking for a new way to have fun in the sun at his birthday parties. I am so going to try this!

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  10. This looks like so much fun, but how on Earth do you dispose of it when you're finished??? It seems like such a HUGE polluter...huge rolls of plastic being tossed in a landfill or ocean for one day of water play. :( Did it just end up in the trash? Just a thought...as I love for my kids to have fun, but I also want them to have a clean, safe, unpolluted world to live in when they grow up.

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    1. You can hang it up to dry store it re tape when using it again. or cut it up and re use it for other things, painting the house, or if the kids are painting, I'm sure you can find hundreds of uses for plan clean plastic tarp. Be creative and have fun

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    2. I kinda thought that for a few minutes, too. But then I realized there are a lot of uses and re-uses for protective coverings.

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    3. re-use it! Use it as a slip-n-slide over and over then use it for them to paint pictures on so it's not all over the house. Break it down into smaller squares for rice/sand tables there are plenty of uses most people would use it for oh and if you are done with it find someone whose painting their house and donate it to them (which is what it's made for to being with)

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    4. Could also use in the flower bed or rock garden as a landscape sheet to deter the weeds.

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    5. You can recycle this plastic, as well as grocery bags and dry cleaning bags at your local grocery store. Most stores have drop boxes for your plastic bag recycling.

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  11. Wow u are such a downer if your worried a out this beign in a land fill just continue useing it. You can also use it for other thinngs or when you do any other prodjects with your kids u can use it for easy clean up

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  12. That same plastic is the type that we use to cover our windows in the winter, when it is all torn up from being outside just store it away fror winter and then use it to help insulate your house and then again when summer comes around make smaller "water beds" and eventually you can shred it so small and burn it or use it in garden to help make sure the weedsdont grow!

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    1. wouldn't recommend burning it, But like she said, it has a million uses after

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  13. Why even post anything on here if it's going to be negative? Looks like she made a great day for their family, kudos to you mom! Go plant a tree and be quiet!!!

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    1. Haha awesome! So funny!

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    2. Being concerned about the planet isn't negative. I think it's great that someone is worried about producing excess waste

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    3. It did spawn a discussion and gave many good ideas for other projects and uses for the plastic I wouldn't have thought of. I'm glad Anonymous asked.

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  14. If you have a yard that has sharp grass and weeds you might want to use a regular tarp under it so once the weight of the water gets on it, it doesn't poke holes in it too soon. Sounds like a lot of fun.

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  15. Go plant a tree and be quiet? Hmm. I think I will

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  16. looks like fun i like the extra tarp idea and as far as the landfill i would use the plastic on my gardening areas for weed control .... recycling is the key here and my son will have one this summer

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    1. Clear plastic is not very effective for weed control. . . sun shining through will act like a hot house instead of preventing weeds. . . use the plastic to warm you seed beds in the spring!

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    2. Clear plastic can also burn and kill weeds and grass when the sun shines on it. Some people use it for this purpose. Especially when the grass is wet.

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    3. i have black plastic around my fruit trees so the roots don't find a place to come up and start another tree right close.I have a thick bed of small rocks spred over the plastic so i don't see the plastic..the tree is fairly large, so it has nice shade and the rocks don't get hotand neither does the plastic....i only did this about 4 feet away from the truck,all around, so the water gets to the roots. Have done it for years..no problems

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    4. ok i read what i wrote about and th plastic is up to about a foot away from the trunk and 4 feet out around.and the rocks are right up to the trunk of the tree..have fun

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  17. Looks like you had great fun with all boys. You were the Karma messter that days. All of you made deep memories that day. Always try to remember a favorite memory from that da, it will make you happy.

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  18. Um now that just looks like fun.

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  19. My kids would love this, hope I'm able to pull it off as well as you?! Great job!!!!!!

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  20. Did you leave the hose in? Or take it out and tape up the hole?

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  21. I'm also curious about the hose. Did you leave it in or tape up the hole?

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  22. WOW! The kids really like that. Enjoy! Enjoy!

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  23. wow looks like a blast. have you thought about using the water proof duck tape? it shiny silver and holds VERY well I have used it in smaller projects but it think it would work great for this.

