Wish you hadn't bought quite so many pool noodles (to replace the ones you put away last fall and couldn't find until you bought new ones)? Here are some fun ways to use those noodles all winter long (now I wish I'd bought a few this summer!)
1. Tunnel Fun: Line up a few chairs facing each other, a few feet apart. Lay pool noodles across the chairs to make a tunnel. Children can crawl underneath the noodles or through the tunnel. Children develop upper body strength and spatial concepts while having fun!
2. Tug of War: A great partner activity for parent and child. Each person holds onto an end of the noodle and tries to pull it from the other. Vary positions to increase the fun and benefit. Try sitting, kneeling, and then standing. Try kneeling while your child stands. Challenge him/her to pull you over—you will both have fun when you fall over! This activity increases muscular strength and endurance.
3. Rocket Ships: Cut a pool noodles in half or into thirds. Count 1,2,3 Blast Off! And then throw the pool noodle high in the air. Try to catch it. Or, throw the noodle high in the air and call out an action to do before it lands (i.e. jump, touch the ground, turn around).
4. Ride’em Cowboy! Put on your imaginary cowboy hat and spurs. Pretend the noodle is a horse and gallop. Add some fun by giving signals to go fast/slow or start/stop. Get creative. What other animals might you like to ride and how do they move—walk, crawl, run, waddle, etc. Children can experience a variety of locomotor patterns such as sliding from side to side; twisting back and forth; and walking in straight, curved or zig-zag paths.
5. Let’s Go Bowling: Tape 2 pool noodles parallel to each other approximately 1 to 2 feet apart from each other as bumpers in a bowling alley. Line empty water bottles at the end of the two noodles. At the opposite end, encourage children to roll a ball down the “bowling alley” to knock down the pins. To vary the activity, provide different size balls and bottles weighted with water to encourage children to use a variety of speeds and force when rolling the ball.
6. Threading and Patterning: Cut your noodle into 1-2" width rings, provide a string with a taped end (tie the other end around one of the rings to provide a stopper) and let your child go to town. You can show them how to make patterns or just let them play and have fun.
7. Counting Caterpillar: You could also write numbers 1-10 on the noodles and help your child string them in order, make a cute face on one and it will be a fun counting caterpillar.
8. Pool Noodle Printing: This one I've done with my daughter and she loves it. I took some noodles that were cut into 1" rings and we printed with them using tempera paint and paper. We also did it with mud and the side of our house (and then hosed it off later).
9. Marble Run: This is an easy take on a classic game. Cut a pool noodle in half and race your marbles! One of my cousins sent me this picture thinking I'd get a kick out of it. How fun is this?!
So, don’t put those pool noodles away until next summer. It’s time to play! I'd love to know your ideas, so please share them in the comments section.