50 Best Pool Games and Activities For Kids (2024)

As the temperatures rise and the school bells fade, it’s time to embrace the season of poolside adventures!

Whether you have a private backyard pool, plans to visit a community pool, or are hosting a pool party for a large group, we’ve got you covered with the ultimate guide to the 50 best pool activities for kids in 2023.

Keeping kids engaged and entertained during the summer break can be a challenging task.

That’s why we put together an extensive list of exciting pool activities that will captivate your kids’ imagination and ensure they have a splash-tastic time all summer long.

With these pool activities, you can transform an ordinary swim session into a day filled with really fun memories.

From fun pool games to imaginative crafts, we have something for every age and interest.

​Let’s dive in!

1. Marco Polo

In this classic game, one player closes their eyes (the “Marco”) while the others (the “Polos”) scatter in the pool. The Marco calls out “Marco,” and the rest of the players must respond with “Polo.” The Marco uses their hearing to tag a Polo, and then it’s the tagged player’s turn to be Marco.

2. Pool Noodle Races

Each player straddles a pool noodle and uses it as a makeshift racehorse. The players race from one side of the pool to the other by kicking their legs in the water while on the pool noodles. The first player to reach the finish line wins. This activity is especially popular with little kids!

3. Water Volleyball

Set up a net in the pool and divide players into two teams. The objective is to volley a beach ball over the net without letting it touch the pool water. The team that fails to return the ball loses a point. This game is a great way to get lots of people involved in your pool party fun.

4. Water Basketball

To play pool basketball, set up a floating basketball hoop in the pool, or a stationary one on one or both sides of the pool. Players compete to shoot the ball into the hoop. The team or player with the most successful shots within a designated time wins.

5. Underwater Treasure Hunt

For this fun game, throw a variety of waterproof objects into the pool. (Good objects for this game include coins, toys, colorful stones, and plastic jewelry. Players dive underwater to search the bottom of the pool and retrieve as many treasures as they can within a given time. The player with the most treasures wins.

6. Dive and Retrieve

Players take turns diving into the deep end of pool to retrieve objects at different depths. The objects can be rings, toys, or even weighted items. The player who successfully retrieves the most objects wins.

7. Water Balloon Toss

Water balloons are always a hit! In this game, players stand in pairs and toss a water balloon back and forth. After each successful catch, they take a step back, increasing the distance. The last pair with an intact water balloon wins. Here are more fun water balloon games.

8. Belly Flop Contest

Participants line up at the edge of the pool. Each player takes turns performing their best belly flop, jumping into the pool with their bellies hitting the water first. Judges or spectators can score the belly flops based on factors like style, creativity, and splash. The player with the most impressive or entertaining belly flop wins the contest.

 9. Dance Party with Poolside Music

Set up a portable speaker or music system near the pool. Play lively and upbeat music that suits the atmosphere. Here are the best kids dance songs.

Encourage everyone to move and dance in and around the pool. Create a fun and energetic atmosphere with dance-offs, synchronized movements, and group dances.

10. Cannonball Splash Contest

Participants take turns performing their best cannonball jumps into the pool, aiming to create the biggest splash. Judges or spectators can score the splashes based on height, spread, and overall impact.

11. Swim Relay Races

Divide participants into teams and organize relay races in the pool. Each team member swims a designated distance before tagging the next teammate to continue. The team that completes the relay race in the shortest time wins.

12. Treading Water Endurance Challenge

Participants compete to see who can tread water the longest without touching the pool floor or the sides. The last person remaining in the water wins the challenge.

13. Freestyle Swimming Race

Organize a traditional freestyle swimming race where participants compete to swim a specific distance in the pool using their preferred stroke. Time each participant, and the swimmer with the fastest time wins the race.

14. Floating Object Retrieval

Toss a variety of floating objects, such as rings or foam toys, into the middle of the pool. Participants compete to retrieve the objects as quickly as possible. The person who retrieves the most objects within a given time wins the contest.

15. Handstand Contest

Kids of all ages love a good handstand contest! Participants show off their underwater skills by seeing who can hold a handstand position the longest while submerged in the pool. Judges or spectators can determine the winners based on balance, form, and duration.

16. Backstroke Race

Similar to the freestyle swimming race, organize a race where participants swim a designated distance using the backstroke. Time each swimmer, and the one with the fastest time wins the race.

