20 Kiddie pool games – fun & easy ways to stay cool!

Once that warm weather comes around, it’s time to break out the warm weather activities! Top of most kid lists is usually water-related activities, am I right? Break out the slip-n-slide, the water balloons, the water guns, the water table, and the kiddie pool! 

After a few days of splashing around in the kiddie pool, though, sometimes it can be hard to think of new ways to play. Looking for new backyard activity ideas or ways to make the kiddie pool more fun (especially if your kids are getting older and the kiddie pool just isn’t quite as magical as it once was)? Here are some really fun ideas of fun games to play in the kids inflatable pool this summer:

toddler playing in a kiddie pool

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1. Bubble bath in the kiddie pool? Yes!

Who doesn’t love bubbles? Kids find creative ways to have all sorts of fun with bubbles, so you won’t even need to interfere with this activity. Simply fill the pool with water and bathtub bubbles. Not just a few bubbles, LOTS of bubbles. Make the pool mostly bubbles. It will be a fun, new experience for the pool! Plus, the kids get clean. It’s a win-win.

Or grab the regular old jar of bubbles and a few wands or a bubble machine and make time in the pool a little more magical. What kid doesn’t love popping bubbles?

Bubbles for the kiddie pool!

Here’s a fun bubble machine to set up beside the pool, or some of our favourite bubble bath – that you could probably dump onto the lawn and feel good about it after the kiddie pool bubble bath fun!

2. Water beads

If your kids are old enough to handle water beads (without eating them), fill your kiddie pool with them! Seriously, you’d be the coolest mom around if you did this! (although, I do wonder about the clean up on this?)

My youngest has been watching these Youtube prank videos where they fill up random items with water beads, and she just loves these!!! The one we watched the other day was a car full of water beads!

But, if you’re a bit more cautious (like me), you could do a small handful so they just float on top to play with…. still fun!

Clean up tip: If you don’t want the beads all over your yard or deck, you could try putting a tarp or sheet underneath the pool to catch the overflow.

This is a fun idea to even try bringing into the house for indoor kiddie pool play in the winter time too!

Super huge water bead kit!

This particular water bead kit comes with small water beads, large water beads, a strainer, tweezers, tongs, and balloons to make stress relief balls! Water beads can keep kids entertained in a pool for hours.

3. Wishing Well

Grab some extra change, fill the pool, then toss the coins in the bottom. Or you can have the kids toss the coins in! Sometimes it’s just fun to toss coins into water and watch them sink. But you can also create a game out of collecting them! See how many coins each kid can collect in a set amount of time.

4. Squirt the ping pong ball or duckie or boat or…

You can play with ping pong balls and squirt guns in just about any way, but here are a few different game ideas:

You can go head to head and put kids on opposite sides of the pool with small squirt guns. Put a ping pong ball on the surface of the water in the middle of the pool and each kid tries to squirt the ball and get it to the other side of the pool.

You could also make a race of it. Put the kids on the same side of the pool with squirt guns and put a ping pong ball for each kid near them in the pool. Whoever gets their ball to the other side of the pool first wins!

This would also work with rubber duckies, little floating boats, paper boats, balloons, really anything that will sit on the surface of the water.

5. Tug of war

You can’t go wrong with tug of war and a pool when it’s hot outside. Put the pool at the middle of the rope with everyone lined up and holding the rope on either side of the pool. Whoever doesn’t win gets a cooling splash in the pool!

Safety tip: Be mindful of your pool if encouraging this activity. Some of the hard-sided pools might not be appropriate for this as they can be rough or sharp on the underside lip. Hardy, inflatable kiddie pools might hold up better to this.

6. Collect the ball (ball pit)

Use lots of ball pit balls and fill the pool with them. Each kid can take turns collecting as many balls as they can. You can give them a bucket to collect with or just have them hold as many as they can in their arms. Either method is bound to be met with lots of laughter and fun!

You could also set up this game with any sort of toy you happen to have an abundance of: little plastic animals, large toddler Lego pieces, your collection of used yogurt containers, etc.

7. Floating Frisbees

Grab four or five frisbees (they float on water when upside down!) and some simple sponges. If your sponges are big you could cut the sponges into 2×2 squares (or a similar small size) or just use them as they are. Get the sponges wet, and gather the kids. You can take turns or everyone can try at once to toss the sponges onto the frisbees.

For a little competition, you can use a specific colored sponge and frisbee for each kid. The challenges could be to sink one’s Frisbee the fastest or the sink the most Frisbees in a certain amount of time. This game will get more difficult and exciting as the frisbees start wobbling and moving around the pool!

8. Water Balloons and water balloon games:

An inflatable or plastic kiddie pool is a great place to keep filled water balloons.

Our favourite water balloons!

If you haven’t tried these water balloons, they are magical for water balloon fights. 

No more attaching each water balloon individually to the hose! No more tying water balloons! Simply attach the plastic piece to your hose, have a pool full of water ready beneath the water balloons as they fill, and once they are full, give the hose a little jerk and they will all come off, ready to use! 

What water balloon games can you play in a small pool?

9. Hot Potato: here’s the catch, use dish soap to make everyone’s hands slippery before you start the game!

10. Water Balloon Toss: Pair up the players and start with them facing each other very close together. Toss the water balloon back and forth, but each time one of them catches the balloon, they take a step backwards. Whoever gets the furthest apart before popping the water balloon wins!

11. Basket Catch: you’ll need some plastic storage baskets (small laundry baskets) that have holes in them (you can likely find them at the dollar store) for this game. One person holds the basket on their head and the other person tries to throw the water balloon into the basket and not pop it. Everyone will be laughing and most people will end up with wet heads!

12. Towel Toss: This takes some skill, but each team should have two people and a beach towel to hold between them. Each team will have to figure out how to not only catch a water balloon in the towel, but also toss a balloon using only the towel!

Your kiddie pool will be a great home base for getting more balloons for the organized games, but also holding a lot of filled balloons. And, some of the games can be played while sitting or standing in the pool. And, of course if you have all those balloons it might also be time to plan an epic water balloon fight as a family or even as a neighborhood!

A few last Kiddie Pool Games and Play Suggestion:

You’ll need to gauge the appropriateness of these suggestions with the age and interests of your kids, but here are a few more thoughts for staying cool and getting some use of out the kiddie pool!

  • Bring out the beach chairs, put a towel in the bottom of the pool to sit the chair legs on (so they don’t puncture the pool) and let the kids read their books out there
  • Or, for older kids, a special treat could be setting up an outdoor movie for them to lounge in the pool and watch some screens!
  • For risk-takers, how about setting up the kiddie pool at the bottom of the slide?
  • Littler kids will usually find enjoyment and novelty with anything out of the norm… so, let them haul out some kitchen tools, imaginary play figurines, their rubber boots and umbrellas, or goggles and snorkel sets.

Hopefully you’ve found some fun ideas for keeping your kids entertained and cool with these easy kiddie pool games. Oh, and don’t forget to provide shade for their play! Happy summer!


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