Pool noodles are wonderful. They’re inexpensive, versatile, and colorful. Of course, I have to put up with my colleagues teasingly threatening to throw away my pool noodles all the time, but that’s okay. They are totally worth it. Here are six noodle-rific ways you can use my favorite product in the classroom.
1. Robotics Challenge Border
I found this super idea on Twitter from Kim Collazo (@kcollazo). She duck-taped pool noodles to the floor to make a border for a robotics challenge called the Predator/Prey Challenge. She tweeted that her 4th graders learned the importance of armor and other animal adaptations with the Sphero Bolt- just in case you were curious to know what robot is hiding under those red solo cups. Check out the video! Bonus: Kim shares her lesson for the Predator/Prey Challenge here.
2. SPIKE Pool Noodle Runner
Mr. Hino of Mr. Hino’s LEGO Robotics YouTube Channel shares a unique robot he built that travels along a pool noodle. Check out this Youtube video on his channel for the Pool Noodle Runner. I love this build because it is not moving the standard way of a vehicle. I also reversed engineered his robot, and you can find the building instructions on a slide deck here. My slide deck comes with six steps and a video of my own personal SPIKE Pool Noodle Runner.
3. Breakout EDU
If you are a fan of Breakout EDU, try incorporating pool noodles for a clue. The very first breakout I designed for a professional development Breakout EDU session was based on Dr. Johnson’s Lab (Zombie Apocalypse!) by James Sanders. I tweaked James’s original game to engage the audience and have their participation in the game. I designed it where objects and costumes held the puzzles to unlock the locks on the breakout box. I had one participant, complete with a beach towel and sunglasses, walk around the room calling out, “Where, oh where have my pool noodles gone?” All of a sudden 10 people popped their noodles out from hiding. Five green, two blue, and four orange noodles appeared which were used to solve the three-digit combination lock.
4. Goose Chase
How about incorporating pool noodles into an interactive experience called a Goose Chase? Below are a few missions I have used at TCEA conventions and conferences. My tip here is to encourage your participants to “think outside the box” and create different ways to improvise with the pool noodles besides lasers and swords.
- Mission ETC: Improvise with a pool noodle or two. Please do not turn your pool noodle into a weapon.
- Mission CTS: Act out a movie scene using one or more pool noodles. Think beyond Star Wars.
- Mission ETC: Create a math problem using some or all the pool noodles you will find hiding down the hall.
- Mission TCEA 2018: Form a letter using the pool noodles.
5. Cardio Desk Drumming
I found this one a year ago on Facebook and have been holding onto this terrific find – until now! P.E. Coach, Mr. Kent Hamilton of Middlebranch-Avondale Elementary School in Canton, Ohio has created routines called Cardio Desk drumming with pool noodles. It sure looks like a bunch of fun. This”get moving” activity is great for the body and the brain! He has several videos on his YouTube channel. He includes two of my favorite songs: Queen’s “We will Rock You” and Imagine Dragon’s “Believer.” Don’t miss “Shake it Off” or “Uptown Funk,” too. Follow him on Twitter for so many more ideas.
6. Pool Noodle Pass
Hanging out on Twitter is such a good thing. I also found the 2021 National Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year, Kyle Bragg. He is a P.E. teacher at Anasazi Elementary School in Arizona. Oh, to be a second grader and try the Noodle Pass! Follow him not only for his pool noodle activities but other energizing and engaging lessons in the gym.
Feel free to share the unique ways you use pool noodles in your classroom in the comments. Let’s spread more love for pool noodles!