Top 12 Summer Toys for Kids

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It’s that time of year—we will be springing into Michigan summer in no time! Being a mom has increased all of those happy feelings associated with summer because of how much I love spending it with my kids. I’m filled with excitement to create summertime memories with and for my kids similar to the ones I had as a child. You’re probably already thinking of ways to keep your kids entertained throughout the summer months, and I have you covered.

By now, the ad campaigns may have already targeted you. As you are scrolling your social media feed or browsing the web you notice the flashing ad. The one luring your attention to this “must have” gadget for guaranteed summer fun. I’m here to assure you that you don’t need to feel pressured to go out and buy the most high-tech or expensive toys. With the summer season fast approaching, I’m suggesting a list of the top 12 summer toys for kids.

The Classics

Classic Toys

First, let’s start with classic, memorable summer toys. The toys that have managed to withstand the test of time, and successfully entertained multiple generations of kids. If your childhood was anything like mine, then you likely spent a lot of time outdoors. I can recall spending summers at my grandmother’s house. From sunrise to sunset, the neighborhood kids and I would jump, play, laugh, and run all day. We would play to our heart’s content until the street lights came on—our universal sign that it was time to call it a day. I hold some of my most cherished memories of play and fun, from those magical summers.

Your kids can spend hours of fun and make endless memories with some of these classic summer toys.

Chalk

Although a little messy, chalk is great for kids of all ages! Aside from giving your little ones an outlet to tap into their creativity, it can double as a learning tool as well. Writing with chalk is a great way to practice writing and identifying letters or numbers. For the older kids, playing word games like hangman, or solving math problems on the sidewalk is a fun way to engage them academically.

Bubble Machine

Next, a reliable bubble machine will keep your toddlers entertained and squealing. We have used ours outdoors while our kids play as well as during a recent outdoor birthday party. They do tend to go through bubble solution fairly quickly, when used regularly. That being said, I suggest buying a large bottle of bubble solution to refill and keep the fun going all summer.

Walkie Talkies

There are so many fun and practical uses for walkie talkies. Kids can use walkie talkies during a game of hide-and-seek or a scavenger hunt. Perhaps your kids are into pretend play, and want to imagine they are spy kids on a top secret mission. Furthermore, aside from the fun aspect, walkie talkies can add an element of safety as well, for kids without cell phones. I recently saw a mom who mentioned that she always brings a set of long range walkie talkies for her preteen kids, while staying at a resort on vacation. It’s an easy and free way to allow frequent and constant communication when cell phone access isn’t available or ideal. For those who have kids who may spend significant time playing independently nearby in the neighborhood, this would be a great method for routine check-ins.

Tent/Fort

Lastly, on the list of classics, few things compare to a nice portable pop-up tent—or an indoor fort on those rainy summer days. I love the portable pop-up tents, that come with a carrying bag for my toddlers. We use them at the beach as a way to get a little shade. They’re also great for backyard picnics or “camping.” Tents also create a cool, cozy space for your kids to spend some time reading or playing board games together this summer. The possibilities are endless and the memories will be so worth it!

Water Play All Day

Our Michigan winters last far longer that I prefer, and I spend most of that time indoors. As a result, I live for the summer days when I can spend as much time as possible in or around water. My kids are the same way! They love water play, swimming, and going to the beach. Here are some of my favorite water play toys:

Water Table

Water tables are the best toddler toy for any season! The water table I purchased for our kids was our saving grace throughout the peak pandemic quarantine days. A splash mat is a great accessory to have for days when the kids may need to use the water table indoors. Water tables are versatile: you can add small figurines, animal toys, or even beach toys to increase the fun. Also, don’t feel restricted to only using water. Water tables are a great space to incorporate sensory play with items found inside like shaving cream, bubbles, and rice.

Super Soaker/Water Balloons

What’s summer without a water fight?! There are super soakers of all styles, sizes, and variations available. Water fights are a great way to cool off from the summer sun and have fun with your family. Add in some water balloons for the ultimate water battle. Kids today have it easy. Long gone are the days of filling water balloons one by one. They have all sorts of gizmos and gadgets that allow you to fill many balloons at once.

Slip and Slide

The slip and slide, whether you opt for the homemade or store bought kind, is a must have summer experience for any kid. I am so excited that slip and slides are still around. I have many fond slip and slide memories with family and friends. For some kids, slip and slides can take some getting used to, and may be outside of the comfort zone for others. If you have energetic, adventurous kids in your home, who need to let out some energy, it could be a great investment! Be sure to find an option that can function safely in your outdoor space, clear of any trees or other hazards.

Inflatable Pool

An inflatable pool is a great summer toy to have if you have a baby or young toddler. They are big enough to keep young kids entertained, but not overwhelmingly large or deep. Inflatable pools serve as an easy way to offer a cool down option during outdoor play. Be sure to factor in the amount of time it takes to blow it up and fill with water. Sometimes, the water from the hose can be a little chilly, initially, for little ones. You might consider setting it up somewhere that allows it just enough sun to warm up to a more comfortable temperature.

Movement and Motion

Lastly are some fun options that might inspire your kids to move and be active. Kids learn and gain so many critical development skills and strengths when they have opportunities to move their bodies. Even as adults, I know for me personally, I thrive when I am able to move around and be active.

Inflatable Easel

An inflatable easel can be incorporated into a wide range of movement games or activities. This neat toy offers kids an opportunity to showcase their creativity and artistic skills outside of the confines of a desk and chair. Additionally, you can play a game of hopscotch and your child has to draw something from a different category, based on the number they land on. Furthermore, you might consider creating an obstacle course, where the final task is completing some sort of drawing on the easel. This toy is a great way to inspire creativity and fun for everyone involved!

T-Ball Set/Bball Hoop

For those of you with toddlers, a Little Tikes T-Ball set is a great toy that can aid in developing your child’s motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and confidence. If t-ball is not your preference, the same benefits can be experienced with a Little Tikes (or other brand) toddler basketball hoop. We have one and my kids love the success of finally getting the ball in the hoop.

Scooter/Balance Bike

Scooters are another summer toy to keep your kids active. Scooter designs and features have come a long way over the years. There are some with seats, or light up wheels, some that sit low, and others that stand tall. Also, you can find three-wheeled scooters that tend to be a little more stable than the traditional two-wheeled scooters.

If you have a child who is not quite at the bike-riding age, a balance bike is a great alternative! Balance bikes are a pedal-less bike that help kids learn to balance, turn, and steer, thus, better preparing them to ride a bigger two-wheel bike once they’re ready to do so.

Stomp Rocket

This kid-powered toy allows your child to run, jump, and stomp their heart out, all while blasting their rocket 100 feet into the air. Stomp rockets also make a great birthday gift if you are heading to any summer parties this year. There are a wide range of different stomp rocket brands and types. I would encourage you to check out the online reviews, to determine which one might be a great fit for your family!

Don’t just capture the memories, be a part of them

This summer, I encourage you to take time and join in the fun with your kids. Often times, as moms especially, we are the ones behind the camera, capturing all the photos and videos. We are overseeing the play, making lunches, cleaning up messes, or trying to check off one of a million tasks on our to-do lists. Nonetheless, while we can order in for lunch, let the messes wait, and prolong the to-do list tasks for another day, we can’t get this time back. Kids are only young for a short time. Don’t just capture the memories, be a part of them. Ambush your kids with some water balloons. Read them a story outside in a tent. Toss a ball around a few times. May the good times you share with your children this summer be the memories they look back on and cherish forever!

 

If you’re looking for more summer fun with your kids, check out these cool activities to do at home as well as things to do in + around Lansing!

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