101 Cool Pool Games for Children: Fun and Fitness for Swimmers of All Levels
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101 Cool Pool Games for Children: Fun and Fitness for Swimmers of All Levels

by Kim Rodomista, Robin Patterson

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The benefits of water exercise and play have been well documented, and it’s never too early to begin. This practical guide for children 4 and above contains games and activities for every skill level. All 101 games — from variations on classics like Follow the Leader to new ones like Message in a Bottle — are simple, easy to learn, and enjoyable for


The benefits of water exercise and play have been well documented, and it’s never too early to begin. This practical guide for children 4 and above contains games and activities for every skill level. All 101 games — from variations on classics like Follow the Leader to new ones like Message in a Bottle — are simple, easy to learn, and enjoyable for youngsters to play over and over again. Best of all, they burn calories and improve a child’s overall fitness level. A special section covers exercises, including water walking and jumping and balance activities.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"We enjoyed the book very much. We will be recommending it for our WSI course at Green Mtn. College next year and using it at our summer camp" Drs. J. Thayer and Candice L. Raines, Roaring Brook Camp for Boys

"...this book certainly offers practical ideas for hours of fun in the water...Swimming instructors, camp counselors and activity coordinators, in particular, will find it a great addition to established curriculum, as will individual families who enjoy water activities." Margo Stich, Associate Editor, Rochester Women Magazine July/August 2007

Product Details

Turner Publishing Company
Publication date:
SmartFun Activity Books Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.34(w) x 9.36(h) x 0.32(d)
Age Range:
4 Years

Read an Excerpt

101 Cool Pool Games FOR Children

Fun and Fitness for Swimmers of All Levels
By Kim Rodomista

Hunter House Inc., Publishers

Copyright © 2006 Kim Rodomista
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-89793-483-1

Chapter One

Imagination Games

Albert Einstein once said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge." Yet, since imagination is hard to quantify as an "achievement," in today's success-driven world many people discount the importance of imagination to a child's development.

Even so, imagination-the art of dreaming, inventing, and improvising-is as important today as it was in Einstein's time. Through imagination, children learn to experiment with different roles. Through imaginative play, they are given a safe environment to express their inner thoughts and feelings. Over time, scientists believe that imaginative self-expression leads children to better handle their emotions.

So toss the bathing caps; thinking caps are mandatory for these games. Each one allows players to explore their unique imagination through water play. This style of game can be easily adapted to accommodate all skill levels.

1 Follow the Leader

How to Play: Almost everybody has played Follow the Leader at some point.This game is exactly like the old favorite, but with a twist-it's played in the water! This is a great game to get younger children comfortable with the water.

Players stand in a circle with plenty of space in the middle. Each player selects a type of movement. The players can select any type of movement or create an imaginative movement of their own. If a player cannot think of a movement, the leader can offer suggestions.

Next, the first player moves into the center of the circle. He performs his chosen movement. Everybody else copies his movement. Soon, everyone should be doing the same thing.

Players continue doing the movement for a set amount of time or until the leader calls for a switch. Then, the next player takes a turn in the center of the circle. That player does a new movement. Players take turns until everyone has performed a movement in the center of the circle.



Blow bubbles


Go under water



Hopping on one leg



More advanced players can travel around the pool as part of their movement. For example, they could move from corner to corner, zigzag, forward, backward, or sideways.

This game can be played as Simon Says, too. In this variation, the players should take turns being "Simon." "Simon" goes into the middle of the circle and instructs the players which movements to do. Players should do the movements only if the designated "Simon" says, "Simon says ..." before performing the movement. Any player who is tricked into doing the movement without hearing "Simon says ..." is eliminated from the game.

2 What Did You Say?

How to Play: This game's original name is the Telephone Game. With water added, it becomes What Did You Say?

The players stand in a circle. The leader thinks of a word or a short sentence. Next, the leader and the person to the right go under water. The leader then says the word to this player. Each player will repeat the same word (under water), or the word they think they have heard, to the next person in line.

The round ends when the word comes back to the original leader. The leader then announces the last underwater word to the group (above the water). If that was not the original word, the leader reveals the correct word. The leader can continue the game as long as the kids stay interested.

3 Spell It Out

How to Play: No, this game is not a spelling bee contest, but children do have to spell a word with their bodies!

Divide the group into two teams. Choose a time limit for forming a word in the water and guessing the word. Also, set a point limit to end the game.

