Summer break is officially here! Are you already out of ideas for keeping the kids active and entertained? We’re here to help!
Whether you are a camp counselor, parent, babysitter, nanny, or personal trainer trying to support clients who are parents, we have new ideas and solutions for you. There are a ton of cheap and easy ways to not only entertain your kids but also teach them fundamental movement skills as well as engage their senses.
One of our favorite toys to play with is pool noodles. Versatile and offering variability for kids of all ages and abilities, pool noodles can be used to practice gross motor skills such as jumping and striking and for art projects such as painting or making giant pool noodle necklaces. Or combine both efforts and throw pieces of the pool noodles onto an empty canvas to create a giant collaborative art piece. Stick with us this summer and you can keep adding to that masterpiece as we explore more toys and tools to keep you and your kids moving and smiling this summer!
5 Ways To Use Pool Noodles:
1. Jumps (improves balance, running, jumping, and hopping)
- Pool noodle jumps – jump forwards/backward/sideways, jump and twist
- Modification: Step over the noodles, holding a helping hand, if necessary
- Ready for a greater challenge: Use multiple noodles, placing them further apart and in a varied pattern, so they jump in each direction one right after the other.
2. Pool noodle balloon game (improves visual tracking, eye-hand coordination, striking, and reaction time)
- Cut pool noodles in half. Then blow up a balloon and you are ready! With a partner, keep the balloon in the air as long as possible by hitting it with the noodles back and forth!
- Modification: each student has their own balloon and tries to keep it up on their own.
- Ready for a greater challenge: Minute to win in its challenges – on their own or with a partner, see how many hits they can get in a minute.
3. Obstacle Course: Pool Noodles, pencils & duct tape (improves crawling, jumping, throwing, balance, and coordination) Depending on how many stations you want you might want to get up to 15 pool noodles.
- Tunnels – To create the tunnels, place two pencils (or sticks) about 2-3 feet apart (sticking the sharp end of the pencil in the ground and leaving the eraser side in the air.) Place each end of the pool noodle on the pencils sticking out of the ground to create an arch. Repeat this step two more times to make three tunnels to crawl through. Older kids could use these as hurdles as well.
- Mini-hurdles – To create these hurdles, take a full-length pool noodle and stick the sharp end of a pencil into the noodle about a foot from the end on each side. Then remove the pencil and place the eraser end into the pool noodle. Repeat for each side and then with the sharp ends of the pencils sticking out of the noodles, stick them into the ground. Repeat two more times to make three hurdles.
- Ring toss – Take one pool noodle and loop it into a circle until the ends touch flat to each other. Wrap them in duct tape (wrapping several times generously so it doesn’t come apart). Cut another noodle in half, stick a pencil into the ground and place one of the half noodles over the pencil. Use the other half noodle as a line to stand behind when doing the ring toss (or use another full noodle for this as we did).
- Balance beam – Place a noodle flat on the grass and secure it into the ground on each end by sticking the sharp end of a pencil (or tent stakes work well for this one) through the noodle and into the ground. Remind your kids to slow down for this, this will challenge their balance and ability to control their bodies.
- In & Out – Place noodles vertically for students to weave in and out. Stick pencils in the ground in a line about 3-4 feet apart. Then add one noodle to each pencil sticking up and kids will run around them. Change the pattern of the noodles to increase the challenge and to keep the course interesting.
- Finish Line – Lay down one noodle flat at the end of the course. Invite kids to end with their favorite action move!
4. Noodle body part tag – (improves spatial awareness, reaction time, coordination and striking) This game can be played with a group of kids or as few as 2. Also a great family game! Everyone gets a noodle. The goal of the game is to tag the other players, but you can only tag the arms and legs. Once you tag one of those appendages, it can longer be used. So when one arm gets tagged, it has to stay behind the back. When a leg gets tagged, you have to hop on one foot. After each arm gets tagged, you can tuck the noodle in your armpit to keep tagging. If both legs get tagged, you have to crawl or scoot around. The last player with the most body parts wins!
5. Noodle painting (improves striking, visual tracking, temporal awareness, and running)
- Swing and paint – Set up paper or cardboard on a wall, easel, fence, etc. Choose any type of item to use as a ball and dip it into the paint. Depending on the age of the child, you can place the ball on a tee or toss it to them. Using the pool noodle as the bat, swing and strike the “ball” at the paper and watch your masterpiece come to life! Adjust the distance from the paper depending on the child’s age and skill level as well.
- Throw and paint – Set up paper or cardboard on the wall or the floor (or both!) Cut up a pool noodle into 1-6 inch sections. Dip the pieces into paint and then throw, drop, press and roll them onto the canvas.