Looking for a fun and easy way to keep your family and friends entertained in the backyard this summer? How about a cool game of Sponge Bucket Relay?!? This exciting game is perfect for all ages and can be set up in no time with just a few simple supplies.

Stick around and we'll give you a step-by-step guide on how to plan and set up a fun Sponge Bucket Relay in your backyard. From choosing the right supplies and setting up the course to explaining the rules and enjoying the game, we'll cover everything you need to know to make your next backyard gathering a hit.

So grab some sponges, some buckets, and let's get started!

Introduction to the sponge bucket relay game

4 steel tubs sitting outside in the grass- setup could work for a sponge bucket relay game
Photo by Ella Ivanescu / Unsplash

The sponge bucket relay game is a simple and fun outdoor activity that is perfect for family gatherings, birthday parties, or just a weekend barbecue with friends. It involves two teams racing against each other to transfer water from one bucket to another using only sponges.

The game can be played by people of all ages, making it a great activity for bringing everyone together and creating a sense of healthy competition. It is also a great way to beat the heat on a hot summer day, as getting wet is all part of the fun!

Before you start planning and setting up the sponge bucket relay game, there are a few things you will need to consider. First, you will need to determine the number of players participating in the game, as this will determine the number of teams that will be formed. You'll need at least 2 players on each team, but the game can work with more too.

You will also need to decide on the size of the buckets and sponges to be used, as well as the distance between the start and finish lines. The buckets don't all have to be the same size, as long as the amount of water in them are all equal.

By following this step-by-step guide, you will be able to plan and set up a fun sponge bucket relay in your backyard that everyone will enjoy!

This 3 Minute video by YMCAHBB shows the sponge bucket relay being played, in addition to an alternative water game that uses disposable cups with holes in them to transfer the water in place of the sponges.

Materials needed to play the game

ai generated image of 5 colorful buckets and a sponge on a wood table outdoors

To set up a fun sponge bucket relay in your backyard, you will need a few materials to get started. The good news is that most of these items can be easily sourced or found around the house.

Of course, you will need some sponges. You can choose any type of sponge, but the bigger and more absorbent they are, the better! You will need enough sponges for each team to have at least one (alternatively you could give each player a sponge and then avoid "passing" them.)

Next, you will need some buckets. These can be any size or shape, but make sure they are big enough for the sponges to fit in. You will need at least two buckets per team - one for the start and one for the finish line.

You will also need water to soak the sponges in. You can fill up the buckets on the 'start' side with water before the game starts with a hose or watering can.

Make sure you have enough room in your backyard for the teams to run back and forth between the start and finish line fairly safely. You can use cones or markers to mark the start and finish line, or you can use objects like trees or garden furniture as markers.

Once you have gathered all the necessary materials, you will be ready to set up and play the fun sponge bucket relay game with your family and friends in your backyard.

Setting up the playing area in your backyard

little boy filling red plastic bucket with water from the hose setting up the water game sponge bucket relay in backyard

Setting up the playing area for your sponge bucket relay ahead of time will really help make sure the game runs smoothly and safely.

To start, you'll need to select a flat and open space in your backyard where all the players can gather and move around comfortably. Make sure the area is free from any obstacles, such as tree branches, rocks, or garden tools (unless you're choosing to make the relay race an obstacle course).

Next, you'll need to mark the start and finish lines using cones, chalk, or any other markers that are easy to see. It's important to make sure the distance between the two lines is suitable for the age and physical ability of the players. For younger kids, a shorter distance might be more appropriate, while older kids and adults can handle a longer distance. However, it's your game, and you can choose whichever distance works best for your space and players abilities.

Once you've marked the start and finish lines, you'll need to set up the sponge bucket stations. These stations should be placed along the playing area, evenly spaced out at the start and finish lines. Each station should consist of a bucket filled with water and a sponge placed next to it. You can use any type of bucket or container that can hold water, like kids plastic buckets, cleaning buckets, soaker tubs or even large bowls.

