5 Creative Pool Noodle Activities That Don’t Need Water

If you’ve got kids, I bet you’ve got some pool noodles.

Looking for some fun and creative ways to use your noodle without getting wet?

Pool noodles aren’t just for the water! They can inspire creativity and are lots of fun even on dry ground.

You can use your noodles for games, toys and cool outdoor activities with your kids.

In this article I’ll show you five fun adventures you can have with pool noodles, even when there’s not a pool in sight.

Pool noodles can inspire creativity and are lots of fun even on dry ground. You can use your noodle for games, toys and cool outdoor activities with your kids.

Why Play With Pool Noodles?

Pool noodles are more than just a swimming aid, flotation device or sword-battle necessity. Bend them, shape them, add googly eyes or other craft supplies, and you and your kids can turn them into fun and creative toys!

Whether you play indoors or outside, pool noodles will add super-sized excitement to any adventure!

What’s a pool noodle?

A pool noodle (known as a water log or woogle in the United Kingdom) is a water toy made out of polyethylene foam. It is cylinder-shaped and often hollow. Pool noodles are used by people of all ages in the water to swim, float, rescue, play and exercise.

noodles

The pool noodle is known as a water log or woogle in the United Kingdom.

Each regular noodle is about 5 feet (160 cm) long and 2½ inches (7 cm) wide. They come in many colors and are relatively inexpensive. Pool noodles can be found in stores that sell pool and swimming accessories, as well as online.

Who created the pool noodle?

No one really knows who invented the pool noodle. One story says that pool noodles were invented in the 1980s by a man named Steve Hartman. He worked with his dad at their industrial thermal polymers company in Ontario, Canada. It was there that they made foam rods used in construction to fill joints before caulking.

Steve brought some of these foam rods home and they somehow ended up in his pool. His family loved playing with them, so Steve developed colored versions of the foam rods to try to sell as a water toy.

It worked! Soon the noodle became a top-seller. As you’ll see, there are many fun and practical ways to use a pool noodle besides as a water toy.

Below are five fun ways to play with noodles. The only thing you won’t need is… water!

#1: Noodle Stick Horse

Did you ever have a hobby horse when you were a kid? You can make a noodle horse with your own kids. In fact, you can create a whole stable of colorful creatures.

You Will Need

  • 1 pool noodle
  • 3 feet of yarn (any kind of twine, rope, etc., will do)
  • 1 square of felt
  • Paper and pencil (optional)
  • Tape (optional)
  • Large googly eyes (or a marker or stickers)
  • Low-heat glue gun and glue sticks (note: use glue gun on craft items, not on the noodle)

    horse supplies

    It only takes a few craft items to turn a noodle into a horse.

Preparation Time

A few minutes to gather supplies

Activity Time

30+ minutes

Location

Inside

Before you begin, ask your kids, “What will you name your noodle horse?” Even if they don’t know right away, it’s something good to think—and talk—about during this adventure.

Projects are the perfect opportunity for conversations. Here are a few questions you can ask while you are making your horse.

If you don’t have the answer to a question, write it down so you can look it up later.

Gather your supplies and start with the noodle and your yarn. This will be the base of the horse.

Bend the noodle at the top about 14 inches (35 cm) down. Tie yarn around the bent part about 12 inches (30 cm) from the bend. Wrap it around a few times so it stays in place, and tie it off. The extra yarn looks like reins.

Can you see the horse’s head?

tie on rein

Bend the noodle over and tie it in place. This will give your noodle horse a head.

Next, use the felt to make your horse’s mane and ears. Take the felt and cut it lengthwise. Cut a 2-inch (5-cm) strip for the ears. The left-over part will be for the mane.

cutting felt

Cut the felt square lengthwise. Use one piece for the mane, and one for the ears.

Cut points on the small piece for the ears. Cut a wavy design on each side of the mane.

Note: For younger kids, take a piece of white paper and sketch out where you want to cut the lines in pen or pencil. Then, lightly tape it to the felt so you have a guide for cutting.

cutting mane and ears

Cut waves on each side of the mane and points on each end of the ears.

Put hot glue on the felt piece then apply the felt to the noodle. Remember, never hot glue directly on the noodle—it will melt.

Put the ear piece through the bend in the noodle. Pull it up tight to look like ears.

Place the mane down the back side. You may need to glue a few areas of the felt to itself to make the mane stand up.

glue on mane and ears

Pull the ears through the loop and glue them in place. Glue the mane down the backside.

Use the hot glue to add the googly eyes. Or draw eyes on the noodle with marker or use eye-shaped stickers.

finished horse

A noodle horse is the perfect pet—well-behaved and ready to ride at any time.

Add one rider and you are ready to giddy-up!

