Summertime means pool time for most of us. And whether you own your own pool or you visit the local pool or beach, it’s always fun to swim and play in the water. Having several ideas on hand for games the kids can play in the water can keep them from getting bored. Don’t have a pool? That’s OK, some of these fun games are easily played with a sprinkler. So dig out your kids' swimsuits and goggles and head for the water.
Diving for Treasure
The oldest pool game has to be diving for an object to see who can get to it first. This is a game kids will play for hours in the pool. Kids toss objects that will sink and then search for it on the bottom of the pool. Today you can purchase toys that are weighted and brightly colored designed specifically for this game. But why not add a new twist? Why not hide trinkets or coins, sealed in plastic bags and fastened to something weighted on the bottom of the pool before the kids get there? Then they can have a real treasure hunt. Limit the amount of prizes each child can find, make sure they share, and keep it to the shallow end of the pool—but, of course, no diving in the shallow end!
Sprinkler Tug of War
Turn on your sprinkler full blast for this fun game. Divide the kids up into to two teams. Use a rope or heavy duty jump rope and have the kids grab hold. One team on each end. Then start the battle! There will be lots of wet, giggly fun as kids try to avoid getting dragged into the sprinkler water. To avoid kids falling on the sprinkler do not place the sprinkler directly in the path of the tug of war game. Set it a few inches back from the center.
Water Balloon Dive and Toss
For this game you will need to fill small water balloons as full as possible. Place them on one side of the pool and on the bottom of the pool. Make sure they are spread out evenly. Divide the kids into two teams. You will need at least four kids for this game. Each team will be divided into divers and catchers. When you say, "Go!," the divers start looking for the balloons on the bottom. They then toss them over to their teammates. The teammates have to catch them in a small bucket or bowl. Whoever has the most at the end wins. You can also play a similar version of this on land. Just have the kids toss the balloons back and forth catching them in a bucket and moving further apart each time they throw the balloon.
What pool party is complete without a good old fashion game of Marco Polo? One child closes his eyes and is “it.” His goal is to find the kids in the water without opening his eyes. Their goal is to keep away. The person who is it yells out “Marco” periodically and the others have to respond with “Polo” as he tries to figure out where everyone is. Whoever he tags becomes “it” next.
Relay races are as much at the pool as they are anywhere else. For this relay race you need two teams of kids and empty sports drink bottles with lids—one for each child. Divide the kids into two teams. Line them up at the edge of the pool. When you say, "Go!," the first person jumps in the water, places his water bottle in the water and has to race to the other side first. The catch—he has to push his bottle with his feet. As soon as he reaches the other side, the next team member jumps in and takes his turn. Lots of toe-tickling fun in this relay race.
This relay race has many versions. One version has kids filling up a small bucket with water, racing across to a larger bucket, dumping the water, and racing back with the bucket for the next person to go. Whoever has the most water at the end wins. But there are other fun twists you can add to this. You can form two lines and pass the bucket down the line, send it back up, and whoever fills the bucket first wins. But for really interesting fun have the kids stand in line with their backs toward the goal. The first child fills the bucket then passes it up and over his head to the next child in line—without turning around or looking. The last child has to dump the water into the larger bucket backwards too.
Rubber Duck Race
This silly game will have everyone laughing. Have each child get into the pool at the starting line with a rubber ducky or other small floating toy. Everyone should have something about the same size and weight. All the kids then have to race their ducks across the pool but they cannot touch the duck. They have to blow their rubber duck across the water. Who will be the first to get her duck to the other side. If the touch the duck its back to the starting line.
More Water Fun
These are just a few of the many games you can play around the pool. If you have younger children you can let them paint with water around the edge of the pool or on a sidewalk. All you need is water and large paintbrushes. Another neat idea for younger kids is to fill small water balloons with water and freeze overnight. The next day remove the balloon part and let the kids play with their ice balloons in a small kiddie pool. Place a small toy in the middle of the balloon before freezing and they will have fun trying to figure out what is hidden in their balloon.
Belinda Mooney is a freelance writer.