15+ Toys, Books and More for Summer Fun: Sensational Summer Must-Haves

Monday, June 15, 2020
Summer is here and that means we're going to need some fun toys, games, books, and essentials to keep those kids occupied and healthy for the next few months! I sampled 15 fun items that I'd love to share with you, and I've added all of the reasons why I think they're perfect for Summer.

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links to Amazon. You can read more about my affiliate connections on my Disclosure page. Some of these items were given to me as samples in exchange for my honest opinion. 

This post is part of a series for Summer, helping us all to have a Sensational Summer at Home! Be sure to check out all of my posts for Summer fun!

And don't forget to Pin this post for future use!

1. Dog Crimes

Dog Crimes from Think Fun is my favorite new logic game. It's actually perfect for kids (8 and up) or adults. More than one person can play but it's really designed to be a solo game. The player uses card clues and logic to figure out which naughty dog commited the "crime" (from chewing up homework to pooping on the rug). There are over 40 different challenges at various levels. Not a dog lover? Check out Cat Crimes instead! Price range on Amazon starts at around $14.99, for ages 8 to adult.

Why I like it: great for kids or adults, the varying levels of difficulty keep it from being too hard or too easy. I also loved the adorable doggy theme.
Why it's great for summer: it's a great way to keep those brain cells active during the sedentary summer months. We were also able to bring it with us outisde on the deck, since the box is small and pieces were easily transported.

2. Hoo-rag Bandanas

Who ever thought a face covering could be fun? I'm not a huge fan of wearing masks but I understand the need and I'll comply. I am SO HAPPY that Hoo-rag reached out and sent me some samples of their amazing product!!! Not only is it a bandana, but it doubles as a mask/face covering, headband, a ponytail holder, a head kerchief, a hair cap, a scarf, and so much more. Fabric is lightweight and easy to manage. You can wear it around your neck like a scarf or kerchief and just pull it up over your chin when you need it. If you're not crazy about it extending down over your chin, they make a smaller version called a half-hoo (my son loves this one). Kids sizes and adult sizes are available. ANNNND get this: The Hoo-rag has a UPF30 sun protection rating, and is made of 100% moisture-wicking polyester microfiber. What more can you ask for, really? Hoo-rag is my #1 new favorite thing for summer. I can't tell you how many times I've already said, "I love this thing!" You can order them online at www.hoorag.com  Here's a quick video about how they work:

And here's me (below) sporting the Hoo-rag Sedona Sunrise Bandana. It's one of my favorite things to wear around the pool. If I need to run out to get something at the store, this doubles as my mask!

Why I like them: I really don't enjoy wearing a mask, and this is really not "just" a mask. It's a face covering with many different uses. It's a really clever invention!
Why they're perfect for Summer: lightweight, many options and many uses. I love the variety of designs. It's also great for people who are sensitive about wearing masks, or people who prefer not to have anything hooked behind their ears. I also feel that Hoo-rag is perfect for any season, not just summer.

3. Tutti Frutti Modeling Dough

Tutti Frutti modeling dough is made in Canada and comes in the most amazing scents! They're a fun alternative to the typical modeling doughs and compounds we typically use. They're in short supply on Amazon but you can also find them in stores like Target, Lakeshore Learning and even Party City. Prices range based on the kit you choose, for all ages.

Why I like it: all natural ingredients, non-toxic, fun scents and bright colors
Why it's great for summer: save a kit for a rainy day or even take a kit outside to play with on the patio or deck. Kids still need hands-on play, even in the summer time!

4. Plus Plus

Plus Plus is one of our favorite building toys with endless possibilities. They're compact and great for travel or on the go fun. Because of the way the pieces fit together, kids can design pretty much anything. There are tons of kits and travel tubes to choose from. Prices range based on kit but can start as low as $7.99 on Amazon. Recommended for ages 3 and up but the pieces are small so I personally think they're better for 5 and up.

Why I like it: promotes STEM skills, encourages creative and critical thinking. Fun varieties of kits and colors, great for travel, sets of various sizes
Why it's great for summer: since I'm promoting a sensational summer at home, I love that you can bring Plus Plus outside or take them on road trips.

5. The Explorer Academy Series by Trudi Truett

I'm always in search of a good book series for tweens (this one is recommended for ages 8-12), and Explorer Academy is a great new find! Author Trudi Trueit introduces us to 12-year old Cruz Coronado. Adventure, danger, and a thrilling global mission await him when he joins an elite school for explorers. Titles available include Book 1, The Nebula Secret, Book 2 The Falcon's Feather, Book 3 The Double Helix, and the newest title, Book 4 The Star Dunes. Prices range but start around $9.99 for paperback versions.

