Saturday, April 18, 2015

Fun Freetime: Pool Party Ideas for Kids

If your children’s birthdays fall in the swim-friendly months of the year, and you have access to a swimming pool, figuring out what to do for their birthdays is easy. Forget expensive trips for the whole group to a bounce house or laser-tag; with a swimming pool in the mix you are already more than halfway there. Add a little food (see link below), a few games or favors, depending on the age group, and your child’s birthday is bound to make a huge splash! Here are a few more ideas for kids of all ages:

When my children were in fourth and fifth grade, we invested in an in-ground pool for our backyard. The kids had been taking swim lessons for several years, and we lived in a region of the country where swimming was something that we could typically enjoy for five months a year. And since both kids had birthdays in the summer, one in late June and one in early August, that first season with the pool, planning a birthday party for a group of nine- and ten-year olds came very easy: pool party! Here’s how we did it.

The first thing we did was decide on a theme. My ten-year old knew exactly what she wanted: a Hawaiian luau. At the local discount store, we found plastic leis, grass skirts and luau-themed paper products, including little paper umbrellas for our non-alcoholic “umbrella drinks.” An assortment of snacks, including my invention, “Hawaiian sliders” (shredded pork topped with teriyaki sauce and a pineapple ring on a soft bun) completed the food portion of the day. Hint: Go to the store and then pick a theme from those that are available. If you decide on a theme at home, you may be in big trouble when you get to the store and find that the chosen theme doesn’t exist.

My nine-year old boy did things a little differently when it was his turn in August: he wanted a full day of playing in the pool with as few organized interruptions as possible. My job was to provide supervision, a stack of towels, a table full of food and plenty of cold drinks. I stayed out of the boys’ way, provided some light refereeing as needed, and made sure the sunscreen was at hand. Both parties were a success for one main reason: a giant hole in the ground that was full of water!

Not all children want organized games; some will play for hours without much thought to what they are doing, or whether everyone is doing the same thing. But if you are looking for some pool games that will help you stay included, yet “not in the way,” here are a few ideas:

  • Best Jump: For younger children (who may not all be into diving yet), try this game to really bring out the silly factor. Children line up along the edge of the deep end of the pool and the person supervising announces the theme for each round: biggest splash, smallest splash, funniest face, etc.
  • Best Dive: If you have a group of kids who are all comfortable diving head first, and a proper deep end that can accommodate diving, game will test diving skills and be fun at the same time: Try announcing these themes for each round: Best form, worst form, spin dive, silly dive, etc.
  • Zombie-Human: This is a variation of Marco Polo. Instead of just one person closing his eyes and trying to catch someone to switch places with him, a designated “zombie” starts the game, eyes closed, and tries to find victims to join his team. The last “human” alive who hasn’t become a zombie is the winner.

Don’t forget: Got pool, will party!

Kaitlin Gardner started An Apple Per Day to explore her passion for a green living lifestyle, and healthy family living. She and her husband have just moved to rural Pennsylvania, where they enjoy exploring the countryside and discovering interesting and out of the way places. She is also learning how to paint with watercolors.

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