4 raft games to play with kids in the pool

Children of all ages love playing in the water, and adults have nearly as much fun watching and playing with them. With or without the aid of toys, there are plenty of ways to have a great time in the pool while staying safe. Here are 4 popular pool games to play with small groups of kids.

Pool Safety

Before letting the children loose in the water, it is important to keep a few basic safety tips in mind. First of all, have at least one adult supervising at all times and maintain a good ration of adults to children. Make certain the deep end and shallow end are clearly marked. Encourage the children to take frequent breaks between games. Finally, remember that inner tubes, noodles, and other floating pool toys are just that -- toys, not safety devices.

Raft and Tube Games

1. Pirates and Sharks

This game works best with 10 or more kids in a fairly large pool. Divide the children into three or more roughly equal groups; designate one group as the "sharks" and the others as "pirates." Each group of pirates should claim a raft or pool mat as their "ship." Give each ship a handful of small pool toys to act as "treasure." Once the game begins, the groups of pirates paddle around the pool attempting to steal the other ships' treasure. At the same time, the sharks try to pull the pirates into the water; any pirate who falls off his or her ship becomes a shark as well. If one group of pirates manages to steal all of the other ships' treasure before losing everyone to the sharks, that group wins. The sharks win if they manage to pull everyone into the pool.

2. Bumper Boats

To play this game, every child needs an inner tube or similarly round flotation device. Have the players kick off the sides of the pool and deliberately bump into each other, trying to knock each other off their tubes. The last child floating wins. Of course, hitting, grabbing, hair pulling, and so on should not be allowed.

3. King of the Tube

Divide the children into two teams and have each one choose a champion. Each champion sits in an inner tube; the other players try to knock the opposing team's champion out of the tube by touching the tube only. Touching the champion's body is never allowed. The first team to force the other champion out of his or her tube wins.

4. Island Mail

Have each child sit in a tube or on a pool mat, divide the players into two teams, and distribute them around the pool. The kids on each team have to toss small balls or water-filled balloons from mat to mat towards a goal. The team that gets more objects into the goal area wins.


There are many safe and enjoyable games to play with kids in the pool, of which the dozen above are merely a sample. Having a range of great pool toys on hand adds even more activities to the mix. With a few basic safety precautions and adult supervision, children can have fun for hours on end in the water.


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