Pool games just got sweeter with the Watermelon Ball JR!

We have had a great summer to spend time in a pool. It’s been hot and mainly dry, which means my daughter and many of her neighbourhood friends are water logged from spending so much time in the pool! We love having fun and safe water toys for the kids (and adults) to play with in the pool. Some of our favourite pool toys include:

1) Smart Noodles® Link’Ems™

Smart Noodles® Link’Ems™ are just like real pool noodles but you can link them together to create mini rafts and fun objects. If your kids love to use their imaginations, they will create tons of fun things for these smart noodles – we have seen mini cars on ours, as well as frogs using them as safety rafts until they get close enough to the side of the pool to escape. And, of course, they are handy to hold onto to just float around the pool.

Smart Noodles Link’Ems

2) Inflatable Flamingo

Who doesn’t love a good old fashioned floaty toy - but made more fun? Admittedly, this inflatable flamingo belongs to me. I bought it three summers ago at Tag Along Toys and unlike some of the discount store brands, this one is made from durable plastic that has survived many kids twisting its neck as they try to climb on. My pool time always includes my flamingo!

Inflatable Flamingo

3) Pool Toypedos

Toypedos move super fast underwater and then they sink. It’s the perfect "sinky toy" for advanced simmers who love the challenge of swimming fast to catch things before they sink. You can get them at many local toy stores.

Toypedo

4) Original Watermelon Ball®

This ball looks, feels and behaves like a watermelon in water. Really! We tested it last summer and a real watermelon sinks to the bottom and then floats back up to the surface just like this ball (I don't recommend trying it at home). The Watermelon Ball® is simply safer, cleaner and a lot more fun to play with. You simply fill the ball with water and you’re ready to go! We love playing underwater pass with the ball (it travels super fast under water). It is heavy though, so we have a “no throwing it up in the air” policy to avoid it accidentally coming down on someone’s head.

Watermelon ball

5) Watermelon Ball JR®

Warning - you and everyone who plays with this will love this pool toy!!! Just like the original, but easier for little hands to hold, the Watermelon Ball JR® is new this year and is smaller and lighter. It is also much more colourful, making it easier to spot in the water. My daughter and her friends love dribbling, kicking, passing and intercepting the ball under water. This is by far one of her new favourite toys to play with in the pool. It is also very durable, which comes in handy when someone accidentally tosses it out of the pool and onto concrete.

Similar to the original, you simply fill the ball with water and it’s ready for play! As noted on their website, you can pass the Watermelon Ball Jr.® “up to 10 feet underwater and even bounce the Watermelon Ball JR off pool walls for trick passes and winning moves!” It’s a water toy the entire family will love year after year (recommended age is 6+)!

We love playing underwater soccer with the Watermelon Ball JR® - we section off "goal nets" using whatever is near by that can easily sit on the concrete around the pool and the opponent has to try and get the ball past the goalie. Our rules include - no above water passes and we make an "invisible line" that the person with the ball cannot pass. It's a lot of fun for swimmers of all ages and abilities. It's a lot of fun (and a good workout too). ;)

Watermelon Ball JR
Playing with the Watermelon Ball JR

 


For more information on the Watermelon Ball JR, including where to get one, visit the PlaSmart website, follow PlaSmart toys on Twitter or like their Facebook Page!

Disclaimer: PlaSmart provided us with a Watermelon Ball JR® for the purpose of review, but the countless hours of fun are all ours!

Balena Park

by Lara We have so many great parks in Ottawa and we love to hear about what YOUR favourite parks are.  Over the years we've written about all kinds of parks around the city.  If you'd like to write a post about yours, send us an email at kidsinthecapital@gmail.com - we'd love to share it!

Balena Park

We live in Orleans where we have access to a lot of great splash pads, but there's something so special about the old wading pools that I try to make at least a few visits to them each year.  Balena is a park that is generally quiet and not over crowded, with a great pool and great structures. Structure at Balena

There are three different structures plus swing sets for the kids to play on.  It keeps them entertained for hours on end.

