Some of my fondest childhood memories were conceived on sunny days spent splashing around in the pool. Back in the day, it was tradition for my family to fight over the one noodle that wasn’t chewed up by my dog, or to constantly cheat during a riveting round of Marco Polo (The thing was, we were kind of bored and thoroughly enjoyed torturing each other). Today, lazily floating around on the water is my most anticipated summer activity, but the pool is still a prime spot for play.

As companies gear up for swimming season, here are some of the latest toys that keep kids engaged at the pool and earning those pruned fingers:

TMNT Water WeaponsLicensed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Sewer Spewer Water Weapons, by Playmates, combine classic ninja moves with an impressive soaking effect. Kids can choose between the Sewer Spewer Katana, which looks like Leonardo’s sword, but has the ability to blast water up to 30 feet, and Michelangelo’s Sewer Spewer Nunchucks, which features a double-barrel water cannon that shoots the same distance. Each of these toys ensures a wet and wild good time between friends, siblings, and even parents.

Pool play is greater in numbers, and with Smakaball, anyone can join in this new pool game, which is sure to outlast pool volleyball or basketball. smakaballEach player is equipped with one ergonomically-designed hoop that’s used to catch the inflated ball, and once the ball enters the hoop (a feeling similar to a magnetic-like catch), that person hits the ball back out to continue the game. There are endless ways and places to play Smakaball, but when you add water it creates an extra obstacle that lets kids take advantage of the equipment’s floating abilities.288_2_

Swimways has a great selection of new products for kids of all ages, but a few toys that really stick out are geared toward little swimmers. The Pinwheel and Squiggle Squirters shoot water in all directions with the pump of a handle, are designed for small hands, and include vibrant colors. With their soft, flexible tentacles, Squidivers look like little squids, but are designed to hit the bottom of the pool so kids can learn to dive down and get them. They come in a pack of three brightly-colored squids, and there are eight fun games to play with them.

Merfin_Package_4e782511e3145Transforming from human to mermaid is something I still fantasize about, and with Mahina Mermaid’s Merfins packages, girls can truly live out that dream. These beautifully crafted swimwear products are more than just a functional mermaid outfit. The mono-fin allows kids to swim with speed and agility like a real mermaid (or if there aren’t real mermaids, let’s say a fish in the sea). For safety, there’s one strap keeping the fin attached to the ankles, so if kids need to get their legs free, it takes only one quick flick. The mermaid swim tights and bikini set feature intricately-designed scales that add amazing color and style to complete the look. Mahina Mermaid is based in Australia, but these mermaid accessories ship worldwide and starting this summer will be available in the U.S. through a partnership with Urban Outfitters.

For more commentary from Deanna, check back often. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!