Swimming pool games for kids and toddlers are fantastic as they keep children occupied during the hot summer months. It’s a great way to cool down and even get your little one doing some exercise. They can also be great for when your little ones are a bit bored with just ‘swimming around’. You should always ensure that safety is the first thing you think about before getting started with pool games for kids. Here are some old favourites and even a few new pool games for kids.
Pool games for babies & toddlers
Look around the house and find as many floatable toys as you can and place them in the pool. See how fast your child can paddle around the pool and collect the toys, or paddle along with your baby to encourage water confidence.
Lay your little one on their back and move through the water making sure you are supporting their back. This will help your little swimmer develop balance while floating in the water. Sing “I’m a little pancake on my back. I’m a little pancake nice and flat. I’m a little pancake on my back. Flip me over just like that” to encourage baby to roll over and float on their tummy. Getting your kids to swim on their front can be a challenge, so take your time and be patient.
If you’re happy and you know it, splash your hands!
If you want a game to tire out your little one, this is perfect. It not only encourages water confidence, it also signals an end to a happy swim in the pool. Hold your baby at arm’s length and sing, “If you’re happy and you know it splash your hands, if you’re happy and you know it splash your hands, if you’re happy and you know it then you really ought to show it, if you’re happy and you know it….kick your feet, wave goodbye etc.”
Pool games for kids
The games given below should only be played by kids who are able to swim. Remember: adult supervision is necessary for any pool game. The best games involve a few children, so get some of your child’s friends over to ensure a day of enjoyment in the pool. You also should set down some rules for playing these games, like no pushing, shoving, dipping, running on wet tiles or rough-housing.
This one is always a nice way to get warmed up for some more active pool games, and it normally works best in a pool that is fairly shallow. Get all the kid to line up on the very edge of the pool. Then all the kids should start walking around the pool, then jog around the inside of the pool and finally run for as long as they can (all in the same direction or the game won’t work properly). They should be able to generate a current in the swimming pool. Just when the current is at its strongest, get all the kids to turn around and try to go the other way, it’s really tough to go against the current and for a few moments it will be like having your very own ocean in your pool at home.
Belly Flop Competition
For this pool game, you are going to need participants and at least one judge. Get each player to do their very own belly flop (boys are much better at this one, girls tend to notice the pain after one or two goes) and judge the kids on how much splash they get, the loudest belly flop sound and who is the most creative. The child with the best jump wins the “Big Flop” award!
Pool Bottle Soccer
This pool game really works well if you have a whole heap of children over for an afternoon of fun. You need to get a two-litre soft drink bottle and strip the label off so it’s clear. You also need some kind of goal outside each end of the pool, chairs work well. What you need to do is divide the kids into two teams. Fill up the bottle with pool water and get them to stand facing away from the pool, so they can’t see the water. Throw the water bottle in the pool and each team has to try to find the bottle (not as easy as it sounds) and score a goal. Play first to five and then swop teams if all the children aren’t too tired.
Pool Tube Champion
This pool game can be played with any kind of toy or device that you can stay on in the pool (although a tube often works best) and somebody supervising and timing the action. One person stays on the tube in the middle of the pool and everyone else playing needs to get them to fall off the tube without touching it. The person who manages to stay on the tube for the longest wins!
Pool Treasure Hunters
A pool game, which might cost you a few Rand or so, but will keep the kids entertained for ages. It’s also a great incentive for kids who are still tentative about putting their heads underwater. What you need to do is get a whole heap of R 5 coins (maybe from that stash in your car or that jar of spare change), and get all the players to close their eyes, no peeking! Spread the coins evenly through the pool and get them to turn around and start diving for their lost treasure and all the coins they get, they keep. Ensure all the coins are out of the pool by the end of the day or some might get stuck in your pool filter.
Pool Balloon Bobble
A pool game that might just surprise your kids is balloon bobble. You need a few inflated balloons and a pool, that’s it. Blow up the balloons and throw them into the swimming pool. You can do this with only your child, although it’s more fun if a few children get involved. The aim of the game is to see who can keep as many balloons under their bodies for the most amount of time. Watch as balloons fly out of the water as the players erupt in a fit of giggles.
An old favourite. For those of you who don’t know how this game is played, it’s pretty easy and can be played by two players or ten. In this game, one of the players closes their eyes or is blindfolded and is ‘it’. The player who is ‘it’ counts to 30. By this time, the other players swim around and hide in the pool. After the count is over, the blindfolded player swims around and tries to tag any other kids. ‘It’ is allowed to find the other players only by their voice. In order to guess their location, the player who is ‘it’ calls ‘Marco’, to which all the other players reply by shouting ‘Polo’. This continues until he/ she is able to tag another player, who is then blindfolded and made to catch another player, and so on.
One kid volunteers to be the catcher in this pool game and stays on one side of the pool, with his back to the others. All the other players stand on the other side of the pool and choose a colour. The chaser then starts calling out colours and when a colour is called the other player needs to start stealthily advancing towards the chaser’s side of the pool. If the chaser hears anyone swimming, he/ she has to turn around and tag the swimmer before he swims away to the other end of the pool.
Your children are transformed into little seals for this pool game for kids. You will need one beach ball per player. Each child must then push the beach ball from one end of the pool to the other, using only their nose, the winner gets a sardine (or a lolly).
Pool Watermelon Race
This is pretty similar to Little Seals but with a ‘watermelony’ twist. You need a couple of watermelons, great for eating after the game, as water won’t damage the watermelons. Players have to roll the watermelon from one end of the pool to the other only using their feet and not touching the floor. The winner gets the first, juicy and delicious piece of the watermelon.
Water Balloon Catch
Water balloons are heaps of fun out of the water and even more so in the pool. Fill up a few water balloons and divide the players into teams. Get each team to stand pretty close to each other in the water and throw the water balloon between each other. As the game progresses, the players should stand further and further apart and if the balloon pops, that particular team is out.
This pool sport is best played if you have a proper pool volleyball net that can go across the pool. If you don’t, you can also use a piece of rope or string that you can arrange across the pool (try tying it to two trees, or the pool fence). Get a beach ball (for younger kids) or volleyball (for older kids). Then simply play a game where the kids need to get the ball over onto the opposition’s side of the net, using heads, hands and even feet. Play first to ten or until the kids get too tired. It’s lots of fun and will give your kids a good workout.
Nearly any game that kids enjoy playing outdoors can be adapted to play in the pool. Pool stores offer a good selection of swimming pool games, but encourage your kids to use their imagination as well. Always remember to enforce pool safety rules when playing pool games for kids and never allow children to swim unattended.