By Raechel Conover, Cheapism.com
We've all seen them and maybe even floated with one in the pool. Kids, however, are far more creative: they use them to squirt water, build shapes, and stage mock sword fights. In case you haven't guessed, we're talking about pool noodles.We found 10 uses for a pool noodle that have nothing to do with swimming.
These simple pool toys are made out of polystyrene foam and are pretty light on your wallet. Big Lots lists them on its website for $3.50 a pop, and they're likely to be on sale right now because retailers are closing out summer merchandise. You'll probably find good deals at the local dollar store, as well. But as odd as it may seem, pool noodles have a second life outside of the pool. So stock up when the price is right and put a pool noodle or two to work around the house.
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1. Make a wreath. 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 tape or duct tape. You now have the perfect circle for starting a wreath -- oodles cheaper than a foam form from a craft store.
2. Create a boot stand. Forget about those pricey boot stands that keep your boots upright in the back of your 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 a pool noodle into pieces that match the height of each pair of boots and stuff inside.
3. Make a toddler bed rail. 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 pool noodle from shifting and young children from falling out of bed. 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.
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4. Create decorative props. Here's an idea for a Halloween decoration that 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 half 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.
5. Create a homemade sprinkler. 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 around the pool noodle (this keeps the water in). Press a garden hose into the other end (you may need duct tape to secure it in place and minimize leaking). Turn on the water and watch it spray out of the holes.With stores clearing out their pool toys, swimming noodles make a great cheap craft.
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6. Build a wicket. Wickets (small gates or barriers) can be used for soccer practice, lawn croquet, and for creating 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. You can adjust the wicket height (the arc of the pool noodle) by narrowing or widening the distance between the stakes.
7. Design a race course. 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. (Home Spun Threads suggests securing them together with toothpicks at the top and bottom.) Prop one end higher than the other and place the lower end in a shoebox to catch the marbles. You can also make start and finish lines with toothpicks.
8. Make a headboard. Buy multiple pool noodles and attach to the wall at the height and in the color order that suits your fancy. Design Dazzle suggests this arrangement for a child's room, but it also works for the bedroom in a summer home.
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9. Make a shopping cart cover. Does your little one 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 cut lengthwise down the middle on one side only. Store in the car for all your shopping excursions.
10. Make cheap porch decorations. Family Fun offers up a giant candy cane porch decoration that's easy, cheap, and perfect for the Christmas 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 the ribbon up the length of the pool noodle. If a candy cane isn't your thing, Craftzine suggests a string of snowflakes. All you need are blue pool noodles in star or flower shapes, fishing wire, beads, and a needle. String together the noodles and beads with the fishing wire and needle. Leave a loop of wire at the top and secure the garlands to your door with a pushpin.