Vacation Goals: Keep the kids active, happy, entertained, and (most importantly) tired out by sundown. The suits are on, the sunscreen’s rubbed in, and you’re parked in your beach chair. Having a go-to list of game ideas for the munchkins means you get to relax longer and with minimal distractions. We’ve got the ideas; you just worry about finishing that book that’s been on your nightstand for a month.

1. Spike Ball

This game is off the charts popular, and for good reason! It’s pretty much a cross between volleyball and four square, requiring 4 people to play. It may be a little too tough for the young ones, so we recommend saving this one for the older kids. We love it because it is a fantastic workout, and a great way for older kids and teens to make some friends at the beach! Learn more about the rules and where to buy the game from the site below.

Best for Ages: 13+

Materials Needed:

Pool or Beach: Beach is best. You need a soft surface to play on since there is diving and falling involved.

2. Forget Sandcastles… Build a Sand Car

We love a good twist on a classic. And you can keep the young ones close by and entertained with this epic sandcastle. Spice it up by starting a competition between the kids and judge based on size, creativity, decorations, and strongest structure.

Best for Ages: All!

Materials Needed: Nothing needed, but plastic buckets and shovels will add to the fun!

Beach or Pool: Beach

3. Treasure Hunt

Send your little Magellans on an epic underwater treasure hunt in the pool. This game can be as simple or as creative as you want! Go classic with plastic pool rings, or colored balls and see who can retrieve the most… Or bring a variety of waterproof toys and knick-knacks from home.  Another fun “treasure” is a clear plastic bottle (take off any labels) filled with pool water, and tossed in the pool. The bottle becomes “invisible” under the surface – so whoever finds it first, wins! Make sure to keep a list so you don’t leave anything behind.

Best for Ages: Kids capable of swimming alone without floaties

Materials Needed: “Treasure” and goggles

Beach or Pool: Pool

4. Number & Letter Fun

Summer fun and practicing counting and spelling? Consider us sold. There are a couple of ways that you can incorporate counting or the alphabet into your daily pool games. One option is putting numbers on the “treasure” that’s thrown into the pool, and when the kids come back with what they found have them count all their numbers – whoever has the “biggest treasure,” wins! Another option is duct taping two noodles together to make a ring or a “hoop,” and putting each letter of the alphabet onto Ping-Pong balls (which float).  Throw the Ping-Pong balls in the pool and the kids have 20 seconds to toss as many as they can in the ring. Look at whichever letters made it in the ring, and try to spell a word!

Best for Ages: Kids capable of swimming alone without floaties

Materials Needed: Depending on what you choose; noodles, Ping-Pong balls, sharpie, and/or other plastic “treasure”

Beach or Pool: Pool

5. Beach Scavenger Hunt

This is one of our all-time favorite beach activities – fun for parents too! Make a list before you hit the beach with items to look for during the day. For example; Red umbrella, jellyfish, sand dollar, lifeguard stand, polkadot bathing suit, cargo ship, etc. Get creative! There are lots of lists online for inspiration. Bring a couple of pens and check off each item.

Best for Ages: All

Materials Needed: Paper/Pens, Binoculars are a fun addition!

Beach or Pool: Best at the beach, but could be adapted for the pool.

6. Beach Ball Diving Roulette

When I was a kid we would do silly jumps and dives for HOURS. Throwing a beach ball of ideas in the mix adds another whole layer of fun. Just get an inflatable beach ball (one that’s multi-colored), and on each different color write a different jump or dive… Example: Pencil dive, cannonball, everyone jumps holding hands, belly flop, etc. Throw and catch the ball and whatever your hand lands on – that’s the jump you do! Easy fun.

Best for Ages: Kids capable of swimming alone without floaties

Materials Needed: Inflatable beach ball, sharpie

Beach or Pool: Pool

7. Flamingo Ring Toss

This can really be played with anything a ring could catch onto…but flamingos are obviously the most fun! Can be played in teams or solo. With teams: Team 1 goes first, each player gets to throw 5 rings and try to hook the ring on the flamingo’s neck. Each ring gets 1 point, first team to 21 wins! Or, you can set up two flamingos about 15 feet from one another and play “Cornhole” style. 2 person teams, each ring that lands around the neck is 5 points, and each ring that hits the flamingo is 1 point, each ring that misses is 0 points. First team to 21 wins!

Best for Ages: All ages, but the further away the harder it gets. Best for 8+

Materials Needed: Plastic rings, Plastic lawn flamingo (1 or more)

Beach or Pool: Beach or grassy area near pool

8. Pool Float Relay Race

This is a great game to get lots of kids at the pool involved. You will need at least 2 pool floats – the bulkier and harder to swim on the better! Each team lines up at the edge of the pool. Once someone yells, “GO” the first person jumps into the pool, climbs onto their float and paddles to the other side and back. RULE: If you fall of the float, you have to swim back and start over!! Once you make it all the way back to the start, the second person jumps in. Repeat, repeat, until one team wins! Another fun option for this game is to use a small paddle or oar, but it’s not essential to the game.

Best for Ages: Kids capable of swimming alone without floaties

Materials Needed: Two pool floats

Beach or Pool: Pool

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