Is the pen-and-paper homeschooling getting a little tedious this lockdown?
Now that spring has sprung, it’s the perfect time to take your homeschooling into the pool with these fun educational pool games and activities. Not only will you be impressing your children’s teachers with your creative approaches to learning, but the kids will be having so much fun they won’t even notice you’ve disguised their school work as pool play!
Before we get started – a pool health reminder!! Firstly – ensure you have primed and prepped your pool for the new swim season. Can’t remember how? Check out our tips here. Secondly, be sure to collect all equipment at the end of these games and remove them from the pool area. Digging foam pieces out of your filter or scraping rusty coins off your pool floor is not what we’re going for with these games.
Splash and Spell
If the thought of one more spelling list has you wanting to reach for the chocolate block (or wine bottle!) a little too quickly, this game is for you. And the good news? It can be made flexible enough for the earliest of readers right through to the big kids wanting to join in the fun!
Bath foam letter set OR sponges, scissors, and permanent marker
If you don’t happen to have a foam letter set, you can make your own by chopping up a pool noodle or some sponges and writing letters on them with a permanent marker. Hello, bonus points for letter writing practice!
How to play:
If the goal is specifically to nail the spelling list (or rehearse those dreaded sight words), then this first option is for you. Choose a word from the list and grab the necessary letters. Throw them into the pool and have your speller dive in to retrieve them. When they bring them back to the edge, they must place them in the right order to spell the word and then say it out loud. Repeat until the list is complete. If you have enough letters, you can end by throwing all letters in and timing how long it takes to retrieve and spell the entire list!
If fun over educational outcomes is more what you’re after, then simply throw all the letters into the pool and see how many words your player/s can make! You can set certain parameters to make it more challenging such as:
- Limiting the number of letters that can be collected per round
- Eyes must be closed when collecting letters
- Setting a timer (and adding a race if more than one player)
- Seeing how many words can be made from the one collection of letters
Splash and Add
Stealing from the fun of Splash and Spell, this one is for the maths lovers. It uses the same sort of concepts as above but switches out the alphabet for a set of numbers.
Bath foam number set OR sponges, scissors, and permanent marker
Just like in the last game, you can make your own number set using a chopped up pool noodle or sponges. Or, perhaps add a science twist (and added swim challenge) and have your young one brainstorm other pool-safe items, then decide whether they’re likely to float or sink. Grab a sample of each to test them out, then decide which to use.
How to play:
Much like the spelling version of this game, the rules are dependant on what you’re wanting to get out of the game. You might throw just 2 numbers in and have your player/s race to grab then add them up. Make it a little trickier for older players by alternating between addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
If you have 2 or more players, have some fun with “chance”. Throw in all the numbers and ask players to dive in and collect as many as they can until all are collected. They then swim back and add up their totals. The person with the highest score wins. Again, the options here are pretty endless, so focus on the fun and see where your creative little minds take you!
This one is best kept for confident swimmers who are capable of swimming on their own to the bottom. You’ll also need to make sure all equipment is collected at the end, so be prepared to dive in yourself for a hunt, if your players get a little stuck!
A range of silver and gold coins
How to play:
If your young player is still pretty new to the concept of money, simply throw a few coins into the pool for your player to hunt down and bring back to you. They must name each coin correctly before the next round can begin. If they’re already up to counting coins, there are lots of fun variations you can try:
“Collect and count”
Throw a set number of coins in and have your player collect then count up the value of the coins
If you have more than one player, throw all coins in and have players race to collect as many as they can until all are collected. Come back to the edge and see who ended up with the highest value. Learning can be extended here by considering who has the most coins and who has the highest value of coins. This helps children understand the different value of coins and that more doesn’t necessarily mean more money (although wouldn’t we love that to be the case!)
“Don’t Go Over”
Throw all coins in then call out a value that your player/s cannot go over when collecting. You might, for example say “don’t go over $2”. Players then go hunting for coins and can collect any number and combination, provided their collection does not add up to a value greater than $2.
If you have more than one player and they are itching to bring out their competitive streak, this one is always a winner! Throw all coins in the water then call out a monetary value. The first player to return to you with a coin or coins to that exact value wins. Only one player? No worries, switch to a time-based incentive. For example, your player has only 30 seconds to return to you with their collection.
Not only will you be winning with maths practice in this game, but helping to develop critical thinking skills, as players consider whether to spend time searching for the right value coin or collect what they can grab as quickly as they can and count on the go! If you’re really keen to cement their learning, play a few rounds then chat to your players at the end about which strategy they found most (and least!) effective and why.
The Great Race
Need some quiet time to knock over a deadline or Zoom meeting before hitting the pool with your learners? Then this STEM boat racing challenge is perfect!
Water-proof (and non-colour-leaking) craft materials such as leaves, sticks, alfoil, chopped pool noodles, plastic plates, straws, food trays (well washed, of course!). Consider the environment in this activity, and use recycled materials where available.
How to play:
Provide your little learners with a range of crafting materials they can use to design their very own boat. Let them know the boat will need to be able to go in the water and float on its own. Then, let them jump right in and experiment using their best creative brainstorming caps. Keen for some inspiration? Hit up Pinterest and YouTube for some DIY toy boat inspiration. We’re loving these juice box sailboats from Apple Green Cottage for younger ones or the rubber band powered boat by Amazing Science for the slightly more advanced engineer of the house.
When the prototypes are polished it’s time to hit the water to test them out! You might like to set a few different awards to celebrate all strengths, such as a boat that floats the best, sails the furthest, or even the most creative design. Wrap up the challenge by discussing what worked well and what design tweaks would make for a stronger boat. And, of course, be sure to take a photo of your little engineers to show off their creative skills to their teachers!
Just Dive Right In
To wrap things up, we’re ending with an activity that needs very little instruction and little to no equipment. Simply grab the swimmers, the towels, some fun tunes, and let your kids just dive right in and have fun! If you need to justify it on the homeschooling timetable, then a swim session most certainly fits within Sports class. But, it’s also ok (and, in fact, very necessary) to have blocks of the day to just unwind and have fun. These are tricky times we’re facing and our children pick up on the uncertainty around them. Keeping to a school routine can be really helpful for children, but if homeschool stress is getting you or your little ones down, remember that wellbeing comes first at the moment. And a little pool fun in the sun may be just the brain break the house needs!