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Too cold to swim? 9 out-of-water games to play with pool noodles

Water Woggles, or pool noodles as they are more commonly known, are the brainchild of Canadian Richard Koster. Today, pool noodles are used by children and adults in pools across the globe when learning to swim. Pool noodles are also utilized to float on while relaxing in the water and for games. The inexpensive backyard accessory typically gets a lot of action during the summer months, but it heads to the curb when it’s time to close up the pool for the season.

Before tossing the pool noodles out after a long season of play, think about keeping them around, especially if there’s a backyard party coming up. There are actually a lot of fun games to play with pool noodles. This budget-friendly pool toy can be used for a variety of indoor and outdoor games at home, in the classroom, or at camp. Pool noodles are so versatile you might want to have a bunch on hand even if you don’t have a pool. We’ve got in here top nine water-free backyard activities for kids. These will keep them engaged and excited on sunny or rainy days.

Green and orange pool noodles
Sophia Cole/Shutterstock

May the force be with you

Keep your little Jedi knights in training happy with pool-noodle light sabers — and you don’t even need Yoda. Simply take a pool noodle and cut it to a size that suits your Jedi. Use duct tape to make a colorful handle.

X’s and O’s

Make a tic-tac-toe board out of four noodles and grab some bean bags for a backyard round of the always-fun game. Except with this version, kids get a workout tossing the bean bags onto the board to try to get three in a row.

Batter up

For this enjoyable game, take pool noodles and cut them in half. Blow up a few balloons and have the kiddos try to bat the balloons into an empty laundry basket. Kids of all ages will have giggles with this one. It makes for a great rainy-day or party game.

Make tracks

If you take pool noodles and cut down the middle to make two halves, you now have two tracks. If your kids are into cars, use the cut pool noodles and use as a race track. Otherwise, the cut noodles can be used for marbles. Kids can get really creative putting together a marble run using multiple-sized cut pool noodles and blocks.

Baby crawling through pool noodle obstacle course

On your mark

With duct tape and a little ingenuity, you can take a bunch of used pool noodles and turn them into a backyard obstacle course. Pool noodles can be made into arches kids can crawl through or run around just by using a pencil as a stake and sliding the pool noodle over it. You can also fashion rings to run through by using duct tape to make the pool noodles into circles. A pool-noodle obstacle course makes for an amazing party activity and is a perfect for pool noodles about to be retired.


For a quick rainy-day activity or backyard party game, fashion 10 “bowling pins” by cutting up pool noodles. Pins should be the same size. If you want to get creative, take a yoga mat as an alley and additional pool noodles to frame the mat. Use a small ball as a bowling ball. This activity is ideal for decks and porches.


Conventional floor hockey sticks can leave a lot of bruises and tears behind. Drop the puck on a backyard round of pool noodle hockey. Instead of sticks, cut pool noodles to suit the sizes of the players. Make goals by bending two pool noodles and using pencils as stakes. Use a beach ball or other soft ball as a puck. Kids will have a blast trying to score, and with the soft noodles and beach balls, you won’t need a penalty box.


Need a goal to shoot on for your little soccer player? Use a pool noodle and two pencils. The pencils hold the pool noodle in place and by bending it you make a goal for toddlers and preschoolers just learning how to kick.

Rows of colored pool noodles

Get crafty

Using old pool noodles for painting is a creative way to give pool noodles one last hurrah before heading to the curb. Cut the pool noodles into different sizes, and kids can use them as sponges and paint away. Save on the mess by using a large roll of paper and putting it on the lawn. Use washable paint, and when kids are done, let the creations dry and hose off the grass. Other ways to get crafty with pool noodles include using construction paper, felt, glitter, and fabric bits to make creatures or scarecrows. It’s also a great craft idea for parties.

Pool noodles are relatively inexpensive. Kids can have a lot of fun with them in the pool and outside of the water. If you are searching for budget-friendly ways to get kids active or keep them busy on a bad weather day, pool noodles can be used for more than just floating. You can create an exciting menu of backyard games for parties and picnics just by using pool noodles. Pool noodles are ideal for homes, classrooms, and even summer camps. From light sabers to soccer goals to race tracks and beyond, the pool noodle has really come a long way since it splashed onto the scene in the late ’80s.

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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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