They’re out of school and hopefully out of doors. Hide the electronic devices. It’s time to play. P-L-A-Y. Away from the Wii. With each other. Central Park or the Hamptons, the shore, or the woods, vacationing or visiting, the kids need distraction. How about some old fashioned good times? For tots, toddlers, little kids, and you.
Super Fun Stilts—Lightweight, exclusive design with angled under-shoulder supports (reported by my testers as comfortable), balanced steel construction, traction rubber tips, and nonskid footrests. Remember when we were fearless? Well, they still are. Great for balance, strengthening legs, learning patience, and a sense of achievement. Adjustable from 56 ½” to 66” H, for ages 6 to adult. $ 44.98. At Hearthsong.
Deluxe Toddler Racer (Inflatable)—Looks like a speedboat, moves like a cloud. This pint-sized water float offers a steering wheel to grasp and a working horn. There’s even a handle for you to keep’er on keel. Perfect for grandparent photos. We all have a child in our lives somewhere. 10 guage vinyl. For ages 18-36 months. 16” H x 25” W x 30” L Exclusive. $19.95. Leaps and Bounds.
Fish Pail—Generous 7” high Bucket/Sand Pail doubles as a 17” high watering can. Just snap on the fish spout. Both cute and easy to spot on the beach. The kids may grow attached and name the bucket. $ 14. Chasing Fireflies.
Sand Toys Set—Includes Plastic Seahorse Sifter, Octopus Rake, Starfish Scooper and Crab Shovel. He or she will be the envy of the beach with these seaside critters. Really, the photo doesn’t do them justice. The cheery, substantive tools are 8” & 9” long. Making castles just got a whole lot easier. $14. Chasing Fireflies.
Bollie Ladybug Water Bottle— 3.38” d x 9.75” H. Insulated ; keeps 12 oz of liquid cold. Even has a protective cap for the straw so no sand, dirt, or crawly things get in. Think of it –much less “Mommy, I’m thirsty!” Great for picnics, beaches, and car trips. Ok, so it’s not a toy. If you’re around kids, it’s really helpful. $12. My Toy Box.
Striped Hammock—100 percent cotton, kid-sized hammock- 78.75″ x 39.5″. Great for reading, napping or quiet conversation. Fits two friends or siblings who get along. (Some must!) There’s something so grown-up about having one’s own place to go and relax. Add a box of juice=peace. Comes with its own draw-string storage bag. Choice of two colorations. $ 24.98. Hearthsong.
Sea-Scope—Powerful 4x magnification telescope with detachable flashlight so they can see when it’s dark under water. The thrill of discovery—from growing things to fish. Bring along some explanatory picture books in case there are questions? Either way, excitement waits. We tried it on the back terrace (it works on land) and in a bath tub. 3” x 17”. Requires 2 AA batteries for the light-not included. $34. Chasing Fireflies.
Little Tykes Tots Sports Easy Hit Golf—Includes cart, 2 clubs, 3 balls, and “hole” Ages 2-6. Next time they ask where daddy is, you can show them what he’s doing. Grand for occupying two in competition that requires concentration and coordination. You might start them out with 9 holes and build to 18. $41. Amazon.
Boys Inflatable Beach Balls—12” or 20” – very, very cool. These inflate a shark, a gecko or a pirate! Both $12 and $19. Pottery Barns Kids online only.
Kid’s Stay-Put Swim Shoes—We’d like to imagine beaches are raked clean and safe but know better. Keep little feet away from hot sand, sharp rocks, starfish, and debris. Secondarily-fashionable.“Quick-grip” strap, high traction sole, lightweight, flexible. Four fashion color choices. Size chart on site. Exclusive $12.95. Leaps and Bounds.
Itty Bitty Beach Band—Two puffer fish rhythm shakers, a starfish jingle, two clam castanets and a fish xylophone keep the little ones happy making “music.” Face it, they hear things we don’t. Let them play along with your own iTunes choices. The next Justin Bieber will need percussion. Hand painted wood. Not for children under three years. $38.00. Chasing Fireflies.
Sunny Patch Blossom Garden Set—She can garden alongside you with this cheery tote including trowel, cultivator and spray bottle. Think about quality time spent digging in the earth, planting, weeding, learning about growing things. Consider buying some seeds to watch together. When the season changes, the flowery carryall can just as easily hold dolls. $ 10.68. Amazon.
This set’s for your boy botanists—Yes We (Watering) Can—5” metal can contains a hand rake, shovel, spade, (all with wood handles) and knit gardening gloves. Johnny Appleseed? Boys love to dig. Teach him to identify weeds, while you’re at it. Or start a vegetable patch. The same site has a really slick kid-sized wheelbarrow for $49.99 $24.95. The Land of Nod.
Sand Bucket and Form Set—Developed by a professional sand sculptor, award winning tools and tips can be used by architects of any age. The bucket and form set establishes a foundation. Six sand tools create detailing. (If I were you I wouldn’t share the online photograph). Good for group participation. This is a many-parter: DVD-How To Build The Perfect Sand Castle (if you watch this alone first, you’ll seem like a Master); Bucket & Form Set—$16.98; Set of six Sand Tools—$14.98—Form Set & Tools—$26. Hearthsong.
The prettiest Hopscotch—8 interlocking, easy-clean foam pieces assemble to 72” x 24.”Comes with instructions. (As if you’re not going to teach her). Great on grass or sand as well as concrete. No defacing of neighborhood sidewalks. Now try to remember some of those rhymes. (Assuming she’s not singing Miley Cyrus songs) $ 25. My Toy Box.
Little Tykes TotSports Easy Score Basketball Set—Oversized rim and junior sized basketball. Let little kids imitate the big ones. Great for coordination and team spirit. 22” L x 23.75” W x 60” H…Height adjusts to developing skills. Hangs on the wall for storage. Weight the base with sand (not included) Ages 1 ½ – 5 $34.99. Toys R Us.
Little Tykes Ultimate Beach Ball Sprinkler—(Photo at top of story). Just inflate the 88” beach ball and hook it up to a hose. Four sprayers spritz their hearts out, keeping children wet and happy in the heat. Waters the grass too. Fill a pouch at the bottom of the ball to keep it stationary or leave it loose to roll around the lawn. “Specially designed to keep inside mildew free.” Ages 3 and up & $12.99. Target.
I’m Forever blowing bubbles/Pretty bubbles in the air…The Super Miracle Bubbles Premium Plus assortment. At Walmart & Toys R Us. Who doesn’t love bubbles?! They captivated us as kids and hold our attention even now- ethereal, delicate and dreamy, floating where the wind carries them…to be the creator of such magnificent things feels wonderful. It’s kind of art. Watch the young ones watch the bubbles.
Super Miracle Bubbles Premium Plus Spill Stopper—This 100 percent recyclable bottle of bubble solution (comes with wand) has a patented spill resistant cap-there’s a slit in the top through which to plunge the wand. Great for car and boat trips, picnics, and summer camp packages. Look at your book instead of over your shoulder. Can’t be poured or drunk. Well, it happens. Age 3, $2.99
The Super Miracle Bubbles Premium Plus Laser Bubble Blaster-–Continuous double bubble action with cool cosmic lights and sounds. What could be less harmful? No darts, no hard plastic shapes, not even the force of a water pistol stream- just weightless water, often popping before contact. Comes with bubble solution. Age 5, $5.99