My kids love to play in our family pool with their friends, and I always enjoy watching them. However, sometimes they get stuck for something fun to do. They have worn out playing Marco Polo, and that’s when an interesting dynamic occurs, as they figure out new pool games on their own. It’s a real learning experience for them, and I treat it that way.
Pool Games- Ideas and Why and How To Have Kids Make Up Their Own Pool Games
Learning creativity. “Mom, we’re bored, we need something to do.” Of course, I could step in and give them suggestions, but that’s like the old story about giving someone a fish – it’s better to teach them to fish. They don’t learn as much when someone else tells them everything they need to do. I’ve found some wonderful pool games at sites like Babble. So I may give them a brief sketch of an idea to start from, such as “what if one person is a shark, and he tries to catch the others?” There are lots of games and swimming activities you can describe for the kids:
Dolphin – basically the kids hold their breath and see who can swim underwater the longest.
Treasure hunt – toss a coin to the bottom and see who can find it.
Scavenger hunt – toss pairs of items in the water, and players find one of each.
They will take that seed of an idea, and blow it up into what appears to be a complex game, making refinements as they discuss how the game will be played. They will pull in diving boards, pool toys, and either divide into teams or make one of the kids some kind of “it” person. I love watching that process, and knowing that these kids are learning skills that will benefit them in later life. They are developing their creativity while they play.
The group dynamic. These kids are going to end up being in a committee some time in their lives, whether it’s in business or at the church – it’s almost inevitable. When they develop new pool games, and start making up rules and dividing into teams – they are learning a valuable lesson about working together. It’s fascinating to watch leaders emerge, the group working together to determine the strategy for their team, and a game that they enjoy unfolding before my eyes. Do I understand the games they create – usually not, but that doesn’t matter.
Ingenuity and negotiation. When someone finds a hole in the rules, it’s hilarious to watch one of the kids try to exploit that gap, and take advantage. “ Hey – Jimmy jumped out of the pool when he was about to get caught – that’s not right!” Apparently, that wasn’t discussed in the rules session. When the group catches it, the game will stop for a discussion. Was that a valid move, and if not, what can we do about it? I wonder if I’m looking at future politicians debating the pros and cons of a new law.
Just let them play. Once the kids are on the trail of a new pool game – I have to get out of the way and just let them have fun. They’re figuring out what they want to do, and how to do it. There’s a woman down the block who I call a “helicopter Mom.” She hovers over her kids in the pool, directing everything they are doing. It makes me cringe, because she is taking away from a very valuable learning experience. When I’m watching this fascinating process unfold before my eyes, I just lean back in my lounge chair and smile.
At first, I didn’t fully appreciate just how much was happening when the kids were playing in the pool and creating new pool games. They were developing relationships skills, creativity, and learning how to work in groups. There was much more going on than just play, and it taught me an important lesson about how kids learn.
Have you ever made up any fun pool games you want to share? We’d love to hear about your pool games in the comments!