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7 family-friendly games to play in the pool this summer

Sure, you might be happy to float aimlessly in a pool, possibly with a drink in hand, your kids might need a little more structure to make pool time as enjoyable as possible. Helping them with that is also a great way to get them into healthy family activities without them realizing it – and to build a lasting bond between you and your children.

Because we take your fun seriously, and strive to make your life less difficult, we sourced some pool-based healthy activities for family time from an expert: Rochelle Baxter, a triathlete, parent, and trainer for our favorite fitness app, Aaptiv. (A free subscription is available through Haven Life Plus, a bonus rider for eligible Haven Term policyholders.)

She gave us four great ideas for fun pool games, and we added a few favorites of our own. Whether you̵

7;re heading to your neighborhood public pool, splashing around at a pool party in someone’s backyard, or enjoying a hotel pool on your summer vacation, they’ve got you covered for a long summer of safe, healthy fun.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

In this article:

Ring toss

“Get some water rings that sink into the pool,” says Baxter. “Depending on the child’s swimming level, you can throw the rings in the shallow or deep part. This will help the child learn to hold their breath, reach for the ring and, more importantly, learn the feeling of achieving a small goal.”

The game also helps children get used to opening their eyes underwater (and/or using goggles). Swimming while holding your breath and fighting against your natural buoyancy is also good exercise.

Water relays

“I would say this activity is more for kids who have swimming experience,” says Baxter. It also works for different numbers of children: If there are more children, just have more teams or more lengths per race.

You, the adult, set up teams and choose the start and finish line, then the children compete. Someone has to say “Ready, Set, Go” and then judge who won the race, so this is great when you want your kids to work hard while you sit by the pool.

Treasure hunt

And by “treasure,” we mean “cheap pool toys.” “Get some small children’s water toys that either float or sink. Place the toys on the ladder in the shallow part. Ask the children to find the water toys and reach out and grab them,” she says.

“If the child is a beginner swimmer, make sure you’re around to help and supervise them. This activity really helps young children become comfortable in the water,” says Baxter.


“Get some kickboards and even some fins (optional). Have your child lay on the kickboard and move the board through the water as they kick. Because you’re holding the board, it will give them confidence to kick on their own,” says Baxter.

It also provides a solid parent-child activity. “Fins are a very useful tool with this activity as well,” she says. “Tell the kids to kick fast or slow,” depending on their ability and how much energy you want them to burn off before dinner.

Sharks and minnows

This is basically a version of the thorn in the water. The kid who is the shark is “It” and moves to the center of the pool. When he or she says (or, more likely, yells) “go,” the other kids jump in and try to get to the other side of the pool while the shark tries to tag the other players. Each child tagged becomes a shark (and then “It”) and the game continues until only one minnow remains.

That minnow is your winner – and the next round’s opening shark. (More advanced kids may also enjoy freeze tag or Marco Polo.)


This is also an aquatic version of a well-known land game. The children spread out around the pool and pass a beach ball to each other, trying to keep it out of the water. Encourage them to count how many times they can pass the ball before it hits the water. It’s good exercise, builds coordination and it’s fun.


It may not be the most worthy name for a children’s game, but it is an honest one. This is great for younger kids, including kids without a pint-sized playmate on hand. You sit on the edge of the pool and throw whatever you have on hand that will float (even your pool slides) past your child, then they go get it. Young children love this, and it helps them learn to swim while carrying objects, helping them become more skilled and confident in the water.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency supported and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe that navigating life insurance decisions, your personal finances and overall well-being can be refreshingly simple.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency supported and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe that navigating life insurance decisions, your personal finances and overall well-being can be refreshingly simple.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less difficult if they fit your situation.

Haven Life is not authorized to provide tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide and should not be used for tax, legal or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to obtain advice from their own tax or legal advisor.

Our disclosures

Haven Term is a term life insurance policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in some states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in some states, including NC) issued by CM Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Police and driver form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.

MassMutual is rated by AM Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is valid from 1 April 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other credit rating agencies.

Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider, which is included as part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits at no cost or at a discount. The driver is not available in all states and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual is responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made available under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party providers (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, visit: https://havenlife.com/plus

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