Tuesday, June 2, 2009

No Battery Required: Toys for Summer Fun

Today is the start of summer vacation for children in our neck of the woods. (My own children, on balanced calendar, have a week still to go. They're doing their best to keep a stiff upper lip about it.)

I thought a fun way to start the summer off -- before everyone resorts to their PlayStations and Wii consoles -- would be to give a list of our favorite summer toys. These ones are super-fun and don't require batteries!

Jump Ropes and Hula Hoops - great exercise!

Sports Balls
- soccer, basketball, football are classic favorites

Baseball/T-ball Mitt, balls & tee
- The backyard is a great place to teach the game.

- A nice big field can make a game of Frisbee more athletic. Give yourself room to run.

-- Giant bubble makers or bubble machines are really fun!

Magnifying glass and Bug catching container
- for your little scientist

Big Wheels
- There's nothing like that cool Big Wheel sound. We have our own neighborhood Big Wheel motorcycle gang -- the Ankle-biters.

- I remember whole summers where I only got off my bike to eat and sleep. We take family bike rides in the evening. They're a great way to cool off.

Roller Skates/Blades
- Fisher-Price makes a great beginner skate that fits over a child's shoe.

- The key to a good water-fight is the element of surprise (and plenty of ammunition.)

- Have plenty of band-aids on hand... and a helmet & pads don't hurt either.

- This is like skateboard, Jr. Still very fun.

Sidewalk chalk
- Sometimes some quiet fun is in store. So keep a ready supply.

Beach Ball
- A gentle alternative to hard core sports for little ones. There's something about how big it is that is extra fun.

- Splashy fun to cool you down (and water the lawn in the meantime...)

Inflatable Pool
- Great for younger kids (and older ones when no one is looking.)

Baby carriage/Playhouse
- Pretending to be a grown-up is so much more fun than actually being one.

Gardening tools & a place to dig
- for the kid that likes to get dirty (what kid doesn't?)

Tonka Dump Truck or Loader
- Rocks or a loose pile of dirt make these ten times more fun.

Shovels, Pails, and Sand toys
- Oh... and some sand would be good.

Pinwheels & Kites
- For those windy days. My kids put pinwheels on the front of their bikes, too.

Tennis Racket & balls
- Summer is a great time to teach tennis. It gives Mom a workout as much as the kids.

Golf Clubs
- You're never too young to learn, and trips with Dad to the driving range can be special time.

Many of these toys -- especially the sporting equipment -- may require that Mom or Dad do a little bit of teaching. But that's part of the fun.

So, get out there and have a great time. And if you have a favorite I've left off the list, add it in the comments! (And keep this list tacked to the fridge for when summer boredom strikes.)

Enjoy your summer break!

- Midwest Mom


  1. I set out tubs of water that have been tinted with food coloring and let the kids "paint" the deck. Eventually, of course, the tubs get dumped out, but that's okay! They're outside!

  2. I'm not sure what balanced calendar is, but we still have until June 12, and it's making me CRAZY. :-) I want summer NOW.

    I'm already thinking of how we're going to balance the Wii and Playstation with other things. Yes, I know my little guy will want to play everyday, my job is to keep it in check and encourage him to do things that are good for his mind and body as well.

    Great list.

    Water balloons are a big hit around here too...at least with my kids.

  3. Mom of 4 -- That's a great idea! We often set out buckets of water and arm the kids with watering cans for the plants. They usually water themselves as much as the plants, but in the end we're all cooled off. I love the idea of turning it into painting play. Thanks!

    Mom24 - Balanced calendar means "year round school". My kids will have a 6-week summer. Their last day is June 11. Just think: in a week, we won't have to worry about the morning rush to school! Hooray!

    - Julia

  4. A six week summer? Is that the norm? It feels really short to me?

    This is a great list! I'm adding bug catching kit to the shopping list.

    Our yards will look so dull once the kids are grown and toys are tucked into every corner of it.

  5. Amen to all of this--and sticks and rocks too!

  6. I could have added even more ideas to the article I wrote for associatedcontent.com (How to Prevent Summer Boredom for Preschoolers) – I liked Mom of 4's idea of food coloring. I wonder though, does it stain the skin?

  7. Only other thing "we" did was hopscotch - and "art" on the sidewalk with chalk. I tried to resurrect playing marbles and jacks a few times too, the kids were fascinated. The summer I lost the most weight was teaching them double-dutch jump rope - I escaped without a coronary!

  8. Well said. These are all good ideas. Don't forget marbles--"Potsies" is a time honored favorite:

    Just make a small hole in the ground with a spoon or the heel of your shoe (twist in circles 'til hole forms...ahh the memories). Each player has one marble. Furthest from the hole (the "pot") is always the player who shoots. First player to make marble in the pot wins all the marbles in that round.

    All the Best

  9. Just read your great article on Blog Catalog. I found it extremely useful, especially as a way to connect with other mom bloggers. I'm always searching for ways to "connect" with moms, and moms of teenagers too. Thanks for that.

  10. Laurie @ Playground Observer - You're right. It is shorter than usual by about 3 weeks. What I love about it is that there's no time for summer boredom. (And we get longer vacations - 3 weeks - in the Fall and Spring.)

    GG - Too funny. Kids will play with whatever's on hand, right? :) I wish adults were sometimes as resourceful.

    Theresa - Thanks! :) Have a great summer.

    Suzen - Oh, I *loved* playing hopscotch. My mom would pull one of the cars out of the garage so that we could play in shade. That garage felt so cool compared to the sunny outdoors.

    AV - You are full of great ideas. *If anyone here hasn't seen Anthony's site, yet, go have a visit. It's called Spaghetti Box Kids and it's filled with terrific ideas for games & pretend play. I highly recommend it.*

    Gutsy Writer - Thanks for coming by. I'm glad you liked the Mom Blogging Basics article. Hope you come back often! :D

    - Julia

  11. i like the jump rope and hula hoop idea. great exercise is right.

    we also walk around the neighborhood with our camera taking pictures.

    also sidewalk chalk is a favorite. of mine. heheh

  12. Boredom is a great toy, too. It forces them to create!

    Enjoy the weather.

  13. I prefer the bubble machines! They are great because they produce far more bubbles than I can. The kids have more fun poping the bubbles anyways. They each have small no spill tumblers with their own little bubble wands to. That keeps them busy and they really don't spill!


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