#2: Noodle Wicket Ball

This activity is similar to croquet, except bigger!

wicket ball

Wicket ball is croquet, only super-sized.

You can play wicket ball with two or more people. You just need one ball per person—the more players, the more fun.

You Will Need

  • 7 pool noodles
  • Wooden kitchen skewers
  • 1 ball per person (Any kind of ball will work; they should all be the same kind but different colors. You can also differentiate balls using stickers or colored tape.)

    wicket ball supplies

    Noodles, skewers and balls are all you need to play wicket ball.

Preparation Time

About 20 minutes

Activity Time

30+ minutes or however long you want to play

Location

Outside in your backyard, park or schoolyard

You’ll want to set up your wicket-ball field in a large, open, outdoor space. It may be helpful to measure out where you will put the wickets ahead of time.

Gather your team—a.k.a. kids—and put down placeholders (noodles) in the different spots before you put them (as hoops) in the ground.

Set Up Your Wicket Ball Field

  • Place 3 wickets in a row about 15-20 feet (4½ to 6 meters) apart
  • One is the starting wicket, one is in the middle and one is at the other end of the course
  • Place the other 4 wickets diagonally from the middle wicket (These should be equal distance and diagonal from the end wickets. See diagram below.)

    wicket ball set up

    To get the correct spacing, put the noodles down on the wicket field as placeholders before you put them as hoops in the ground.

The distances are just suggestions. You can place the wickets any length apart that works best for your family and for the yard or park where you’re playing.

Connect the Hoops

At each spot, place 2 wooden skewers in the ground about 1½ to 2 feet (45 to 60 cm) apart.

Carefully guide the skewer into the hollow area of the noodle so it doesn’t break through the side of the noodle.

place skewers in ground

At each spot, place two wooden skewers into the ground. Then guide the skewer into each noodle to form a hoop.

Once the field is set up, you’re ready to play.

Following the course map, kick the ball through each wicket when it’s your turn.

wicket ball map

Follow the map for the noodle wicket ball course.

The Rules of the Game

The youngest player goes first. Begin behind the start wicket. Kick the ball through the wicket, and head towards the second.

kicking the ball

Kick the ball through the first wicket to start the game. The youngest player goes first.

Everyone gets one kick per turn unless you go through a wicket or hit another ball… then you get another kick.

Once you get to the other side, go through the wicket and turn around and kick the ball back through the same wicket, following the course map.

Note: If you hit another ball, you can knock it out of the way. Place your ball touching their ball and smack it hard.

hitting another ball

If you hit another ball, you can knock it out of the way.

The goal is to get through all of the wickets. When you get to the end, you become a wild ball. Kick your wild ball past the middle wicket.

When it is your turn and you’ve kicked past the middle wicket, try to kick your ball into another ball. That will knock that player out of the game.

If a wild ball goes through a wicket, the player is out of the game. Last ball left on the course wins!

kicking ball

The goal is to get past all of the wickets, and then knock the other balls off of the field. Last ball left on the course wins!

Noodle wicket ball is a great game for kids of all ages. Feel free to alter the course, as well as the rules, and make up your own games. Remember to write down any new rules so you remember them for next time.

Have fun!

#3: Noodle Goal Post and Javelin Toss

Make a goal post for football, a soccer goal or any fun made-up game.

goal post with ring

Make a goal post to use for just about any game. Or add rings to turn it into a javelin toss!

You Will Need

Goal Post

  • 3 super noodles (These noodles are stronger and a little wider.)
  • 2 snow stakes or 3-foot (90-cm) thin wood dowels
  • Wooden kitchen skewers

Javelin Toss

  • All goal post items
  • 4 or more regular noodles
  • Wooden kitchen skewers
  • Duct tape

    goal post supplies

    You will need super noodles to make the goal post.

Preparation Time

15+ minutes (5-10 for the goal post, 10+ for the javelin toss)

Activity Time

30+ minutes or as long as you want to play

Location

Outside in your backyard, park or schoolyard

This is a 2-in-1 activity.

How to Make the Goal Post

Decide where you want to put your goal post. This will be different depending on the activity, game or adventure. Obviously you can also make two, and put them on the opposite ends of the field.

Place the two snow sticks or dowels into the ground—they should be one noodle apart. Slip one super noodle over each stick.

place stick in ground

Place the snow sticks and super noodles into the ground. They should be one noodle-length apart.

To make the crossbar, place wooden kitchen skewers into the foam end of the third super noodle. Stick the crossbar and skewers into the top end of the standing noodles to complete your goal post!

crossbar

Place the crossbar noodle into the standing super noodles.

Now that you have a noodle goal post, you can leave it as is or convert it into a javelin toss.

How to Make the Javelin Toss

Place two wooden kitchen skewers in the same hole of a regular noodle. Push the ends of the noodle together to connect them. Be careful, you don’t want to push the skewers through the foam. Duct tape the ends so it stays together.

