The pool noodle: 5 feet of cylindrical foam, seen wobbling in the backyards of suburban America for the last several years. It is ubiquitous. It is silly. It is as versatile as it is simple, and it is the epitome of pool-time fun.
When extraterrestrials finally make their first diplomatic visits to our planet, the pool noodle may be the one thing that truly baffles them about our various cultures. How, they’ll ask, can one species get so much joy from so mundane and seemingly pointless an object?
This is because, being aliens, they just can’t understand. While the pool noodle is most often employed as a flotation device, wonderfully adjustable in its shape, its uses go far beyond helping children learn to swim. There are a multitude of pool noodle games that make the most of this simple, beloved, revolutionary toy. Here are but a few:
1. Ring Jump
We can all agree that the best expression of joy in pool ownership is the act of jumping into one. Not walking into, nor wading into, but jumping — leaping with all the abandon of the truly happy. Of course, style points are invaluable, which is why we so often see children and adults treating every swan dive and belly flop like an attempt at a gold medal. For an extra fun challenge, form pool noodles into rings. This can be done either by purchasing pool noodle connectors, which are made out of the same material as the noodles, and inserting each end of the noodle into either end of the connector, or by inserting a paper towel tube into a hollow noodle and securing the “joint” with duct tape. Either way, float the rings on the surface of the pool, and award points for successfully jumping through them. Points can be awarded for style, accuracy or distance, so long as the game is played safely by keeping the rings at appropriate depths and distances from the pool edges.
2. Home Run Derby
Release your inner hall of famer with a noodle home run derby. Simply stand in the pool holding a noodle like a bat. The pitcher then brings the heat with a standard size beach ball. The strike zone will be a little smaller than in terrestrial baseball, but appoint an umpire to make the call. Give the batter an agreed-upon number of swings, and award a point for every one he knocks out of the “park” — by which we mean the pool itself. Then switch: batter becomes ump, ump becomes pitcher. Everyone else can field until it’s their turn to join the batting order.
3. Human Ring Toss
For this, you’ll need a few participants willing to stand still for a bit. Stand three people (the “targets”) in the pool in a line, varying the distance between them according to the size of your pool. The “tosser” stands at one end of the pool so that each of the targets is respectively further away. Using five noodle rings, the tosser then throws the rings from the edge, trying to land them on the targets. Award one point for tossing a ring onto the closest target, two for the middle, and three for the furthest. High score wins — simple.
4. Noodle Race
This is a simple race, with one twist: you guessed it, pool noodles. Each participant gets one hollow pool noodle and one standard size beach ball. At the starting line, each person balances their beach ball on the end of their noodle, holding the noodle at the bottom. On the word “go,” everyone walks from one end of the pool to the other and back (naturally, the deep end is out of bounds here). Whoever makes it back first without losing their beach ball is crowned the winner.
5. Noodle Javelin
This works best for pools with a good amount of patio or lawn space surrounding them. Stack pool rings on top of one another about five rings high, making sure that the top rings in each stack are of a different color from that of the other stacks. Float the stacks on the surface. Participants then stand outside the pool at a predetermined distance and throw straight noodles, javelin-style, into the stacks. Assign different point values for different colors. Participants can throw one at a time, but we recommend letting everyone go at once. It’s more chaotic, and therefore more fun that way.
These are just some of the fun activities you can use pool noodles for. Try these and any other noodle-based games that come to mind, staging a full-blown noodle Olympics, perfect for parties or any other day-long gathering of kids. The only limit is your imagination.
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