Pool toys are fun for both kids and adults. They are used to playing in the water or on dry land, depending on what type of pool toy it is. Kids pool toys include beach balls, dive rings, inflatable sharks, etc., while adult pool toys include beers (aka beer bongs), flotation devices (aka floating devices), coolers (for keeping drinks cold). But what should you do if there are no toys with you?
Get ready for the pool
You need to take all the necessary equipment with you to get ready for the pool. First of all, get a towel and some water shoes (for example Crocs), because the bottom of the pool can be very slippery and dangerous. It is better to wear something comfortable while enjoying the water, right?!
You should also bring your sunscreen and sunglasses (there's nothing worse than having a headache from looking at sunrays) and if you want snacks or drinks (i.e., beer bong) - it will help you relax after a hard day at work!
Now, when we have everything that we need, let's enter the pool!
Swimming without toys
If there are no toys in the pool, i.e., beach balls or rings, etc., there is no need to be disappointed. Now you will have a great opportunity to do your favorite swimming exercises, for example:
- water aerobics
- walking on the bottom of the pool (with or without shoes)
- underwater running
How to make DIY pool toys?
Pool toys can be quite expensive, especially when you need them all summer long. If you are on a budget this year and looking to build your own pool toys, here is how to make DIY pool toys that will last for years.
If you want to create your own pool toy that looks like the regular float-on-water type of beach balls, just blow up three balloons in different colors (you can use less or more, depending on how big you want the ball to be), tie off the ends and then dip each end into a PVA glue bucket filled with water.
Wait for it to dry while holding the balloon tightened. Arrange the three balloons next to each other and put a strong string through all three balloons (below on left). Tie it off and voila! You now got yourself a new pool toy that will last for years.
How about some on-dry land toys? Dive rings are fun to play on the ground, on the water, or even in the air for your backyard summer game of catch. There are different ways to make them using colored plastic wrap (on dry land), cotton balls (in water), and aluminum foil (in the air).
Plastic Wrap Dive Rings
Blow up two balloons in different colors; bigger than normal beach ball size. Use colored plastic wrap instead of regular white wrapping paper. Cut one end of each balloon and fix them together with strong tape.
Mix a PVA glue bucket filled with water and dip the joined balloon/plastic wrap in it. Allow to dry on an empty bottle or funnel for about 8 hours. Tadaa! You now have your own dive rings ready to play with (in or out of water).
Cotton Ball Dive Rings
Blow up two balloons of different colors; bigger than normal beach ball size. Fill cotton balls into a plastic bottle cap. Pour the liquid from the cotton balls into another container, then put more cotton balls into that liquid and keep repeating until there are enough liquid-filled caps. When you're done, cover each end of the balloon with paper tape to prevent them from splitting when they get wet - do this carefully because paper can't hold moisture for very long.
Put the balloons together right after covering each end with tape so it'll be easier to seal them up. Show your child how to dip both ends of the balloon into a PVA glue bucket filled with water, then remove it carefully and lay it flat on an empty bottle or funnel for about 8 hours. Viola! You have just made yourself some new dive rings that are perfect to play within or out of water.
Aluminum Foil Dive Rings
If you want something that will last even longer than plastic wrap dive rings, then aluminum foil is your answer. The best part? How you can use the ring later as a Frisbee (just add some weight at the bottom). To make aluminum foil dive rings, just take two pieces of aluminum foil or tin cans and put them together in the shape of a ring about 6-8 inches in diameter. Fold them back at the top to hold both ends together.
Make sure they are sealed underneath so no liquid will get inside when you pour it over. Now bring your child's attention to how you can make bubbles by slowly pouring water over one side of the diving ring (the side without any silver). Wait for it to dry for 8 hours...and viola! You now have yourself an aluminum dive ring that is perfect for pool toys, Frisbee games, catch games with friends - pretty much anything that has water or involves throwing things into the water!
Pool games without toys
Don't worry if you don't have any of these handy toys lying around your house - there are many other simple pool games that require no toys to play with at all! Here are some of them.
Family Game Night, Anyone?
Gathering the family together for a good game of backyard bowling is easy thanks to PVC pipe. Just cut two pieces of PVC piping into about 2-foot long pieces and attach them to each end of another piece on either side by adding caps with holes on top.
Fill up the entire length on both sides with water...and you now have yourself an actual pool toy! You can make it even fancier by painting or decorating the equipment in some way. Another fun idea is playing tug-of-war with a floating rope.