17. Poolside Diving Contest

Ensure that the water depth is appropriate for diving. The recommended depth for diving depends on the type of dive being performed. Make sure there is a clear and unobstructed area in the pool for diving. Remove any objects or obstacles that could pose a risk.

Set up a judging panel and have participants perform various diving techniques from the poolside. Judges score divers based on their form, execution, and splash entry. The diver with the highest overall score wins the contest.

18. Swim-Float-Swim Race

Participants demonstrate their swimming skills by swimming a certain distance, then floating on their backs for a specific duration, and finally swimming the remaining distance. The fastest swimmer to complete the race wins.

19. Chicken Fight

A chicken fight is a popular pool game where two teams of two participants each engage in a playful battle while riding on the shoulders of their partner, in the shallow end of the pool. Here’s how to do a chicken fight. If you have a mix of ages, have the older kids be the “base” and have the younger kids go on their shoulders. This is a great one for pool parties! 

20. Pool Tag

A game of tag in the pool simply combines swimming and tag. Choose one person to be the “It” who will try to tag the other player. The “It” person begins by swimming or moving around the pool to tag the other players. The other players must swim and move around the pool to avoid being tagged by the “It” person.

They can use various swimming techniques, dive underwater, or take advantage of obstacles in the pool to evade being tagged. To tag another player, the “It” person must physically touch them. A simple touch on the shoulder or any part of the body counts as a successful tag. When a player is tagged, they become the new “It” and must try to tag the remaining players.

21. Duck Duck Splash

This is a great game for a kiddie pool or just a hot summer day. It’s similar to Duck Duck Goose. Players sit in a circle in the kiddie pool. One player walks around the circle, tapping each player’s head and saying “duck.” Instead of saying “goose,” the tapper says “splash” and pours water over the chosen player’s head. The splashed player then chases the tapper around the circle, trying to tag them before they reach the empty spot in the circle. It’s a great time, especially for the little ones!

22. Hula Hoop Relay Race

Divide players into teams and place a hula hoop for each team at one end of the pool. On the signal, the first player of each team swims to the hula hoop, swims through it, and swims back to tag the next teammate. The relay continues until all players have completed their turn. The team that finishes the relay first wins.

23. Hula Hoop Target Toss

Set up targets in the pool using floating objects such as pool noodles or rings. Participants take turns throwing hula hoops and attempting to land them around the targets. Assign different point values to each target based on their difficulty. The player with the highest total score after a certain number of rounds or throws wins.

24. Hula Hoop Obstacle Course

Create an obstacle course in the pool using hula hoops. Set up hoops in various positions and heights for players to swim through, jump through, or navigate around. Time each participant as they complete the obstacle course. The player with the fastest time wins the challenge.

25. Hula Hoop Dive

Place a hula hoop at the bottom of the pool. Participants take turns diving down and swimming through the hula hoop. Each successful dive and swim through the hoop earns a point. The player with the highest number of points after a set number of attempts wins.

26. Hula Hoop Water Ballet

Encourage participants to use hula hoops to create different shapes and movements in the water. They can hold the hula hoops above their heads, float inside them, or incorporate them into synchronized swimming routines. Have a panel of judges or spectators rate the performances based on creativity, synchronization, and overall visual appeal. The individual or team with the highest score wins the water ballet competition.

27. Water Gun Tag

Players use water guns to tag each other. Once tagged, a player is out or becomes the new “It.”

28. Mr. Shark

This pool game takes after the classic land game called “Mr. Fox.” To play, one child will play the role of “Mr. Shark.” Mr. Shark stands at one end of the pool, while the other kids stand at the opposite side. The group of kids yells, “What time is it, Mr. Shark?” Mr. Shark will pick a time, and the other kids must move forward a corresponding number of steps. For example, one o’clock means one step. At any time during the game, Mr. Shark can yell, “Lunchtime!” The other kids must try to get back to the opposite end of the pool where they started while Mr. Shark gets the chance to tag someone. The kid tagged becomes the new Mr. Shark.

29. Tug of War

Divide players into two teams and position them on either side of the pool. Designate a sturdy anchor point on each side, such as a pool ladder or handrail. Use a rope, pool noodle or other buoyant pool toy as the “rope” for the tug of war. Make sure it is long enough to reach across the pool with some extra length. Each team grips their end of the rope pool noodle firmly with both hands.

