It’s finally happening – The days are getting longer, and the temperature is on the rise. Summer is on its way, and you may be starting to wonder what you’re going to do to keep your children busy while school is out. We’ll all want to take advantage of the weather and spend more time outside, but you may need ideas for how to keep your kids busy while they’re out there. There are lots of great toy options for outdoor play that will not only keep them active and engaged, but also learning along the way.
Outdoor play provides a fantastic opportunity for exercise and the development of strength and gross motor skills. Toys like bicycles or scooters are timeless and always entertaining, and the need for balance, coordination, and strength benefit a child’s development in a big way. Select a toy like the Mini Deluxe Kick Scooter for long-term use, as the adjustable T bar can accommodate children as they grow. A pogo stick is another option that provides a great physical challenge when it comes to balance, coordination, and core strength. The Foam Pogo Jumper makes squeaky sounds as kids bounce, for an added bit of fun.
Outdoor play also lends itself wonderfully to team activities and cooperative play. Whether your child has friends from the neighborhood over for the afternoon, or you’re attending a family BBQ, there are so many outdoor toy options for multiple players. For some old school fun, you can always plan for a classic Potato Sack or Egg and Spoon race between as many players as you’d like. Aside from encouraging competitive play, these also require players to practice coordination, concentration, and balance. Fun for kids and adults alike, target games like cornhole or Ring Toss are quick to set up and have a way of keeping everyone engaged as they take their turn perfecting their technique. These also work on eye-hand coordination, counting, and grading pressure. There are many many catch-and-throw toys out there, good for two or more players. Great options for younger children include Goodminton, an easier version of badminton, and Scoop Ball. Both are perfect for the development of concentration and reaction time, and are more great options for eye-hand coordination and grading pressure abilities. Perfect for a day at the park or the beach, Activ Flyers are Frisbee-like toys that make aiming, throwing, and catching a bit easier for young children because of their design. Ogosport discs can also be used as a Frisbee or as a super fun way to bounce balls back and forth to each other. Djubi is another interesting option, where players aim by pointing their racket towards a target, and then pulling back and releasing to throw their ball, like a slingshot.
For those particularly hot days, there’s nothing like water play to have fun and cool off, and also provide a valuable sensory experience. If you’ve got a swimming pool, a toy like the Finding Dory Dive and Catch Game will keep your kids busy and encourage lots of exercise. Some of the characters sink and others float, requiring kids to swim and dive to collect all of the pieces. This helps strength and coordination and builds confidence in the water. If you don’t have access to a pool, a sprinkler is a great way to incorporate water play in an easy and accessible way, as it only requires access to a water hose. The Little Tikes Beach Ball Sprinkler is great for encouraging teamwork and active play, as kids can have fun rolling it around together as it splashes.
In addition to water, there are several other outdoor toy options that provide great sensory experiences. Blowing bubbles (and popping them!) is a timeless activity that is fun for all ages and promotes attention, as kids try over and over again to blow the biggest one. Up the ante with the Wowmazing Giant Bubble Wand Kit, which includes everything you need to make huge bubbles and a booklet with cool tips and tricks. This comes with all of the benefits of classic bubble-blowing, along with the added benefit of promoting active play as kids try their hand at maneuvering the giant wands.
If you’ve got access to a small patch of dirt, or even just a small area for some pots, gardening with your children is a fantastic hands-on experience, an opportunity for focused outdoor play, and a great way to incorporate STEM into playtime. A simple gardening set of their very own will encourage your child to explore nature. Gardening promotes sensory exploration, active play, cognitive development, and imagination. There’s nothing like guiding your child through caring for a plant and watching it grow from seed to flower. Have them grow something edible, like an herb or a tomato plant, for an added lesson and feeling of achievement when they finally get to taste their finished product. If you’ve got a bit more space, the Little Tikes Garden Table is an adorable option that can be used indoors or outdoors to continue to promote gardening skills. It comes with toy flowerpots, soil discs, flowers, a tray, rake, shovel, and watering tray. Your child can play with it as-is, or you can allow for real water and soil for a chance for them to get their hands dirty and really dive in.
Imaginative play isn’t only reserved for indoor playsets. Many options for outdoor-friendly playsets also exist and can be used in a variety of ways, many being adaptable for water, sand, or dirt (Don’t worry! Let them get a little dirty now and then!). The Seaside Sand Baking Set is a great example that encourages imagination and creativity, and it can be used at the beach or anywhere else, given that it all packs away neatly into the bucket provided.
If you’ve got a larger backyard at home, there are many options for play equipment that will help promote active play in a very interactive way. There are many at-home versions of classic playground equipment, such as the Grow’n Up Heracles Seesaw or the Geometric Dome Climber Jungle Gym. These are easy to assemble at home and make a perfect addition to any backyard, not to mention their way of promoting physical strength, balance, and coordination.