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by Guest Blogger Thad Baker, June 14, 2013
Homemade Pool Toys and Games
The fun of summer water activities is officially here. It’s time to clean and service the pool and bring out children's pool toys from last year. You may find a few of them are in fairly decent condition, and others may need to be discarded or recycled. However, rather than just buying new toys, you and young children can have a fun project and make new toys.
Look around the home before you head for the mall or the craft store. You may find many items that can be recycled. Creating new toys from these items will be an enjoyable project on which the family can work together.
Begin with a few two liter soda bottles. Clean them thoroughly and fit the caps on tightly. Next, take a length of colorful heavy cord or clothesline and tie a half-filled bottle to each end. You can use them for a buoy to show the deep end of the pool or swim lane. Connect two large bottles with a wooden or plastic rod inserted into each bottle. Seal up the ends with lots of duct tape.
Smaller plastic soda bottles can also be used. Wash them first, then fill with colored sand just enough to make them buoyant. Glue the caps on tightly, and use them to play all sorts of pool games. If a bottle sinks it will float back up after a moment or two, and children enjoy seeing them pop back to the surface.
Toys can also be made from unused sponges. Use only new sponges to avoid chemical residue from used sponges getting into the water. Cut each sponge into strips and tie four to six strips together in the middle. This will form a little bundle. Pull the strips into a pom pom that children can toss to each other in the pool.
Your local hobby or craft store will yield other items from which you can create homemade pool toys. If you’re on a budget, start in the clearance section and don’t be afraid to get creative!
Pick up some versatile and cheap craft foam, draw the outline and let the kids cut large letters from the foam, (safety scissors). Children can form words or sentences while playing in the pool. Have a game of Pool Scrabble!
Turn your pool into an aquarium to delight the children. Draw the outline with a sharpie, and cut the foam in shapes of fish, turtles, swans and other aquatic animals.
Fill a small plastic bottle with colored water. Cut several strips of foam and tie them to the bottle to make an octopus or a squid. Put a hula hoop in the water through which the sea creatures can 'jump' with a little help.
Balloons make another easy and affordable pool toy. Fill round balloons with water and tie a plastic pail to the side of the pool. Children can earn points by throwing the balloons into the pail. This requires a bit of adult supervision, as any balloon that breaks must be removed immediately, to avoid the risk of someone choking.
Pool Noodles can be made into lots of fun, floating pool toys. Tie foam noodles together to make a raft. You can also create floating circles or figure eights.
Since the kids are going to sword fight with them anyway, might as well make Jedi Noodle Swords with duct tape and electrical tape. Or, you can use partially filled water balloons as balls and use the noodles as polo sticks in a new kind of water polo game, pool hockey?
How about some old fashioned fun? Making paper boats, and racing them across the pool can be great fun. A great idea for a group of youngsters, use wood scraps, or a table of many different items, and have a sailboat derby, with prizes for different awards (fastest, most creative, most unsinkable).
Here's a fun video with instructions on how to make a classic paper boat - launching it in the pool, and then re-enactments from the movie 'Jaws'.
During winter or early spring, set aside items in the home that can be turned into water toys when summer arrives. You can make this an enjoyable summer tradition to which adults and children alike look forward as a fun family time.
About the Author: Thad Baker works with Blue Haven Pools, the premier Oklahoma city pools experts.Thad enjoys being out in the sun and writing about outdoor activities.
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