On the signal, both teams start pulling and tugging the noodle towards their side, trying to pull the opposing team over the centerline or into the water. The team that successfully pulls the other team across the centerline or into the water wins the round. Play multiple rounds, switching sides between teams to ensure fairness.

30. Water Polo

To play Water Polo, divide players into the two teams and set up goalposts at each of the pool.

Begin the game with a swim-off. A swimmer from each team starts at the center of the pool, and when the whistle is blown, they swim towards the center to gain possession of the ball.

Players can pass the ball to their teammates by throwing or swimming with the ball. The objective is to score by throwing the ball into the opposing team’s goalpost.

Players are not allowed to touch the bottom of the pool while holding the ball, except for the goalkeeper who can stand on the pool floor in their designated area.

31. Poolside Chalk Art

Provide the kids with colorful chalk and encourage them to create artwork on the pool deck. They can draw underwater scenes, aquatic animals, or anything that sparks their creativity.

32. Floating Boat Race

Each player creates a small boat using materials like foam, leaves, or recycled items. The boats are placed in the pool, and players blow on them to make them move. The first boat to reach the other side of the pool wins.

33. Watermelon Pool Carving

Encourage kids to carve watermelons into various shapes and designs, such as boats, animals, or even a mini watermelon pool slide. It’s a fun and refreshing activity that combines creativity and a delicious snack.

34. Beach Ball Relay Races

Divide players into teams and have them line up at one end of the pool. Each team is given a beach ball. On the signal, the first players swim to the other end of the pool and back, without dropping the beach ball.

Once they reach the starting point, they pass the beach ball to the next player in line. The relay continues until all players have completed their turn. The team that finishes the relay first, without dropping the beach ball, wins.

35. Water Limbo

Set up a pool noodle or a long inflatable object horizontally across the shallow end of the pool. Players take turns going under the noodle while keeping their backs facing down and their bodies submerged. After each successful round, the noodle is lowered.

Or, outside of the pool, kids must maneuver under a stream of water from a hose without getting wet. The lower the stream, the harder it is!

36. Pool Noodle Jousting

Players sit on inflatable pool floats, each armed with a pool noodle. The objective is to knock opponents off their floats using the pool noodle. Players take turns trying to joust and unbalance their opponents while maintaining their own balance. The last player remaining on their float wins the jousting match.

37. Floating Obstacle Course

A floating obstacle course is a series of inflatable structures that are set up on the water’s surface. Participants navigate through the course, challenging their balance, coordination, and agility. It’s a fantastic way to engage in friendly competitions and add an element of excitement and adventure to the pool experience.

38. Water Balloon Piñatas

Fill water balloons and hang them from a tree branch or a poolside structure. Kids can take turns trying to burst the balloons using a pool noodle or a water gun. It adds a refreshing twist to the traditional piñata game.

39. Poolside Science Experiments

Conduct simple science experiments by the pool. For example, kids can learn about buoyancy by building mini boats using aluminum foil and see which design floats the longest. They can also explore the concept of surface tension by attempting to float paperclips or other lightweight objects on the water’s surface.

40. Dive-In Movie

Set up an outdoor projector and screen near the pool area. Kids can enjoy a movie night while floating on pool noodles or lounging on pool floats. Provide popcorn and other snacks for a complete dive-in movie experience.

41. Poolside Yoga

Introduce kids to the relaxing practice of poolside yoga. Create a yoga routine specifically designed for the pool environment, incorporating gentle stretches and poses that can be done in the water. It’s a fun and calming way to promote flexibility and mindfulness.

42. Mermaid or Merman Training

Turn the pool into a mermaid or merman training ground. Provide mermaid tails or monofins for kids to wear and practice swimming like mythical sea creatures. They can learn different strokes, graceful movements, and even put on a mermaid or merman performance.

43. Poolside Photo Booth

Create a poolside photo booth with colorful props and a designated backdrop. Kids can dress up, strike poses, and take memorable photos with their friends and family. Provide instant cameras or smartphones to capture the fun moments.

Poolside Crafts

44. Noodle Boats

Cut pool noodles into boat shapes and attach small flags to them. Kids can decorate and personalize their boats using markers, stickers, or foam shapes. They can then float their boats in the pool and have mini boat races.

