5 Creative Pool Noodle Activities That Don’t Need Water
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Use the hot glue to add the googly eyes. Or draw eyes on the noodle with marker or use eye-shaped stickers.
Add one rider and you are ready to giddy-up!
#2: Noodle Wicket Ball
This activity is similar to croquet, except bigger!
You can play wicket ball with two or more people. You just need one ball per person—the more players, the more fun.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
#3: Noodle Goal Post and Javelin Toss
Make a goal post for football, a soccer goal or any fun made-up game.
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.
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!
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.
Using duct tape, add the three rings to the goal post (as pictured below).
You now 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.
Once you make your Tic Tac Toe board, you and your family can create all kinds of games.
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.
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.
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!
Play with balls or make up your own games using the rings or other objects.
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.
Work on one noodle chute together or make one for each sibling.
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.)
Now, place the two cut sides next to each other, facing up.
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.
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.
Place the flags down each side of the chute.
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.
Let the marble races begin!
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!
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 Johanna Hyland »