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Finally, it’s summer. The sun is shining, school is over and we have a couple of months to relax and enjoy life at a slower pace. These are the months that we’ve long awaited. We dream of days filled with shaved ice, splashing in the cool water and backyard movies. It all sounds like fun until… The whining starts in. Kids start fighting. They’re hungry and tired and bored. Before long, you’re pulling your hair out, wondering why these kids can’t just get along. Sending them outside to the pool is turning into a huge headache because they’re tired of playing Marco Polo and want more pool games for kids.
While I generally give my kids a list of chores to do when they’re bored, there’s no denying it’s incredibly peaceful sending my teens outside to the pool. So instead of a list of chores, I came up with a list of FUN! Now when they’re “bored,” I send them to the pool and let the water do the entertaining!
And today, I’m sharing my ultimate list of pool games for kids with my favorite people: YOU!
30+ Easy Pool Games for Kids
Let’s just get this one out of the way, shall we? I don’t know if there’s a kid on Earth who doesn’t know how to play “Marco Polo” but for a lot of kids, it’s the only pool game they do know! Unfortunately, after playing it exclusively for the last 10+ years, it can eventually grow boring. 😉
My own kiddos made up this game and have spent hundreds of hours playing it over the years. The rules are pretty simple but for the ease of understanding the game, we’ll call the person who is “it,” Joe. Joe stands on the ladder, facing the outside of the pool, while the rest of the people stand together on one side of the pool. The others try to get from one side of the pool to the other, going through the very middle as silently as possible. Here’s the catch: As soon as Joe hears a splash or thinks someone is moving, he turns around and can tag them. If he tags them, they are “it.” If he doesn’t, he remains “it.” Once one person is safely to the other side, they can form a human chain to help the others. Keeping one hand on the wall, they can outstretch their hand, to reach the others. Once they are connected with the other side, Joe can no longer tag them, as they are safe. As the chain gets longer, it gives Joe less time to tag them. The game is over when everyone has successfully crossed sides.
Have everyone turn around while you toss 10 pennies in different directions in the pool. On the count of 3, everyone can dive in and see who finds the most. If that’s not quite challenging enough, try using dimes. Not only are they smaller, but they’re also harder to spot, as they tend to blend in with the bottoms of most pools.
Sharks & Minnows:
One person, the “shark,” starts in the middle of the pool and chants “Fishy, fishy, come out to play! Fishy, fishy, make my day!” At this point, all of the other players, who are the “minnows,” start to run from the shark. If they shark touches them, they also become a shark. You continues this until all of the “minnows” have been transformed to “sharks.” The last minnow remaining becomes the “shark” for the next round.
Remember playing the game “Hot Potato” when you were young? This is the exact same, just in the water! One person turns their back and starts counting. The others work to quickly pass a ball around the circle. The person holding it when the “counter” turns around is the loser and must become the “counter.”
Hold a splash competition to see who makes the biggest splash when they jump in the pool. Only one person should be the judge and should always judge honestly. (This is a good job for moms who are keeping an eye on their kiddos in the pool.) After you’ve all jumped in, see who can make the biggest splash using only their hand, then only their feet, then only their head. Get as creative as possible with this simple but fun game!
Sure, you can’t bring your art supplies to the pool but you can show off plenty of other talents! Whether you want to show off your best dive or demonstarte your best air guitar while in the water, give it your all! Judges should pick a winner off of overall creativity and sheer talent.
Q & A:
As a kid, we constantly made up games that required us to jump in the water. For this game, one person shouts out a question as the jumper begins to jump. The jumper has to answer the question before they hit the water. If they don’t, they become the question asker. You can also play this game with True or False statements or make them catch a ball as they’re leaping through the air. The possiblities are endless!
Just like the playground game, but in water! Equally divide into 2 teams. Each member must hold hands and call out “Red Rover, Red Rover, send (Joe) right over!” Then Joe has to rush to the other side by swimming or running and try to break through the other team’s hands. If he successfully breaks their hand-chain, he gets to pick one of the people who he broke through to join him on his team. If he doesn’t break through, he has to join the opposite team. The team who runs out of players first loses.
Have you ever wondered how on Earth a seal is able to balance a ball on its nose for so long? Well, it’s harder than you might imagine! This game proves that. Using a beach ball and your nose, see who can keep their ball balanced on their nose for the longest amount of time. For an extra challenge, try bouncing it up and down and see how many bounces you can get in before the ball ever hits the water.
Underwater Swim Competition:
When you’re looking for fun pool games for kids, you just have to add in a little competition! See which kiddo can swim the furthest underwater before needing to come up for air! If they make it all the way to the other side of the pool, have they turn around and swim back to the starting line, without ever coming up for breath.
Round and round you go! This fun game is a serious workout so if you’re wanting to get in shape, hop in the pool and start walking in circles around the outside edge with your kiddos. You’ll be amazed at how sore you are the following day. 😉
Played much like sharks and minnows, this fun game allows those who have been tagged to switch over to the other team. Now, they must help turn others to zombies. The catch is that they must walk or swim with their hands straight out in front of them. They can’t swing their arms quickly to tag others. This rule makes the game much more challenging than Sharks and Minnows.
