We know you and your kids want to beat this fiery monster called summer into cucumbery-cool submission. And you wanna do it without breaking a sweat. Your best defense? Water.

For those without pools, we’ve rounded up seven water-soaked ways to cool down in your own backyard.

Buy a kiddie pool and make monster bubbles

Try this effervescent idea. Start with a small plastic pool – we got ours at Toys R Us for $7.99. In the pool, whip up a batch of bubble mix using this recipe from Wondertime magazine:

– 4 gallons water

– 48 ounces dishwashing liquid (preferably Joy)

– 6 tablespoons glycerin (Available in liquid form at pharmacies, but call ahead because they may have to order it. Expect to pay about $6 for a 6-ounce bottle.)

– 160 ounces bubble solution

Cover the pool with a plastic tablecloth or tarp, and let it sit overnight to allow the ingredients to fully meld.

To make big bubbles:

1. Cut the ends off a coffee can, dip one end into the bubble solution, pick it up carefully, and then blow through the other end softly to release a big bubble. Or,

2. Place a Hula-Hoop into the water, press down, then slowly pick it up as a monster bubble is pulled out of the pool. Stand in the middle of the hoop to build a bubble around you! Or,

3. Get a length of cotton rope (about 5 feet). Thread some washers onto the middle of the rope. Tie a half-knot to secure. Get two dowels that you’ll use as handles. Form a triangle with the rope, with the washers at the apex and the handles as the two bottom corners. Wrap rope around dowels to secure. Dip the rope triangle into the bubble water, then slowly lift if out, holding handles apart. To release the bubble, walk with the rope to get air into the bubble or simple bring the handles together to squeeze out a bubble.

Create your own snow cones

If you already have a snow-cone maker, break it out now. Or get to the store for this affordable cooling system. Old-school option: Last year, Sababa Toys reissued the Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine ($14.99 at Toys R Us), which is lots of retro fun (although it may wear on your cranking arm). New-school option: Back to Basics’ Electric Ice Shaver ($19.99 at Target) makes snow cones and comes with two ice molds, four cone cups and straws. A pack of 25 additional cups and straws is $3.49; flavoring syrup is $2.49 per 16-ounce bottle, also from Back to Basics, and at Target.

Make an obsta-cool course

We found this idea on Family Fun’s Web site, which features a whole bunch of ideas for outdoor water games. Set up your own obstacle course, using your sprinkler as the centerpiece. Time your kids as they complete the course. Our sample ideas for the course:

First, bob for apples. Fill a big tub with cold water and cold apples. Dunk and bite until you’ve got an apple in your mouth.

Then jump over the sprinkler four times.

Then pick up a jump rope, and still standing under the sprinkler, jump five times.

Then toss a water balloon 10 times in the air and catch it without breaking it.

For the final move, try that water slide. When you slide to the end, you’re done.

Make an ice cube necklace for your child

Talk about a cool craft. One of the more popular methods comes from Disney Family’s www.familyfun.com:

You’ll need:

– 3 feet of plastic lanyard (available at craft stores)

– Ice cube tray

– Plastic drinking straws cut into 1-inch lengths

– Clear tape

1. Tie a knot in one end of the lanyard. Thread one straw for each cube slot onto the lanyard. (You’ll do one row at a time, so, if your tray has two rows of eight cubes, thread eight pieces of straw.) Knot the other end of the lanyard when you’re done.

2. Center the lanyard over one row of the empty ice tray so that several inches drape over each end. Push the straws down into each ice cube slot. To keep the straws submerged when you add water, tape the lanyard to the edge of the tray and between each cube.

3. Use a small pitcher to fill the slots with water. To avoid ice “bridges” between the cubes, don’t overfill. Place the tray in the freezer and freeze. Pop out the necklace, tie it on, and step outside.

Embrace the ultimate beach ball sprinkler

Attach this Little Tikes toy to a hose, and watch as it starts to roll and spray willy-nilly, while the kids go scrambling after it. There’s also an option that allows you to fill the bottom with water so it stays stationary, but who doesn’t want to watch kids shrieking and scrambling? We found it online for $12.99 at www.circuitcity.com and $14.99 at www.littletikes.com.

Have fun with an ice cube-filled super soaker

The Aquashock Arctic Blast (“Flood ’em, Freeze ’em” is the motto; $19.99 at Toys R Us) has a wide fill cap that you can load with ice cubes. Then fill the rest of the soaker with water from the hose or tap. It shoots ice-cold water 35 feet.

Watch out!

Get a water slide

We like Big Time Toys’ Summer Splash Combo Pack ($20.99 at Kohl’s), with its Disney Cars theme. Hook it up to the hose and you’ve got a 15-foot water slide. The combo also includes a 10-inch sprinkler topped with the film’s star, race car Lightning McQueen, and a pair of kid-size swim goggles.


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