My town has two great pools, but the kids are not allowed to bring toys into the large, main pool. After they've place Marco Polo ad nauseum, they sometimes run out of games to play. So here are six alternatives:
- Fetch (2 or more players) – Now, toys are not allowed, but goggles and hair accessories are. So one way we get around the rules is to use common permitted items that the kids can dive for, such as goggles (we even keep broken ones for this purpose), hair scrunchies, bracelets, etc. You throw one item and see which kid brings it to the surface first. Note: this can be played with one player if she competes against herself. To do this, time the player and see if she can beat her time in retrieving the object.
- Water Leapfrog (4 to 8 players) – Divide players into two teams. Each team is on opposite ends of the pool, standing in chest-high water with their legs spread apart. The last player has to dive and swim through the legs of his teammates and spread his legs. Then the next player goes. The team that reaches the other side of the pool first wins.
- What Time Is It Mr. Fox (3 or more players) – This is a variation of a game my son learned in preschool and it's awesome! One person is designated Mr. Fox and stands at the end of the pool while the rest of the players are on the other side. The kids call out, “What time is it Mr. Fox?” Then Mr. Fox says a time and the kids swim that number of strokes toward him. This goes on until Mr. Fox calls out, “Midnight!” Then all the kids swim back to the starting line while Mr. Fox tries to tag one. If Mr. Fox succeeds, that kid becomes the new Mr. Fox.
- Contests (2 or more players) – Which kid can dive into the pool: the furthest from the edge, make the smallest/largest splash, can do the funniest dive, can jump the highest into the pool, etc.
- Sharks & Minnows (3 or more players) – One person is the Shark and stands in the deep end of the pool while the other players are on the side. The Shark yells “lunchtime” and the players standing on the side of the pool have 30 seconds to swim to the other side of the pool without being tagged. Anyone who is tagged has to join with the Shark and try to tag the remaining player(s). This goes on until either all of the kids are bored with playing or everyone has been tagged.
- Freeze (3 or more players) – Players gather in the shallow end of the pool with adults or bigger kids on their knees. Players define the physical boundaries of the game so that everyone can stand up. One person is It. At the signal, It has one minute to tag as many other players as possible. Once tagged, a player has to stand “frozen” and raise his hand. Before a frozen player can return to play, an unfrozen player must thaw him out by diving under water and swimming through his legs. A player can't be tagged as frozen while they're under water. At the end of the minute, count how many people It has frozen. Then choose another player to be It. Keep going until everyone gets a turn being It. The winner is the person who has frozen the most people while they were It.
Not being able to have have toys in the pool makes playing games hard, but not impossible. Use the activities above and challenge your kids to come up with even more variations of games they play on the playground. This Summer, like all, is unique. Enjoy it!