Chicago families ready to enjoy outdoor play everywhere in Chicagoland from backyard sandboxes and local parks to the sandy shores and beaches of Lake Michigan can check out our round-up of the best summer toys for Chicago kids for 2011. Below, find ideas for great playthings for warm weather and outside fun and suggestions for where to purchase these items locally this June, July, and August.
Follow each link for detailed reviews that examine each toy from top to bottom.
Best toys for creating outdoor art
For young artists, the summer months can be a time for creating outdoor art on sidewalks, driveways, and other concrete surfaces. Crayola Sidewalk Chalk makes a great basic drawing utensil, while boys and girls can use Crayola Sidewalk Crayons to add even more vibrant colors to their masterpieces.
For filling in huge areas of color or creating large-scale works of art, kids can use sticks of Crayola Giant Sidewalk Chalk. And for making more complicated pictures, children may enjoy tools like the Disney Fairies Activity Kit of stencils or the Crayola 3D Activity Kit.
For extra fun, boys and girls can craft their own outdoor drawing supplies with toys such as the Crayola Glow Chalk Maker, the regular Crayola Washable Sidewalk Chalk Maker, or the Make Fun Shaped Chalk Cast and Paint kit.
Best toys for active outdoor play
Though the new Crayola Washable bubbles proved to be a lot messier than most parents would like, Zubbles Colored Bubbles really do allow children to blow tinted soap bubbles that wash off easily when playtime is over. The Melissa and Doug Sunny Patch line of outdoor toys offers a cute selection of themed bubble toys, including the insect-themed Blossom Bright Bubble Wands.
Meanwhile, active toys like the Pocket Disc throwing toy and the kid-powered PlasmaCar can get children up, moving, and exercising all summer long, while young entrepreneurs can set up lemonade stands and other sidewalk businesses with the sturdy, eco-friendly cardboard Build a Dream Playhouse Snack Shack.
Best sand and water toys for the beach or sandbox
Green families will enjoy the cute new Zoe b Biodegradable Beach Toys that are made of bioplastic that breaks down in just two to three years if these cute sand and water toys are accidentally left outside. We also rounded up a complete list of the best summer sand toys, full of suggestions like creative sand molds, innovative digging tools, and even a set of plastic tracks and bridges for designing and constructing a system of waterways. And aspiring young chefs will enjoy our roundup of outdoor toys for making mud pies and sand treats ranging from ice cream cones and cakes to gritty cupcakes and cookies.
Educational summer toys
Some summer toys help children explore nature and learn more about the outdoors. With the Insect Lore Live Butterfly Garden, boys and girls can raise their own winged insects from live caterpillars. With the Young Scientists Club Science on a Tracking Expedition Kit, kids can learn how to study, identify, and make plaster casts of animal tracks.
Chicago toy stores sell great toys for summer
Many of the best local toy stores around Chicagoland were kind enough to share their picks for the top toys of summer. Families to the north of Chicago can check out best summer toy lists from the Children Gift Shop (in Northfield) and Tales and Toys (in Highland Park). Parents to the west of the city can check out picks from My Favorite Toy Store (with locations in Elmhurst and Downers Grove), while families inside the city can read the selections from Psychobaby (in the Bucktown neighborhood), Building Blocks Toy Store (with locations in Lakeview and Wicker Park areas), and Timeless Toys Ltd. (in Lincoln Square).
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