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These are the absolute best pool games for kids

Dive into summer with these fun and exciting games for the pool

Smiling boy swimming with pool noodle
Tanya Little / Shutterstock

Just having a backyard pool doesn’t necessarily mean instant entertainment for your children. It typically doesn’t take long for kids and teens to become bored, even with an amazing pool just outside their door. The same is true if you’re a member of a community or club pool. Now, you don’t have to feel like a camp recreation director, but it’s always a prudent idea to have pool games for kids in your back pocket for those inevitable moments when boredom creeps in.

Pool games are a must-have whether it’s a lazy summer family afternoon or if you’re hosting a playdate or a birthday party. If you’re looking for cool pool games for the kiddos that always make a splash, we’ve got your summertime menu for backyard excitement.

Pool games for kids

Toddler in swimming pool
korisbo / Shutterstock

Having a pool is cool, but sometimes the kids need ideas on what to do and that includes tweens and teens. Floating around the pool on a raft or jumping in and out is something kids get bored with pretty quickly, especially the deeper you get into summer. That’s when an array of pool games comes in handy.

Pool games are ideal for children of all ages as long as they’re comfortable in the water. Tweens and teens, too, won’t mind participating in the games. There’s something about playing games in the pool that brings out the competitive spirit in older kids, too. So, here are five always-fun pool games for kids you can use all summer long.

Marco Polo

This pool game is certainly a classic and has stood the test of time. Kids just love it and it’s super simple to play. One person is Marco and must close their eyes. When the person calls out Marco, the other players must answer with Polo. The Marco or “It” must try to tag the other players by relying on hearing and movement in the water.

When people get tagged, they’re out. The winner is the last person evading Marco. There are other variations of this mainstay pool game, too. Marco Polo can be played with two swimmers, but it’s much more exciting with a group.

Sharks and Minnows

There are quite a few adaptations of this pool game. Coaches and gym teachers often change up the game to use in practices and classes. The game, though, originated in the pool. One person is designated as the shark. The rest of the players or minnows line up on the other side of the pool. Minnows must make it across the pool without being tagged by the shark. If the shark does tag a minnow, the minnow becomes a shark. The last minnow is the winner and becomes the shark for the next game.

Sharks and Minnows is another game that’s ideal for bigger groups. Four is the minimum for a spirited game of Sharks and Minnows. This is also a perfect pick for encouraging kids to work on the strokes they learned in swim class.

Chicken fight

A perfect game for tweens and teens, chicken fight is another pool mainstay. Players team up and one gets on top of the other’s shoulders. The object of the game is to push the chicken into the water. Players can use splashing, pushing, and pulling to try and knock a chicken into the water.

It’s always smart to spell out the do’s and don’ts of a round of chicken fight beforehand. While it’s a favorite, you can see where players’ feelings would get hurt. Chicken fight isn’t the best game for younger kids, especially those who don’t appreciate getting splashed in the face. The best way to play chicken fight with younger kids is with parents.

Duck racing

Rubber duck races have really taken off in recent years. People love to watch duck races. So, holding one in a pool sounds like a splash. All you need for an exciting race for those adorable rubber duckies is a few rubber ducks and a squirter.

To play, have the participants choose a duck and line up on one side of the pool. Start the race with a whistle or a shout of “Go.” Then, players use the squirter to push the duck across the pool. The first duckie to reach the other side of the pool is the winner. Players can only move the duckies along using the squirter not hands. Have an adult or teen serve as judge to see which duckie reaches the finish line first.

Pool volleyball or basketball

An inflatable volleyball net or a floating basketball hoop are both boredom busters and are ideal party games for older kids, teens, and adults. To play, just divide players into two teams and dive in. Younger kids will get a kick out of the basketball hoop, too. Pool volleyball may be a bit difficult for little kids unless they get to sit on an adult’s shoulders.

Other pool games for kids

Kids playing games in a pool.
YanLev Alexey / Shutterstock

Keep these additional pool games in mind when you’re hosting play dates and pool parties this summer.

  • Popsicle
  • Whirlpool
  • Relay race
  • Follow the leader
  • Treasure hunt

Pool fun is a summer staple whether you have one in the backyard or take the kiddos to a community or a club to swim. Even though swimming and jumping in the pool keep kids busy, eventually they lose interest and become bored. To keep children engaged, have these amazing pool games for kids at your disposal. Pool games like Marco Polo and Sharks and Minnows are pool mainstays that always make a big splash of fun with children of all ages and teens, too.

Dawn Miller
Dawn Miller began her professional life as an elementary school teacher before returning to her first love, writing. In…
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