Your pool float noodle has seen enough of the garage. It can't wait for your next trip to the lake. It's colorful and cushiony and so eager to be played with that it's willing to moonlight as a dry-land toy. The four games that follow take terrific advantage of its uniquely flexible uprightness and its even-toddlers-can-manipulate-it light weight.
Ages: 2 years and up
Torchbearer: Hold the noodle upright and place a beanbag on top. Challenge your child to move around the room without the flame going out--that is, without the beanbag falling off.
Over/Under: When it comes to limbo, the pool noodle is the answer to a solo parent's prayers. We like this version best, in which you hold it out horizontally, then challenge your toddler to move over or under the noodle as if she were one of her favorite animals: she can slither like a snake, crawl like a cat, or hop like a bunny.
Jack Be Nimble: Slowly sweep the length of the noodle back and forth across the ground and see if your child can jump over it when it comes her way.
Timber!: Hold the noodle upright, with one end resting on the floor. Cry "Timber!" and let it fall, while your child scrambles to catch it before it hits the ground. (Once she's got the hang of it, nudge it in different directions to make it more of a challenge.)