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  24. I am going to buy five and throw them directly into a landfill just because that one person is so annoying. So there.

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    1. There's no need to be hurtful!

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    2. LOL.....Seriously laughing here. I was also taken aback by that original comment. She tried to make the mom feel guilty and nervous for making a wonderful day for her children. Yeah...maybe there's no need to be "hurtful" but there is definitely a need to call that poster out on her ridiculousness. I so can't wait to try this with my own kid! I will fill it full of plastic bags and soda yokes.

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    3. agreed. leave her alone!

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    4. I'm trying very hard not to say what I originally thought about the naysayer. I feel like some people like to point out the problem instead of the solution. Instead of saying how wasteful it is for one day of fun, perhaps it would convert more people to your point of view if you said, "And don't forget to re-use that tarp for other purposes when you're finished! Wouldn't want to put all that plastic in the landfill just for one day of fun :)" Presentation is 9/10ths of getting people to see your point. Otherwise, you're just seen as an annoying tree hugger and then no one's going to heed your advice anyway.

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    5. Wouldn't you hate to be her kids?

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    6. Love it kat2009! Too funny. Looks like a fun idea, will have to try.

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    7. Wow, THAT was mature...

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  25. Omgsh, I love this. I'm turning 23 in a few weeks, and I've been trying to think up a good party...

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  26. Looks like the big kids had a lot of fun too!

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  27. You can buy the plastic "tablecloth" from a craft store. Old folks called it oil cloth. Some is clear and others are felt backed plastic. It is sturdy but not quite as wide and more expensive. You may be able to reuse it, though. I wonder if the big blue plastic tarps would work? I bet they would. Just some additional ideas for you.

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    1. Big blue plastic tarps? Uh uh...pat of the fun was in seeing the water inside as it rolled around inside.

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    2. Actually I'm pretty sure the blue tarps are not waterproof. Resistant, sure, but not truly water proof in the way they'd need to be for this. The lighter plastic would give much better results.

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  28. I agree this mom and kids had a wonderful day. If you don't want to do it because you can't think of how to reuse it then don't. Just don't rain on someone else's ideas. Looks like fun to me, wonder if I can sleep outside on it on a dark and star filled night. I am 66 years young.

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    1. I'm with you, Anon. I'm a year older than you, but just as ready to try this idea on an August night when the temps in the 80s and I just can't stay in bed....sounds like it might also be used to work up water beds for the dogs in August.

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    2. I'm with you, Anon. I'm a year older than you, but just as ready to try this idea on an August night when the temps in the 80s and I just can't stay in bed....sounds like it might also be used to work up water beds for the dogs in August.

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    3. I'm 58, and that sounds like an idea on a hot night. I'm just afraid too many members of our local wildlife community would join me.

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    4. yes you can...enjoy the night

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  29. Looks like a fun idea. And I also agree it's a good idea to be creative with the recycle part of it. You can have fun more than once with that much tarp. I'm sure there are art projects for it as well as energy saving things around the home and in the garden for the left overs. Which can be a way to teach kids stuff and make more fun memories.

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  30. I think I am going to be the coolest Mom on our street this summer!! Thanks for the great idea! (And I already know of about a billion re-uses for the tarp!)

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  31. I was about to purchase a "Slip and Slide". But after reading your blog, I'm going to skip it and go with your water bed project. Thanks too for your suggestions on how to improve it. Thank you!!!

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  32. What a fun idea! love it!

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  33. I'm makin dis for me daughter's 7th birthday.
    Love to all from newfoundland, canada

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  34. I do not want to be a downer, but after having the clear plastic on my grass for less than an hour, it killed the grass & left a huge yellow patch. My husband was furious! So.... maybe just a warning to not do this in excessive high temperatures----The plastic acts like a magnifying glass & can really heat up the lawn. It's something we now laugh about.

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    1. Oh dear, I must be a downer since I thought of the dead grass afterwards the first second I saw the pictures....LOL!!

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    2. Do it in the shade

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  35. I am heading to the store now to purchase the supplies. This will be a great activity for the kids on the 4th of July. Did you leave the hose in or tape up the hole once it was filled??? Thanks!

