Childhood Unplugged: Pool Parties (Even for Landlubbers!)

Welcome to Childhood Unplugged, a weekly feature that will provide you with creative options to help keep your child from zoning out in front of the television or in some sort of cyber gaming world. Every month we'll give you complete directions for a craft, activity, kid-friendly food, and a theme party. Feeling inspired? Wait and use the entire month's collection for a fun-filled event! Or, ease your child into an unplugged state gently by using the ideas one at a time.

The goal here isn't Martha Stewart perfection, it's to inspire creativity and remind kids how fun using their minds and hands on something other than a game controller can be. Let's get started!

The hot, long days of July make this the perfect time of the year for a pool party. If you're lucky enough to have a body of water in your yard, inviting a group of kids over to enjoy your good fortune is practically a humanitarian mission. And even if you don't have a pool, don't lose heart, you can still host a bitchin' backyard beach bash, we'll get to that in a moment!

Invitations to a party set the mood and handing out a creative invite is WAY more fun than simply mailing out a store-bought one. Here are some ideas for unique ways kids can announce their party:

  • Blow up small, dollar store beach balls or water-wings and write on the information in permanent marker. Deflate and place in a large envelope and mail (or hand deliver)
  • Hand deliver corked, glass bottles that contain a scrolled paper invitation along with some sand and seashells
  • Write the information on a cheap flip flop or plastic sand pail/shovel set

Now that the invitations are out, it's time to plan some activities for the guests. On a hot day, splashing around in a pool is generally all the fun a kid needs, but organized water activities can make turn a fun time into a truly memorable one. A few possibilities:

  • Marco Polo
  • Water Treasure Hunt (Divide kids into 2 teams on opposite sides of pool. Throw in various objects into the pool, some that sink and some that float. The team that retrieves the most wins.)
  • Cannon ball Competition (Kids take turns attempting to make the biggest splash.)
  • Water Hangman (Shaping bodies into letters in the water to spell out words isn't easy, but it sure is fun!)

Now it's time to deal with the fact that there are more people who DON'T have pools than actually do. However, a lack of chlorination doesn't mean you can't host a great pool party, you just have to be a little more creative!

One of the first things to do as acquire and fill a kiddie pool. It might not be big enough for kids to swim in, but just splashing and submerging is pretty great on a hot day. Loading up a small kiddie pool with as many filled water balloons as you have the patience to fill is also a sure-fire crowd pleaser. It will also serve the dual purpose of providing ready ammunition for water balloon fights, tosses, and relays, while being a REALLY fun place for kids to sit!

Another fun water activity that only requires a hose is a slip n slide. Perfectly wonderful ones are available at discount stores for $10 or less, or you can make your own with just heavy tarp or plastic.

No childhood is complete without at least one afternoon spent running through a sprinkler. If you're lucky enough to have the in-ground kind that runs on a timer, you have the makings of one of the best parties ever! Set up your other water activities and don't even mention that at the appointed hour, you've arranged for the entire yard to be doused by the pop up sprinklers.

Family Fun has the best usage of PVC pipe ever with the Kid Car Wash. The directions are simple, (I did it without husband assistance of any kind!) it wasn't all that expensive (less than $40) and it has provided hours of entertainment for my kids. An even simpler version is available at Instructables.

So this summer, don't limit parties to just birthdays or set holidays. All that is required for a memorable and fun day is a few kids and a water hose!

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.