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Kids can splash it, squirt it, sprinkle it, stir it, pour it or spray it. In fact, practically the only thing kids can't do with water is break it! That's why playing with water is so much fun, especially when the temperatures soar and the whole family needs to cool down.

You don't have to live near a lake, community pool or ocean to let your kids explore the wonders of the wet. Here are some ideas for both entertaining and educational water fun at home using a wading pool or sprinkler. (For safety's sake, adult supervision is the rule when kids play with water.)Wading pools are like outdoor tubs, so it's fine for kids to bring favorite bath toys into the pool. Don't miss out on sharing some great water experiments with your kids by taking along items found in the kitchen, too. Bring a clean sponge for dipping, squeezing and sprinkling water on arms and legs.

Plastic containers or measuring cups are perfect to show kids the concepts of volume, quantity and measurement. Let the kids explore how water "changes shape" by pouring it from one container into another. They can use a plastic funnel for the filling and the spilling. Plastic squeeze or pump spray bottles from dish detergent or window cleaner - emptied and rinsed out, of course - make great outdoor water squirters.

For older kids, some landlubber games can become water games with the help of the sprinkler. Kids can play follow the leader by jumping through the sprinkler. For extra fun, an adult can play a cassette player from a porch or deck (away from the water) for a variation on "musical chairs." When the music stops, whoever is under the sprinkler at the time is out.

Letting kids make friends with water indoors and out gives them a chance to explore, learn and have fun. It also helps them gain a sense of control and confidence around water that will later prepare them for dips in big pools, lakes, rivers or oceans.

Donna Erickson's new book, "More Prime Time Activities with Kids," is now available in bookstores. To order by mail, please send a check for $12.95 plus $2 shipping and handling (total $14.95) to Donna Erickson, P.O. Box 16188, Minneapolis, MN 55416.