We love pool noodles! They’re bright, colorful, and make great manipulatives for reading, math, and beyond. Plus, this time of year, they’re so inexpensive to buy (you can even get them in bulk and shipped for free). Here are some of our favorite pool noodle uses for the classroom.
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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. We put them in this cute chevron fabric bin, making it easy for teachers to store.
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.
SOURCE: A Neighborhood Kindergarten.
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.
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.
SOURCE: Gotta Gogh Teach Art
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.
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
Any kid would love this project. It involves LEGOs, pool noodles, marbles, and building. It’s the perfect way to sneak in a little STEM learning.
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.
SOURCE: Little Bins for Little Hands
Here’s another engineering challenge for your students. Use toothpicks and noodles to design and build. We love this project from Little Bins for Little Hands.
12. Bring a rainbow into your classroom.
SOURCE: Rainbow Art Teacher
You can use this on your walls, on a bulletin board, or as part of a door display.
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. Make an obstacle course.
This would be, like, the greatest field day ever.
15. Use noodles as letter plates.
Use pool noodles as card holders for practicing spelling words. They could also work as a name holders or to display signs or directions.
16. Get in a science lesson with a water race.
SOURCE: Teaching Mama
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.
17. Use noodles for paint projects.
SOURCE: Optimistic Mommy
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.
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.
SOURCE: And Next Comes L
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.
20. Create a DNA model.
This is an amazing way to bring science into your classroom.
21. Give your students a stress reliever.
SOURCE: School Counselor Blog
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!
22. Simplify fractions.
All you need are two different color noodles to make your own fraction game for students to practice. Our WeAreTeachers 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, flash cards, 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.
SOURCE: School Time Snippets
Practice those fine motor skills with cut up noodles and a few other manipulatives.
26. Have sight word boat races.
SOURCE: The Educators’ Spin on It
We love this unique pool noodle use. This educator put sight words on these noodle floats and let her students have boat races.
27. Make your own giant pencils.
SOURCE: Planet Happy Smiles
We’ve seen a few different takes on creating no. 2 pencils out of pool noodles, and this is our favorite tutorial.
28. Color your walls with crayons.
SOURCE: Playful Little Learners
This has to be one of our favorite pool noodle uses. Color your entire wall!
29. Make pool noodle airplanes.
SOURCE: Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls
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.
SOURCE: Teaching with Heart
This is a fun (and very visual) way of teaching match concepts. Little hands will love moving the pieces back and forth.
31. Make your own quiet blocks.
SOURCE: I Can Teach My Child
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.
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.
SOURCE: Sophie’s World
They’re kind of adorable! Try these pool noodle flowers to brighten up your classroom or as craft for students to make their parents.
What are your favorite pool noodle uses for the classroom? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.
Plus, get the full instructions for pool noodle fractions here.