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Outdoor Toys: the New, the Nostalgic and the Nifty

While the weather is still winter-like in many ways, it is technically spring and I thought it would be a good time to discuss outdoor toys.

I have recently made a few shopping trips (due to an influx of birthday party invitations). As I perused the aisles of toy stores, I noticed the sudden appearance of outdoor toys.

As I browsed, nostalgia set in. Remembering that, as a child, I owned so many similar toys to use outside. It made me want to purchase EVERY SINGLE ONE for my kids.

Not only do outdoor toys make great birthday gifts when we start heading for actual springtime weather, but some of these items (especially the smaller ones) would make great additions to Easter baskets.

When I decide on gifts to buy for kids, I think of a lot of indoor type interests. Art supplies, video games, play dough, and small toys or games immediately come to mind. Once in awhile, I might think of sidewalk chalk or bubbles. All of those things seem to work well. 

However, gifting outdoor toys to kids seems like a terrific way to give them something different to do outside and/or to motivate family members to go out and play together.

Here are a few of my favorite outdoor toy gift ideas for children:

  • Stomp Rockets

    These have actually become more popular in the last couple of years. My son received a set of these for Christmas a couple of years ago. He’s not the only one in our home who loves them; we brought them to a nearby field last summer and all four members of my household played with them for over an hour. Basically, they are composed of a stand that holds a ‘rocket’ attached to an air-filled bulb with a tube. You stomp on the bulb and it sends the rocket flying. The harder you jump on the bulb, the farther or higher it goes (depending on where you’ve aimed the rocket). You can order these online and some stores carry them too. If you’re ambitious, you can even make your own

  • Velcro Catch Sets

    I think these are great for kids because they tend to be very inexpensive to buy and you don’t really have to know how to catch a ball to use these, or at least not how to close a baseball mitt so the ball doesn’t come out. You can more easily teach your aspiring t-ball or baseball player the fundamentals of moving towards a ball rather than waiting for the ball to come to them.

    Outdoor toys; velcro catch set

    My kids can’t wait to get outside this summer and play with their velcro catch set.

  • Skip Its/Skip Balls

    Do you remember these!?? I had a pink one as a child. For those unfamiliar with them, it is a contraption made of plastic that has a ring at one end that you put around your ankle connected to a ‘ball’ at the other end by a long, thin piece of plastic. The idea is that you move your ankle so the ring around it spins, causing the long part and the ball to move around in circles while you jump over it. It really is great exercise and you don’t need other people to use it. They still market the original version that has the counter that keeps track of your skips, but many more inexpensive knock off versions are out there as well.

  • Jump Ropes

    Not much to explain here, but maybe it’s been long time since you’ve used one or you haven’t thought about getting one for your child. These are great exercise if you jump with them, but I also know many kids who use them in pretend play outside, pretending they are snakes or tying off an area. They are inexpensive, and a good option if your child won’t hurt themselves jumping. Oh, and I can’t forget all the fun chants and songs kids can learn and jump to!

  • Flying Discs

    Frisbees are awesome no matter what age you are, and they have kinds that light up now.  However, many stores also carry huge flying discs made of fabric that look like so much fun! I may have to get one to use in the nearby field after playing with stomp rockets with the kids.

  • Sidewalk Chalk Stencils and Stampers

    We all know about sidewalk chalk, but I recently purchased a sidewalk chalk stamper for a friend’s daughter’s birthday. I had never seen one before but if it truly works, it looks so cool! It is a big stamper that you can fill with chalk powder included in the kit. The kit I bought contained three colors of powder and at least 3 stencil attachments to put on the stamper. You pick which stencil you’d like to stamp on your sidewalk or driveway, insert it into the stamper, put the powder on the stamp, then stamp away! Theoretically, the picture on the stencil is stamped on the ground. Sounds like any little artist 3 years or over would enjoy this! You can also buy stencils without the stamper to use with regular sidewalk chalk.

  • Sidewalk Paint

    There are all kinds of sidewalk paint. I recently bought a set of three ‘paint brushes’ that are pre-filled with 1.32 oz of chalk powder. The end of the ‘brush’ is really foam. You fill the body of the brush with water and each brush turns the water a different color as you ‘paint’ on the sidewalk. The paint is as easily washable as sidewalk chalk itself. The instructions do not specify if new powder can be added to the brushes once the original powder is gone. I am planning to attempt to do so if my kids haven’t worn out the foam. It would be great if these were reusable! My son especially loves painting, so they are set aside for Easter baskets.

  • Kites

    We have to have some windy days after the snow melts, right?

  • Fun Sprinklers

    Start prepping for summer now, it may lift your spirits!

  • Zip Balls

    I never had one of these but I know what they do. They have two ropes going through a large bead. One person stands on one side holding the ends of both ropes (usually there are handles) and another person does the same at the other end. The two individuals take turns opening and closing their arms, bringing the ropes apart and together. This causes the oversized bead to move along the string.

  • Gardening Sets

    I walked through a hardware store the other day with my two year-old and she started begging me for the little play watering can on the rack. We didn’t leave with it this time, but it just goes to prove how fascinated little kids can be with gardening supplies. At home, we have gardening shovels and hand rakes made specifically for children. They’ve been used in the sandbox as well as the garden, where my children help my husband plant his vegetables and herbs.

  • Scoop Ball/Scoop Toss

    My sister and I had a set of these as children as well. You may remember these as the crescent shaped ball scoops that you could play catch with. The scoops can be used to both throw and catch a whiffle ball.  

  • Bug Exploration Kits

    For any little bug lovers, there are so many types of these kits to choose from. Kids have no idea that these are educational. Science learning is always a plus!

  • Pretend Lawn Mowers

    My kids follow my husband and me around while we mow the lawn pushing their toy mowers. We’re training them young! (The toy mowers that blow bubbles as they move are still on the market as well).

  

My son enjoying pushing his toy lawnmower.

My son has enjoyed playing with his toy lawn mower the last three summers. Complete with ear protection in case the bubbles get too loud.

  • Sports Sets

    If you have a yard, sports sets can be a lot of fun for the whole family. Different sets include: t-ball, badminton, volleyball, street hockey, lacrosse, golf, croquet, and bocce. Depending on the ages of the child or children in your family, there are many possibilities for everyone!

These are just a few of the outdoor toys I have seen recently. Hopefully, warmer weather will be here soon and mud season won’t last too long so we can all get our families outside and play!

What outdoor toys or activities does your family enjoy? Do you have any more outdoor toy ideas?

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