Have you ever seen the child who ignores the expensive toy and plays with the box that it came in? That is often the case with kids, as something insignificant may be a great source of interest. For those of us who work with children in the physical activity space, finding that “cardboard box” is a huge coup, especially if it is an inexpensive, convenient item. Pool noodles have fit that bill as they are generally cheap, but they are also versatile, easy to store and safe for games. They can be cut into various lengths for specific activities and are bright in colour for quick categorizing and grouping. Kids are inclined to actions that can be somewhat more potentially destructive actions such as swinging, swatting, and throwing, and pool noodles provide this outlet in a relatively safe and age appropriate manner. This article will feature fun and easy games that provide genuine physical activity for kids using pool noodles and can be adapted for most ages.

Pool Noodle Timber

  1. Kids break up into teams of 2 to 5. Each participant gets their own noodle.
  2. Depending on the number in the group, and various skill levels, the participants in each group stand a set distance from one another holding their noodle upright with one end resting on the floor.
  3. Based on the numbers the leader will pre-determine where each participant will be moving to when the game starts.
  4. On the go cue, participants leave their noodles, trying to keep them standing by releasing and moving away quickly. They will then run to another noodle, attempting to grasp it before it falls to the floor. They will then repeat the action by moving to the next designated spot, and so on.
  5. Modifications may include: allowing the participants to plan the order of movement, a more complex version may involve crossing over the middle to the next spot instead of a circular motion. Participants may use hula hoops instead of noodles. Depending on the skill level, hula hoops can be spun so that they remain upright like a top. This can involve playing the game over greater distances.

Tag My Foot

  1. Kids break up into teams of 2. Each participant gets their own noodle. The shorter the noodle the more difficult the game.
  2. Each kid will hold the other’s left hand, hold the noodle in the right hand, and stand arm’s length apart.
  3. On the go cue, participants attempt to strike one of their opponent’s feet with the pool noodle. Participants may move their feet in an evasive manner by hopping, jumping and shuffling in the space, all while keeping the grasp of hands secure.
  4. Modifications may include: holding the right hand of the partner and using the left for the noodle. Various length pool noodles will also increase or decrease the difficulty.

Pool Noodle Jump Rope

  1. Kids are challenged to grasp a pool noodle with both hands at each end and use the noodle as a jump rope by swinging it under their feet and then over their head.
  2. Modifications may include using different length noodles.

Pool Noodle Service Game

  1. Kids grasp a pool noodle near the bottom half and hold it out in front of them about waist high.
  2. They are then challenged to draw the other hand back and then forward striking the bottom of the noodle, much like a volleyball or badminton serve.
  3. The noodle is propelled in the air and kids are challenged to focus on how high and how straight up they can serve the noodle.
  4. Modifications may include: attempting to catch the noodle after serving before it hits the floor. They may also attempt to serve with the opposite hand or change the catching hand.

Pool Noodle Sweeper

  1. Kids break into groups of 2 or more. One long pool noodle per group is required.
  2. One participant acts as the “sweeper” by sitting or squatting on the floor with the other participants standing within a distance that does not exceed the length of the pool noodle.
  3. On the go cue, the sweeper grasps an end of the noodle and starts to move the noodle along the floor in a circular fashion by moving it in front to the opposite side and changing hands while circling the body and around the back. The sweeping continues in full circles while the others are jumping over the noodle as it passes and attempting to not allow the noodle to touch the feet.
  4. Modifications may include: Changing the speed of the sweeping. Kids can also try to hop instead of jump.

These are just some easy to try games that accommodate groups or individuals of most age groups of children. The space required is also not a limiting factor and can change the scope of the game depending on the amount of space or environment. The most important take-away from this is that a $1 store item can go a long way in getting a child active. What games can you invent?


Regional Coordinator – Atlantic Canada