    Jen C @ Livinginwbl.com

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  36. FYI dont try this alone or on a small windy day....and she was right about the smallest hill. just tried doing this for my daughter and it was a bust after i got the water started in it and almost half filled. had a very small hill and didnt know it till then. just busted it and threw it away...may try again but this time with another person for sure!

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  37. This could actually have a serious use as a temporary water holding tank in disaster situations. I wonder how deep it can be made to hold.

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  38. Nice Blog!! Great Post !! Like your Blog and your ideas and i think its benificial for us and i keep to visit your blog regularly because i got lot of information through you blog

    Plastic Ducting

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  39. Something to keep in mind about using plastic, it literally bakes your grass. You won't have green grass after using it on a hot day and the grass takes a lot longer to recover. Speaking from experience.

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    1. Yup, that's exactly right.

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  40. Take a 25' plastic tarp, duct tape it to make a tube. Take 2 pieces of plastic the size of the 2 ends of the tube. Duct tape so you now have deflated cylinder. Cut a slit in one side large enough to fit a window fan, and cut another small slit on the other end for the door. Turn on the fan and watch the structure inflate into a plastic "greenhouse". Listen to the kids squeal with glee! They will be falling over each other trying to get inside. Great place to read and have lunch. All sorts of imagination fun. This is fun on a deck WHEN THERE I little or NO WIND. Also great on rainy days in your basement etc.

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    1. My kids would love this. I get the basic concept, but could you explain a little more clearly where the slits go. Are they in the cylinder ends?...so when inflated you're walking into a cylinder lying down on it's side? Thanks. Monika with a "k" :)

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    2. Try it with dark plastic. Tape glowing stars inside. Tell stories inside. What fun! Did this with my students.

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  41. DUCT tape. Not duck tape! It was designed for taping up leaks in ducts. Why on earth would anyone want to tape up a duck? Common sense, people!

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    1. Clearly anyone that has ever dealt with DUCT tape KNOWS that one of the BRANDS is called DUCK TAPE. Note the picture.

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    2. To Anon. #1, There is always someone that has to behave like the grammar police. It's because they don't have the creative gene to figure out fun activities for the kids. Thanks Anon #2 for the spell check and the Branding clarification to Anon #1. Some folks just have to be negative in some ways.

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    3. Actually, the original name was DUCK tape. It was developed during WWII and used to waterproof ammo cases. proof http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duct_tape

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  42. Fun! As far as being worried about making the husband "furious" for yellowing the grass.... Remind him... You are raising CHILDREN, not GRASS! Grass will grow back. Memories will last forever. Children will be grown in the blink of an eye, so enjoy them! Fuss with growing the perfect yard/house/whatever once they have grown and moved out.

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  43. Fun ideas! And probably not more polluting than driving a few hours to an amusement park and riding diesel powered rides all day.

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  44. LOVE, love, love this playful idea!! When my extended family gathers this July, adult and kids alike will have a blast with the "water bed". Thanks for sharing!

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  45. HAPPY GIG WHO WANTS HER GRANDKIDS TO REMEMBER FUN TIMESMarch 10, 2014 at 9:22 PM

    The grass will grow back, but the memories of a day like this will last forever. They're only kids for a short while. Enjoy them while they are little! Then, do it all over again when the grandchildren come...by then, you won't be worried about the lawn; you will want to make memories for those little ones too!

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  46. This is fab and I will be doing this. I cannot believe that people would bother to write posts on here about filling up landfills and the duck tape issue. Come on people. It's something fun for the kids. With so many health and safety issues on kids these days I love seeing simple ideas work for play ideas instead of expensive computer games. I LOVE IT.

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  47. If it is put on an actual tarp maybe that would save the grass as well as reinforce the bottom.

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  48. This is great! Was this strong enough for adults to play on?

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  49. IM still wondering about the hole and the hose... do you tape the hose and leave it on or do you fill it to as much as desired then pull out the hose and tape said hole???

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  50. THE HARDWARE STORES HAVE A THICKER PLASTIC FOR CONSTRUCTION CALLED VISQUINE (NOT SURE OF THE SPELLING) WHICH COMES IN VARIOUS THICKNESSES AND WOULD BE MUCH STURDIER. JUST A THOUGHT.

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