One of the greatest strengths of Boys & Girls Club staff is our creativity with unconventional and affordable materials. I know at my Club I was always thinking about how I could do the most with the least. As we are now in the downward slope of summer, stores will begin to clear out their seasonal stock, which means SALES!!!
One classic summer staple is the pool noodle. They aren’t really expensive to begin with, and will be an even better deal as summer wraps up. There are about a million different ways to use them creatively in programming. I asked for some favorites in a Club Directors online forum and got SO MANY RESPONSES, so today I’ve done a roundup of the best ideas from Clubs plus some of my favorites!
To start us off generally, this link gives some super fun ideas for unusual bulletin board borders, one of them utilizing pool noodles. Having to decorate bulletin boards was the bane of my existence, so I will always share fun tips I find about them lol.
Another super fun suggestion from a Club professional in this vein was to cut them in fourths and use them as bathroom or hall passes!
One place I wouldn’t have thought about using pool noodles is the Art room, but there are a ton of really fun ways to do so. This first one, making absolutely adorable pool noodle bees, would be a great activity for your youngest members.
In the same vein, how fun is this shark?
I also love these spiders!
A suggestion I got from Club staff was using them to make horses for a Wild West theme. Here are some instructions.
My favorite from this section are these mix and match creature blocks. Not only would they be fun to create but to play with as well!
Moving onto the Learning Center/Education Room, pool noodles are a great tool because they are easy to manipulate. This first idea uses noodle pieces as alphabet blocks to help youth learn letters.
You can then take those abc blocks to build words or sounds.
Lacing is a fine motor skill that some of our younger members may struggle with. This activity has youth matching color patterns and identifying numbers, but you could use the same structure to have even older members build math problems as well.
Fractions are TOUGH and fraction blocks can be expensive. This is a great way to visualize the concept.
This last batch could be appropriate for the Gym or the Gamesroom. For this light saber activity, you could even have youth create their light sabers in the Art room and then bring them to the next area for a game. One Club professional said they would put a Lego on the flat side of an out-reached hand and the goal was to knock the Lego off, which helps avoid hitting each other too hard. (For more Star Wars activities, check out this post!)
This pom-pom shooter would make a great indoor activity since they are soft.
One unit at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sheboygan County did this exact activity last week!
At my Club, we did a Club-wide competition to make the longest, coolest marble rollercoasters. OF COURSE my team won. 😉 The kids were inspired to make their own smaller versions, one of which made the Club Instagram. There are a TON of instruction sites on Pinterest, just search for ” pool noodle marble run.”
Whomp ‘Em was suggestion from the Club Director’s group that I found instructions to online. There isn’t a photo for the pin, but the instructions are at the link.
This game is so simple. You literally just stand a noodle up and run!
Using them for indoor or field hockey with a foam dodgeball was another Club suggestion. The rule at their Club is that the noodle can’t go above their hips.
There are lots of ways to pool noodles to build targets or use in field days. Here are a couple. Another Club suggestion is to use them for Capture the Flag because they are light and big.
One Club professional suggested human foosball! Most of the instructions on Pinterest use PVC pipe, but this photo (unfortunately no instructions attached) looks like it uses noodles and string?
Here’s a pretty awesome review from Boys & Girls Clubs of Bellport: “A rod was placed through pool noodles and padding attached to each end. Then two contestants fought on top of pedestals to see who would knock the other off, American Gladiator style at BGC Bellport. One of the most fun, funniest, and creative events I’ve ever seen done.”
I don’t have a pin for this, but one amazing suggestion came from Boys & Girls Club of Portage County, so here are the instructions and a gif of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Power Rangers.
Blindfolded Ninja: Have a person stand in the center of a circle of members blindfolded and holding a pool noodle. They will have clothespins placed all over, such as pinned on their sleeves or their shoe laces. Then members from the circle try to sneak one off, if the ninja thinks they feel something they swat the pool noodle and the member hit is out. Whoever has the most clothespins wins!
Not gonna lie, I think my favorite from all of the suggestions given was from Boys & Girls Clubs of the Northtowns, who have a HARRY POTTER WEEK and use noodles as brooms to play Quidditch! This link gives the instructions for the brooms and for everything else you need to play, since you for sure are going to have to do this at your Club.
And if all of those weren’t enough, this site lists a ton of super simple games to play with noodles! Some include javelins, balloon chopsticks, noodle charades, and more.