The Best Pool Toys to Improve Motor Skills

Pool Toys

Summer is Here!  For many families, that means spending a lot of time at the pool.  The water can be a great place to work on Motor Skills without your child even noticing (sneaky, sneaky)!  Here is a Top 5 list of my favorite pool toys that can help improve your child’s Motor skills.  These toys are FUN and help facilitate improving strength, coordination, balance, or all of the above!  Remember… no toy is safe for your child without close supervision of a trusted adult.

  1. Puddle Jumper– This float is my absolute favorite!  It is coast guard approved as a floatation device, similar to a life jacket.  However, it places young kiddos in much better position to learn beginning swimming skills.  It takes significant core strength to keep upright in the water, so your child will get a core workout the entire time they are swimming with it on.  Young children may need a little practice to become confident while wearing it, but most children are able to get the hang of it after a few trips to the pool.  Hold your child close and firmly at first and then loosen your support as your child becomes more comfortable.  A few great motor skills to practice: kicking a ball while on their tummy or back, spinning in a circle, jumping in at the side of the pool, throwing objects and having your child swim to retrieve them, and beginning practice of back float.Puddle Jumper
  2. Pool Noodles– These are the simplest of toys, but are SO versatile! I don’t know a kid that doesn’t like a pool noodle- plus they are cheap and easy to find!  There are many ways to use a pool noodle to work on Motor Skills.  On land, you can practice stepping or jumping over them.  Sitting on a noodle like a horse or like a chair can work on balance and core strength.  Blowing air through a noodle can work on lung strength and capacity, as well as oral motor strength.  A child can improve their balance by trying to hit targets with the noodle while standing in one place (the noodle will slightly challenge their balance each time they lift it and reach with it).  You can practice running in deep water with a noodle around your waist.  Beginning one leg balance is easy to work on by having the child rest one leg on the noodle and allow it to float up slightly. pool noodles
  3. Diving Toys– There are many fun diving toys in addition to traditional diving rings or sticks.  Torpedoes are always a hit, as well as jewels or sea creatures.  Really, you can use any type of toy as a diving toy as long as it sinks and won’t get damaged by the water.  One favorite is to collect loose change and throw pennies, nickels, and dimes into the water.  Besides the obvious benefit of being able to submerge, hold your breath, and use leg strength to kick down to retrieve an item, diving toys can have other motor uses as well.  Rings are excellent for one leg balance.  Have your child stand on one foot and use the other foot to retrieve the ring and bring it up to the surface.  In shallow water, diving toys could be scattered around to facilitate repeated squatting to standing.  A parent could help their child work on standing balance to reach up and retrieve an object held in different directions.Diving toys
  4. Water Wheels– Water wheels are fun to play with at water tables, in the bathtub, in the sand, AND in the POOL!  Pouring is a great fine motor activity that is easy to do with water wheels.  Just bring along a cup or pitcher and your child will love to pour away!  The larger the pouring container, the more arm and core strength required.  For added strengthening, you can place the water wheel to the side of your child so that they have to rotate their body each time they pour.  You could also work on balance/strength in any position (kneeling, half kneeling, standing, single leg standing, etc) by facilitating this position while your child pours.  Most children will tolerate facilitation for several minutes depending on how hard the position is for them. For oral motor strength and coordination, have your child alternate blowing the wheel around and blowing bubbles in the water.water wheel toy
  5. Beach Ball– Or really any floating ball.  Balls are great for working on hand and eye coordination.  If your child is too young to catch a ball accurately, push the ball back and forth on the surface of the water.  You can make a target with a noodle to practice aim or you can practice balance by having your child use a noodle to try to hit a ball back and forth to you.  A fun core strength activity is to have your child hold a small, buoyant ball and hug it to their body tightly.  Then have your child spin in circles or swim around to work on arm and core strength.  Your child can also work on leg and core strength if you have them reach for a ball with their feet and bring it to their hands while you support them in reclined back float.  A great, exciting way to work on balance, arm and core strength is to have your child stand in waist deep water and push a ball down under the water.  Watch out when they let go!  The ball will go flying!beach ball

There are so many more pool toys that could be used for Motor Skill Development!  Kickboards, goggles, barbells, rafts, flippers, water guns, and so many others are fabulous at facilitating many of the activities described above.  And honestly, it’s hard to go wrong when your child is in the water.  Just being in the water increases sensory input, challenges your child’s balance while simultaneously supporting it, gives resistance to all movement, and offers a great form of aerobic exercise without any joint stress.  What are you waiting for???  Grab your family and head out to the pool today!


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