Pool noodles are a versatile and inexpensive resource that can be used in a variety of physical education activities and games. They serve as a great staple for elementary or middle school physical education teachers around the nation. These foam noodles can add some fun and variety to your physical education class.
Address PE standards
There are so many different ways to use pool noodles, and they can help to improve your students' skill-related components of fitness including agility, balance, coordination, power, reaction time, and speed. These types of physical activities are also great to share with parents as they can easily be practiced at home. This will assist you in gaining support for your PE program.
Another great thing about utilizing pool noodles in your PE lessons is that it helps you address SHAPE America's Standard 1: The physically literate individual demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns* The movements and activities you choose to use in your lessons using pool noodles can directly meet your national, state or district standards with ease.
Pool noodles are multifaceted
In a school, pool noodles may be used to teach a wide range of skills and physical education ideas simply and readily. They are a perfect way to keep a child focused on any physical activity instruction. Ideally, each student should have their own pool noodle so they can perform a wide range of interesting and challenging activities with it. .
If your equipment closet is limited, you may use pool noodles as station ideas. The stations may be used in conjunction with other PE equipment or a unit's lesson focus. You may also have the children collaborate with others or in trios to share the noodles if you have a lot of kids in your classes.
Fun ideas for using pool noodles in a PE class, classroom or at home
The following 30 ideas for using pool noodles can improve student fitness and engagement levels in your class and give them entertaining tasks to do at home:
Instruct your students to perform the following tasks using practice, peer teaching, or in a station format.
1- Balance activities
Stationary Balance- In a stationary position, balance a pool noodle on different body parts; head shoulder, thigh, palm, and foot
Balance and Move- Balance the pool noodle as you move around the room. Use a variety of locomotor movements
Balance Beam- Place the noodle on the ground and walk across it. Try using multiple pool noodles in a row or design a complete obstacle course using the noodles
2- Toss and catch
Stationary Catch- Toss and catch a pool noodle in front and beside you. Try letting it flip over before catching
Drop and Catch- Drop and catch the noodle. Holding the bottom of the pool noodle in front of you, let it go and try to catch it near the top using the same hand
Partner Toss- Toss and catch the noodle with a partner or in a trio
3- Pool noodle PE handling tasks
Propellor turn- Pretend your pool noodle is a helicopter or airplane propeller and turn it round and round above your head or in front of your body
Step Over- Hold your pool noodle using 2 hands. Step over the noodle 1 leg at a time. Bring it around your body and do it again
Figure 8- Pass your pool noodle around your legs using the shape of an “8” pattern. Go from one side to the other
The visuals depicted above can be found at Cap'n Pete's Power PE site located here
4- Balloon volleying
Tap it up- Volley a balloon up in the air using your pool noodle. Try using both hands to keep it up in the air
2 Hand Tap- Either hold the outside or inside section of a pool noodle with both hands. Keep the balloon up in the air using the middle or outside part of the noodle
Ground Tap- Lay on your back on the ground or get in a seated position. Tap a balloon up in the air using your pool noodle
5- Fitness movements
Noodle Plank- In a plank position with the noodle slightly in front of your hands, alternate placing your right and left hand on top of the noodle
Noodle Curl-ups- Lay on your back and do some crunches with your pool noodle between your bottom and your feet. Roll the pool noodle front and back as you move
Noodle Squats- Pretend the noodle is a barbell and place it on your shoulders. Squat down to 90 degrees and back up again for several reps
6- Limbo, jumps, and hurdles
Partner Limbo- Have a partner hold the pool noodle at different levels, while you do the “limbo” underneath it
Partner Hurdle- Have a partner hold the pool noodle at different levels, while you run and hurdle over it
Circle Jump- Have your partner turn the pool noodle in a slow circle and jump over it when it comes around
Locomotor Movement- Take turns running or using some other type of locomotor movement to a cone and back. Pass the noodle like a relay baton after each lap
Javelin Throw and Retrieve- Take turns throwing the noodle like a javelin and running to pick it back up. Throw it again until it passes a set line across the gym. Run it back to the next person who will do the same
Move and Exercise- Take turns running or using some other type of locomotor movement to a set area and back. Perform an exercise using the noodle i.e. squats, curls, presses, etc.). Pass the noodle like a relay baton after each lap
Check the video below to watch a quick warm-up relay (3 in a line) using pool noodles.
8- Striking activities
Batter Up- Using a beachball or balloon, toss it up in front of you and strike it using your pool noodle. Pick it up and do it again. Try it with a pitch from a partner
Noodle Dribble- Using a fleece ball or Gator skin ball, dribble it using your pool noodle, from a gym line around a cone and back
Golf Swing- Using a yarn ball or other soft ball, swing your noodle like a golf club and see how far you can make the ball go. Challenge a partner to see which ball goes furthest
9- Target throws
Javelin Throw for Distance- Starting from a gym line, pretend your pool noodle is a javelin, take a few steps, and throw it for distance
Hit the Target- Mark a distance from a wall target using a cone. Throw the noodle like a javelin to see if you can hit the target
Throw to a Hoop- From different distances, throw the noodle like a javelin and try to make it land inside or through a hula hoop
10- Partner and trio challenges
Balance Challenge- Invent new ways to balance the pool noodle. Challenge each other to see who can perform these new tasks.
Jump or Duck- Have your partner hold a noodle beside them (low or high) as they walk towards you. Jump over or duck as it passes by.
Noodle Handling Challenge- Invent new ways to move the noodle around your body. Challenge each other to see who can perform these new tasks
I hope you enjoyed reading about these ideas and are inspired to try them out in your class!
What other pool noodle activities you have used in your physical education classes? What were the students' favorites? Let us know in the comments below!
*SHAPE America. (2013). National Standards for K-12 Physical Education. Reston, VA: Author.
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If you want even more pool noodle ideas...a 24 Pool Noodle, Challenge Card Set can be downloaded here on Teachers Pay Teachers.
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This comprehensive visual collection will help you teach your students a plethora of movement and manipulative skills using 20 traditional pieces of physical education equipment that include: 1. balloons, beanbags, stacking cups, pool noodles, juggling scarves, hula hoops, tumbling mats, long jump ropes, short jump ropes, scooter boards, cones & poly spots, dice, Lummi sticks. long-handled implements, short-handled implements, basketballs, beachballs, footballs, playground balls, and soccer balls.