We love pool noodles! They’re bright, colorful, and make for great hands-on activities for reading, math, and beyond. Plus, this time of year, they’re so inexpensive to buy (you can even get them in bulk). Here are some of our favorite pool noodle uses for the classroom.
(Just a heads up, WeAreTeachers may collect a share of sales from the links on this page. We only recommend items our team loves!)
1. Practice phonics
Reading practice is always more fun with manipulatives. This is the original project we did for creative pool noodle uses at WeAreTeachers, and you all loved it! You can easily change it up to meet your classroom’s specific needs. Get the full instructions and watch the video here.
2. Teach the different parts of speech
Now take that phonics lesson a step further by teaching the parts of speech to older kids. We used these paper towel holders we picked up on Amazon to turn this into an easy classroom learning station. Students can work independently to stack their sentences. They just choose words from different noodle colors as they learn the different parts of speech.
3. Create an inexpensive pencil holder
All you have to do is use a pen or pencil to poke a hole through the noodle. You could use these as individual pencil holders on students’ desks, too.
4. Encourage spelling with word rods
Here’s another take on phonics if you want to get a little more involved. There are some great ideas for how to use these for both reading and math.
Source: A Neighborhood Kindergarten
5. Practice multiplication facts
We borrowed the word rod idea and applied it to multiplication facts. Check out the full tutorial for pool noodle multiplication right here.
6. Color coordinate and label your classroom desks
We love this teacher’s creativity. She used pool noodles as labels for the different tables in her room. Thanks, Ms. Macdonald, for the idea.
Source: Gotta Gogh Teach Art
7. Make a greater-than/less-than bin
This one is so quick and easy to create. All you need is a couple of different pool noodle colors, and you’re ready to go.
8. Encourage engineering with a marble run
Source: Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls
9. Create a pool noodle sensory chair
This chair uses PVC pipes and pool noodles. It’s so comfortable, and your students will love sitting in it! Get the full instructions for making it here.
10. Use it to hold your paintbrushes
This is oh-so simple, and it’s also oh-so genius. Students can create with paint and cut down on the mess at the same time.
11. Challenge your students to build up structures
Here’s another engineering challenge for your students. Use toothpicks and noodles to design and build.
Source: Little Bins for Little Hands
12. Bring a rainbow into your classroom
You can use this on your walls, on a bulletin board, or as part of a door display.
Source: Rainbow Art Teacher
13. Make your own classroom truffula trees
You can use pool noodles or tube insulation to make these truffula trees. Then use colorful pom-poms to create the tops. Here are the ones we bought for this project.
14. It’s an easy door stop solution
Slamming doors? Doors too heavy for students to open? Cut a slit in one side of the pool noodle and slide it onto any door.
15. Use noodles as letter plates
Use pool noodles as card holders for practicing spelling words. They could also work as name holders or to display signs or directions.
16. Get in a science lesson with a water race
Create a pool noodle wall as another sneaky way to get in some science. Have students create their own designs for water races. This warm-weather activity will be the highlight of the week.
Source: Teaching Mama
17. Use noodles for paint projects
If you have a painting project to do, consider using pool noodles as stamps. They make perfect circles, which can be the base for many great craft projects.
Source: Optimistic Mommy
18. Make a stability ring for a balance ball
Do those ball chairs keep rolling away in your classroom? Make a stabilizer with a pool noodle.
19. Make mix-and-match characters
This is such a cute project, and we think you can apply the idea to lots of curriculum topics. For instance, science diagrams would be perfect to draw on noodles and then have students to match up.
Source: And Next Comes L
20. Create a DNA model
This is an amazing way to bring science into your classroom.
21. Give your students a stress reliever
Forget fidget spinners or stress balls. This school counselor came up with a clever idea for creating stress/fidget manipulatives using a pool noodle. Talk about a great deal. You can get more than 50 with just one noodle!
Source: School Counselor Blog
22. Simplify fractions
All you need are two different color noodles to make your own fraction game for students to practice. Our article has a great video showing how to do it.
23. Make an all-in-one card holder
Use this to hold regular playing cards, flashcards, and more. One pool noodle is enough to supply your entire class with a holder.
24. Teach students musical notes
This music teacher got creative by putting notes on pool noodle pieces and turning them into a learning opportunity. The frame comes from that popular backyard Ladderball game or PVC piping from the hardware store. Just apply the noodles, and you’re done!
25. Build fine motor skills
Practice those fine motor skills with cut up noodles and a few other manipulatives.
Source: School Time Snippets
26. Have sight word boat races
We love this unique pool noodle use. This educator put sight words on these noodle floats and let her students have boat races.
Source: The Educators’ Spin on It
27. Make your own giant pencils
We’ve seen a few different takes on creating No. 2 pencils out of pool noodles, and this is our favorite tutorial.
Source: Planet Happy Smiles
28. Practice spelling words with a paper towel holder
With a sharpie, write letters on different pieces of the noodle and students can practice spelling words by building a tower! Inexpensive paper towel holders can be found at the dollar store.
Source: The Happy Teacher
29. Make pool noodle airplanes
This is a great STEM challenge for students, and yes, they really will fly. Get more information on how to do this project yourself from one of our favorite project bloggers, Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls .
30. Learn with a hula-hoop
This is a fun (and very visual) way of teaching math concepts. Little hands will love moving the pieces back and forth.
Source: Teaching with Heart
31. Make your own quiet blocks
Want to avoid the bulk and noise of wooden blocks? Make your own building blocks out of several pool noodles, like Jenae did. She’s a mom and former teacher.
Source: I Can Teach My Child
32. Tackle equations
Another fun math activity that can be switched up for multiplication, addition, subtraction, or division. We love that students can grab one of these manipulatives after finishing work early.
33. Make your own flowers
They’re kind of adorable! Try these pool noodle flowers to brighten up your classroom or as a craft for students to make their parents.
Source: Sophie’s World
34. Create unique sculptures
Such a cute and easy art idea! With a range of supplies like straws, pipe-cleaners, and beads, set students free to create as they please.
35. Spin and build sentences
Put pieces of the pool noodle onto a PVC pipe with different parts of speech. Students can mix and match pieces to build sentences or spin to create and say a sentence.
36. Do a brain break with desk drumming!
Your students will love jumping and drumming with pool noodles to their favorite songs!
Want more content like this? Subscribe to our newsletters!
Plus, get the full instructions for pool noodle fractions here.