Looking for swimming pool games that are educational and spark your child’s imagination? Look no further, your kids will never have a dull moment with these 10 unique swimming pool games. These games are fun and educational, they’re also exciting for adults and kids alike, so get in the water and play with your kids! Feel free to adjust the rules of each game to best suit the age of your child. Most of these games are appropriate for kids ages six and up.
1. Red Rover
A classic playground game with a twist for the pool! Red rover is played with two equal teams, each side links up shoulder-to-shoulder and holds hands, ensure legs are close together. The two teams face each other about six meters apart. The starting team selects a player from the opposing team to call over by chanting “Red rover, red rover, send (insert child’s name) over!” The selected player must swim and try to break through the legs of the opposing team.
In the land version players, must run and break through the linked arms of the opposing team – but of course, this is very hard to do in water! If the player successfully swims through the underwater leg barricade they get to choose a player from the opposing team to join their team. If the player fails, they now become part of the opposing team. Teams take turns until there is only one person left on the opposing team.
2. Underwater Bucket Race
Who can fill the bucket up with toys first? The underwater bucket race is played in teams of two or more (keep the numbers even). You can either use weighted toys or balls that sink to the bottom or use fruits/veggies that sink such as potatoes, avocados or mangoes. The goal is to collect as many toys/balls/fruits or veggies as you can within a set time limit. The team with the most collected wins!
Alternately, the game can be played above water, have a bucket for each team on opposite ends of the pool. The idea is the same, except using toys/balls or fruits such as apples, lemons or oranges that float.
If you use fruits and veggies keep in mind that they should not stay in the pool for longer than 15-20 minutes. If taken out within that time span they will be safe for consumption, just rinse them thoroughly with safe drinking water afterwards! The Oklahoma State University food safety fact sheet goes into more detail about chlorine used as raw fruit/vegetable sanitizer. Swimming pools contain 1ppm chlorine, the guidelines say chlorine is safe as long as it does not exceed 2000ppm. If you’re worried about consumption opt for toys and balls as fruits are simply an alternative if you do not have toys/balls on hand.
3. Balloon Boat Race
4. Whirl Pool
Whirlpool is a simple pool game that introduces kids to the concept of physics and lets them experiment with it by jumping into the whirlpool or throwing around a ball! The goal is to create a man-made whirlpool using sheer human force by running or walking in a clockwise direction. This game can be played with two players but, the more, the merrier!
5. Underwater Hoops
Even though this game is super simple, it’s very entertaining! All you need are a few hula hoops and some weights to make an underwater hoop obstacle course. You can use dumbells or any other weighty object to keep the hoops underwater to design the obstacle course. Attach hoops to weights with string to add variation in height. Have some hoops on the pool floor, some in the middle and some near the surface, this will make the obstacle course more exciting for your little fishy. You can add as little or as many hoops as you’d like, adjust the obstacle course for your child’s age and swim ability as you see fit.
6. Whack a Mole
Don’t worry, no mallets involved! This pool version of whack-a-mole calls for a foam ball (or any type of soft/lightweight ball) that players will use to throw at the moles. The person throwing the ball is the whacker whose goal is to “hammer” the moles. The moles are the other players who must avoid being hit on the head by the ball. To make it more challenging for the whacker, the moles can swim around or swim to dodge the “hammer”. When a player is hit, they must sit out for that round. Last player standing becomes the new whacker. This game is best played with at least four players.
7. Treasure Hunt
Which kid doesn’t love a treasure hunt? Players must dive into the pool in search of sunken treasure. So, gather your spare change and throw it into the pool for your little pirates to find and collect! You’ll need thirty or more various coins to toss into the pool. On “go”, players dive and collect as many coins as they can during a set time limit. Set a time limit you feel is appropriate for your child’s age and skill level. The player who collects the highest amount of money wins!
Bonus: math based pool games encourage learning through practice, this game will give your kids the opportunity to practice counting money in a fun way!
8. Watermelon Push Relay
The best part is that there’s a healthy and delicious snack after the race as a reward!
To play this game you need two or more players, but the number of players must be even (2,4,6,8…). You’ll also need to provide one watermelon per team. The game can be played in a one-on-one race or in a relay-style – the team that finishes first wins.
The idea of this game is to push the watermelon from one end of the pool to the other and back without touching the pool floor. If your kids want a challenge, grease up the watermelon(s) with Vaseline.
Although this is one of the more simple pool games, it certainly is a thrill to play because it adds an element of difficulty to the usual pool race.
9. Cardboard Boat Race
This is more than just a race, it’s also an opportunity to get crafty and hands on! Kids can build their own cardboard boats either in teams, solo or with your help. This can be a fun bonding activity for you and your child. Building a cardboard boat can also teach them the basics of engineering – this is sure to incite creativity, imagination and learning. The boat creation process can be set to a time limit to make it more challenging or you could take your time on it.
Players first construct a boat out of cardboard boxes, duct tape and any other materials you or your child might want to add to decorate or reinforce the structure. Once the boat(s) have been constructed players line up at the start line at one end of the pool. On “go”, the players paddle across as quickly as possible in a race to the finish line. For smaller pools add multiple laps. The player or team that finishes first or sinks last wins!
10. Number crunch
This game is similar to the underwater bucket game and the treasure hunt pool games, with the exception that it’s more math skill practice! You’ll need 20-30 ping pong balls and a permanent marker. Number each ping pong ball with numbers. You can decide how to number the balls based on your child’s math skill level, using numbers 1-30, 1-50, 1-100, 1-200… etc.
Divide players into two teams, on “go”, players jump into the pool and race to collect the ping pong balls for their team. Players are only allowed to carry one ball at a time and must place it in their team’s basket to score before grabbing another one. Once all of the ping pong balls have been collected, tally up the scores. The team with the highest score wins!