Pool Noodle Games

Use your noodles for lots of fun games and activities.

Do your kids play pool noodle games? Foam swimming pool noodles are perfect for imaginative, active play. They're inexpensive (check the dollar store, or shop at the end of summer), safe indoors and out, and can be cut into different sizes and shapes using a serrated knife. You can even pick up some noodle connectors to broaden your play options. Just be on the lookout for small pieces of foam that chip off the noodles; those could be a choking hazard for kids under 4.

Super Structure

Pool noodle games are fun even on dry land
Jay P. Morgan / Photolibrary / Getty Images

The next time your kids want to build a fort, add pool noodles of varying lengths to their toolbox, along with some big rubber bands and those noodle connectors if you have them. Your young builders can prop noodles throughout their fort to hold up walls or bedsheet ceilings, and they'll probably come up with many more creative uses too.

Softer Sports Gear

Pool noodles can stand in for lots of different kinds of sporting equipment. This is useful for indoor play, for smaller kids who can't manage heavier gear, and just to switch things up for fun. Think:

  • Baseball bats: Use a noodle like a bat to hit Nerf balls, Wiffle balls or other light plastic balls, cloth balls, rolled-up socks, or balloons filled with air or water
  • Hockey sticks: Play floor hockey with a small rubber, foam, or plastic ball. Use a cardboard box, laundry basket, or some small plastic cones as a goal.
  • Javelin: A full- or three-quarter-size pool noodle makes a great javelin for wanna-be track and field stars.
  • Relay baton: A small section of noodle is easy to grip and transfer during a relay race.

Start or Finish Line

Pool noodle game: relay race
Catherine Holecko

Use pool noodles laid out on the ground to designate the start and finish lines of a relay race or obstacle course. Noodles or noodle pieces will come in handy for obstacles in the course, too; have kids jump over, slide under, and walk on the noodles, and so on.

Limbo Stick

Balance a noodle on two chairs to make a limbo stick, or just hold it in place. If kids dislodge it from its perch, it won't hurt like a broomstick might! Kids can go under it feet first, leaning back, in traditional limbo style. Or loosen the rules and let them crawl or slither under on hands, knees, and bellies.

Blast-off Rocket

Try this with a shorter (half-length) noodle: Have kids hold it vertically, then toss it straight up into the air like a rocket. How high can it go? Can they catch it on the way down? Or use a Hula hoop as a target landing area?

Safer Sword

With a pool noodle subbing for a sword, kids can be knights, fencers, or pirates that do no harm to others as they play.

Tug Rope

For a kinder, gentler version of Tug of War, use a pool noodle as the rope and have kids play while seated. Perfect for preschoolers.

Tic-Tac-Toe Grid

Use four noodles to make a super-sized tic-tac-toe game on the ground (weave them over/under each other to keep them in place). Use bean bags to play or have kids jump from square to square and form an X or an O with their arms.

Pinata Whacker

Fill a lightweight plastic pail about halfway with water. Hang it from a tree branch or plant ladder. Then give two or three children a pool noodle. The object is to spill the water out of the bucket onto each other!

Race Track

A noodle cut in half vertically and propped up at one end makes an excellent race track or marble run. You can join your two halves together using toothpicks or duct tape to make two parallel tracks (so two cars or marbles can race).

Bowling Lane

Make your DIY bowling game look more authentic by using pool noodles to define lane lines. They'll also act like bumpers to keep balls from straying too far out of the lane.

Giant Chopstick

This is a fun, cooperative game. Give two kids their own pool noodles, then challenge them to work together to pick up a beach ball, balloon, or bean bag (something slightly squishy). Wielding the noodles like chopsticks works best. If they can master the pick-up, see if they can carry the item to a target and set it down. Then increase the distance between pick-up and drop-off points. Looking for even more pool noodle ideas? Check out the book 50 Ways to Use Your Noodle (buy from Amazon).

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