12 super fun (and safe) swimming pool games to try this summer
If you're tired of playing Marco Polo, check out this list of swimming pool games for summer fun.
Summer will be here before you know it, and if you plan on spending any time around a swimming pool, playing a game can be a great way to keep kids engaged and having fun in the water. Swimming pool games have come a long way since the days of Marco Polo (a childhood favorite of mine) and I’m excited to share some new ideas with you. These water games are safe, and most importantly, fun for the whole family. While some games require a quick purchase on Amazon, others require zero props– just don’t forget the sunscreen.
Here’s hoping for lots of pool days this summer—we deserve it!
Here are 12 super fun (and safe) swimming pool games to play with the whole family
1. What Time is It, Mr. Fox?
A hit during summer birthday pool parties, in this game, one person plays the role of Mr. Fox. Stationed in the middle of the pool, additional players head to the shallow end. To begin, whatever the Fox claims to be the hour on the clock is the number of paces the other players must take towards him (kind of like Simon Says). When Mr. Fox declares it’s “time for lunch”, the game suddenly turns into a game of tag!
2. Pool Basketball
Now you can shoot hoops in the pool with this floating basketball hoop set, which includes a sturdy hoop, two water balls and a hand pump. This purchase is a slam dunk (naturally).
3. Popsicle Freeze Tag
Tag remains a classic childhood game, but it’s even more fun when you play it in the water. This form of freeze tag may have everyone asking for an actual popsicle when they get out of the pool, but essentially, if a kid gets tagged, they have to throw his hands in the air to freeze in the shape of a popsicle. Players can rejoin the game as soon as a teammate swims between their legs!
4. Ring Toss
Now can you play this classic lawn game and party favorite in the water! This is a fun low-key activity that will keep kids busy in the pool, and is especially good if you need a little break from splashing water in your face. An easy set up makes this an added bonus (the base needs to be inflated but the rings do not).
5. Sharks and Minnows
While it’s optional to sing the theme song from “Jaws” during this game, it will no doubt be fun either way. The “prey and predator” theme starts when the shark is looking for a snack by saying, “Fishies, fishes come to me…”. Then the “minnows” scatter and try to avoid getting caught by the shark. Sure, it’s another way of saying “tag”, but Sharks and Minnows is way more fun!
6. Water Volleyball
Volleyball is a great game for the whole family, and this floating volleyball arrives with everything you need to play, including a classic inflatable beach ball for serving. Deflates easily for storage and transporting.
7. Air Ninja
A perfect time to pull out the Boomerang feature on your phone, as Air Ninja requires each person to stand at the edge of the pool before leaping in while doing their favorite ninja impression. 1, 2, 3… get ready for a big splash! Switch up the theme each time so little ones will have to come up with a new impression each time they jump in.
8. “Lob the Blob” Cornhole Game
Now you can play this classic toss game in the water, too. The floating game takes both skill and luck to sink the “blobs” in the 10 inch hole. Best part? You can play this game on land, too!
If you’ve ever played the basketball game P.I.G., then this one will look familiar. The first player in F.I.S.H. is the leader and the other players must follow exactly what the leader does. Jump from the side, do a certain dive, splash your arms a certain way—whatever the task, the players must follow it or be given a letter from F.I.S.H. The first player to spell F.I.S.H loses the game.
10. Diving for treasure
Go diving for treasure in this classic pool game for kids. Designate a person to drop a shiny penny or other small shiny object. Of course, while the penny gets thrown all players must keep their eyes closed. Once it’s been tossed in, players vie for first place by being the first to find the shiny treasure.
11. Underwater messages
One person goes underwater and shouts a word as long as they can. The people above water have to guess what the underwater message is. It helps if you choose a theme and then choose words that fit the theme.
12. Obstacle course
First things first, make up the activities on the obstacle course. For example, each participant must complete: 3 jumping jacks, one cannonball, one underwater message blast, float on their back for 5 seconds, do an underwater handstand and then style their hair in a silly way. Whoever finishes first wins.
A version of this post was published May 13, 2021. It has been updated.