Make three rings.

making circle

Turn a noodle into a circle. Connect it using two wooden skewers and some duct tape.

Using duct tape, add the three rings to the goal post (as pictured below).

You now have a javelin toss!

rings on goal post

Add three rings to the goal post and you have a javelin toss.

Use another noodle as the javelin to toss through the rings. You could also toss balls, beanbags or paper airplanes through the rings.

Keep score or just play for fun!

If you have more than one child, have them take turns making up games. Or have them come up with a game together.

#4: Noodle Tic Tac Toe

Super-size your game of Tic Tac Toe using pool noodles.

finished rings

Tic Tac Toe is a family favorite. How many variations can you and your kids create?

Once you make your Tic Tac Toe board, you and your family can create all kinds of games.

You Will Need

For the X’s and O’s:

  • Large popsicle sticks
  • Glue gun and glue sticks
  • Markers or crayons (optional)

For the Grid:

  • 9 regular noodles
  • Wooden kitchen skewers
  • Duct tape

Preparation Time

20-30 minutes

Activity Time

10+ minutes

Location

  • Outside in your backyard, park or schoolyard
  • Inside if you have a large basement or playroom

To play super Tic Tac Toe, you need large playing pieces.

How to Make the X’s and O’s

Using the glue gun, glue the popsicle sticks in X and O shapes. You’ll need five of each.

tic tac toe supplies

Glue the popsicle sticks together to form X’s and O’s.

For some extra fun, decorate or color your X’s and O’s!

Note: That’s a great task for the kids while you do the gluing. This way each child can have his or her own customized set of X’s and O’s.

For the Grid

Assemble 9 rings as described for the javelin toss. Duct tape the rings together (as pictured below) so they form a 3 x 3 square.

tape rings together

Form nine rings and then duct tape them together in the shape of a box.

Let the games begin

Play in teams or against each other.

You can toss your X’s and O’s into the rings or place them as you play noodle Tic Tac Toe!

toss the x and o

Toss the X’s and O’s in the rings or play strategically against each other.

Play with balls or make up your own games using the rings or other objects.

tossing ball

Toss balls, rings or other objects onto the Tic Tac Toe grid.

Like with any game, it’s fun to make up your own rules.

Here’s a fun variation: Parents, come up with a name for a game. It can be silly (X’s and O’s, Beanbags and Balls, Charades) or semi-serious (Grid Ball). Then, have your kids take turns making up rules for the game.

#5: Noodle Marble Chute

This intricate project has lots of room for creativity! It’s a fun family adventure that you can try several different ways.

racing marbles

Racing marbles is a fun family adventure.

Work on one noodle chute together or make one for each sibling.

You Will Need

  • 1 pool noodle
  • Serrated knife
  • Scissors
  • Toothpicks
  • 4 wooden kitchen skewers
  • Craft glue
  • Colored paper
  • Markers, colored pencils or crayons
  • Marbles
  • Small box (shoebox size)

    chute supplies

    Gather the supplies for your project and get ready for a fun adventure.

Preparation Time

30 minutes

Activity Time

10+ minutes

Location

Inside

Parents, this first step is all on you. Using a serrated knife, carefully slice the noodle lengthwise into two halves. (Hint: an electric knife works great for this.)

cutting noodle

Going lengthwise, carefully slice the noodle in two.

Now, place the two cut sides next to each other, facing up.

place side by side

Place the two noodle halves next to each other.

Using toothpicks, secure the cut pieces together. Place toothpicks about every 3-4 inches (8-10 cm). Then trim the toothpicks with scissors, so they don’t stick out.

connecting the two noodles

Connect the two half noodles with toothpicks and then trim the toothpicks with scissors so they don’t stick out.

Now that you have the basic chute, jazz it up a bit.

This is where you and your kids can have a planning session. What do they want the chute to look like? Is it a racing strip? A boat race? A moon race? Draw pictures of what they want it to look like beforehand. They can also draw large pictures for a background.

Decorate the Course

Use the construction paper to make large “START” and “FINISH” signs. Glue the signs to the wooden kitchen skewers, and put them on each end (top and bottom) of the course.

Cut 6-12 small flags out of the construction paper. Decorate them and glue them on toothpicks.

making and decorating flags

Make and decorate small flags, as well as large “Start” and “Finish” signs.

Place the flags down each side of the chute.

placing flags

Place the flags along the course. They can be as simple or elaborate as you want.

When the chute is finished, prop it on a chair, table or stairway. Place a small box at the bottom of the chute to catch the marbles.

finished chute

Once your chute is finished, prop the top up on a table.

Let the marble races begin!

playing on chute

Look at the marbles go!

Try different things as you race your marbles down the chute.

