This summer, have it all with 7 playful favorites that will help you and your children explore, learn, and bond during the warm months. All of these toys travel well, making them perfect for overnight camp, road trips, beach adventures, and more.
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Huggalo Autograph Doll
(a variation on the Huggalo Superhero Huggsley Doll)
What it is: A blank version of the Parents’ Choice Award winning Huggalo doll. This cuddly toy has a slot for inserting a picture of a loved one, and it’s made from a marker-ready eco-cotton perfect for doodles and autographs.
Why we like it: For kids (OK, for many of us) transitions aren’t always easy. A first day at school, a parent serving in the military, a loved one in the hospital, a pet who is no longer around to comfort or play. Add summer camp to that list. Kids can put a picture of their family in this doll while they are away from home, and they can also have new friends sign the stuffed toy.
Soak ‘n Splash™ Water Limbo Sprinkler
Ages: 5 & Up
What it is: The Water Limbo Sprinkler is a water-based Limbo game with a Tiki theme. The sprayer head connects to a standard hose and shoots a thin stream of water at a high enough pressure to turn it into a Limbo stick. At the push of a button the blue head at the top of the post plays island music and a voice occasionally prompts kids to lower the sprayer nozzle (adjustable to any height up to 4 feet) and try to sneak under without getting wet.
Why we like it: Water volume is lower than with other water toys on the market, so parents will be happy to find an outdoor game that doesn’t kill the grass or turn it into a swamp. Kid testers could hardly wait for the next hot day.
6 & Up
What it is: ThinkFun has created another fun and intellectually stimulating game in Pathwords, Jr. Like its older sibling, Pathwords, the junior version challenges players to arrange translucent block pieces over a crossword-like grid to find the words hidden therein.
Why we like it: With its carrying pouch and a game board that carries all pieces inside, this smart game travels well. Even middle school players found the puzzles to be challenging and clever.
HABA Bucket with Valve
18 months & Up
What it is: The HABA Bucket with Valve is a fabric-yes, fabric–bucket with handles for transporting water from the hose to the sandbox or from the ocean to the sandcastle. The bucket also features a plastic, easy-to-work spout at the bottom that allows children to control how and where they dispense the water.
Why we like it: This toy is perfect for the beach and backyard. Testers decorated sand “cakes,” wrote their names in the sand, and even watered the tomato plant seedlings in the back yard. This collapsible bucket fits easily into the family beach bag.
Kidz Labs/Bubble Science
8 & Up
What it is: The compact kit comes with a small amount of bubble solution, and recipes for making larger batches. It offers some simple tools: string, bubble blower, plastic frames, as well as easy to follow instructions for making bubbles and doing different kinds of bubble experiments.
Why we like it: A fun way for bubble lovers to explore science in the summer. It prompts questioning about bubbles, and provides instructions on playing with different types – from blowing them (large and small), creating bubble art, and preserving a bubble in a jar.
Find It! Starry Night
8 & Up
What it is: The Find It game includes a large plastic star that is filled with small beads and 40 glow-in-the-dark items hidden among the beads. The items include night items such as a star, flashlight, moon, firefly and Mars. As you shake the star, the beads move around and different items surface. It also comes with scorecards for children to keep track of which items they find.
Why we like it: The star is easily portable and makes a wonderful toy for car rides. In addition, it is appropriate for children of all ages. With each shake, new items emerge, which allows even the youngest child to be successful in finding items.
6 & Up
What it is: IQ Fit is a portable puzzle game that involves a fair amount of logical reasoning and spatial cognition. Game play involves fitting colorful, plastic odd-shaped pieces into a plastic pegboard. By laying down the pieces in clever ways, you can eventually cover the pegboard with them.
Why we like it: The range of difficulty is appropriately varied, and the puzzles are fairly numerous, so if this puzzle engages your child, there are several hours of activity here. Since the puzzle is presented in a very portable fashion (it flips open and closed like a book and is nice and compact when not in use), it lends itself to situations where you have a bored child with no access to other toys.