There are few summertime activities that are as much fun as playing in the water. Active play develops muscle tone, aerobic capacity and more. Pool games aren't just fun; they can help develop coordination and social skills. There are numerous swimming pool toys on the market that are sure to turn any pool into a veritable playground.
Inflatable pool toys range from beach balls to pool rafts to large play centers complete with pool slides. Most are inexpensive, but they can be a hassle to inflate, especially the bigger ones. Also, inflatable toys are potentially dangerous because if they spring a leak, they offer no buoyancy. Make sure children are always supervised and that weak swimmers have alternate means of staying afloat, such as by wearing life jackets. To help weak swimmers build stronger swimming skills, use floats such as flutter boards, which don't depend on inflation for buoyancy.
The classic pool toys — goggles and fins — still satisfy. Retrieving rings or other objects (such as dive sticks or even hockey pucks) thrown to the bottom is a pool game that never seems to go out of vogue.
In recent years, pool noodles — long foam cylinders in a variety of bright colors — have become poolside standards. They float, they bend, and they lend themselves to imaginative play. Just watch for debris from chipping or disintegration of the noodles; it can clog pool filters.
For older children, toys such as foam arrows and a floating target may be popular. There is also a pogo stick that bounces across the bottom of the pool. Pricier but high on wish lists is the Toypedo, a rubber torpedo that shoots through the water at amazing speeds, "blowing up" a battleship. Older kids might also enjoy combining a number of pool toys — sinkers, floats, noodles, arrows and targets, etc. — into an obstacle course. They could even turn it into a competition for who can complete the course the fastest. Kids will play for hours and find many variations for their pool toys.
Drowning is the leading cause of accidental deaths in children, and most pool deaths happen when a child is being supervised. It takes very little time for a small child to slip to the bottom of the pool, often without splashing or shouting.
Even floating or inflatable kids pool toys are not substitutes for actual pool safety devices such as life jackets and ring buoys. Keep young children and weak swimmers away from deeper water, and have an adult actually in the pool with them, not just supervising from the side. Always read the safety instructions and warnings on the pool toys you purchase, and be sure that the toy is always and only used correctly.
With the proper precautions, pool toys and games can ensure hours of safe, enjoyable play in the water.