Wading pool

The wading pool is the highlight for the kids.  There is a shallow area for babies (which comes to about mid-shin on me) and the deeper area is probably only about 2-2.5 feet deep.  It's great because the kids all feel comfortable in the water (this is the first summer, at 5, I've let them in without a life jacket on though) and there are lifeguards on duty. Unfortunately the wading pools are only open for a couple more weeks, but if you have a chance, check them out (and the special events they often hold) before then! They also aren't generally ready for swimmers until about 11 since the pools are emptied every night and have to be re-filled in the morning.

kic1

Crafts

Another feature of all the wading pools is that the lifeguards are all equipped with craft supplies!  When the kids are ready for a break in the shade they can head over and they'll have an activity to keep them busy! crafts at Balena Park Finished craft from Balena park

Here are a few other Park posts from over the years:

Brewer Park

Carp splash pad

Springhurst

A few other favourites

What's your favourite Ottawa area park?

Ottawa area attractions: Mont Cascades

by Amanda Our 2 year old has a new phrase these days. “Water slides. Go! Water Slides?”  We are frequent visitors to Mont Cascade. So frequent that we have purchased season passes again this year and our son recognizes when we get close because he says “Water Slides!!” Mont Cascade is located in Cantley, Quebec, approximately 25 minutes from downtown Ottawa.

Ticket prices are only $15 for adults or $35+tax for a season’s pass (2 and under are free!) making it is a very affordable option for some fun in the sun. The water being heated this year adds to even more enjoyment.  At $35 for a seasons pass we can justify only going for a few hours at a time. Sometimes with smaller children this is needed for those who still nap or just need to head home for some quiet time.

The kids area consists of a 3 smaller slides that end up in the beach like wading pool and 2 larger slides that bring you down to the bottom in their own little area. Check it out here. Our 2 year old loves going down the 3 smaller slides on his own but with the longer walk up to the top for the 2 larger slides, called Lemonade and Tangerine for their colours, he has an adult ride with him.

We have discovered that depending on what kind of bathing suit bottoms you wear will greatly impact your speed, or lack thereof.  My husband has his “water slide shorts” that offer speed! Even going on the slides with our son they catch some great speed and shoot out the bottom.  If you are wearing bathing suit bottoms that are made out of cotton you may find yourself pushing yourself down the slide more.  When we visit during the more busy times one adult generally stays at the top of the slide and the other at the bottom to do the catching as they come into the water. Our son does the small walk back up to the top by himself with us watching him. This is done more for the fact that he doesn’t understand the concept of not letting the older kids jump in front of him and to wait until the child before him is completely out of the way before it is his turn!  There is a height restriction in the childrens area but adult or older children are able to slide with the little ones at all times.

With many daycamps frequenting the park this summer I suggest trying to go on a Monday or Tuesday. Generally these are days where daycamps do not take day trips off site.  Plan to be there right for opening, 10am, or head later in the day around 3 when many people are leaving for the day to get home for dinner.  That being said we did meet some friends there on a Friday early afternoon and despite the parking lot being full the kid area was not overwhelming.

Bring a cooler and pack your lunch and snacks. There is a canteen available and a Subway restaurant. Prices can start to add up quickly. Just remember not to bring any glass bottles or containers, as they are not permitted.  If you get there early grab a picnic table with some shade and an umbrella.  There are also a few cabana’s to rent if you are going with a group but I do find them very awkwardly placed over by a smaller pool and not close to the children’s area and away from many of the main slides. This could be a draw for those with older children so the parents have a quiet place to sit but those with young children would not have easy access from the kids area to their cabana’s.

For older children there is “Splash Forest” with a few small tube slides, spraying water and buckets of fun.  We have only frequented a few of the “big slides” and have found that the line ups can get quite big in the mid day.  Expect a line up to wait for your tube or mat if they are required for your slide of choice and then a long walk up to the top of the slide. However, it would be a great way to tire out the kids for the drive home!

The lifeguard in me also feels the need to gently remind you to keep your eyes on your child at all times and to stay close.  From what I have seen over the past two years frequenting this water park is that the lifeguards are not always as vigilant as they could be.   Because they are a private waterpark and not a City pool they do not have to follow the same standards and the lifeguard to bather ratio is quite large.  We have noticed there are a few lifeguards who are fantastic with the children, encouraging high fives as they walk back up to the slides, gently reminding children to walk instead of run and responding to questions or needs of park users. Next time you want someplace to cool off why not head to Cascades? We’ll see you there!

Amanda is a mom to a 2 year old boy and 4 month old baby girl.  When she is not out having fun with the kids you can find her getting her yoga on at www.littlelotusyoga.ca

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Flashback: My Park: St. Luke's Park

Over the last two years we've had some great park reviews.  If you would like to submit a post about your park we'd love to share it with our readers!  Email us at kidsinthecapital(at)gmail(dot)com

by Zach

St. Luke's Park might not look like much if you're walking by on Elgin Street, but it certainly is worth checking out.

