Pool noodle crafts and activities are just what you need when you have a surplus of those bendy sticks! Add these ideas to your summer activities for preschoolers, or keep them on-hand for your next beach theme.
Related: Summer Messy Play Ideas
Do you ever find yourself grabbing “just a few extra” pool noodles when they’re on sale during the summer? Please tell me I’m not the only one!
Those goofy looking noodles can be used for more than just holding yourself up while relaxing in the pool.
In fact, I’ve noticed over the years that our pool noodles get a lot of . . . love. Which usually means that some of the pool noodles end up broken or split after a while. Those well-loved noodles are great for the pool noodle ideas I share below.
Pool Noodle Crafts
One of my favorite parts about using pool noodles outside of the pool is watching the kids! I can almost see the thought bubble above some of their heads, “Is she really letting us do this with the pool noodles?!”
It’s always fun to use materials in ways the children aren’t used to. It makes the activities more of a novelty, keeps the kids engaged longer, and helps the children think outside the box.
These pool noodle activities have consistently kept the kiddos busy for hours at a time. Sometimes, we even had to stop before the children were done because we needed to move on to other things (like lunch or heading home).
Pool Noodle Art
Grab some cut up pool noodles and let the kids stamp away. You can even keep smaller cylindrical bits of the noodles for rolling art, too!
Related: Process Art
Using cut up pieces of a pool noodle to paint with was a blast! The children were very focused while they painted. The kids stamped with the pool noodles, slide the pieces around in the paint, and a few even tried rolling the noodles on the paper.
Most of the children just wanted to explore the process of pool noodle painting, although a few did attempt to create specific pictures with the noodles.
It got a little messy, as paint is wont to do, but having baby wipes on hand helped with that!
“Sculptures” with Golf Tees
This idea can fall under the heading of pool noodle crafts, but it’s also a bit of a STEM challenge. It really depends on how you present it and how the children roll with the concept.
Related: Engineering Activities for Kids
Set out pool noodle pieces and colorful golf tees. Explain to the children that they can use the materials to stack, build, or create however they want to. Be sure to explain to the children that it’s okay to push the golf tees into the pool noodles.
When we’ve done this, the children tried a few different things. Some made aliens and robots. Others were set on creating specific designs with the materials. And others were incredibly interested in how many golf tees would fit into one pool noodle piece. I love their creativity!
Make a Garland
Why not use the pool noodle pieces to decorate your classroom? How fun would that be for an ocean theme?!
Grab a long piece of string, rope, or ribbon. Then work with the children to add the pieces onto the string. You can encourage the kids to count or name the colors along the way if you want to.
Once the garland is done, hang it up in your classroom. The kids will love seeing it have pride of place, I’m sure.
What are some pool noodle crafts you’ve tried with the kids? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below!
Pool Noodle Activities
In addition to the above pool noodle crafts, there are so many more ways to incorporate the humble noodle into your preschool. Read on for a few more ideas:
Pool Noodle Math Ideas
Use the pieces to make patterns! Start with two colors to introduce the concept to your students. Let them read and extend patterns you make, and then challenge the kids to make their own. Once they grasp the concept, add more color options.
Related: Ocean Preschool Lesson Plans
Write numbers on the pool noodles pieces with a permanent marker. The children can:
- Put the pieces in numerical order.
- Combine the pieces to make larger numerals.
- Practice one-to-one correspondence by placing the correct number of shells (or other loose parts) by each pool noodle number.
Graph with the pool noodles! Write the students’ names on pool noodle pieces, or have them write their names. Turn your classroom floor into a graph, playing “Yes” on one side and “No” on the other. Ask the children questions and let them place their pool noodle piece under their response. Some possible questions include:
- Have you ever been to the beach?
- Do you like to swim?
- Does your name start with A?
Science and Sensory Fun with Pool Noodles
Fill up a sensory bin, or even a kiddie pool, with water. Toss the pool noodle pieces into the bin and let the kids play and explore.
Pair the pool noodle pieces with blunt-tipped toothpicks. This is a merge of pool noodle crafts and pool noodle STEM challenges. Your students can plan and build structures with those two materials
Lead a science experiment based on dissolving or melting pool noodles. Ask the kids if they can think of any way to break down pool noodles (besides cutting or tearing them apart). This might involve leaving the noodle pieces submerged in vinegar or using a hot glue gun on it.
Place the pool noodle pieces in a large bin, along with shaving cream. Let your students use the shaving cream to build structures with the noodles.
Use longer pool noodles as part of homemade marble runs! You can leave the noodles whole for this one, or cut them in half length-wise. Be sure to get your students in on the design portion of the fun, too.
Write letters on the pool noodle pieces. The children can:
- Place them in alphabetical order.
- Use the letters to make their names and their friends’ names.
- Match uppercase to lowercase letters.
- Make high frequency words.
- Pair the letters with beach-themed sensory writing trays to practice writing.
Practice fine motor skills with the pool noodle pieces. Place loose parts or math manipulatives inside the pool noodle hole. Then have the kids use their fingers to remove the loose parts from inside the noodles. You can even pair this activity with child-friendly tongs to do so.
Even More Pool Noodle Crafts and Activities
Apparently now I have pool noodle fever! So I gathered even more activities you can try with your students.
Pool Noodle Train Tracks from Play Trains
How to Make a Pool Noodle Abacus from Happy Hooligans
Pool Noodle Catapult from Toddler Approved
Adding to Ten Pool Noodle Game from JDaniel4’s Mom
Pool Noodle Rocket Flingers from Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls
Mix-and-Match Pool Noodle Blocks from And Next Comes L
Pool Noodle Water Wall from Teaching Mama
Pumpkin Patch Letter Match from No Time for Flash Cards
Pool Noodle Pencil from LalyMom
Summer Lesson Plans for Preschoolers
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Originally written July 2012.