Outdoor Autism Activities – Pour and Match Water Color

The aim of this outdoor game is to transfer water from one container to another and match the colors, trying not to spill.


This water game is a great outdoor activity for people with autism and ADHD. For non-verbal individuals who try this activity, there is no age limit. If your person can grip, which is the first step to holding a pencil and can distinguish colors and walk, then they can physically play this game. To help your person learn this game you can try doing the activity hand-over-hand so that you can show them how to do it 3,5.

If you play ‘Pour and Match’ with a verbal individual, we recommend this activity up to 10 years old. You can introduce extra challenges for older individuals, for example, filling the bucket with a tablespoon.

“Pour and Match” has many benefits. It involves new ways of associating several tools that are not naturally linked in everyday life, and the control, experience and memory skills involved lead to learning. Furthermore, the logic and control required to followed a series of exact verbal instructions will help your person at home and at school. If the colors get mixed up, then your person will immediately see the results of their choices. And whatever they are able to do, they will most likely have fun playing with the water, which is a reward for the effort they put into following the steps of the game. In addition, they are working on fine and gross motor skills, visual processing, sorting and memory, and tactile processing 1,2,4.

Once your person has figured out how to play this game, they can do it independently for as long as they are having fun. It is not a competition and there is no failing. Even if your person’s interpretation of the instructions is rather loose, you can expect them to continue the game with light supervision for several minutes, maybe even more, and you can relax knowing that your person is enjoying the moment at the same time as they are developing skills and brain processes.

If you have not checked it out, we have another outdoor game with stickers and colors.

You will need:

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  • Four plastic pails (red, blue, yellow and green or any other color to match your food coloring)
  • Food coloring (red, blue, yellow and green)
  • Clean, empty plastic containers (e.g. yogurt and sour cream containers), a variety of sizes is good
  • Colored duct tape or electrical tape (red, yellow, green and blue)
  • A plank of wood (2×4)
  • A broom handle
  • A plastic or metal measuring cup
  • Two outdoor chairs

Setting up the activity:

Hang the pails on the broomstick handle and rest the ends of the handle on two patio chairs.

Fill the pails halfway with water and put a drop of food coloring in each one to create blue water, green water, red water, and yellow water. (Hanging the pails of water from a broomstick may avoid them getting knocked over accidentally).

Fasten four empty plastic containers onto the 2×4 (with tape or glue). Fixing the containers to the wood will allow you to move them around easily so that you can vary the height and location of the containers.

Wrap colored tape around each plastic container to make a red pot, a green pot, a blue pot and a yellow one.

Set up the plank with the plastic containers a few steps away from the line of pails with water.

What to do:

Ask your person to scoop up the blue water from the blue pail and empty it into the small, blue container. Then move on to other colors for as long as the activity is fun to do. You can increase the distance between the pails and the receiving containers a little every day, as your person gets better at the activity.

Additional Ideas:

Try changing the scooping tool that you use to collect the water. For example, you could use a different shaped cup or a tube.
Try adding some stepping stools between the main containers and the smaller containers so that your child has to go up and down without spilling anything.


1. Bekkering H, Pratt J, Abrams RA. The gap effect for eye and hand movements. Perception & psychophysics. 1996;58(4):628–635.
2. Crippa A, Forti S, Perego P, Molteni M. Eye-Hand Coordination in Children with High Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Disorder Using a Gap-Overlap Paradigm. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 2013;43(4):841–850. doi:10.1007/s10803-012-1623-8
3. Kirby AV, Dickie VA, Baranek GT. Sensory experiences of children with autism spectrum disorder: in their own words. Autism: the international journal of research and practice. 2015;19(3):316–326.
4. Martínez-Sanchis S. [The role of the prefrontal cortex in the sensory problems of children with autism spectrum disorder and its involvement in social aspects]. Revista de neurologia. 2015;60 Suppl 1:S19–24.
5. Posar A, Visconti P. Sensory abnormalities in children with autism spectrum disorder. Jornal de pediatria. 2018;94(4):342–350.

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