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Toys for the Summer


There are so many ways to have fun and stay cool during the summer months. Here are some of our favorite outdoor toys and games.

Colorful Creations


Sidewalk chalk is a classic tool for creative expression. You can draw pictures on surfaces such as cement and asphalt. You can also create a hopscotch court or leave friendly messages for neighbors. A company called Twee makes chalk in nontraditional shapes. In one set, Carrie's Castle, the chalk comes in geometric shapes that can be used to build castles. The Mason's Planets set contains nine chalk balls. The largest of these "planets" consist of three layers of color, so they change as you draw. (Mason's Planets Sidewalk Chalk: $42; Carrie's Castle Sidewalk Chalk: $36)

A Soapy Surprise


A lot of science goes into making soap bubbles. But the results—delicate spheres floating by on the breeze—feel like magic. Plus, they're so much fun to pop! Younger kids will love chasing down a cloud of bubbles. Older kids: Try to see how big of a bubble you can make. Budding scientists might even try to stir up the perfect homemade bubble solution. Just mix water, dish soap, and a pinch or two of sugar. For enough bubbles to last you the whole summer, we like Gazillion Bubbles' two-liter solution bottle, by Funrise. It comes with a specially designed seven-in-one bubble wand, perfect for blowing bubbles of all sizes. ($11)

Fun at Night


There's plenty of summer fun to be had after the sun goes down. Use glow sticks to light up outdoor games, such as soccer or basketball. Or stay active with a game of glow-in-the-dark Capture the Flag redux, by Starlux Games. The goal is for your team to capture your competitors' "flag"—a glowing orb—before they capture yours. Keep an eye on their movements by following the glow-in-the-dark bracelets. But look out: They can see you too! Indoors or outside, the game is a great way to fill the warm twilight hours. ($50)

A New Challenge


Need a break from slides and swings? Try an obstacle course. It's a great way to keep your body moving. Plus, it improves your focus and resilience. It's okay if you fall. You can always get up and try again! Take a crack at obstacle course fun with B4 Adventure's Slackers NinjaLine 36-Foot Intro Kit. It comes with webbing that can be attached between two strong trees or posts. It also comes with hanging obstacles including gymnastic rings, monkey-bar holds, and nylon ropes. As your skills improve, you can increase the challenge by moving the obstacles farther apart. ($100)

Fill 'Em Up


Playing games and doing activities with water balloons are great ways to spend time outdoors this summer—and to beat the heat! But filling and tying hundreds of water balloons is a time-consuming chore. Zuru's Bunch O Balloons changes that. It makes preparing water balloons fast and easy. Bunch O Balloons attaches to your hose. In 60 seconds, and all at once, it fills and ties 100 multicolored balloons. Play catch until they've all gone splat on the ground. ($8)

Stay Cool


Sprinklers aren't just for watering the lawn. They're also great for helping kids stay cool and have fun during the summer. Sprinklers add a fresh twist to games like freeze tag or Simon says, too. You can even create an obstacle course around a sprinkler. This rainbow Gigantic Outdoor Water Sprinkler, from PoolCandy, sprays water in all directions and features a jumbo archway that you and your friends can run through—a great finish line for a footrace. It's a refreshing addition to any active outdoor game. ($50)

Slide into Summer


Nothing says summer like a Slip 'N Slide. The classic toy was invented in 1960 by Robert Carrier. Carrier came home from work one hot summer day to find his son and some friends sliding down the painted concrete driveway on a stream of water they created using the garden hose. Carrier had the idea to use a strip of plastic to create a safer surface. His idea was patented in 1961. Later that year, the toy company Wham-O began manufacturing the Slip 'N Slide. It was an instant hit. Today, Wham-O makes many different Slip 'N Slides, including the Slip 'N Slide Wave Rider Double. It's an extra-wide version that lets two riders slide at the same time. ($40)