Celebrate the 4th: 8 water games for pool or lake

One of our favorite parts about summer is the 4th of July! Typically, this includes a long weekend, spending time with friends and family, and (hopefully) some quality water time at a backyard pool, splash pad, or lake.

We put together a set of fun games to make the most out of your water time this Fourth!

Before we get into that, though, we want to provide you with a water safety refresher.

When lots of people, especially kids, get together near water, make sure everyone in the area agrees to the same set of ground rules. We encourage you to download and print our 6 Rules flyer and have it handy. As a top-line reminder:

  • Parents are responsible: Supervise kids closely and keep phones turned off.
  • No one swims alone.
  • Kids must get permission to enter the water – not just telling. They must make eye contact with an adult who says “yes.”
  • Gather kids and parents and confirm swimming ability before entering the water.
  • Rotate supervision duty among adults.
  • Create a Water Watcher tag to make it easy to know who is on duty, and to make sure people know when they have been handed responsibility.

The fun part: Our 8 favorite games in the water

In no particular order:

  • Marco Polo: The classic game for pool or lake in standing-depth water. One person is “it” and is blindfolded (or closes their eyes) and when they call “Marco” everyone else replies “Polo.” The person who is it tries to locate and tag a player using sound. Once tagged, the payer moves to the side – last player standing wins and becomes it.
  • Hungry Hungry Whales: Best for a smaller backyard pool and based on a certain hippo-themed board game. Get a bunch of ping pong balls and a basket for each player. Players put baskets on the side of the pool as a home base, and all the balls are dumped in the middle of the pool. Players swim out, grab the floating balls, and return them to their basket. The person with the most wins! (Including one colored ball worth more points adds to the game.)
  • Sharks and Minnows: Good for larger groups in a pool, or shallow water where the ends of the field can be designated with floats or flags. One person starts as the shark, everyone else lines up on one end as minnows. On command, the minnows try to make it across the play area without getting tagged. Once they are tagged, they become sharks. If they make it to safety, they have to go across again. Last minnow wins!
  • Chicken fights: Good for older kids in lakes or large pools where there aren’t concrete edges to fall against. In waist deep water, one player climbs on the other’s shoulders, and they joust. Whoever stays up wins. Can be arranged as a tournament.
  • Treasure hunt: For a few swimmers in a pool. Drop rings, sinking pool toys or coins in the water. For stronger swimmers, drop in deeper water. Whoever brings the most targets to the surface wins!
  • Air ball: The classic beach ball game – players stand in a circle and try to keep a beach ball from touching the water. Try a sturdy balloon to give you more airtime.
  • Red Light Green Light: Like Sharks and Minnows, this game is best played with larger groups in a pool or shallow water. Choose one player to be the “Traffic Cop” and have them go to one end, then have the rest of the players line up at the other end. The Traffic Cop starts facing away from everyone and should yell “Green Light”, prompting the rest of the players to run towards the cop. When the cop yells “Red Light” all players must immediately freeze. After the cop yells “Red Light”, they can turn around to catch anyone moving. Anyone caught moving after “Red Light” must go back to the starting line. The first person to reach the traffic cop wins!
  • Sponge Game: For this relay race styled game, all you need is water, a sponge, and a bucket for each team. Split the group up into as many teams as you would like. Give each team a sponge and a bucket. One by one, have each team send one of their players to the water and fill their sponge, then run back to the bucket and empty it. Then, pass the sponge to the next player. The goal is to be the first team to fill up their bucket! 

We hope these favorites of ours inspire you to get out there and enjoy the water this 4th of July! Have fun, be safe, and we’ll see you back at FOSS soon!

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