How many times have you gone to a pool or beach with a pool noodle and then just left it behind?
Campsites are often strewn with these bendy, colourful tubes; abandoned poolside to be used by new families arriving as others check out. But what if we told you that you should think again before leaving yours behind? Because they could be your child’s passport to a world of fine and gross motor development, and a whole heap of fun.
Inexpensive and versatile; with a bit of creativity, pool noodles can be used in and out of the water to work on balance, strength, hand-eye coordination and more. Read on as we outline some inventive ways to explore their potential for a summer of endless fun and skill-building.
POOL NOODLE PAINTING
Painting with pool noodles is a fun way to change up an arts and crafts afternoon, making use of unconventional materials. By dipping the pool noodles in paint and rolling or stamping them onto paper, kids can produce unique and colourful designs. This budget-friendly activity not only encourages imagination but also helps develop fine motor skills. It’s a simple yet enjoyable project that can keep kids entertained and inspired on a sunny afternoon.
Who needs a standard obstacle course when you can build your own noodle- inspired version? Create a series of challenges involving stepping on noodles like stepping stones, crawling through noodle tunnels, and even noodles to jump over. This activity promotes both fine and gross motor skills, encouraging strategic thinking and adaptability. Make use of wooden dowel rods in the ground to keep the noodles in place.
This one needs a few extra materials – a peg board, cable ties and some funnels and containers should do the trick. By attaching pool noodles (cut them into various lengths) as pathways for water to flow through, children can explore cause and effect, experimenting with various spouts and angles. Let the kids discover the
basic principles of physics all while keeping cool on a warm day! As a bonus, activities on a vertical surface are great for natural wrist extension and fine motor skills.
Use wooden dowels and noodles cut to size; stand the noodles over the dowels and you have simple, colourful targets to throw rings over. Place your targets at increasingly demanding intervals.
BATTING WITH BALLOONS
Balloons are loved by physiotherapists for the gross motor and hand eye co- ordination work outs they give our kids. You can level up the fun by adding in pool noodles as ‘bats’ (cut to the length that works for your child). You can extend this activity even further by adding laundry baskets as targets/goals to guide the balloons towards.
Pool noodles make great ‘sticks’ or rope alternatives to limbo under. Task kids with performing different animal walks as they go under the noodle to work on all parts of the body. Ready to do a crab walk? Let’s go!
POOL NOODLE BALANCE GAME
Pool noodles are perfect, low cost balance beams! Place around the yard, or even indoors for an instant balance workout.
SENSORY BIN PLAY*
There are a number of ways that you can incorporate pool noodles into a sensory bin:
• Cutting and shaping: Begin by cutting the pool noodles into various shapes and sizes. You can create rings, cubes, or any other shapes that suit your sensory bin theme.
• Water play: Floaty pool noodles are ideal for water- themed sensory bins. Fill the bin with water and add the pool noodles to create a floating obstacle course
for small toys or boats. The texture of the noodles adds an interesting tactile element.
• Fine motor skills: Encourage children to thread smaller pool noodle pieces onto strings or pipe cleaners hidden within the bin, promoting fine motor skills and creativity.
• Letter and number recognition: Cut the pool noodles into discs and write letters or numbers on them. Children can search for specific letters or numbers, helping with early literacy and numeracy skills.
• Sensory search: Hide small objects or toys within the pool noodles, creating a sensory scavenger hunt for kids to dig and explore.
Remember to supervise young children during sensory play, especially if small parts are involved.
NOODLE RACE TRACK
Hot Wheels tracks are pretty pricey so do it the budget way instead! Pool noodles can make for fantastic, budget-friendly alternatives to traditional tracks. Simply cut the noodles in half lengthwise to create a groove for the cars to race through, and then arrange them in various configurations. The soft, flexible material adds an element of unpredictability to the races, making it all the more exciting for kids. It’s a simple, low-cost solution that encourages imagination, DIY innovation, and hours of entertainment.