Why I like it: it's a fun, mysterious series that keeps the reader interested. Characters are likable and there are color illustrations throughout. The series also incorporates real facts about the world and encourages a love of exploration and scientific discovery.
Why it's great for summer: kids need to keep reading throughout the summer and The Explorer Academy series is a great choice for tweens. Read more of my summer book suggestions here!

6. Aquabeads: Trolls 

You can't go wrong with Aquabeads! Aquabeads kits have been a favorite of ours for years. Their Trolls World Tour playset comes with a convenient carry case and all of the supplies kids need to make their favorite Trolls characters. And now, templates are double sided so you can make more than one creation at a time. Aquabeads are recommended for ages 4 and up and prices range based on the kit or set you choose.

Why I like it: Aquabeads are simple and fun, great for both boys and girls of various ages. The kits are affordable and you can mix and match them.
Why it's great for summer: there are so many different kits available- they're great for summer birthdays, travel, backyard patio fun, rainy days, and so much more.

7. Celestial Buddies Sun Plush

I first spotted Celestial Buddies plush at Liberty Science Center right here in New Jersey. They're available in many museums and souvenir shops across the country, but you can also find them on Amazon. I love their plush Sun (who is perfect for summer), but you can pick pretty much any planet or space object out there (including the earth and the moon!), black holes and comets, too! Aren't these fun for classrooms, as well? Great for all ages (even adults). Prices range based on the buddy you choose, but start around $17.99.

Why I like it: just look at him! How can you not love that face?? Plus, I like that it inspires a love of the universe and encourages creative play. Celestial Buddies are high quality and even have their names embroidered on their foot.
Why it's great for summer: it's a sun - you can take him everywhere! Bring the sun to the beach, the pool, the backyard. He takes great social media pictures, too!

8. The LOGO Game

I'm always on the lookout for fun family games, and The Logo Game is one of our new favorites. The 2020 edition puts your knowledge of slogans, commercials and logos to the test. It's fun because logos are something we're all familiar with, even when we don't even realize it. For 2 to 6 players, ages 12 to adult.

Why I like it: this is a great game for Family Game Night. The added fun of trying to recognize common logos makes it perfect for teens and tweens, too.
Why it's great for summer: if you've exhausted Family Game Night ideas, this is a great choice! The 2020 edition should hit store shelves soon.

9. EggMazing Dinomazing Egg Decorator

The EggMazing Egg Decorator is a favorite at Easter time, but did you know they offer a Dinomazing Egg Decorator, too? Dino lovers will appreciate not only being able to decorate their own dinosaur egg with the spinning EggMazing decorator, but they can also crack the egg open to reveal mystery dinosaurs and slime (cracks appear in the egg as kids decorate them on the spinning machine). My only gripe was that the kit only comes with two eggs. You can buy a refill kit but they're not cheap! Luckily, it works with real hard-boiled eggs, too, and you can save the kit to use at Easter time, so it serves multiple purposes. Ages 3 and up.

Why I like it: creative and fun, I love the twist they added to something that is usually only popular at Easter.
Why it's perfect for summer: once again, it's a fun option to bring outdoors or sit and enjoy on the patio or porch.

10. Just Add Sun

Griddly Games is known for their science kits and fun educational toys. The "Just Add" line really helps to inspire a love of STEM and experimentation. The Just Add Sun kit enables kids to create their own solar oven, which can be used to make s'mores or complete fun artwork and experiments. You can purchase it on Amazon or right from the Griddly Games website for around $29.00, ages 5 and up.

Why I like it: I love STEM toys and toys that promote critical thinking. The added use of the summer sun just makes this even more enticing.
Why it's perfect for summer: the "sun" theme is a no-brainer. This is the perfect time to create and use your own solar oven!

11. SwimWays Swim Toys and Floats

Raise your hand if you're going to be spending a lot of time in your own backyard pool this summer! That's me, too. SwimWays offers a variety of inflatibles, toys and games to keep us all occupied and content. I tried out their Spring Float, which is a classic in most backyards. All you have to do is pop it open and inflate the edges and you're good to go! We also liked their Speed Beast Speed Gator, which was a lot of fun to race around the pool. It is powered by the water so there's no on/off switch. You just pop in the batteries and it goes once it hits the water (and stops when you take it out). SwimWays has products for all ages, even adults. Prices vary.

Why I like them: Everything about SwimWays screams summer fun!!!
Why they're perfect for summer: SwimWays are easy to clean, easy to store and last all summer. You can't go wrong with one of their pool products.

12. Magformers

Magformers has been a favorite of ours for many years. The colorful magnetic pieces fit together in a myriad of ways, and I've seen my kiddo build things with them that I would've never even imagined! They're easy to take on the go and they promote STEM skills and fine motor skills for little hands. The different kit sizes make them great for ages 3 and up. They range in price but usually start around $15 and up.