You can also use another larger PVC pipe and fill it with water, then play some volleyball or soccer by throwing the ball into the hoop on top of the bigger pipe - just be sure to keep your eye out for stray balls that might land in someone's yard!
Just add some oil and food coloring
This is one of those easy pool games where everyone can join in even if they don't know how to swim or aren't familiar with the game. All you need is some cooking oil (the cheapest kind will do), food coloring of your choice...and tons of fun!
Just pour small amounts of each oil color into the pool and watch them mix up until there are no more spaces left between colors. You now have yourself a swimming pool filled with different colors of sunshine! For added fun, play some music and watch the oil dance to the beat. Your children will love this one - guaranteed!
This is another one of those easy pool games that anyone can play all the time. The only thing you need is another person willing to be Marco...and someone else willing to be Polo! Marco will stand at one side of the pool while Polo stands on the other side (with his eyes closed). Marco yells "Marco!" every now and then, prompting Polo to yell back "Polo!". Whoever finds who's yelling now wins the game. A pool is needed for this game to make things more fun and exciting.
Sink or Swim
This is a great game for small children because all they have to do is jump in and try not to go under too many times - if they do, then it's game over. This game is also perfect for kids learning how to use their swimming skills like floating, doing handstands, or dog paddling. Just make sure that no one hits their head on the bottom of the pool!
Popsicle stick races
Another fun pool game that is perfect for the whole family to play together is building a makeshift boat. You can make it more interesting by attaching popsicle sticks to each other so they are tiled in different directions...and adding paper clips to hold them all together.
If your child dabbles with arts and crafts, have him or she decorate the boats for you! Once they're ready, fill up the pool with some water - be sure not too high because if the boat starts moving fast enough it could flip over easily. Then watch as everyone races to see who finishes first!
This easy pool game works best when there are only 2-3 people because it requires just one person to blow bubbles into the water without sitting too far away from it. This player will have to keep blowing bubbles into the water while another person tries to catch as many as possible using a small plastic net. The player who manages to catch the most bubbles in a pre-determined time limit (usually 1 minute) will be declared the winner.
This is one pool game that will require a little bit of equipment - you need to have at least two inflatable ducks or other similar floating toys available. Just fill up the pool with water, blow them up, and add some food coloring for an extra blast...and you now have yourself a chicken fight! This is a great way to spend a hot summer afternoon because there can be a maximum of four players in this pool game.
And lastly, another easy backyard pool game that requires just one piece of equipment: a fishing pole. It looks complicated but it's actually quite easy. All you have to do is tie a string on one end of your pole while keeping enough slack for a child to grab onto it near the top.
The other end should be tied to a small weight - like a paper clip or some sort of dried food. Now the child just has to hold onto the fishing pole while trying not to move around too much in the pool, and wait for that 'fish' to bite!
Safety tips on the water
Kids are just naturally drawn to water - it's one of their favorite things in the world because it's usually refreshing, fun, and exciting. However, you have to make sure that your child is safe around pools because if someone falls off they can easily drown or become seriously injured.
Here are some safety tips you should teach your kids before letting them play with your pool without supervision:
- Always swim with a buddy! Never let anyone go swimming alone no matter how good they think they are at swimming.
- If you do see a child drown, never hesitate to rescue him or her. Pull the child out by his or her hair first then proceed to CPR if needed. Do not waste time calling for help!
- Children have to be at least 4-5 years old before they can be trusted to swim alone. Make sure that they know how to act around water, what the dangers are, and what you expect them to do in case of an emergency.
- Kids need adults supervision (no matter how good at swimming they think they are). The pool should always be partitioned off so there's no way for little ones to go wandering around unsupervised - especially when it's dark outside.
- Never let your child play with inflatable pool toys without adult supervision! These toys may seem harmless but if someone gets tangled up or stuck inside there is not much you can do about it.
Here are some reminders on proper safety:
- Keep your eyes on your kids. This may sound like a no-brainer but you'd be surprised at the number of tragic accidents that happen when adults do not keep their eyes on their children or anyone who is within arms reach.
- Do not use inflatables as toys. Yes, we've all seen those ads for inflatable pool toys where it says 'perfect for kids 3 years old...' - but these things can be very dangerous if someone gets stuck inside or entangled by one.
- Make sure that the pool is properly fenced off to keep kids from wandering into it on their own. A fence at least three feet tall should be installed along with gates that are kept locked when children are playing without supervision.