Use marbles of different sizes and materials to see if it makes a difference.

Make the chute steeper or more level and see what happens.

Discuss other things you can roll down the chute too!

See what happens if you connect the pool noodles the long way. How would you design the track? Can you make a loop? What must you create so the marble still makes its way through the course?

The important element is to share ideas, experiment and have fun as a family!

Some Final Thoughts

A pool noodle is an ordinary object that can be used for lots of things: games, toys, activities, experiments—the list goes on and on.

When you have an object that has an intended purpose like a pool noodle, you can take it at face value and enjoy it in just that one way. Or you can take a leap of faith, be creative and find different things to build and create, while enjoying family time. The more you play, the more you’ll find. You never know what you’re going to discover.

Use your noodle to find new and creative ways to use pool noodles to have fun with your kids.

What do you think? Which noodle project will you try first? Do you know any other noodle activities? Share your experience, let us know what you make and please post a photo of your noodle fun!

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About the Author, Johanna Hyland

Life is a road trip for Johanna…from flossing, kayaking, teaching and making days fun - all while raising 3 kids with special challenges. Discover her creativity and humor at JoStory. Other posts by »


  • http://www.mykidsadventures.com/ Jennifer Ballard

    Thanks, Johanna! What GREAT ideas! I can’t wait to try the giant croquet. It reminds me of Alice in Wonderland. I’ll be looking for pool noodles next time I’m at the store.

  • JessCliz

    Love these ideas! They would be fun games to play with my nieces and nephews when they come to visit! Takes a little bit of prep time but produces loads of fun times and memories made!

  • Johanna Hyland

    Thanks Jennifer! The Giant croquet game was a big hit with my big kids too. Would be a fun grad party game. have fun noodle-ling.

  • Johanna Hyland

    Thanks so much! The little guy in the photos is my grand nephew. He loves to do these fun activities. Have fun playing with your nieces and nephews!

  • Anne Denmark

    Oodles of Noodle ideas for a grandmother of three active kids. I love the fact that many of these are played outdoors in the sunshine. My grandkids will love Noodle Tic Tack Toe so that will be the first one to try. Customizing their X’s and 0’s out of popsicle sticks will hit the spot with their creativity.

  • Bette Dyksterhouse

    How much fun! Great when the grand kids need to get some energy out! Good for almost any age!

  • EM Eastick

    Great ideas, Johanna. My little one and I just tried to make a noodle teepee but it was a bit floppy. We’ll definitely try out your suggestions next.

  • Johanna Hyland

    Anne, Yes to outside in the sunshine!…finally have green grass in Michigan. Enjoy playing with your noodles and G-kids. Post some photos of your fun here.

  • Dale Short

    Thanks for the cool ideas!..Im now a noodler!

  • Johanna Hyland

    Hi Bette, Thanks and yes this is a fun way to play…even my big kids want to play with the noodles.

  • http://johannahyland.blogspot.com Johanna Hyland

    Thank you! Post a photo here of your noodle adventure.You probably can reuse your teepee noodles. I would love to see how much fun you have!

  • http://johannahyland.blogspot.com Johanna Hyland

    Ok Dale….I can’t wait to see that!…I will bring the noodles ( the fun) for your next wedding this Fall! ha!

  • michelle straube

    You are so creative and fun! I want to come over and play!

  • Pingback: Learnable Event News | Bloominglearn()

  • http://johannahyland.blogspot.com Johanna Hyland

    Aww…thanks Michelle!

  • Eric Hyland

    “Using your noodle” comes from the 18th century word “noddle” which refered to the back of the head. Due to spelling and pronunciation similarly noodle took to meaning the same thing then to meaning intelligence or smarts in the early 20th century. Fun fact 😉

  • http://www.fineartmom.com/ Crystal Foth

    I LOVE these ideas – who would have thought!!! Fantastic! My favorite is the yard games with the skewers! So inventive!!

  • http://johannahyland.blogspot.com Johanna Hyland

    Thanks Eric! This was great info! You are the best swordsmith…a chip off the old noodle!

  • http://johannahyland.blogspot.com Johanna Hyland

    Crystal, Thanks much! We all loved the noodle wicket game. It was definitelyone of the favorites. Have fun playing in your yard.

  • Anne Denmark

    I have your article already set aside to take with me the next time I travel to see the G-kids.

  • http://johannahyland.blogspot.com Johanna Hyland

    Anne, you are such a fun grandma. I want to be a grandma like you someday. Let us know how your noodle time goes. Post some photos of your fun.

  • Cassidy Hyland

    This is very cool! I think this is a very clever idea to get kids outside and to not spend very much money doing it!

  • http://johannahyland.blogspot.com Johanna Hyland

    Cassidy, thanks … Cheap fun outside for sure! Thanks for playing noodles with me!

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