7 Pool Games for Kids (So You Don’t Have to Play Marco Polo All Summer)

posted: 06/13/16
by: Amanda Mushro
kids swimming

If your summer vacation plans include lots of pool time, you'll need to be prepared for your pool duties: adjusting goggles every few minutes, always having snacks on hand, and being ready to hear "Mom, watch this!" at least a million times. As the summer pool sessions get underway, you'll probably hear the chanting of Marco Polo over and over. And while I love a good game of Marco Polo, it's time to change up that familiar pool game. So here's a few fun and easy ideas to keep your swimmers entertained without mentioning a certain explorer.

Invisible Bottle Dive

Clean out a clear plastic bottle and fill it with pool water. Line up the swimmers on the side of the pool with their backs to the water. Toss the bottle into the water and when they hear the splash, it's time for them to jump in and find the bottle. Even though this sounds really easy, it's actually a challenge because the bottle seems to be invisible in the water.

Raft Relay Races

Using a raft and a pool noodle, set up relay races where kids make the raft a boat and the noodle an oar, and they paddle across the pool. To keep this going for a while, make it a relay race.

Sharks and Minnows

One swimmer is the shark and everyone else is a minnow. The shark starts in the water and the minnows are on the side of the pool opposite the shark. The shark sings "Sharks and minnows, one two three, fishies, fishies swim to me!" and the minnows jump in and try to swim past the shark, without getting tagged, and touch the wall behind the shark. If a minnow gets tagged, they become a shark and join the first shark for the next round. The game plays on until there is only one minnow left. Then that minnow becomes the first shark in the next round.


This game is the freeze tag of pool play. One swimmer is "it" and tries to tag the other swimmers. When a swimmer is tagged, they must stand frozen like a popsicle putting their hands straight in the air over their heads. They can only get back into the game if another swimmer thaws them by swimming between their legs.

Nighttime Glow Party

If your swimmers are still in the pool when the sun goes down, give everyone a few glow sticks. They make awesome dive sticks and look so cool in the pool at night.

Piranha Ball

Swimmers hold hands and float in a circle with a beach ball in the middle of the group. Swimmers need to avoid touching the ball, but they can't let go of anyone's hand. So get creative! Swim in different directions, splash the ball or even blow it away. If anyone touches the ball, they're out and the remaining players rejoin hands to play again.

King or Queen of the Pool

Swimmers take turns being the King or Queen and ride around on a raft. The other swimmers try to knock the King and Queen off the raft by only touching the raft--not the King or Queen. If you have enough kids, you can divide them into teams and whichever team gets the King or Queen off first, wins!