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One time, my cousin and I became mermaids. We darted up and down across the surface of the lake, bursting out of the water with a dramatic flip of the hair like Ariel.
Another time, my best friend and I created a synchronized swimming routine to a Backstreet Boys song. (Or it might have been NSYNC. I can never remember.)
My friends and I would regularly play “guess what I’m saying underwater.” Everyone would duck under, and one person would gurgle out a phrase over and over until someone correctly guessed it.
We were always inventive, always making up new games. That’s why some of my best summer memories involve playing in the water.
Summer gets even more fun with colorful and whimsical pool floats! Oversized, crazy pool floats will get your kids paddling, swimming and laughing all at the same time—while boosting their creativity and their gross motor skills. Read on to find out why they’re Summer Top Toys.
Why use just any pool float when you could relax on your favorite snack, animal, or even shoe? Have fun in the pool or lake by making up games with these oversized floats. Race the Chocolate Donut Float and Strawberry Donut Float against each other. Make magic with the Mermaid Tail Float.
Catch a wave with the Surfboard Pool Float. Show off to your friends with the Peacock Pool Float. Prank your sibling with the Whoopee Cushion Pool Float. At the end of the day, kick back with the Emoji Flip Flop Float. Your kids will find plenty of ways to enjoy these silly inflatables! Get ready for some fun in the sun creating memories, and check out more great outdoor toys here!
Wishing you sunshine,
The air is getting warmer. My allergies are in full swing. Summer is coming.
Once school’s out, on those summer days when you don’t have activities or camp planned, you might hear the inevitable moan, “I’m boooooored!”
Instead of giving in to watching TV or playing a video game, be prepared! Get kids playing outdoors by having some novel tricks—that is, toys—up your sleeve. These twists on the regular soccer ball, football, flying disk and bouncy ball are sure to get kids interested and making up their own games.
The Tangle Nightball Soccer Ball, Tangle Nightball Football and the Tangle Nightdisk are unique light-up toys to kick, throw and catch. Kids will be fascinated to see how much light they can get out of a single pass. The more they spin, the brighter they get! They’re perfect for nighttime play, so you can have a game of catch after roasting marshmallows on a summer night.
The Tangle balls and disk have a soft-grip, rubbery texture, so they’re perfect for practicing throwing and catching skills. They’re also safe for water play, so bring them to the beach. These are all Summer Top Toys!
No playmate? No problem! Kids can play catch solo or with a friend with the Waboba Moon Ball, another Summer Top Toy. This lightweight, high-bouncing ball is perfect for bouncing on a street, sidewalk or parking lot. The ball’s moon-like craters give it a great grip and make a satisfying popping sound as the ball hits the ground. How high can your kid bounce it– and still manage to catch it?
Still need ideas? Here are 31 ways to play with a ball, including backyard bowling, making a catapult, and wall ball!
Get your kids outside and away from the screen with these active toys. Let’s play ball!
From you, I learned the importance of…
“Being myself. You were always you, and let us be us, no matter what other people thought. Whether that meant wearing silly hats to the bowling alley or having pie fights in the yard, you were never afraid to make a mess and have a good time. I learned that it feels so much better to be who you are than to be what other people expect of you. Thanks for being you, Mom.”
A special memory of you is…
“You took me to the sheep shearing festival to check out all the wool, the sheep and the sheepdogs. Watching the dogs chase the sheep into their pen was fascinating! We walked around the different pens, and I got to pet the sheep and test which ones were fluffiest. There were carnival games and crafts to buy. We went a few years in a row, and it was our special trip. Thanks, Dad, for making the time just for me.”
The best gift is the one that comes from the heart. For Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, what Mom and Dad want most is to feel appreciated. How better to do that than in your own words? The Letters to My… series prompts you, or the child in your life, to write 12 letters to their mother, father, grandchild, baby, or future self. Each book includes 12 unique pieces of stationery, each with its own writing prompt. Each letter folds up and has spaces for “sealed on” and “to be opened on” dates, so your book of letters becomes a beautiful time capsule of your love.
Set the to-be-opened dates for specific dates – future Mother’s or Father’s Days, for example, or milestone birthdays or anniversaries – or for future events, such as “when your first grandchild is born” or “on your wedding day.”
