Cathy Watkins' advice on summertime fun is far from wet behind the ears. She's the manager of the Leisure Time Pools and Spa in Swansea and sees what's going out the door in watery entertainment.
Ask Cathy about her best sellers and she heads to the aisle with the big boxes that hold water volleyball and basketball games.
"People who have pools really like these," she said. The sets come with sturdy net and frame, weights to hold it all in place, and a ball. They're mostly used with in-ground pools and cost between $109.99 and $210.99 for a combo set of both games.
Want something you can play in any kind of water? Cathy points to the $14.99 Rip 'N Catch game. It's two big-faced soft paddles and an unsinkable ball that sticks when caught.
At Dollar Tree in Fairview Heights, you can go home with a raft of supplies that will keep youngsters occupied, from sets of colored dive sticks to a 4-foot-long inflatable alligator. Don't forget water guns and cannons. With nearly everything just a dollar each, don't expect these games to last more than a season. You might want to buy mutiples.
If you're looking for a toddler-size pool, Menard's in O'Fallon has 45-inch kiddie pools for $6.99.
Here is a selection of 10 water toys and accessories to try this summer:
1. Dress up your pond or pool for nighttime entertainment with the Underwater Light Show & Fountain ($44.99, model NA4487) from Leisure Time Pools & Spas in Swansea. This little water feature floats, spins and sprays colors above and below the water. It's battery-operated, so it will float freely with no hoses. Features one-hour automatic shut-off and requires four D batteries.
2. H2O Blasters are like giant kitchen basters -- and so simple to use. Draw back on the plunger under water and fill the blaster. Then, pull out of the water and get ready to push in the end, releasing the water. It's not too powerful, so it won't hurt anyone. Younger kids will get a kick out of it because it's easy to handle. Look for this size and a shorter version with Disney characters on it, for a buck each, at Dollar Tree in Fairview Heights.
3. Little Tikes Super Spiral Sprinkler can be found at Toys R Us in Fairview Heights for $14.99. Hook up to a garden hose, then place the balls down the chute and watch each one fly up and suspend in the water plume. If you turn up the water pressure knob, the water goes higher. Meant for toddlers.
4. Even if you don't have a swim-up bar in your pool, these adjustable-height, resin stools are a fun way to keep your seat wet. To keep them weighed down, fill with sand. At night, use the remote to switch on the multicolor rechargeable LED lights. (Charger included.) Each costs $239.99. Pick one up at Leisure Time Pools and Spas.
5. Swim School's Baby & Me combination float lets Mom and Dad stay close to baby (6-18 months old) in the pool. You'll find this float for $12.99 at Toys R Us.
6. Chum's Glassfloat Classic sunglass straps do exactly what they say: Keep your shades from sinking to the bottom of the water. The strap fits most frames and will keep all but the heaviest glasses afloat. The foam-filled woven poly is quick-drying and comfortable on the skin. You'll find them for $7.99 at Sanibel Sunglass Co. at St. Clair Square in Fairview Heights. Colors vary.
7. Slip-N-Slide Triple Racer from Whamo, $24.99 at Toys R Us, has three 16-inch side slides, so kids can race each other to the end, where they're met with more sprays of water. It's a great way to stay active in water without a pool. Best for children ages 5-12. Paddle boards not included and kids easily can slide without them.
8. You're a Rotten Egg if you don't enjoy this diving game. Meant to be used in a pool, or very clear water, five of the six weighted plastic eggs have numbers inside them, while the sixth is "rotten." Kids can play a variety of games. Switch the colored half of the eggs, so no one will know what numbers are in each one -- or which is rotten! Dive to collect specific colors. Dive to collect the highest number added together. The set is $15.99 at Leisure Time Pools and Spas.
9. Let them duke it out or just float around in $1 water noodles from Dollar Tree. The flexible, foamy, straw-shaped pool toy, while not indestructible, is sturdy and bends easily. In more peaceful moments, kids can sit on them in the water, float them under their arms and learn to paddle, or hang on and let someone pull them through the water.
10. This super-soft foam cushion Pool Saddle lets you float in the water upright, so you can get some exercise treading water plus move around in the water effortlessly. It's $36.99 at Leisure Time Pools and Spas.