Chances are, your kids are back in school. But summer definitely isn’t over yet, which means that if they hunker down and finish their up their homework, there are still plenty of well-lit hours in the day to play outside before bedtime. Here are some of our late-summer outdoor favorites.
Crush-It bat (Tucker)
Think baseball bat meets tennis racket (with the high-tension strings running parallel to the bat), and you’ve got a rough idea of what this great new toy looks like. Twist the adjustable power knob and you can smack the ball incredible distances. Dial it back, and you’re ready to play in smaller venues. That clever adjustable feature and the bat’s lightweight levels the playing field (so to speak) and allows players of all ages and skill levels to play together. The Crush-It bats are similar to large barrel bats as they have both been designed for children/young people to make it easier for them to hit the ball. Let’s be honest, batting is something we all struggle with when we’re starting out in baseball! So this is good practice for when your child is ready to move up to using baseball bats for real. Just be sure to keep your camera ready to record the look of pride and joy on your little one’s face as she smashes the ball over the outfielders’ head. Comes with a special foam ball that’s dense enough for long-distance homers but soft enough to catch without a glove. For ages 5 and up. Available at your favorite toy retailer for about $10. http://www.tuckertoys.com
E-Z Grip balls (Tucker)
Since balls have been around for thousands of years, one might reasonably think that we’ve seen every possible style, color, and feature. But you’d be wrong. Tucker Toys has taken the basic, inflatable rubber ball concept and added a stretchy, outer web to create something truly unique. That outer web makes these balls not only easy to grip (as their name suggests), but also easy to throw and kick. And it opens up plenty of opportunities for spectacular, replay-worthy, one-handed catches, even when the ball is dry. These balls also bounce incredibly high on just about any surface, including grass, sand, mud, and even water. They come in a variety of colors and sizes, including standard (about 6.5″ diameter), junior, soccer, and football. For all ages. Prices vary, but they’re available pretty much everywhere for under $12. http://www.tuckertoys.com
If you’ve never heard of Molkky, you’re missing something really special. The idea is similar to bowling, except that you’re trying to knock over 12 large, numbered, wooden pins with a 13th pin. Set up the pins almost anywhere (lawn, beach, or, if you’re very brave, your family playroom) and you’re ready to go. The first to reach 50 points (by adding up the numbers on the pins you knock down) wins the round. Or you can make up your own rules. You’ll need a combination of skill and luck. Molkky is an obsession in the Scandinavian countries and, according to the manufacturer, is the biggest outdoor game in all of Europe. It’s for two or more players, ages 6 and up. Available at major toy retailers for under $40. There’s also a SpongeBob SquarePants version for around $20. http://www.tactic.net
Blowing bubbles is always fun, but there’s not much to do after that but watch them pop. Enter Paddle Bubble, which allows you to actually play with your bubbles using two “magic” paddles (which look like large lollipops covered with a sock-but much more attractive than that). If you’re alone, you can bounce your bubbles up and down and do all sorts of amazing tricks. If you’re playing with a friend, you can pass those bubbles back and forth, going for the longest rally or trying to force your opponent to be the one who bursts the bubble. Comes with two paddles, a bubble blower, and a bottle of top-secret, no-pop bubble solution. It’s for ages 5 and up and retails for under $10. http://tpftoys.com