A great game for land or sea!
The need for a pool is debatable. It is a very fun water game, but can be adapted for land lovers.
Items not so optional are blindfolds. These are especially useful for young children who are often too excited to play eyes closed purely on the honor system.
That’s it! There are a few additional supplies listed with variations, but for pure ‘Marco Polo’ that’s all you’ll need.
Ages appropriate for play:
If you are playing on land the age range is significantly younger. Three year olds will have fun hiding and finding ‘Marco Polo’. But the excitement wears off around ages 10 or 11.
For water play be sure the children have their sea legs and any appropriate safety gear. Additional supervision is also a must. With the age range for the water-faring ‘Marco Polo’ crowd being between ages 6 and 14, the kids are a bit older on both ends.
Object of play
Refrain from growing expansive on the origin of the name, it is the last thing the kids care about. Just tell them the rules and let them dive in!
For a standard game on sea or land one child is selected to be ‘Marco Polo’. All the other children close their eyes (or are blindfolded) and attempt to locate ‘Marco Polo’ using only their ears, hand and voices. Children with their eyes closed may call out ‘Marco’ to which the child playing ‘Marco Polo’ must reply ‘Polo’. There is no limit on how many times the children may call out ‘Marco’, but ‘Polo’ must echo back every time.
Play continues until one of the children with their eyes closed locates Marco Polo by touching him or her. They are now ‘Marco Polo’ and play continues.
Playing in the back yard or indoors is a variation all by itself, but it does not require any additional equipment or rules.
One variation is to have the children hunt for objects instead of a person. This is good for young children who might be nervous in the water, because you can limit the number of children in the water at a time and an adult can be the guide. Put out a ball, ring or other floating type pool toy and guide the child to it using the ‘Marco Polo’ echo. A similar variation can be done on land.
If you like the idea of searching for objects but want the kids to be the guides, assign the words Marco Polo a new meaning. For example Marco=close, and Polo = far. The children can guide the child to the object by letting him if he is close or far away using the Marco Polo code.