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Gear Girl: Summer Toys for the Whole Family

School is nearly out - time to let the summer fun begin! All those hours - long, long hours - of summer. Never fear! I've rounded up the best summer toys for kids AND parents to enjoy together. Why spend money on some gizmo your kid will be entertained by for 6 weeks or even 6 months when you can invest in a product that will provide fun for the whole family for years! Whether you're 6 or 26, 15 or 55, these toys will get you all outside, active and enjoying time together.


Lifetime Basketball hoop - We searched for a long time for the ideal basketball hoop for our family. While there are plenty of used ones you can find for cheap on sites like Craigslist, we opted for a new one by Lifetime. This one in particular hasLifetime's Power Lift which makes it a breeze to adjust the rim height from 7.5" up to 10". So whether the the kids are playing alone, the whole family is shooting hoops, or just my husband is practicing, it's easy to adjust the rim to the perfect height. Add a steel-framed acrylic backboard, sturdy in-ground installation and 5-year warranty, and the family is set for many summers of fun.

Franklin Bocce Ball Set - From the front yard to the park, the beach to the backyard, bocce is a family-friendly game that can be played just about anywhere. Franklin makes lots of different bocce sets, but I like this Intermediate set that has 8 balls in 4 different colors (better for families than the dual-color sets, I think) and the balls have the ideal weight making them suitable for the very young, the very old and everyone in-between. Plus, the balls come in a convenient carry case making it easy to bring the game to wherever our family adventures take us. [Get 20% off this set with the code "SUMMERFUN" good until 8/30/2013.]

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Boardworks SUP - This is the summer to jump on the latest trend of stand-up paddle boarding (SUP). Perfect for oceans and lakes, this SUP from Boardworks would be big enough for a me and my son to use together, but would still easy enough to maneuver if my husband takes it out on his own. Stand-up paddle boards can be used for a great core workout, innovative yoga moves, a relaxing retreat out on the water, or as a fun floatation device for the family.

Kettler ping pong table - I have three boys and one thing I've continued to read and hear about from friends with older sons is that conversations with boys are sometimes better conducted over an activity. I'm hoping this ping pong table is a helpful catalyst for a number of conversations over the years. From my 7-year-old to my husband to his dad - everyone has fun picking up the paddle and trying their hand at a game of table tennis. Cheap wood version are available, but I can tell you from personal experience that if you have them outside, a wood table won't last very long. This aluminum ping pong table by Kettler can be used inside or outside, is sturdy enough to handle heated matches and toddler tantrums, won't warp with unruly weather, and will hopefully foster many years of friendly competition and family conversation.

What are some of your favorite active toys for the whole family?

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