Pool noodles seem like pretty much a summer swimming activity, but it turns out there are lots of ways to use pool noodles for DIY crafts! You can make lots of fun kids’ learning solutions by bringing the summer into your classroom – no matter what the temperature outside. Keep reading for a few suggestions…
Where can I buy pool noodles?
You can buy pool noodles seasonally in pretty much every big box store and the dollar store. In the off-season if you are a northern, you will find pool noodles in bulk from Amazon – and they are pretty cheap the larger the unit you buy, so think about giving in halvsies with another teacher in your building for the most cost effective method of purchasing noodles.
For the foam classroom crafts I made below, I used about 3 full noodles – and I had several left over! They will go a long way depending on your needs and the crafts you choose to make.
How to cut pool noodles?
It was wayyyyyy easier than I thought it would be to cut the pool noodles for my activities. I used a basic serrated knife and they cut up very quickly and easily with very little noodle dust. You can cut them into smaller chunks, larger chunks then lengthwise, and even cut the entire noodle lengthwise if you have an activity like a marble run.
7 Classroom Luau Learning Ideas
Here are a few of the ideas I created for my classroom learning luau – feel free to adjust the learning activities to match the ability of your students! Each of these different ideas can be set up as a center area in your classroom to allow the students to rotate from one to another.
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Name Leis: Begin the party by having each student find the letters of their name and string them together through the hole with a piece of rope or twine. Now you’re ready to get learning!
Flower Writing: What’s more fun than writing with tropical flowers? To make these, use a small piece of the pool noodle and cut V-shapes in 4 places. Then, use a pen or pencil to add a hole into the noodle, flip the writing utensil around and insert into the foam. Super cute and fun!
Palm Tree Number Sentences: This one can be as simple or as advanced as you like. To set this one up, write various numbers, equal signs, and operation symbols on different pieces of cut up pool noodle. Students come to this station and must make number sentence “trees” from the supplies. Top them off with plastic straws taped together as your leaves.
Challenge your students to see who can make the largest number sentence tree and have them cross-check one another for accuracy.
Mystery Bucket Writing: For this center, use a plastic sand pail and add an item to the bottom that students may not be able to figure out what it is right away. Add lots of cut up pieces of pool noodle on top so that the child is not able to see the item.
Then, use the Free Mystery Bucket Writing Handout below to describe what the item is, guess what it is and what it might be used for, and then finally – draw or write a sentence explaining what the actual item is after pulling it out of the bucket.
This activity is perfect for making predictions based on context clues of a hidden item.
Unscramble the Sentences Kabobs: Write out a sentence on your cut up pool noodles: one word per each noodle. You can even choose to write all nouns on a specific color, verb son another, articles on another, and so on.
Students will then have to figure out what the correct sentence is by changing up the order of the words until it makes sense. To make “luau kebabs” use wooden dowels from the hardware store to slide the word pieces on and off.
Spelling Limbo: For a fun group game, use one whole pool noodle as a limbo stick. students line up and you give them a spelling word. If he or she correctly spells it out loud, that child gets to go under the limbo stick and back to the end of the line. If not, they sit down.
The game continues until you only have one student left standing. Make it even more fun by turning on some party music as students are walking under the limbo stick.
Synonym Matching Flip Game: Cut up your pool noodle into sections, then cut them in half lengthwise. Choose whether the matching words will be on the same color, different sets of colors, or just different colors altogether.
Make matching pieces that are synonyms, antonyms, author/book, or vocabulary words/definitions for any subject. Students begin with all the pieces upside down and get to take turns flipping 2 over at a time. If they are a match, they get to keep those 2 pieces and go again.
The winner is the student with the most pieces when all have been claimed. You could also make this an independent activity that the game is finished when the student has correctly matched all the pairs on their own.
How fun are those? Makes me feel warmer just thinking about Polynesian party mode. 🙂 Don’t forget to grab your Free Mystery Bucket Writing Handout below too!