Kiddie pools aren’t just for swimming anymore! At around $10 at many retailers, they’re as affordable as they are versatile. There are truly so many fun and creative ways to use kiddie pools for field day, summer camp, backyard fun, and more. They make for a great base for sensory play when filled with water beads or shaving cream. Plus, they’re perfect for pretend play since kids can be pirates walking the plank or cowboys mining for gold. You can even use them to create larger-than-life art or build a garden bed. Check out our list of favorite kiddie pool games!
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Best Kiddie Pools
Before you dive into the games, pick out the perfect kiddie pool for your little ones. Here are some options:
- Crystal Blue Inflatable Pool at Amazon
- Sunset Glow Baby Pool at Amazon
- Foldable Hard Plastic Pool at Amazon
- Large Inflatable Family Pool at Amazon
- 2-Pack Inflatable Kid Pool at Amazon
1. Water Bead Fun
Watching water beads grow provides an opportunity for a science lesson since the polymers present are superabsorbent. Because of that superabsorbency, they are able to retain hundreds of times their weight in water without dissolving. Once they have grown to full size, filling a kiddie pool with them can provide hours of sensory fun!
Learn more: Take Them Outside
Playing tug-of-war over a kiddie pool is good, silly fun since whoever loses ends up going for a splash! This is a game that might best be played with an inflatable kiddie pool so no one gets hurt. If you’re really feeling crazy, you can fill the pool with something other than water—think pudding or jello! We love that tug-of-war works on kids’ strength and endurance while encouraging teamwork.
3. Fill the Bucket Relay Race
Instead of using a large bucket of water, start with sponges in a filled kiddie pool. First, players must race the sponges across to a bucket at the finishing line. Then, they need to squeeze as much water as possible into the bucket before returning it to the next player at the kiddie pool. This continues until one team finally fills their bucket and is declared the winner!
Learn more: The Resourceful Mama
4. Kiddie Pool Math Toss
Kiddie pool games can teach kids math while also ensuring they have a lot of fun in the process. Buy some dollar store Frisbees, flip them upside down, and then write numbers on the inside of them. Then, take some sponges and write equations or numbers on them. Place the Frisbees inside the kiddie pool so kids can take turns throwing their sponges onto the corresponding Frisbee.
Learn more: Blissfully Domestic
5. Kiddie Pool Garden
Teaching kids to garden while also encouraging upcyling is just plain awesome. Be sure to use a hard-shelled kiddie pool and to pick herbs, vegetables, or flowers that have shallow roots.
Learn more: The Spruce
6. Letter Hunt
Invest in some waterproof letters and put them in a kiddie pool filled with water. Then have kids fish out the letter of your choosing using either little nets if they’re working from outside the pool or their hands if inside the pool. This game works on letter recognition while seeming less like work and more like fun!
Learn more: Fun Learning for Kids
7. Kiddie Pool Art
What’s even more fun than making art? Making really, really big art! Put some tempera paint in shallow bowls, then let kids dip different-size balls into the paint. Finally, let them roll or throw the paint-covered balls across some large paper or cardboard spread across the bottom of a kiddie pool. Kids will have fun experimenting with different techniques.
Learn more: Artful Parent
8. Fishing Game
This one will require some prep work, but if you are willing to get crafty, the results will definitely be worth it. We love that kids will be improving their hand-eye coordination as they fish in their lake (i.e., their kiddie pool).
Learn more: Orvis News
9. Walk the Plank
This idea is so cute, and the pirate costumes really make it over-the-top fun. Two buckets, a kiddie pool, and a wooden board are all it takes to make your little pirates walk the plank. They’ll be role playing while also working on their balance and coordination!
Learn more: Kid Soup
10. Dinosaur Excavation
Kids love learning about dinosaurs and they love digging in the dirt so why not combine those things? Add some dirt to a kiddie pool and then fill it with plastic dinosaurs and homemade fossils. Have kids play the part of paleontologists as they excavate the dino bones!
