learning in the pool

Learning in the Pool – How to Actually Make Summer Learning Fun

Learning Never Stops

Summer and swimming and hanging out at the pool are all synonymous at our house.  The once the pool opens for the summer, my kids will spend as much time there as possible.  And swimming is great fun and a great way to use up all that kid energy that seems to be in an unlimited supply.   Something we have noticed, though, is that after days and days and weeks and weeks of hanging out at the pool, we end up spending very little time on learning. So, we have come up with some fun games to help with learning in the pool.

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Helpful Pool Toys

Having pool toys handy to help with learning and playing is always important.  Here are some that we use to help with learning.

Number Games

There are lots of different number and counting games that can be played in the pool. As kids get older, the more advanced the games can get.  But, starting from the beginning and working our way up:

Counting –

  1. Place number cards into the pool, in an area where your kids can swim/reach. Have your children look for and arrange the numbers in order.
  2. Counting how many steps it takes to walk the length, width, and around the pool
  3. Counting paver stones around the pool (if you have them)
  4. Finding a number in the pool, and then doing an activity that many times.  For example, jumping into the pool 4 times or doing 6 bobs in the pool.
  5. If your pool has a fence around it that can either be chalked on or have numbers attached to it, work on counting by shooting numbers with a water gun in order or out of order.
  6. Adding numbers to sinking toys, then have kids retrieve the sinking toys in order of number.
learning in the pool

Matching numbers

  1. Using dice, roll a number, and then have your kids find the number in the pool. 
  2. Using a ten frame or tally marks on the deck, have children find the matching number in the pool. 

Measuring Games –

  1. Using a cup and a bucket, measure how many cups it takes to fill the bucket.
  2. Using different objects from around the pool, measure how many things noodles, for example, make up the length of the pool.


Add a + and an = to the mix. This allows you to do simple math equations and have the kids find the answer in the pool. As kids get more skilled at addition, the equation can be increased in complexity. Some examples are:

  1. 1+5 = (child needs to find the 6)
  2. 3 + # = 9 (child needs to find the 6)
  3. # + # = 5 ( child needs to find 2 numbers that combine to equal 5)


same idea as the addition above, but subtracting numbers.

Multiplication & Division

As kids get older and math skills I crease, multiplication, and division can be added into the mix. 

Letter & Word Games

Learning to read can be a challenge for lots of children, so making a game out of it can help encourage learning with less of a fuss.  Some games that we use are:

Learning letters

With all of the letters in the pool, ask your child to find a specific letter 

Letter organization

Placing either the whole or parts of the alphabet in the water, ask your kids to put the letters in order of the alphabet.

Simple spelling

  1. Have a word already spelled out, like CAT, then have your child find the letters and make the word. 
  2. Tell your child a word, like DOG, and have them find the letters without telling them what letters they need,

Word finder

Have words written out and thrown around the pool. Then ask your kids to find a specific word. They will need to swim around and swim to find the correct word. 

Writing sentences

Preparing some simple words on separate pages in separate bags, release the words in the pool.  Then have the children create simple (and eventually more complex) sentences using the words they find in the pool.

Create stories

Writing some keywords on pages to float around the pool.  Using the words they find, and reading them, come up with a story based on the words that have been picked up in the pool.   Each time a word is read, it adds to the story.  This makes for a fun story and helps with imaginative play. Examples of some words to help build your story:

  1. Dragon,
  2. Princess
  3. Castle
  4. Flying
  5. Bucket of Water

Waterproofing Your Games

Now, as you know, anything that goes onto the pool gets wet, so any games you play in the pool will get wet.  I do not have a laminator, so instead, I use ziplock bags.  They work great to keep papers dry and are easily reusable when you want to switch games.  This is what we do when we create number and word cards. 

Many toys and game pieces can be purchased for the pool to help enhance learning, like pool dice, water guns, noodles, cups, buckets, and sinking toys, used these to your advantage.

learning in the pool

Final Thoughts

Not everything we do with our kids needs to be about learning.  However,  adding a bit of learning here and there will also help keep out the monotony of doing nothing all summer.  And making a game out of learning helps keep the kids engaged and entertained.  

Once my kids get started with a new game, it becomes the best thing for a while. Having a few other options available to pull out of your bag of tricks is always helpful too.

Enjoy your summer, and why not learn a bit too!

Do Not Forget to Stock Up On Your Pool Toys

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6 thoughts on “Learning in the Pool – How to Actually Make Summer Learning Fun”

  1. This is just what I needed to read!! The kids (and myself) always want to go to the pool, but then once we’re there we’re like “now what” lol! Very helpful ideas!!

  2. This is a great idea. We don’t have a pool but we do have a big inflatable pool. Love the idea of incorporating learning. Do you make the number/letter cards yourself? What do you use?
    Thank you!

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