Pool noodles. We've all seen them and maybe even floated with one in the water. Kids are far more creative -- they use them to squirt each other, build shapes, and stage mock sword fights -- and we can take a cue from them. Odd as it seems, these long hollow tubes of polystyrene foam can have a second life beyond the pool. So stock up when the price is right (figure on $1.50 a pop, and even less during summer close-out sales) and put a pool noodle or two to work around the house.
Make Oodles With Noodles: 10 Uses for Pool Noodles
One of the beauties of a pool noodle is its flexibility. Bend it in a circle, slice one end at an angle and the other end at the opposite angle. Match up the ends and secure with clear packing or duct tape. You now have the perfect circle for starting a wreath -- and loads cheaper than a foam form from a crafts store.
Forget about those pricey boot stands that keep your boots upright in the back of the closet all summer. Use a cheap pool noodle instead and save big time. Indeed, one noodle does the trick for several pairs of boots. Just cut into pieces that match the height of each pair of boots and stuff inside.
Lay a pool noodle at the outer edge of the mattress pad on your child's bed. Cover with a fitted sheet and tuck in tightly to keep the noodle from shifting and young children from falling off the side. Then make the bed as you normally would. This is a cheap alternative to a toddler bed and a solution for those nights when you're on the road with a toddler in tow.
Here's an idea for a Halloween decoration we found at Halloween Forum. Gather up a giant pot, cauldron, or oversized planter; a pool noodle; craft foam; thrift store shoes and leggings; bamboo sticks; and an old broom end. Place the craft foam at the bottom of the pot. Cut the pool noodle in half and cover each with the leggings and a shoe. Stick a bamboo rod down the middle of each pool noodle half and then stick into the craft foam along with the broom end. Voila: a crashed witch -- all for less than $10. You can also turn pool noodles into a scarecrow or alien or any other prop your imagination conjures up.
A cheap pool noodle and some duct tape make an excellent stand-in for toy-store sprinklers. Poke holes in a row down one side of a pool noodle. Cover one end with a plastic bag and tape it shut to contain the water, and set a garden hose into the other end. (If necessary, use duct tape to secure it in place and minimize leaking.) Turn on the water and watch it spray.
Wickets (small gates or barriers) can be used for soccer practice, lawn croquet, and an obstacle course. Push garden stakes (cut in half) or chopsticks into the ground about two to three feet apart and affix each end of a pool noodle on a stake. Adjust the wicket height (i.e., the arc of the pool noodle) by narrowing or widening the distance between the stakes.
Add some excitement to the kids' marble races with a homemade course. Cut a pool noodle in half the long way and line up side by side. (The blog at HomeSpun Threads suggests toothpicks to hold the two halves together at the top and bottom.) Prop one end higher than the other and place the lower end in a shoebox to catch the marbles. Make start and finish lines with toothpicks and colored paper.
Does your toddler always try to put his/her mouth on the metal bar of the shopping cart? Rather than buying a pricey shopping cart cover, take a cheap, hollow pool noodle and cut it to the width of a shopping cart and then slice lengthwise on one side only. Store in the car for all your shopping excursions.
A giant candy cane porch decoration is easy, cheap, and perfect for the holiday season. Buy a red pool noodle, bend the top in half (to make a candy cane shape) and secure with fishing wire. Take a thick white ribbon and secure one end inside the pool noodle with a straight pin, then wind it in a spiral up the length of the noodle. Flesh out the theme with a string of snowflakes. All you need are blue pool noodles in star or flower shapes, fishing wire, beads, and a needle. String the noodles and beads together with the fishing wire and needle. Leave a loop of wire at the top and secure the garlands to your door with a pushpin.