Kids can fill out Letters to Me, When I Grow Up to record what being a child is like before the pressures of adulthood. This book, designed especially for young writers, includes prompts to draw pictures, make lists and fill in blanks about their friends, school and dreams for the future.
Each book comes with 12 decorative stickers for sealing the letters.
Put your writing hat on and record those thoughts and memories your loved ones will enjoy in years to come.
Don’t forget the tissues!
One time, I balled up all the clean socks in the house. My friend and I hid behind couch cushions and had a sock ball fight.
Another time, my mom made an impromptu bean bag toss game by cutting holes in a big sheet of plastic and assigning point values.
Lastly, my brother was a wiz at archery for a time, entering in local competitions for his age group.
What do these games have in common?
They all require you to take aim and fire or throw something at a target. This type of active play helps kids develop essential gross motor skills, such as hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness, crossing the midline, and proprioception (awareness of body position and movement). Playing more of these as a kid would have helped me save face at the office cornhole tournament!
Two Bros Bows and Slimeball Dodgetag are two Spring Top Toys designed to get kids moving and active with a little friendly competition. Check them out!
Two Bros Bows are colorful, kid-invented toy bows and arrows designed for ages 6 and up. They are handcrafted in designs from camo pattern to flames to flowers, so children can select a bow that feels personal to them.
They’re lightweight, easy to carry, and easy to shoot – when I first tried one, I was surprised at how quickly the arrow shot clear across the room! I could easily see an afternoon of kids shooting at imaginary targets, recreating scenes from their favorite movies, and seeing whose arrow can go farthest. Because the bows are made of sturdy PVC pipe, they can easily survive a tumble.
Most importantly, these toys are safe. Each arrow is tipped with a thick ball of foam, covered with vibrant fabric to mix and match with your bow. They are also third-party tested for safety. Two Bros Bows were created by brothers Duncan and Hayden, ages 10 and 7, and are assembled in the USA.
Does your child love dodgeball? Gooey things? How about snowball fights? Slimeball Dodgetag is a brilliant combination of the three. Slimeball Dodgetag comes with two vests and four balls. Each player wears a vest with a green target, and aims their slimeballs at the opponent’s vest. Buy multiple sets for an all-out melee!
The soft, squishy green balls stick to the target, but don’t stick to anything else (grass, the carpet, or clothes)! It’s slimy fun without the mess!
Additional balls, wall targets, and a Slimeball Slinger slingshot are available separately.
Stop in for a demo of Two Bros Bows and Slimeball Dodgetag, and get moving!
Wishing you good aim,
I’m no fashionista. I never was.
But that didn’t stop me from trying as a kid.
I put on fashion shows with my friends and cousins regularly. We paraded through the living room while my patient mom watched and applauded for the ridiculous getups we came up with. We’d have a beach theme, a dress-up theme, or an animal theme (wearing my cow-print pajamas).
Picking out outfits, mixing and matching colors, and choosing accessories is a fun mode of creative expression for many kids—and often a lifelong hobby, or even a career.
Fashion Plates, one of our Spring Top Toys, helps kids draw their own fashion designs using crayon and colored pencil rubbings. This classic toy from the late 1970s is back and better than ever, with modern styles and a chic carrying case!
1. Choose the plates to make the outline of your outfit. There are small, medium and large plates. Assemble your combination in the drawing tablet, then place a piece of paper under the lid.
2. Use the crayon holder to rub the black crayon gently over the plates. (I rubbed a little too hard, hence the background marks.)
3. The backs of the plates have textures like paisley, floral and checkered. Flip the plates and rub with colored pencils to add patterns and colors to your outfit. I went with diamond-patterned jeans and a floral shirt.
4. Remove from the tablet to color the hair and skin and anything you don’t want to be patterned.
5. Add a background, if you like.
6. When you’re done, the kit packs up neatly in its case for easy travel!
In addition to promoting creativity, this is a great sensory toy. Feeling the outlines and textures lets your child translate touch to sight. Envisioning how the 3D textures will look on 2D paper when rubbed promotes visual-spatial skills.
So get ready—the runway is calling!