It's a good idea to test the sponge bucket stations before the game starts to make sure they are stable and won't tip over easily. You can also adjust the position of the stations if needed to make it easier or harder for the players.

Overall, setting up the playing area for your sponge bucket relay is a fun and exciting part of the planning process. With a little bit of preparation and creativity, you can create a safe and enjoyable game for everyone to enjoy in the comfort of your own backyard.

Here's a 2-minute video where Mount Pleasant Seventh-day Adventist Church did a sponge bucket relay with vacation Bible school kids of all ages using just two teams, very large sponges, and a relatively short distance:

Divide players into teams

one woman's hand handing off a blue sponge to a young girl's hand while running

Once you have gathered enough players for your sponge bucket relay game, the next thing to do is to divide them into teams. The ideal number of players per team is two to four, but you can adjust as needed depending on the number of participants you have.

Try to make sure that the teams are balanced in terms of age, physical ability, and skill level to make the game more competitive and exciting. You can randomly assign players to teams or have them choose their teams, but make sure everyone is on board with the method you choose.

It's also a good idea to come up with creative team names that add to the fun and competitiveness of the game. Encourage teams to come up with their own names, or provide some suggestions to get them started. (You can even add a pre-game to this mix by creating teams ad-lib style with random words drawn from a hat or generator software.) However you want to come up with the names, make sure they're fun and the players enjoy the process!

Dividing players into teams not only adds to the fun of the game but also helps to create a sense of camaraderie and teamwork among participants. It's an excellent opportunity for players to bond and work together as they compete for the win.

How to play the game

baby in bucket of water outside

Now that you have set up your sponge bucket relay in your backyard, it's time to play the game!

Here's how to play:

Divide players into two or more teams, and have them line up behind their designated bucket.

The first player of each team will dip their sponge into the water bucket, and then race to the other side of the yard to squeeze the water from their sponge into the empty bucket.

Once they have squeezed all the water out, they will run back to their team and hand the sponge off to the next player.

The next player will then dip their sponge into the water bucket and race to the other side of the yard to squeeze out the water into the empty bucket.

This continues until one team fills their bucket to a designated line first or a designated time has passed.

If no team gets their finish line bucket filled to the line, then the team with the most water in their bucket at the end of the game wins!

To add more fun, you can set up obstacles for players to maneuver around, or make it a timed event to see which team can fill their bucket the fastest. You can also award prizes for the winning team or for the player who finishes their turn the quickest.

Overall, the sponge bucket relay is a fun and refreshing game that can be enjoyed by all ages. Get your family and friends involved and have a blast this summer!

Rules of the sponge bucket relay

yellow garden hose on outside in grass

Before starting the sponge bucket relay, it's important to establish some rules to ensure everyone has a fair and fun experience. Here are some basic rules to consider:

Number of players

Determine the number of participants for each team, and make sure that each team has an equal number of players. Keep in mind that if you have a mix of kids and adults, then "equal" may not be the same amount of players on each team, but rather a more equal capability of each team combined.

Bucket size

Establish the size of the buckets to be used. Make sure the buckets are large enough to hold a sponge and water but not too big that it becomes too much work to move all the water.


Decide on the distance that the participants will run. This will depend on the age and skill level of the players. Keep in mind that the distance should be challenging but not too long that it becomes too tiring for the participants.

Sponge size

Determine the size of the sponges to be used. Make sure the sponges are not too small that they can't absorb a decent amount of water but not too big that they become difficult to handle for little hands.

Water source

blue plastic bucket filled with water for water games outside on the grass

Establish the source of water for the buckets. If you're filling them with a hose then it's as simple as that. Otherwise you'll have to decide how you're going to fill/carry the buckets to the starting line.

Time limit

Decide on the time limit for the relay. It's recommended that the time limit should be around 5-10 minutes unless you have very large teams or you do more advanced rounds later.

Penalty for spilling

Establish a penalty for spilling water from the bucket. This could be a time penalty or a requirement to restart the relay. We're going to leave this up to you since a fair penalty will really depend on the ages and number of people playing.

