Bonggamom's Summer Toys for Summer Fun

It's the first of June and summer is almost here! The kids have just two weeks of school left, our patio umbrella is up, I've stocked up on sunblock. But with the economy being what it is, we've only signed up for a couple of summer camps, and we won't be making many (or any) visits to the pricey amusement parks.

So I'm keeping my eyes open for things to do during all the Staycations and Camp Casa sessions we'll be having for the next 3 months. If you're in the same boat, you're also on the lookout for fun, educational toys that will keep kids occupied and entertained throughout the summer. With that goal in mind, here is are some of my Must Have Summer Toys for 2009:

1) What's summer without some backyard water play? And what's water play without a Super Soaker? This classic toy has been reintroduced in a 20th Anniversary edition, which features the original retro look but keeps up with 21st-century models in terms of soaking power and kid-friendly summer fun.

2) It's Back to Pool, so don't forget to stock up on pool toys. Most city pools around here don't allow floaty toys or personal floatation devices, but diving weights and hoops are more than welcome, and they offer lots of opportunities for fun and games. With cute faces and twirly sinking action, Swimways Dive Dudes are a cute, fun way to put some Pow! into your pool play.

3) Little girls love to play with dolls all year round, but summertime calls for some serious watergirl action. These Water Girlz Fairy Tales dolls are the perfect combination of summer doll and pool toy. Their fluttering wings and moveable tails are perfect for water play, and their seahorse friend and seashell comb add to the fun when it's time to dry out.

4) For imaginative summer play, nothing beats a Play-Doh playset. And since the weather is so nice, you can take it all outside -- it keeps the mess out of the house, and cleanup is a breeze! Their latest playset, the Play-Doh Spaghetti Factory, allows young kids to squish out all kinds of pasta creations and fulfill their culinary yearnings without having to heat up the oven.

5) School's out, but you can still give your child's brain a workout by giving him a reading list. Join your local library's summer reading program and set a goal number of books to read by summer's end. If you child doesn't read yet, give his reading program a fun twist by adding Leapfrog TAG books to his summer reading list. He'll get a sense of self-achievement as the TAG helps reach his goal without asking for mom's help every time! And now, even younger toddlers can get in on the fun with the relase of the new TAG Jr.!

6) Summer school goes global! But don't worry, your school-age kids won't even have to board an airplane to see the world. With a subscription to Little Passports they'll follow the globetrotting adventures of best friends Sam and Sofia, and get activities and souvenirs mailed to them from a different country each month. It's a fun way to learn about the geography, history and culture of different countries.

7) For arts and crafts time, I'm treating each of my kids to an art kit. We've had a lot of success with Creativity For Kids -- the kids enjoy making it, and the end product actually gets kept, not thrown away. I'll bet they'd love to create a solar system mobile or a scrapbook of their summer adventures.

8) Structured arts and crafts are great ways to pass the time, but summer is the time to let kids roam free -- and that includes their artistic impulses. I like to stock up on Crayola crayons, markers, chalk, paint and other art supplies so the kids can let their imaginations soar all summer long.

Stay tuned for more detailed reviews on select summer toys throughout this week. Now it's your turn. What's on your must-have list? I'd love to find out!

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