Learn more: Make Life Lovely
11. Sink-or-Float Experiment
Fill a kiddie pool with water and then have kids gather items from around the house. Have them make predictions about whether or not they think those items will sink or float. Then test their hypotheses in this fun science experiment.
Learn more: A Cookie Before Dinner
12. Giant Bubbles
We can think of few things cooler than being trapped in a giant bubble, and we’re guessing your kids will agree! Mix up the perfect bubble solution and then fill a kiddie pool with it. Then use a Hula-Hoop to create a huge bubble around the lucky kid.
Learn more: No Biggie
13. Giant Bird’s Nest
Teach kids about birds local to their area or read some bird-themed books to them before engaging in this activity. To get started, cover a kiddie pool with brown packing paper and then fill the inside with Easter grass and oversize Easter eggs. Finally, let your little ones use their imagination as they pretend to be their favorite bird!
Learn more: The Empowered Provider
14. Critter Pit
First, fill a kiddie pool with dirt and moss. Then, add some plastic critters like snakes, lizards, and bugs. Finally, throw in some equipment like magnifying glasses, bug jars, and oversized plastic tweezers. Your kids may even find some real critters while they’re in there!
Learn more: From Chalkboards to Strollers
15. Cozy Spot for Stargazing
Learning about astronomy while getting cozy in an inflatable pool? Yes, please! Gather all your softest blankets and favorite pillows for a comfortable place to lie while gazing at the stars.
Learn more: Family Days Tried and Tested
16. Epic Water Balloon Fight
We’re not even going to pretend this one is educational, but it sure is fun. Fill a kiddie pool to the brim with water balloons and then let kids have the most epic water balloon fight imaginable.
Learn more: Gluesticks and Gumdrops
17. DIY Sandbox
We love the idea of using a kiddie pool as a sandbox since it is way more affordable than most sandboxes on the market. Sand play is great for young children since it works on fine motor skills and sparks creativity.
Learn more: Hanging With the Kiddos
18. DIY Water Table
Water tables provide hours of entertainment for kids, but they can be expensive. Elevate a kiddie pool on some plastic crates and voilà—a water table! Add some toys or even just kitchen utensils and measuring cups for some sensory play.
Learn more: Tiny Tots/Mary Lea/Pink and Green Mama
19. Rainwater Collection
Kiddie pool games can also be science experiments. If there is rain in the forecast, place a small plastic kiddie pool in the yard, and when the storm is over, have your kiddos measure how much it rained.
20. Memory Match
Purchase rubber ducks in a variety of styles, but be sure to have pairs that match. Then, fill a kiddie pool with water and throw the ducks in before having the kids find matching sets. This fun game will nurture your child’s attention to detail!
21. Wishing Well Coin Counting
Have kids throw change into a kiddie pool to make a wish. Once they’ve thrown it in, you can create a math lesson by having them try to find the right coins to match a given dollar amount.
22. Floating Books
Since lots of baby books are waterproof, why not put them to the test in a kiddie pool filled with water? Sit your baby or toddler inside the pool and watch as they develop an early love of reading while splashing around. Older kids who are careful not to drop their books in the water may be able to lounge in a kiddie pool while reading too!
23. Panning for Gold
Some kiddie pool games are messy, but we promise this one will be worth it! Hide some toy gold at the bottom of a kiddie pool and then fill it with mud. Then give kids some pans to mine for the gold!
Learn more: Restless Risa
24. Shaving Cream Sensory Fun
Young kids learn best through play. Sensory play encourages exploration and creativity while helping develop motor skills. We can think of few things more fun than playing in a pool of shaving cream.
Learn more: Learn, Play, Imagine
25. Ball Pit
Kiddie pool games that can be played indoors are important too! Is it too rainy or cold to head outside? Grab a kiddie pool and fill it with small plastic balls like these. It is a great opportunity for sensory play, but you can also get kids to practice their colors by asking them to show you a specific one.
Learn more: Motherhood Moments
Want even more outdoor games and activities for kids? Check out this list of 60 Wet and Wild Outdoor Science Activities and Experiments.
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