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No pool toys? No problem! 7 safe, fun games to play in the pool for 8-year-olds

Running low on pool toys? Try these games to play in the pool that only requires the kids

Kids playing games in a pool.
YanLev Alexey / Shutterstock

Splish! Splash! Do the kids enjoy the swimming pool in the summer? Will they play in an indoor pool all fall and winter long? Whether you’re hosting a pool full of friends of your 8-year-old, a birthday party, or a quiet afternoon of family fun in the pool, having a diverse menu of swimming games for kids is a must. Don’t worry if you don’t have a stock of pool noodles, beach balls, and floaties on hand in the shed. There are plenty of cool games to play in the pool instead of relying on toys. Many classic swimming games have been doing laps around backyard pools for ages.

Keep these fun swimming games in the repertoire. They’re safe, easy to play, and are all games 8-year-olds — as well as kids of all ages — will enjoy when hanging in the pool. Even adults will have a splash playing games they used to when they were kiddos. Another perk to all of these splashin’ swimming games? They all let kids work on their swimming strokes while having a blast. Grab your goggles and see what game you want to show your kids how to play.

Kids having fun in a pool and wearing sunglasses.
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Games you could play in deep or shallow water

Marco Polo

This classic pool game doesn’t require any pool toys, and all you need to play is at least three players. More is better, but the game is still fun with small groups. One player is chosen to be “it.” The “it” person closes their eyes and promises not to peek. “It” calls out “Marco,” and the rest of the players spread out around the pool and answer with “Polo.” The person who is “it” tries to tag the other players, relying on senses other than sight. When a player is tagged, they become “it.” To keep the game swimming along, pick a new “it” if someone isn’t tagged in 10 minutes.


Another swimming pool game that hasn’t melted away over the years is Popsicle. Like Marco Polo, one player is designated as “it” and must tag the other swimmers. When a player is tagged, they must stand frozen with arms up over their head. Frozen Popsicles are melted back into the game by being tagged underwater by another swimmer. Rotate who is “it” every 10 minutes to be fair and give all the swimmers a chance to do both roles. Three or more players is a perfect fit for Popsicle.

Treasure Diving

Kids love to dig for treasure at the beach or in the dirt, so have them dive for it. Treasure Diving is a simple game for kids of all ages to play. To start, toss items such as coins, rocks, or any toys like action figures into the pool. Items used for treasure must sink to the bottom before the hunt begins. Then, set a timer, shout “go,” and all the participants try to pick up as many pieces of treasure as possible before time is up. When playing Treasure Diving with younger kids, be sure to use the shallow water. Before the game goes in the deep end, ensure all the participants are strong swimmers. Treasure Diving can be played solo, but it’s more fun with additional divers.

Sharks and Minnows

Most sports have a version of this popular game, from the ice rink to the soccer field, but the classic game originated in the pool because who doesn’t want to be a shark? One person is named as shark, and the rest of the players are minnows. Minnows can be outside of the pool to start a round or could hold on to the edge. When the shark shouts, “Minnows in,” all the minnows begin swimming around, trying to avoid the shark. If the shark tags a minnow, the minnow becomes a shark and starts hunting other minnows. The last minnow swimming becomes the shark for the next round. Sharks and Minnows is definitely more fun with multiple players, making it an ideal party swimming game.

Kids jumping into a pool.
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Games that need deeper water


Like the basketball game H.O.R.S.E., players must follow the leader and complete swim tasks like doing a cannonball, swimming across the pool, or doing a headstand. If a player cannot complete the task, they earn a letter. When a player earns enough letters to spell F.I.S.H, they are out. The last player swimming is the new leader. The more players, the better, but F.I.S.H can be played with two players.

Water dancing

For the kids that love to move, have a water dance party. This works for however many children there are. Give each child a set amount of time to create a dance, have a dance-off, or have the kids learn a routine to perform together. Parents should video this one to let the kids watch it back.


This is a good one for kids who love music, and you only need two people to play this one. One person stands up in the water and the other person gets under the water next to them. The person standing hums a song or tune for the person in the water to guess. Once the person in the water reemerges, they have to guess the song.

Three kids laughing in pool.
Peter Idowu / Unsplash

Tips for toyless pool game entertainment

Follow these tips to make the games fun for everyone

  • Before starting any game, assess the swim levels of all participants. Make sure any player in need of swimmies or a life jacket has it on before jumping in and starting a game.
  • Always have one adult with a watchful eye on the pool who is not participating in the game to keep an eye on all the swimmers.
  • With games involving an “it,” make sure to keep a time limit so the person who is “it” doesn’t get frustrated. It also saves on tears and arguments.
  • If you’re having a kid pool party where games are being played, consider hiring a certified lifeguard. Then parents could sit back, organize the games, and be the ref.
  • Parents, get in on the fun when you can. The kids will love making memories with you.

Sure, pool noodles, floaties, and pool toys are cool, but everyone will still have a lot of fun in the pool without toys. Playing swimming games in the pool is a great way for everyone to have an awesome time whether you’re hosting a pool party, having friends over, or just enjoying time together in the water. These swimming games are always a big splash for children of all ages — even the parents.

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Nate Swanner
Nate is General Manager for all not-Digital-Trends properties at DTMG, including The Manual, Digital Trends en Espanol…
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