There’s no end to the number of games you can play in the pool with your kids. If you can’t remember one, jump in the water and ideas will float up. But if you want a few ideas for kid’s activities before you get to the pool, here’s a collection. You can make adaptations to make the game fit you.
1. Frisbee or ball
This one seems obvious. Grab a frisbee or ball, and play throw and catch. Simple. Doing this in the pool adds to the usual challenge of throwing and catching, as you have to swim to get it, so it’s great exercise for the parent, and good swim practise for the kids.
The only thing you have to consider is other people in the pool, (nobody likes a frisbee in the face when they come up for air). Teach your kids to keep an eye out for other swimmers, and try to limit your game to a certain zone that’s not too busy.
2. Pool Tiggy
This is like tiggy on land, except in the pool, so there aren’t many rules to remember. Basically, someone is ‘it’ and someone gets ‘tagged’. When you are tagged, you become it. You can add all kinds of fun rules to this one, or just keep it simple.
3. Sharks and tadpoles
We’ve all played this one. A bit like tiggy, a shark sits in the pool and the tadpoles have to get past without getting tagged. Whoever gets tagged, is out. The last one tagged has to be the shark next round.
This probably only works in a small backyard pool with a few people. Space yourselves out evenly along the edges of the pool (in the water) and all walk or swim in the same direction. Gradually, as you all move, a whirlpool effect will be created, and you can all enjoy being carried along by the force of the water (don’t worry, it won’t be that strong a whirlpool). This works best in a round pool, but you can create a bit of a current in a rectangular pool too.
5. Octopus Ring
Someone stands or swims in the middle of the pool, and the others have to swim past without getting tagged. If you’re tagged, you join the octopus! Now two people are joined together, doing the tagging, and so on, until everyone is a tentacle of the octopus.
6. Fishy in the middle
Like piggy in the middle, someone stands or treads water in the middle, and others throw a ball over the top of them. The person in the middle has to try to catch it. If they drop it, or miss, the others can grab the ball and keep playing, until the person in the middle eventually catches gets the ball. The last person who threw the ball then becomes the ‘fishy’.
7. Floatie race
You can do this on any sort of floating device, like a lilo, pool noodle, or a giant flamingo if you have one. Set a finish point to race to (like the other end of the pool) and race each other. You can make it more challenging by having soft weapons to throw at your competitors along the way (think pool noodles or a soft ball). Half the fun is falling off.
8. Dolphin race
Each racer has a floating ball and has to race the ball to the finish line, but the challenge is, they are only allowed to touch the ball with their nose.
What’s the time Mr Shark?
You know What’s the time Mr Wolf? Well change it to a shark. Done.
The shark stands in the pool with their back to the others.
The others call out, ‘What’s the time Mr Shark?’
The shark turns around and answers with a time, like, ‘it’s 4 o’clock’. The shark turns back and the others advance on the shark. They ask the time again, and the shark keeps giving a time until it hears the voices very close by. Then when the group asks, the shark answers, ‘It’s dinner time!’ and chases the others back to the starting line. If the shark manages to catch someone, they are the shark the next round.
9. Scavenger hunt
Grab a few pairs of similar objects (two balls, two pool noodles, two pairs of goggles) and scatter them in the pool. Call out start, and the two players have to jump in the pool and bring the objects back one at a time. The first person to return the objects to the starting point, wins.
Pool game reminders:
- Remember, with any of these games, keep an eye on all the kids playing, and make sure you don’t forget about safety in pursuit of playing the game.
- Avoid games that involve kids holding their breath underwater, like ‘who can hold their breath the longest?’. This type of game can go wrong. Very short durations underwater (like when diving under to grab an object in a scavenger hunt) are ok, but even for short durations, make sure all kids are monitored and help out if there are any struggles.
- It’s ok to wear floaties! If you kid is still getting used to the water, most of these games are fine to be played in floaties. Just adapt to your kid’s abilities.
- Always keep an eye out for other pool users and make sure your game doesn’t get in the way of them having a good time at the pool.
- Keep it light! Pool games aren’t meant to be serious. You want your kids to enjoy time at the pool, so go easy on rules when you need to, and encourage fun most of all.