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August means one foot planted in summer, while the other edges toward the school year. Milwaukee area parents tested some items that keep the fun going and others to get you thinking back-to-school.

BottlesScout Kids water bottle

Stainless steel bottle with flip straw. 13 ounces, BPA-free. $16.95, www.ecovessel.com 

Smashbox Snacker food container

Collapsible food container holds an 8 ounce snack or drink. BPA-free silicone. $9.95, www.ecovessel.com

I love this water bottle! On hot summer days, it keeps drinks nice and cool for a long time. The collapsible food container is very easy to use; my 4-year-old can pack her own snack. I like how I can make the container collapse and have a space for a smaller quantity of snacks. I recommend both products to parents with little ones. 

–Cha, mom of Elijah (15), Napayshni (11), Truth (4) and Shalom (1) 

LeggingsMismatched leggings

Zipper technology enables girls to mix and match legs for unique look. $38, www.oppos.com 

What a cool and fun way to show your style and express your personality. They are really comfortable and the zipper is hardly noticeable. They are perfect for dance, gymnastics and more. Also, you get two pairs for the price of one with the cool way that Oppos can mix and match. You can start a trend, be a designer and express yourself with your favorite colors and patterns. I love the styles and choices that Oppos gives me. 

–Crystal (12) 

KidzBopKidz Bop Party Pop!  

CD of popular tunes sung by kids. $9.99, www.kidzbop.com 

Great road trip CD! It has my kids laughing and in good spirits. They’re thrilled to hear their favorite songs sung by kids. The CD never leaves the player in the mini van and has me singing along, too!  

–Heather, mom of Lilyana (6), Gavyn (4) and Gracelyn (1) 

TinkerlabTinkerlab by Rachelle Doorley 

Design, build, concoct and discover—55 creative experiments for kids. Age 6 and under. $21.95, www.roostbooks.com

 Initially I thought this book only highlighted experiments, but it covers much more. From tips on creating space for exploration to conversation starters, readers are fully engaged and parents are encouraged to build opportunities for creative, independent thinkers. I definitely recommend this book to anyone open to letting messes happen.

 –Amy, mom of Jason (7), Jonny (5) and Emily (4) 

Zano BowZano Bow 

Small plastic bow slings foam arrows with suction cup. Ages 4+. $12.99, www.zingtoys.com 

This is quite a cool toy. It’s fun for children and grownups alike—my son and husband have had quite a competition together. The arrow suctions on the bullseye board extremely well. It would be nice to have a few more arrows.  

–Allison, mom of Angelo (8) 

MarkersWashable Markers and Paint

Ultra-Clean Washable Markers (8 broad line or 8 thin line) $4.99, and Washable Watercolors $2.99, www.crayola.com 

We love Crayola washable markers and paint! The colors are very vibrant on paper and stay nice and bright. My daughter had marker on her skin which easily came off without scrubbing. And much to my surprise, paint on our table cleaned up in no time. I will definitely only be purchasing the washable markers and paints from now on!

 –Beth, mom of Faith (5) and Lacey (3) 

Dora Swimming Mermaid Dora 

 Wind up Dora’s seashell necklace and see her swim. Warm water reveals  the pink highlights in her hair. Ages 3+. $19.99, www.fisher-price.com 

 My daughter enjoys playing with Swimming Mermaid Dora and even sleeps  with her at night. I found it to be a disappointing bath toy, though—the  seashell necklace is difficult for small fingers to turn and she doesn't swim  very far. Despite that, my daughter likes Dora as a regular toy and thinks it is  a bonus that she floats and moves a bit in the bathtub. 

 –Katie, mom of Charlie (6½) and Adelaide (4) 

Atomic Shield PopperAtomic Shield Popper 

Pull a foam hammer back, take aim and let go. Soft foam balls fire over 40 feet through the shield. Ages 4+. $19.99, www.hogwildtoys.com 

Bombs away! When you get the hang of it, this popper really can deliver! The hammer is a bit too tough for young hands to pull properly and the balls get stuck in the tube quite often. (I recommend for age 6+. You want the child to have good aim so no one gets popped in the eye!) Once an adult is activating the popper, the balls are flying! My boys enjoy running after and finding the balls the most.

 –Stacey, mom of Oliver (4) and Sam (2) 

Orbit LabelsThe Original Orbit Labels 

Stretchy bands fit snuggly around cup. Personalize with name and color. $12.95/4 pack, www.inchbug.com

Our youngest son brings a sippy cup wherever he goes. It’s so nice to have his name on the cup without having to use permanent marker or tape, which never comes off completely. The labels were easy to put on and take off but also have a snug fit so you know you won't loose it. They are very easy to clean and look cool and stylish. I definitely recommend especially since the cost is very reasonable.  

–Sarah, mom of Sadie (7), Finn (5), Jude (3) and Reece (2) 

Speed boatShake ’n Go! Speed Boat 

Shake the boat and watch it go. Ages 3–7. $14, www.fisher-price.com 

This toy has led to many of hours of entertainment. From the lake to the tub, my boys are very impressed with how this boat works. Every time the boys shake it, they can hear the boat’s "motor" and then watch it push through the water. My little guys give it the thumbs up. 

–Angela, mom of Keegan (1½) and Carter (3½) 

PiggiesPocket Piggies by Richard Austin 

The teacup pigs of Pennywell Farm teach numbers and colors in two board books. $5.35/each, www.pennywellfarm.co.uk

 The Pocket Piggies books are great! My son loves looking at the pictures—the pigs are absolutely adorable, and the colors are bright and vibrant. I recommend these books to anyone whose children love animals. 

–Laura, mom of Abigail (6), Maggie (4) and George (2)

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