For kids and parents, the layout of the main area is nearly perfect. The park has a wading pool in the centre, which can be its own play area for hockey / soccer / random ball games for ten months of the year (though a concrete, uneven one, so toddlers might need some watching), and a well-supervised swimming area while the public schools are out. For some reason, swimming season ends near the middle of August, so try to get the most out of July that you can. As of summer 2009 many of the lifeguards there have been working for several seasons, are well-known among the parents, and are excellent with the kids.

There are some trees providing shade, but sight lines are still great within the main area. There are two play structures on the south side, a smaller one for kids aged 2 to 5, and a larger one for 5 to 12-year olds. On a busy day, try to count the two- and three-year olds flinging themselves down the twisty slide on the larger structure.

Both play structures are exceptionally well-designed, with plenty of climbing surfaces and slides. They're easily my favourite play structures of all the parks we visit.

The surface on the south side of the park is sand, which allows for castles, soft falls, and moats made with swimming pool water, for the really motivated.

The west side has three swing sets, for babies, mediums, and big kids. The small and medium swings are old school, facing in just one direction, and set low to the ground to maximize the swinging arc and parental back pain. The swings have great shade from nearby trees, and the St. Louis Bar and Grill right behind will torture you with smells of fried food. The Second Cup is right next door for quick caffeine hits.

The north side of the park is a large grassy area, with a picnic table. The city quietly and quickly hacked down a beautiful old growth tree in the summer of 2009, so the area isn't nearly as shaded as it once was. We'll give the city the benefit of the doubt as to why it had to go, but that tree is sorely missed, and its scrawny replacement is probably something your great-grandkids will enjoy. The grass tends to be under-used, except when the pool is open, when finding a free patch of grass for your beach towel becomes challenging.

The east half of the park is taken up with a basketball court, field house, and then another grassy space between the field house and some tennis courts. Kids who aren't paying attention, or who want to use the field house bathroom (open when the swimming pool is open), might dart into the middle of a game, so keep an eye out.

The grassy area in the east half of the park is a blessing and a curse. It's an old bowling green, and it's nice to have a dog-free, relatively level play area. You can see Frisbee, soccer, football, yoga, and boot camp fitness classes being held there, but bigger kids can also dart behind the field house and out of a parent's view with remarkable speed.

Overall, St. Luke's is an excellent park, and the number of parents and kids there on a nice day (and even less nice days) speaks to its well-deserved popularity.

Zach is the dad of a 3.5 year daughter "the girl" and eighteen month old son "the boy". Zach doesn't have his own blog but he is blogged about at Capital Mom.

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A Little Recreation Time

by Amy I recently quit my job and bought a house. These two moves meant that I have been at home looking for activities for the kid and me in our new neighbourhood.

There's a park close to the house and a few things around, and we've been going swimming at the Kanata Wave Pool. My kid was born to be in the water, it's something she's always loved, but at Kanata I found that the slope of the pool was good for her but hard on my knees. So I took to the city website and tried to find another pool close by, and that is how we happened upon the Goulbourn Recreation Centre and their fantastic pool.

The centre is in Stittsville, just off Hazeldean and about a five minute drive from our new house. The pool is built for all ages. There is a shallow area for younger kids, with a palm tree that rains on you and another contraption that shoots water out at all angles. This shallow area leads into the wide open part of the pool for older kids (and, when you attend the preschool swim, an aquafit class). There is also a great big water slide, but the kid is still a bit young for that.

My husband and I took the kid to the pool on Sunday afternoon and it was pretty busy, but there seemed to be room for everyone. On Thursday I took the kid to the preschool swim and we only had to share the pool with the aquafit class and a few other moms with their toddlers.(The preschool swim is one of the best things I've discovered since taking on my new role).

The Goulbourn Rec Centre is a wonderful addition to our lives and I'm looking forward to enrolling the kid in some of the classes there in the fall.

Do you have a rec centre nearby that you're in love with?

Amy is mom to two year old Maggie and a 6 year old schnauzer named Henry. You can read her blog at amyboughner.ca where she writes about motherhood and anything else that’s on her mind. She also shares a blog with her husband at boughner.ca where they talk together about parenting a daughter.

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