Team 1 gets into the water, and the other team waits on the side of the pool. Players work together to choose a short, simple word. After the word is chosen, the players use their bodies to form the word as quickly as possible. They move their arms, legs, and other body parts in the shape of letters while floating on top of the water. If they form a readable word in the time frame (as judged by the leader), the team receives a point.

The members of Team 2 then try to guess what the word is within a designated period of time. If they guess correctly, they receive a point.

Next, Team 2 takes a turn in the water to spell out a word. Team 1 tries to guess the word. Turns alternate in this manner. The game ends when the teams reach the point limit set by the leader, usually 10 points.

Examples of words


4 What Am I?

How to Play: Just like in the game of charades, this game requires some thought. This is especially true since this game is played in the water. Divide the group into two teams. Each team must create a list of ideas to act out. The leader may give some guidelines or suggestions to help teams focus on creating a list, such as all animals or all cartoon characters. Then each team gives their list to the leader. Each player will receive an idea from the opposite team's list to act out.

Each player takes a turn. First, the leader selects an idea for the player. Then the player acts out the idea for her team. She tries to help her team guess what she is in the shortest period of time, but she can't say the word out loud. If the team members guess correctly, they get a point. Then, the next team takes a turn.

The game continues like this for a set amount of time or until a predetermined point limit is reached.










Variation: This game can also be played by individuals, instead of a team. When played this way, the leader makes up the ideas, and only 2 players are necessary-one to act out the idea and one to guess what it is. No score is kept in this variation.

5 On with the Show

Props: Beach balls; rafts; music (optional)-be creative!

How to Play: I enjoy watching synchronized swimming in the Olympics, but it's hilarious to watch a group of kids putting on their own synchronized-swimming program. Get the video camera ready! Depending on the number of players, the leader can divide them into groups or allow them to be in one group.

Allow the group to be creative in planning a routine. Select the props and music. Ribbons can be given to the most creative, the silliest, etc.


Jumping jacks

Pop out of the water

Run in place

Float on back with a leg lift


Run forward

Chapter Two

Tag Games

Tag games help increase fitness by using fun-filled physical activity to keep children moving. If a strenuous tag game lasts for fifteen minutes or more, it becomes aerobic activity and improves cardiovascular health.

Another benefit of tag games is their versatility. They can be adapted to suit the needs of different sized groups. A tag game can be fun with five players or twenty-five players. For large groups, tag games can be divided into smaller groups or several teams. Or a leader can designate more than one player as "It."

Each of these tag games could last a very long time. The leader's role is to determine when the game will end. The leader may enforce a time limit or end the game only if the children seem to be tired or losing interest.

When planning to play tag, keep in mind the game's rules. If it requires elimination, occupy the kids on the sidelines with an out-of-the-pool activity or game.

6 Car Tag

How to Play: Divide the players into pairs. One is a car, and the other is the driver. The car may walk or swim, but she must hold her hands out in front of her body with her eyes closed. Drivers keep their eyes open. They steer the cars by standing behind their partners and placing their hands on their partners' shoulders.

One car and its driver are chosen to be "It." As in the traditional game of tag, the person who is "It" tries to tag another player. In this game, cars only tag cars. Drivers avoid getting their cars tagged by carefully maneuvering them around other cars.

When the "It" car tags another car, the tagged car's team becomes the new "It." Cars and drivers switch roles, and the game continues.

7 Lifeguard Tag

How to Play: Designate one player to be the lifeguard. Divide the other players into two teams. Each team must move to opposite sides of the pool.

The lifeguard calls the names of two players, one from each team. These two players must swim and exchange places before the lifeguard tags one of them. If someone is tagged, he becomes the next lifeguard. If no one is tagged, the lifeguard calls the names of two more players.

8 Jellyfish Bite

How to Play: Choose one player to be the jellyfish, or chaser. The other players must scatter around the pool. The jellyfish tries to tag any other player on the foot, knee, or other spot that is difficult to hold. This tag is like a jellyfish sting. The person tagged becomes the next jellyfish. Depending on where the player was tagged, he must hop, limp, or swim with one arm while chasing the next victim. No biting please!

9 Racing Sea Rays

How to Play: Group players together in pairs. Choose one pair to be the sea rays. Ask everyone else to stand in a circle and hold one of their partner's hands.