By establishing clear rules ahead of time, you can help make sure that the sponge bucket relay is a fun and fair game for everyone involved.

Tips to make the game even more fun

obstacles for sponge bucket relay

Sponge Bucket Relay is already a fun game, but there are a few tips that can make it even more enjoyable for everyone involved. Here are some pointers to keep in mind when planning your backyard relay race:

Mix up the teams

Instead of having everyone split into two teams, mix things up by dividing the players into smaller teams. This will create a greater sense of competition while encouraging team mates to work together towards a common goal.

Create obstacles

Add some extra challenges to the relay by creating obstacles that players have to navigate around or over. This could be as simple as setting up cones or as elaborate as building a mini obstacle course.

Time your race

Keep track of how long each team takes to complete the relay and challenge them to beat their previous time. This will add an extra level of excitement and motivate players to do their best.

Use different types of sponges

Instead of using the same type of sponge for each team, mix things up by using different sizes and shapes. They can randomly be selected to add some humor into the mix or you can let teams pick their own and see how it affects the game.

Add some music

Playing some upbeat music during the relay race can help create a fun and energetic atmosphere. Choose songs that everyone knows and loves to keep the energy high. You could even have an element where players need to hop, crawl, walk backward, etc. when a certain song or sound is played.

By following these tips, you can take your Sponge Bucket Relay game to the next level and create a memorable experience for everyone involved.

In Conclusion

Planning and setting up a fun sponge bucket relay in your backyard can be a great way to entertain family and friends on a warm day outdoors. With a few simple steps, you can create a fun and exciting game that will keep everyone involved and physically active.

Remember to choose a good location, gather the necessary supplies, and set up the course before the game begins. Make sure to also establish the rules and explain them clearly to all participants.

Finally, keep the game fun and lighthearted, and don't forget to take plenty of pictures to capture all the laughter and memories. With these tips in mind, you are well on your way to hosting a successful sponge bucket relay that will be remembered for years to come. 🙂

Don't forget to share your fun moments with us on social media by tagging us!

link to article on outdoor activities for kids on a sunny day
link to article on outdoor and indoor water activities for kids
link to summer party ideas article
link to free kids activity sheets on planets and the solar system

Questions and Answers

What are the rules for sponge relay?

There are many variations on the rules for a sponge relay aka sponge bucket relay, but the ones we recommend are:

  1. Determine the number of players per team and make sure you have an equal number of participants on each team. Remember, "equal" isn't always the same number, especially when you're combining kids of different age groups and/or adults with kids.
  2. Decide on the distance that participants will run, considering the age and skill level of the players.
  3. Choose sponges that should work well considering their size, not too small to hold water or too big to handle.
  4. Establish the water source for the buckets, whether it's a hose or another method of filling them.
  5. Set a time limit for the relay, typically around 5-10 minutes.
  6. Decide on a penalty for spilling water, such as a time penalty or a requirement to restart the relay.

By establishing these rules in advance, you can have a fair and enjoyable sponge bucket relay game for everyone involved.

How do you play fill the bucket with a sponge?

To play the "Fill the Bucket with a Sponge" game you'll need:

Sponges (1 for each team), buckets or containers for the water (2 for each team), water, and a decent outdoor space to play at. 

Once you have gathered the materials, follow these steps to play "Fill the Bucket with a Sponge":

  1. Divide players into two or more teams and have them line up behind their designated bucket at the starting line.
  2. The first player of each team dips their sponge into the water bucket and races to the other side of the yard while carrying the sponge.
  3. Once they reach the finishing line, they squeeze the water from their sponge into the empty bucket.
  4. After squeezing out all the water, the player runs back to their team and hands the sponge off to the next player in line.
  5. The next player repeats the process, dipping their sponge into the water bucket and racing to the other side to squeeze the water into the empty bucket.
  6. The game continues with each player taking their turn until one team fills their bucket to a designated line first or a designated time limit is reached.
  7. If no team reaches the finish line or fills their bucket to the line within the time limit, the team with the most water in their bucket wins.