Why I like them: they can be a bit pricey but they last forever and all of the kits are interchangeable.
Why they're perfect for summer: they're good for travel and pieces don't get lost since they're magnetic and stick together. They're educational and promote higher level thinking skills so they're a nice way to keep young minds active during the summer.


Creatto kits contain two primary building components that fit together into different creations.
Creatto doubles as kind of an artsy nightlight, so once you create it you can display it as a functional work of art. The building instructions contain no words- kids can follow the visual steps to learn how the Creatto system works (but I'll be honest, this was a bit of a challenge for us. We needed the words!). You can also watch videos of each build online, if you're having trouble. Creatto kits are recommended for kids ages 6 and up, but they are challenging to put together, so I think they are best for kids 9 and up. We sampled an elephant kit but look for other animal kits such as fox, kangaroo, moose, unicorn and cat. Prices on Amazon vary based ont he type of animal and kit, but average retail price is around $9.99.

Why I like it: Creatto is unique and challenging. The end result is actually very pretty and I like that it doubles as illuminated artwork. But beware that it can be a challenge to put together! Adult help was needed at our house. *And by adult help I mean we needed my husband, because I couldn't figure it out!
Why it's perfect for summer: it's really good any time of year, but this is a fun project for summer to keep minds active and light up that summer patio.

14. Glow-in-the-Dark Science Lab

New from Thames and Kosmos is this cool Glow in the Dark Science Lab. You can find it right on their website. Here's a blurb about the kit: "Conduct fun and illuminating experiments with glowing substances and neon pigments! Cast your own glowing neon sidewalk chalk in fun shapes like stars, crystals, and frogs. Make flowers that glow in the dark. Mix up a glowing solution to make your own glow sticks. Observe your glowing creations under a UV flashlight (a blacklight). Learn about light, phosphosporecence, and glowing materials. Includes two glowing pigments, UV flashlight, glow-in-the-dark star stickers, plaster for chalk, and tools and instructions. The box doubles as a blacklight showcase." Available now from Thames and Kosmos, recommended for ages 8 and up. $19.95

Why I like it: STEM kits are all the rage and this one is a fun twist since everything is glow in the dark
Why it's perfect for summer: Glow-in-the-dark is great for a summer evening. Do your experiments during the day and test them out at night!

15. MyFirst Voice Portable Interactive Microphone & Bluetooth Speaker Karaoke Set 

I have to admit, this is one of my favorite toys of the summer. MyFirst Voice has a mic that captures your child's voice and plays it through a speaker at the top (which is actually the bottom- the cat head is the top). Kids (and adults, let's be real) will enjoy singing like stars! MyFirst Voice also has an echo enhancer to create the feeling of singing onstage. MyFirst Voice has a wireless speaker to play music along with your singing. You can connect with your phone to play any music to accompany your child's singing, karaoke style (and I assure you, I tested this out to its fullest extent - see my Instagram stories for proof!) The mic comes with an AUX input so it can function as a mini speaker as well. Available at ShopOaxis and hopefully soon on Amazon.
Why I like it: I seriously felt like a rock star singing through this - the clarity is awesome and I loved how easily I could sing along with the songs from my phone. I've blessed visiting family members with my Neil Diamond performances already. The echo effect makes it particularly fun.
Why it's perfect for summer: it's perfect for any season, but will be especially fun for summer so you can serenade everyone outdoors!

16. Bicycle Playing Cards

It wouldn't be summer (or even family, for that matter) without a good game of cards! There are so many games to choose from- War, Go Fish, Poker, Rummy, Spit- there are even tons of math games you can play with a regular deck of cards. Bicycle makes the best playing cards and they come in so many fun designs and styles. You can find the regular decks on Amazon but look for the beautiful Stargazer Collection, Unicorn, 1885, and other new designs for 2020, too. Bicycle has been around since 1885, so they really are a company to be trusted!

Why I like them: playing cards are everything. Every home should have them because there are so many uses for them- from family games, to Poker Nights, to simple math games, too. Bicycle is THE brand to own. Very high quality, durable, and pretty, too.
Why they're perfect for summer: cards are perfect for camping, poolside fun and patio evenings. You can't beat a good deck o' cards!

17. The Child - animatronic version

I pre-ordered Hasbro's animatronic version of The Child months ago, and I was so excited when he finally arrived! I sent photos to my friends and relatives, announcing him as the newest member of our family. 😂 He retails for about $24.99 but you might see prices sky high since he is in demand these days. Recommended for ages 3 and up, he makes noises when you squeeze him and comes with his own plastic version of porridge and space frogs.

Why I like it: I'm in love with anything Mandalorian these days, especially The Child.
Why it's perfect for summer: He's my new summer companion and I've been having a blast taking funny summer photos of him to share on social media.

Check out these other fun toys for Summer through my Amazon affiliate links below:

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