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.


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.



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


A few other favourites

What's your favourite Ottawa area park?

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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Be Water Wise

by Amanda This week is National Drowning Prevention week and as an Instructor Trainer with the Lifesaving Society of Canada and former trainer with the Canadian Red Cross I cannot stress enough that EVERY SINGLE DAY you should be water wise and aware!

Drownings happen, they happen more often than we would like and it's generally when we least expect them to happen.  Did you know, according to the Lifesaving Society’s Drowning  Fact Sheet, that drowning is the second leading cause of preventable death for children under 10 years of age.

Who is most at risk for drowning? Toddlers and young children are most at risk followed by men between the ages of 18 and 34.  Young children do not have the physical ability for swimming nor do they mental ability to understand the dangers of water.  They are curious, the water looks interesting or fun and before you know it an emergency has happened.  I call it an emergency and not an accident because accidents are something that cannot be prevented.  Drownings can be prevented.  In my opinion there is no reason for a drowning to ever occur. 

It comes down to the Lifesaving Society’s message “IF YOU ARE NOT WITHIN ARMS REACH YOU HAVE GONE TOO FAR”, it's a simple message that needs to be taken more seriously. I have seen many times parents who quickly leave their child by the pools edge to grab a lifejacket, favourite toy or a towel to wipe the chlorine away from their eyes. It takes a split second. I have jumped into a pool to quickly grab a curious toddler more times than I can count. If the child would have been within arms reach of an adult I would not of had to jump in for the rescue.

Teach your child a few simple rules when around the water, whether it's the local wading pool, the bathtub, cottage or community centre. Start from a young age, before they are even able to communicate with you so it becomes second nature to them. Repeat, repeat, repeat! Repetition is key to assisting your child to remember the rules of the water.  Then remember Monkey See, Monkey Do! Display water safe behaviour that you would like your child to mimic.

1. Stop! Look! Listen!  They STOP before entering the water. LOOK around to see if there are any hazards around the water and to make sure you, or another responsibility adult who they know, are right there within arms reach.   Then LISTEN for the adult to tell them they are able to enter the water.  Also make sure that the adult always enters the water first, protecting the child from any water drop offs or deep water levels.  You may also create actions of having your child STOP with their hand up making a stop sign. LOOK, make a motion of looking through binoculars or gazing around the water.  LISTEN, place your hands to your ears to show that you are listening for your name and to be told its safe to enter.

 2. Stop! Look! Go Slow!  With the same actions as above for the STOP and the LOOK, teach your child to always enter the water SLOWLY. Whether the water environment you are in is familiar or not conditions may have changed since the last time you entered.

 3. WITHIN ARMS REACH!  Your child should understand this concept so well that if you happen to forget they should remind you or follow you out of the water. 

The next time you go for a family swim and are splashing around with your loved ones please remember that even though its a fun activity its a dangerous place to be. Be safe and water wise!

Amanda is mom to Dominic, 2 months, and can be found blogging about life, product reviews & giveaways at Namaste Mommy, PTPA Panel of Moms & Tools for Schools.  When not feeding and changing diapers Amanda is busy with her company DeGrace Energetics & Little Lotus.

p.s. Amanda is having a great giveaway on her blog at http://namastemommy.wordpress.com for the PTPA Award Winning Cuddly Wrap It's a great way to keep your baby close while running after your other children around the water!

Daytripping – camping without the camping!

by Shawna Did you love to go camping as a kid? The day at the lake/swimming pool broken up by lunch at a brownish-red-painted picnic table under the trees, and treks along dusty, pine-scented paths to the local campground store for icy cold bottles of pop and dime freezies (that you could get by returning the bottles for the deposit)?

Now that you’re grown-up, and you know the adult hassles that come with camping – the packing of clothes for hot/cold/wet/sunny weather and water/non-water activities that may or may not involve hiking, the organizing of coolers to make sure everyone stays nourished and hydrated, the drive to and from potentially far-flung destinations, and the laundry that comes home with you, not to mention the difficulty of getting the kids (and yourself!) to sleep in an unfamiliar environment (often a tent that has to be put up and taken down at your campsite, then put up again to dry thoroughly once you’re home before being taken down again and packed away) – you may not relish the idea of camping as much, particularly when you only have a limited amount of days you can book off from work in a year. Camping can be doubly daunting when your kids are still in diapers, but are mobile and seem to lack any kind of self-preservation instinct that stops them from wandering off cliffs or straight into the lake.

If you are an intrepid soul that has no idea what I’m talking about because you think nothing of portaging your way into the middle of Algonquin park to take your triplet toddlers canoe-camping, you will likely want to skip this entry, but if you’re like me and the second paragraph sounds eerily familiar, this information may change your life: you can go to a campground for the day and not, you know, actually camp.

Just imagine it: no tents to erect, no camp dishes to haul out – you can get by with a cooler of drinks and sandwiches for one day – and you know what the weather will be like because you only need to hear the forecast for the day you go, so no packing of raingear. You tire out the kids and everyone sleeps in their own, welcoming bed at the end of the day.

A quick search of the internet has turned up a number of places with pools and/or freshwater beaches within an hour of Ottawa. Day admission fees seem to run about 10 to 12 bucks for a family of two adults and two kids, and swimming and use of casual recreation facilities are included.

For example (and these are just a few of many - check for yourself!), Sandy Mountain is only ½ hour from where I live in Barrhaven, and has both a large pool and wading pool, as well as a games room, a playground, and a place to buy ice cream. You can play horseshoes for free, or pay the extra fees to mini-putt or even full-on golf. (They don’t post prices for just the day because they don’t consider themselves to be a public pool, but they do have day rates if you ask.)

Wildwood is not much further, and I enjoyed many a weekend day in the pool there with my grandmother when I was a child (the pool there is better for older kids who can reach the bottom in the shallow end and/or swim well) though, alas, they now only allow non-campers during weekdays (Fridays only until noon) and only for 2 hour stints.  

On the July long weekend we’re meeting up with my in-laws a little further afield: Pleasure Park near Mallorytown, which has a water trampoline, a dock for swimming, and large playground.

I’m not saying you should never go on any overnight camping adventures – it’s a fantastic thing for kids to experience and worth the effort. But you don’t have to wait until that expedition to Kilimanjaro; while you’re doing all the planning for your Big Trip, you can sample the camping life with daytrips here and there. It’s cheap, it’s fun, it’s easy, and it’ll make memories that last. What could be better?

Shawna is mom to 4-year-old Sage and 2-year-old Harris.  She has  been writing online since 2003, and her latest project is a fledgling photography blog.  She never appreciated the work her parents had to do to take her camping until she had kids of her own.