Little gets on a parent's nerves more on a steamy summer day than a hot, irritable child complaining of boredom.
With less money for mountain vacations or expensive camp programs this year, parents might want to invest in a few outdoor summer toys that will get the kids off the couch or out from behind video games.
Here are some ideas ranging from the new and innovative to updates on classics. The prices are approximate. You might find them cheaper at local stores or online.
For this list, we talked to Jim Silver, editor in chief of http://www.timetoplaymag.com/; Cat Schwartz, eBay gadget and toy director, and Bob Friedland, Toys "R'' Us spokesman.• Banzai 3-D Shark Bite by Manley. This updated version of a slip-and-slide has a few new twists: Kids put on 3-D goggles and slide into the mouth of a great white shark ($39.99).
• Banzai Falls Sidewinder Blast by Manley. For $549.99, your kids essentially get a water park in your back yard all summer, complete with a climbing wall, a water slide and two "water-blasting cannons.'' It stands 10 feet, 5 inches tall, holds up to 400 pounds of kids and inflates in less than three minutes.
• Baby Hideaway Pool by Sun-Smart. For the wee ones, this kiddie pool offers the best sun-screening canopy we could find. At $14.99, it seemed like a deal.
• Sky Ball by Maui Toys. Parents and grandparents may remember the Wham-O SuperBall. Well, the Sky Ball is filled with compressed air and helium and bounces up to 75 feet in the air. The transparent ball is the kind of toy that will amuse kids playing catch, whacking it with a bat or simply bouncing the thing ($7.99).
• Gazillion Bubbles Rocket by Funrise. According to the toy experts at http://www.timetoplaymag.com/, this rocket offers a great way for kids to enjoy bubbles that last longer and are easier to produce than traditional bubble toys. You pour bubble solution into the tray of the launch pad and position the rocket on the launcher. Then you stomp on a pad, and the rocket shoots into the air, leaving a trail of bubbles behind it ($16.99).
• ESPN Better Batter Baseball Trainer by Fisher Price. A tee-free batting trainer teaches kids to watch the ball. With sound effects, baseball "chatter'' and ESPN music. The trainer's height is adjustable ($45, ages 3 and older).
• Fun Flow Play Sink by Step 2. Great for children under the age of 6 if they like to play with water. It has a big sink with water that rotates through ($49.99)
• Backyard Bash Ultimate Art Set by Crayola. Kids love writing on pavement with chalk, but this set encourages even more creativity. It includes a pair of 3D glasses that really make sidewalk designs pop. Also included are sidewalk paints. Both chalk and paints spray away with water ($19.99, ages 4 and older).
• Super Spiral Sprinkler by Little Tykes. For those who don't want to deal with filling a pool, a sprinkler is an easy and cooling alternative. This sprinkler adds the fun of a spiral that shoots balls upward on a powerful jet stream ($19.99).
• Super Soaker Quick Blast by Hasbro. What would summer be without a Super Soaker? This model has the hydro-powered performance of a Super Soaker Blaster without all the pumping. All you do is slide back the handle and unleash a blast of water on your opponent. Works up to 30 feet away ($14.99, ages 5 and older).