Tips for Families at the Pool
I've had a lot of parents ask what swimmers should work on over vacation. The most effective "homework" is to play! Just playing freely in the water is a great way to experiment with buoyancy and different body movements. The kids are on vacation too, so don't worry about forcing difficult skills they've been working on in class. Let their instructors be the bad guys while you take on the role of the fun grandparents :). I didn't have any beach pictures of my students, so this one if filled with family vacation pictures from my childhood.
Here are some fun games you can play with school aged kids at the pool:
I'm often looking for games that will keep the class occupied while one student is taking an individual turn. These matching games have been working well and are adjustable for many ages/venues. All of the games below use:
You can write directly on the ducks, but since I want to use the same tools for multiple games, I placed a small piece of Velcro on the bottom of each duck and disc using superglue.
Oriental Trading has a variety of character ducks, so I have also used this game in specific themes such as Monster Mania, Superhero Day, & Fairy Tale Adventure. I like the Monster & 123 ducks best for everyday use.
We play lots of matching games in the climbing gym by hiding the ducks on climbing holds and placing the laminates on the floor. Kids climb to a duck and bring it down to match it up! Non readers bring the duck to their instructor first for a translation.
To reinforce safe climbing rules I use pictures of climbers in different situations. Each duck has a disc saying "safe" or "unsafe". Each child climbs to retrieve a duck and then match it to a corresponding safe or unsafe picture. I have made up flash cards for this game with an easy level (green circles for "safe" and red No Symbols for "unsafe") and a hard level (no hints).
You can download my safety matching cards below:
Using the Monster ducks, I placed the wall angle discs on the ducks and drew stick figure walls on the speech bubbles to show overhang, slab, vertical, arete and dihedral. You can also use photographs to review lots of topics with this game. We have done wall angles, hold types and types of moves (matching, backstep, sidepull) so far.
You can "waterproof" this game by using the plastic tokens listed above (the wooden discs don't hold up in the pool) and waterproof plumbing glue to hold the velcro. I have made a beginner set and an advanced set that I can switch out as needed. The beginner set lists skills such as "eyes in", "kicks", "swimming arms" by showing a picture of each body part. The advanced set lists strokes and drills such as "butterfly", "3 arm backstroke", and "flip turns". One student swims to retrieve a duck and everyone performs the skill listed.
Duck In a Bucket:
In the pool it's especially important for waiting children to be engaged. In beginner lessons I scatter the ducks throughout the pool and place the laminates on a floating mat by the platform or on the pool deck within easy reach. I take each child out to swim for a duck and then they can match it up while they wait for their next turn. To maintain engagement I change up the criteria. They can place each duck on a bucket based on color, number (write a number on each laminated bucket), letter, etc.
Rebecca & Sarah have been working with children for over a decade. You can find a compilation of ideas for the classroom, home, and athletic fields here.