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Busy Bag Activity – Pool Noodle Sorting & Counting

The boys have been enjoying their busy bag immensely and I can admit that I am rather in love with it as well. Their favorite activity from the bag is the pool noodle sorting and counting activity so I thought I would start with that activity as I share with you what what we received during our busy bag activity swap.

The pool noodle sorting and counting bag is a very inexpensive bag, especially if you have young children who already are in need of a pool noodle for actual swimming, otherwise still fairly inexpensive. The gal who brought the activity to our swap I would guess spent less $1 a bag for the activity and that provided several colors of the noodles. Our dollar store carries the pool noodles for $1 a piece, pick out 4-5 different colors and find and old string, piece of ribbon or shoelace and your good to go.

Busy Bag Activity - Pool Noodle Sorting & Counting

The pool noddle sorting & counting activity also works on little ones coordination and find motor skills because the child needs to be able to thread the pool noodle sections onto the string. The center hold of a pool noodle seems like it’s pretty big to us but after watching Corbin (not yet 3) I can tell that perhaps it isn’t as big as I truly think. The multiple colors of pool noodles allow children to work on patterns as well for the real young ones and if you number your pool noodle sections as ours were, counting is also taking place for 1-10. We have used the pool noodle sections to enforce our sorting and color recognition.

I can’t rave enough how much I have loved this activity and it’s easily built and/or adjusted for all skill levels. Coulter (5) and Corbin (2.5) have both benefited immensely from this particular busy bag activity.

Pool Noodle Sorting & Counting Materials

variety of pool noodles of varying colors cut into one inch sections (you will need 11 sections)
rope or string cut — inches long a little longer won’t hurt just not shorter
big plastic bag or storage container

How To Put Together The Pool Noodle Sorting & Counting Busy Bag Activity

1. Take your rope and one pool noodle section with no numbers written on it. You need to tye your rope or string through the piece of pool noodle you have and knot it up good. This piece of noodle with stay on the end of the rope and be your stopper so that the other noodles won’t fall off both ends.

Busy Bag Activity - Pool Noodle Stopper

2. Take your other 10 sections of cut pool noodles and lay them out in a pattern or color scheme that will allow your children to work on a pattern while threading their pool noodles and number them 1-10 with your sharpie.

3. Thread pool noodle sections onto rope or string for the first time so that your kids understand the basics of this activity with very little instruction. You can build on their skills as time and play permits.

4. Place pool noodle string into large ziploc bag or whatever storage container you will be using to keep this activity. I like plastic bags because then I can grab several of the activities before we leave the house and they pack nice into a tote bag. I can also keep a couple of the smaller activities in the console or glove box of the Yukon.

Do you participate in a busy bag swap? Have you used a busy bag, if so what activities do you have in yours? What do you use to entertain your children when you need them to occupy themselves quietly?

Printables make great busy bag activities as well, especially if you laminate and bind them into an easy to grab book.  I own and love the GBC ProClick P50 Binder because you take the bindings apart if you need to add more pages.




  • Kathy T

    I am very much going to use this in my math center in my classroom