Pool Noodle Extravaganza


What do you get if you combine pool noodles with balloons? Countless variations of high-energy fun to use with the kids you work with. If you have really energetic clients or group members, they might enjoy this more active session game during the early stage of counselling. Use this game for rapport building or assessing and promoting emotional expression. The bigger your group, the bigger the room you will need. We have used a large hall and a church foyer, but for individual sessions, a small counselling room should do. This game is suitable for kids and teen groups. It could also be used to facilitate positive family interactions and encourage communication in family sessions.

Pool noodles cut in half
As many balloons as you would like
Permanent markers
Goal posts or masking tape (optional)

How to Play:
For this game, you use the pool noodles, which can be purchased cheaply in the spring/summer months from dollar stores, as game sticks. You use the sticks to hit the balloons. Touching the balloon with one’s hands is not allowed. On each of the balloons write a feeling word, draw a feeling face, or write a get to know you question (e.g., my favourite food is… my favourite place is…).


There are many different variations you can play with this game. Here are 3 of my favourites:

Variation 1:

Hockey: Play with 2 or more participants and as many teams/nets as you need. Set up goal posts as nets and put all the balloons in the middle of the room. Start the game and play until all the balloons have been scored. Teams then take turns answering the question. For each balloon that is scored, players on the scored-on team must answer that question or tell about a time when they experienced that emotion. If there are only 2 players (the counsellor and the client), the counsellor may want to be the “goalie”. When your client scores, he/she must answer the question or tell as story about the emotion on the balloon.

Variation 2

Badminton: Play with 2 or more participants. Draw a line on the ground with tape. Each team tries to keep the balloons off of the floor on their side while attempting to get the balloons to hit the ground on the opposite team’s side of the tape. Once all the balloons have hit the ground, each side picks up the balloons on their side and answers the questions/tells a story about that emotion. Rather than having many balloons in the air at a time, you could also choose to use one balloon at a time and respond to each prompt as the balloon hits the ground.

Variation 3:

Balloon Free-For-All: For larger groups, assign each team their own colour of balloon and set boundaries for the game. You can have as many teams and as many players as needed. Also choose a time limit for each round (5 minutes is likely loads of time). At the start of the game each team tries to keep their own colour of balloon in the air while trying to knock other teams’ to the ground. Once a balloon is on the ground, it must stay there. If a balloon goes out of bounds it also must stay there. At the end of the round the balloons on the floor and out of bounds are gathered up, and each team must respond to the prompts on the balloons the other teams knocked to the ground. Continuing playing for as many rounds as you like – the group we played this with couldn’t get enough!

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Carey EmmersonPool Noodle Extravaganza

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