You Can Do This
Day 1: Starting With a Splash!
Granted, most people don't have swimming pools in their back yards. We've never had one before this rental house, and after this rental house, we probably never will again. But we're making the most of it while we do have it!
In normal times, though, when we didn't have a big pool, we always had the little cheap Walmart variety wading pools to help take the heat off of long summer afternoons. It was always great fun for a while, but it was inevitable that, after the first handful of play days in the little wading pool, it got a little boring. The novelty wore off pretty quickly; there's only so much splashing of siblings you can do before it gets old hat. By August the wading pool had usually blown under the edge of the bushes in the corner of the yard, abandoned, forgotten, with a layer of dried up dirt in the bottom. And the children were wandering around complaining that they didn't have anything to do.
But it doesn't have to be that way! Here are a few ideas to keep the wading pool out from under the bushes and in the middle of the action through the end of the summer.
Ten fun things to do with wading pools:
1. Bring indoor toys outdoors. Bath toys, plastic pirates, army guys and little boats and ships or tea sets and plastic dolls take on new life in a new setting. Provide the props and let the children do the rest!
2. Play: Will it float? Especially for younger kids, this is Science in a fun wet package! First, prowl around, indoors and out, looking for different kinds of flotsam and jetsam to throw in the pool, one at a time. Ask the question of each object: Will if float? Let the kids guess, then see who's right! There are tons of links to flotation experiments and explanations for children, but here are two to get you started:
* Here's a scientific explanation for boyancy: here
* The younger kids' version is here
3. Once the children have the floating concept down pat, they have the knowledge necessary to build "floating islands." Find several large tupperware-type lids (or storage container or pot lids), add a bunch of blocks or leggos and some "action figures" of some kind. Race car tracks make great bridges between islands. Make a game out of seeing how high or elaborate the children can build the structures on their islands without sinking them. (Make a rule that no one is allowed to fuss when their islands tip. It's part of the game!)
4. Empty and clean out your wading pool. Fill the bottom with several salad-plate-sized blobs of finger paint (homemade finger paint recipes here). Prepare unfolded old cardboard boxes over a nearby tarp or old plastic tablecloth or shower curtain. Alternatively, just use the tarp or solid color shower curtain as your art space. Then, you know what comes next, right? Let the kids go wild with footprint and handprint designs. (Keep a hose nearby and make rules about where they're allowed to walk around!)
5. Make a bubble bath out of it, adding standard bathtub bubble solution while you add the water from the hose on as high a stream as you can. The bubbles will only last a little while, but it's big fun while it lasts!
6. This is a more permanent use for a wading pool, but a fun alternative, especially if you have two pools. Turn it into a sandbox! It's cheaper to buy sandbox sand in bulk if you have a truck to haul it in, but it's not terribly expensive just to buy several bags at the hardware store. Add a few dollar store buckets and shovels and maybe a few matchbox cars and you're set to go!
7. Provide the makings for a "water feature" in your pool. Purchase a few pieces of pvc tubing and connector joints, add a couple funnels and buckets, and pull some lawn furniture close by for propping. A little blue painter's tape is helpful for holding up the tubing, too. Let your kids figure out what to do next.
8. Use your wading pool for "target practice." Using bendy straws -- or even better, dollar-store glow-in-the-dark "necklaces" that hook togethe --, make two or three floating "hoops." Gather up a couple small "bouncy balls." Draw a line (or use a jump rope) to mark a reasonable throwing distance based on the age and skill of your children, then have them take turns trying to throw the balls into the center of the hoops. If some hoops are smaller than others, they can be worth more points, and scores can be tallied.
9. For older kids: Make Soda Bottle Submarines! Buy the kit, the cheater's way, by going here. Or do it yourself, as described here.
10. For kids of all ages: Make Milk Carton Paddle Boats! Easy instructions here.
* Get out there, get wet, have fun, and stay cool!
(Note: This was a brain-storming session the kids and I had about what could be done with a wading pool! We may be revisiting some of these activities this month, adding pictures and more complete instructions as we actually DO them as part of our "31 Things"...)