Upgrade Your Life: Summer’s best toys and tips

Jared Spurbeck
July 6, 2011

It's summertime, and when you've got kids that means outdoor fun ... or else! In this week's episode of Upgrade Your Life, Yahoo! News' Becky Worley shows us the best new toys to keep the little ones occupied, plus some tips on how to use the ones you have.

For younger kids (age 3-9)

Splashing around in a toy sprinkler, or a kiddie pool, is great fun for the younger set.

Don't expect them to water your lawn properly, but the bright colors and whimsical characters on the Melissa and Doug Grub Scouts and Blossom Bright sprinklers are perfect for keeping your younger kids occupied. Just plug them into your garden hose, and turn the water on! They're tough enough that they won't break, and the things on top where the water comes out are rubber, so your kids won't get hurt if they fall on them. Just make sure they can see where the hose is, so they won't trip.

Kiddie pools are a staple of summertime fun, but studies show that they're just as dangerous as in-ground pools, especially for kids under 5. The best thing you can do? Make sure that your kids are supervised at all times. In nearly 1 in 5 of the cases of drownings or near-drownings where kids were being watched, the parent had run to answer the phone or gotten distracted by something, so make sure that you've got your eye on your kids.

One thing kiddie pools do that in-ground pools don't is get messy like nobody's business. So put a towel down next to it to act like a floormat, so your kids don't bring grass and leaves in with them. And remember to dump the pool out every night -- you don't want your kids swimming with cat and dog spit, or mosquito larvae. Becky suggests letting your kids help, by using the pool water as ammo for squirtguns!

One thing kiddie pools do that in-ground pools don't is get messy like nobody's business. So put a towel down next to it to act like a floormat, so your kids don't bring grass and leaves in with them.

For older kids (ages 10 and up)

The Small World Geyser Blast sprinkler is another one that attaches to your garden hose. It's rated as safe for kids 3 and up, but your older kids might find it more entertaining as the wriggling cords make the water go everywhere. Just make sure you set it up far enough away from yourself, if you don't want to get wet.

At full-sized swimming pools, or trips to the beach, your older kids might enjoy the Waboba Pro Ball. It's made of space-age polymers that let it actually bounce off of water! You can skip it across the pool, or use it for interesting games of catch. Just don't let the dog play with it.

For older kids and adults

Want to play table tennis, but don't actually own a table for it? Try the Sportcraft Anywhere Tennis Set, which turns any table into a playing field. It's a great way to recycle that old, beat-up table sitting in the garage or even convert the dining room table in a pinch.

How about water slides? They're fun for both kids and grownups, but they're one thing you don't want to "make an investment in." Your slide will rip and tear and have parts fall off, no matter what you do. So just plan on buying a new one every year.

Finally, you may have noticed water slides are the most fun when they're angled downhill. So what to do if you have a flat yard? Try greasing yourself up with sunscreen, or use PAM cooking spray -- Becky's favorite.