It’s the time of year again when pool noodles are on sale in just about every store. Stock up on these flexible foam devices and enjoy loads of sensory fun activities throughout the year!
If you don your sensory savvy lenses, you will discover that pool noodles, although originally designed for fun in the water, offer a wonderful land-based tool for
- gross motor skills
- motor planning
- proprioceptive input
- vestibular input
- visual input
Check out these fun ideas….
Stick & Bat Sports
Think of almost any sport that can be played with a stick or ball and you have inspiration for a new pool noodle game that can encourage gross motor skills, motor planning, proprioceptive input and vestibular input.
A favorite at our home is Pool Noodle Street Hockey. Roller skates, helmets, a ball and some pool noodle hockey sticks, and we are good to go!
Ball & Body Wickets
Garner some proprioceptive input by pounding 10-12 inch lengths of 1/4-inch dowels or two chopsticks halfway into the ground about 30 inches apart. Slide the hollows of a pool noodle atop these and you have yourself an instant wicket.
Set up a series of these to crawl under and jump over as a part of an obstacle course for proprioceptive input.
Use beach balls and pool noodles to enjoy a super-sized croquet course.
Break out soccer balls and use the wickets as goals.
Get creative and get plenty of vestibular input in!
Marble Runs or Race Car Tracks
For a visual tracking activity, slice the pool noodles in half lengthwise. Line the two sides up side-by-side on a decline. Put a box or tray at the bottom, and then send a marble or small toy car down each pool noodle shoot.
Whether done inside on a stairwell on a rainy day or outside on a hill on a sunny one, this activity also provides effective proprioception opportunities as players make their way up and down the raceway area to fetch the marbles or cars.
Pool noodles can also be the basis for some fantastic imaginary play. My children have used them for everything from pretend row boat oars to giant nature stew spoons.
Pool noodles are a natural compliment to water play. However, that play need not be in the water. Pool noodle water runs are a fun construction for children to create.
Some children may be sensitive to the texture of pool noodles, yet enjoy the play that can be had with them. Make logical accommodations, such as offering gloves or using brushing techniques prior to play.