The sea rays, who should also hold hands, move around the outer circle. When they are ready, they choose another pair and touch them on the shoulders. The tagged pair must step out of the circle and run or swim around the outer circle in the opposite direction of the sea rays while still holding hands. Both groups try to get back into the empty space first. The pair that makes it to the empty spot last becomes the sea rays for the next round.

10 The Blob

How to Play: This is a fun and funny game. Designate one person to be the "Blob." Everyone else swims around the pool, trying not to be tagged. If a swimmer is tagged, he or she must join hands with the "Blob" and continue to try and tag others. When other players are tagged, they must join the "Blob," too. Finally, there is only one player left. The player left is the winner and the next "Blob"!

11 Underwater Tag

How to Play: Choose one person to be the chaser. Everyone else swims around the pool. To avoid the chaser, the players must go under water; the chaser can tag only a body part that is above the water. As long as the players are under water they are safe, but when they surface for air, they are back in the game. If a player is tagged, she must get out of the pool until the game is over.

The game ends when all the players are tagged or at a designated time set by the leader. Then, a new person takes a turn as the chaser.

12 Hook On

How to Play: Players form a single line by holding on to each other's hands. The last person in line tries to tag the first person in line. To prevent this, the first person moves around the pool swinging the line from side to side. When the first person is tagged, the end person goes to the front of the line, and everyone moves down one space in line.

Variation: To make this game more challenging, allow only the first and last player to have their feet touching the bottom of the pool. All other players must stay in a tucked position as they are being pulled around the pool.

13 Moby Dick

How to Play: Choose one player to be "Moby Dick." The other players are the fish. Have "Moby Dick" float on his back. The other fish gather around the whale.

When "Moby Dick" suddenly yells, "Thar she blows," the fish start to swim away, and Moby Dick quickly turns over and swims to capture one of the fish. If no fish is tagged within one minute, the game repeats itself. If "Moby Dick" tags a fish, the fish becomes the next "Moby Dick."

14 Elbow Tag

How to Play: All players get in the water. Designate one player to be the chaser and one to be the runner. All other players must have a partner. Each player must link elbows with her partner to form a pair.

Next, the chaser tries to tag the runner. The runner may seek safety by hooking his elbow to the elbow of someone in a pair, so the paired players should try to avoid the runner by moving around the pool. If a paired player has her elbow hooked by the runner, the other member of the pair immediately becomes the new runner.

When a chaser tags a runner, the two reverse roles for a new round of play.

15 Fish and Net

How to Play: Five players are chosen to be the net, while others are fish. The fish scatter around the swimming pool. The five players link hands to create a "net."

The game leader calls out, "Swim, fish, swim." At this time, the net players move around the pool, trying to capture as many fish as they can by touching them. The fish try to swim from the net. The fish may swim underwater to avoid getting caught. If a fish is caught, he must sit on the side of the pool until the game is finished.

After all the fish are caught, or a set amount of time determined by the leader passes, five different players are chosen to form the net.

16 The King's Bridge

How to Play: Designate one player to be the king or queen. This player will stand on the deck of the pool with his or her back to the other players. The other players stand in the water against the opposite wall of the pool. The players in the water call out, "King _____" or "Queen _____" (insert the child's name), may we cross your bridge?"

The king or queen will reply, "Only if you are _____ (let the child choose the category)." The players fitting into that category may safely cross over to the opposite side of the pool.

The players who are left behind must wait for the king or queen to say, "Go," at which point the king or queen jumps into the pool. The players who are left behind try to swim across the pool without being tagged. The first player who is tagged becomes the next king or queen. If nobody is tagged, the same person is king or queen again.


Only if you are wearing blue

Only if you are a boy/girl

Only if your first/last name begins with (insert letter)

Only if your hair is (insert color)

Only if your birthday is in (insert month)

17 Marco Polo

How to Play: Designate one player to be "Marco." Everyone else will scatter around the pool. "Marco" must close her eyes and count to ten. Next, "Marco," who has to keep her eyes closed, begins to search for the other players by saying, "Marco."

The other players swim around the pool, and they must shout "Polo" whenever they hear "Marco." By listening carefully, "Marco" must try to find and tag another player, who then becomes the new "Marco."


Excerpted from 101 Cool Pool Games FOR Children by Kim Rodomista Copyright © 2006 by Kim Rodomista. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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