Twist & Shout:
This game is as fun as it is simple. Kiddos take turns jumping in the pool, while spinning in the air. As they twist, they count their “twists” out loud for all to hear. (Trying to get more than 1 twist seems impossible to me!)
This classic game is still a favorite for all ages. You need 4 people to play, 2 as the “bases” and 2 as the “chickens.” The chickens climb onto their bases and then use their arms, legs and whatever else to try to knock the other chicken off their base. If both the chicken and base go underwater, they lose.
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POOL GAMES FOR KIDS!
Ping Pong Paddle:
Using a cupped hand (doggy paddle motion), players must try to get their ping pong balls to the other side of the pool. The trick is that you can’t use big motions, waves or other moves to help move the balls.
On “Go!,” kids will go underwater and see who can stay there the longest. The first one to come up out of the water is the loser. You’ll be amazed how much longer they can hold their breath after they’ve been playing this game all summer!
If you have a basketball goal for your pool, kids can enjoy this fun game. Player one shoots a basket fom anywhere in the pool and the others have to mimic his shot from the exact same spot. If they don’t make the basket, they get the first letter, F. The next time they miss the shot, they get another letter. The player who gets all 4 letters of “FISH” first is the loser.
An inflatable basketball hoop is a great investment if you have a backyard swimming pool. Trust me on this one. It’ll quickly become one of your favorite pool games for kids!
My kids love playing “Dead Man” on the trampoline and it’s just as much fun in the pool. The “Dead Man” floats in the center of the pool, with his eyes closed, while the others chant “Dead Man, Dead Man! Come alive, by the time I count to five! One, two, three-four-five!” Then the “Dead Man” stands up, with his eyes remaining closed and tries to tag the others. Whoever he tags first becomes the “Dead Man.”
We all know that kids suck at being quiet when you want them to be but after a few hours in the pool, they sometimes enjoy resting. One great way we’ve found to make this happen is to play the quiet game for 5 minutes. The kiddos try their hardest to not splash, talk or make any noise at all. If mom hears a noise, that child has to sit out of the pool until the game is over. A few floaties to relax on are important to make this game as quiet as possible.
Doing a handstand in the pool is a great trick for kiddos to learn. Have them all begin at once and see who can hold a handstand in place the longest. It’s simple but kids enjoy trying to outdo each other and beat their own personal records.
Using nothing more than the air in your mouth, try moving a beach ball from one side of the pool to the other, without touching it. Add in fun challenges, like no touching the ground with your feet or try keeping your eyes closed the whole time.
Grab a box of random objects and toss them into the pool. Give them a clue about the first object. For instance, if you throw in a penny, say “Find the coin.” Once they’ve found the penny, call out another object and keep going until they’ve found everything. The person who found the most treasures is the winner.
Team Work Color Sort:
Grab a bag of colored stones and sort them by color then throw them into the pool. Divide the kids into teams of 2 and have them pick a color. Each team has 1 minute to find as many stones of their color as they can. The team who finds the most in the alloted time wins.
There’s no pool games for kids quite as fun as jamming out to some good tunes. Crank up some music and have a dance-off! Once you start to slow down or repeat the same moves too many times, the judge can remove you from the game. Keep playing until there’s only one dancer left!
A couple of packs of ping pong balls will provide hours of entertainment in the water! Give the kiddos a challenge and see how many they can complete. Instruct them to walk across the pool with a ping pong ball balanced on their head. If they make it all the way across without it falling or touching it, they have to try to swim back, while balancing it!
Don’t Drop the Ball:
See how many times you can hit the ball before it touches the water. Work together to keep the ball in the air for as long as possible!
A net plus a ball equals unlimited hours of fun. Seriously, it’ll be one of the best investments of the summer! Plus, the whole family can enjoy it!
After a wild and crazy Saturday night of watching reruns of the 90’s “American Gladiator,” my kiddos came up with their own version of “Power Ball.” Since we didn’t have any goals, we made our own using a pool noodle and some duct tape. 😉 The goal is to do whatever it takes to get the ball into the noodle hoop. Players can tackle, splash or pull out their best moves to stop the other players from scoring a point. Once you score a goal, you have to switch roles and take your turn guarding the goal. (This game can get physical but being in the water makes it a little less intimidating.)
Sink or Swim:
Kids love a good guessing game. Go around your house and grab random objects. Drop them into the pool, one at a time, after the kids have guessed whether they will float or sink. The kid who guesses right the most wins.
Synchronized Swimming Challenge:
For this silly game, the “instructor” stands on the deck or outside of the pool, where the others can see her. She does fancy dance moves and the others try to mimic her as best they can. The trick is to try to stay in unison with the other “performers.” If they’re doing too good, the instructor can make up more difficult dance moves, just as they would in a synchronized swimming routine.