45. Sand Art Bottles

Fill small, clear bottles or jars with layers of colored sand. Kids can create patterns or designs by carefully pouring different colors of sand into the container. It’s a fun and creative way to bring the beach to the poolside.

46. Sun Catchers

Provide plastic or transparent glass beads in various colors and shapes. Kids can thread them onto fishing line or string to create beautiful sun catchers. Hang them near the pool or in a sunny area to catch the light.

Or, use pieces of colored tissue paper to decorate a piece of contact paper in a colorful design. Sandwich the tissue paper between two pieces of sticky contact paper, then thread a ribbon or string through it to hang up.

47. Poolside Tie-Dye

Set up a tie-dye station near the pool. Kids can bring plain white t-shirts, towels, or other fabric items to create vibrant and unique designs. They can use squeeze bottles or brushes to apply the dye and let their creations dry in the sun.

Here are 10 easy tie dye patterns for kids.

48. Watercolor Painting

Provide watercolor paints and brushes. Kids can paint with various colors and patterns, creating their own artistic designs.

49. Floating Art Gallery

Provide waterproof markers and large foam boards. Kids can create their own artwork on the foam boards while floating in the pool. Once dry, they can display their masterpieces as a floating art gallery.

50. Watercolor Splash Art

Attach large sheets of paper or canvas to a poolside fence or wall. Kids can dip watercolor brushes into cups of water and splatter different colors onto the paper, creating unique and abstract splash art. The water from the pool adds an extra element of fun to the painting process.

​Safety Tips

When playing pool games, it’s important to prioritize safety to prevent accidents and ensure a fun and enjoyable experience.

Here are some pool game safety tips to keep in mind:

  1. Adult Supervision: Ensure that there is constant adult supervision during pool games, especially when children are involved. Adults should be attentive, alert, and capable of responding to any emergencies that may arise.
  2. Swimming Ability: Ensure that all participants have basic swimming skills and are comfortable in the water. Non-swimmers or inexperienced swimmers should be provided with appropriate flotation devices or remain in shallow areas of the pool.
  3. Pool Rules and Safety Guidelines: Establish clear pool rules and safety guidelines before starting any games. Communicate these rules to all participants, emphasizing the importance of following them for everyone’s safety.
  4. Water Depth: Pay attention to the water depth and ensure it is appropriate for the games being played. Avoid games that involve diving or jumping into shallow areas of the pool to prevent injuries.
  5. Pool Area Hazards: Regularly inspect the pool area and remove any hazards or obstacles that could cause accidents or injuries. Clear the pool of any toys, floats, or debris that may interfere with gameplay.
  6. Equipment Safety: Check and ensure that any game equipment used, such as pool toys, floats, or inflatables, are in good condition and free from sharp edges or punctures. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for safe use of the equipment.
  7. Sun Protection: Encourage participants to apply sunscreen before playing in the pool to protect their skin from harmful UV rays. Provide shaded areas or umbrellas to offer relief from direct sunlight.
  8. Hydration: Remind participants to stay hydrated by providing access to drinking water or fluids during breaks. Pool activities can be physically demanding, and proper hydration is essential.
  9. Respect and Sportsmanship: Emphasize the importance of respect, sportsmanship, and fair play among participants. Discourage rough play, pushing, or dangerous actions that could cause harm.
  10. Emergency Preparedness: Ensure that there is a first aid kit and necessary rescue equipment, such as reaching poles or lifebuoys, readily available near the pool. Educate participants and supervisors on basic water rescue techniques and CPR in case of emergencies.

By following these safety tips, you can create a safe and enjoyable environment for these exciting pool games. Always prioritize the well-being of all participants and take necessary precautions to prevent accidents or injuries.

The best pool games not only provide entertainment but also promote physical activity, teamwork, and skill development in the water. They offer a perfect opportunity for kids to cool off, make new friends, and create lasting memories on a hot summer day.

By incorporating these water games into pool parties, playdates, or family gatherings, you can ensure that everyone has a blast.

Whether it’s a cannonball contest, a synchronized swimming routine, or a friendly game of “Sharks and Minnows,” the joy and laughter will be undeniable.

So grab your goggles, put on your sunscreen, and get ready for a summer filled with laughter, adventure, and endless fun.

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