Playing outside is vital to our children’s health, physical growth, social/emotional well-being, sleep, cognitive development, and more. It also helps kids build essential skills like executive function, risk-taking, and socialization.1 Research shows that children should get at least 40 minutes of outdoor play daily to help them fully thrive and learn.2 How can we pry them away from that screen time and get them excited to play outside? They won’t want to come in once they get out there with the right tools! I have rounded up my favorite outdoor toys for kids that will excite your child and engage them in play that gets them some fresh air and sunshine for hours.
The Best Outdoor Toys for Kids (Ages 1 – 8)
Outdoor play is important for kids' development and parents' sanity! Here are the best outdoor toys for kids ages 1-8.
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Playhouse and Swing Sets
KidKraft McKinley Wooden Swing Set
Babyjoy 4-in-1 Toddler Climber and Swing Set
KidKraft Appleton Wooden Swing Set
Backyard Discovery Beacon Heights Elevated Playhouse
Little Tikes 2-in-1 Castle Climber
Sweetwater Wooden Playhouse
While visiting your local playgrounds is a great activity for kids, having a playhouse or swing set in your backyard is super convenient! We may see it as just a swing and slide, but it could be so much to a little one’s imagination. This type of play helps promote imaginative play with coordination development and gross and fine motor play. Most of all, it allows them to create social and emotional relationships!3
Is there nothing cuter than a child following Dad around with their lawnmower? We may find yard work daunting, but our littles think it’s the best thing ever. These outdoor toys for kids encourage their future lawn skills and help with modeling behavior as they watch and imitate their parents. When a child learns to model behaviors or skills, it helps them learn new and strengthen their skills.5 Here are some of my favorite “grown-up” tools for outdoor play!
Minnidip Kiddie Pool
Magnolia Inflatable Pool
Step2 Spill and Splash Water Table
Giant Dinosaur T-Rex Float Joy Sprinkler
Surfing Dino Inflatable Giant Sprinkler
HITOP Kids Splash Mat
Intex Rainbow Cloud Inflatable Baby Pool
Giant Water Slide
Reusable Water Bomb Balloons
Water play in modern times is a far cry from running through your average sprinkler. The possibilities are endless with all the new, fun ways to explore water! It has been shown that water play is a beneficial type of play for kids, as it helps them develop their physical, social, emotional, and creative skills, among other abilities.6 Starting at 6 months and up, there is something for everyone in this category of outdoor toys!7
Bring Art Outside
Do you have a child who loves to create and make things? Bring that creativity and artistry outside for play! Creating something using nature (or even just creating in nature) can help make a calm environment for your little one. It may even make them more aware of their surroundings and help them appreciate what Mother Nature offers.1 These fun kids’ outdoor toys will help let your little one’s creativity run free!
Gross Motor Skills
We may go to the basics of riding bikes and playing ball when we think about outside play. These are still fantastic ways to promote social skills (ex., sharing) and encourage active play in our littles.1 Adding more elements to this type of play can help engage your child longer and further broaden their development. These are some of my favorite outdoor toys for kids, from sports sets to simple games to play with your neighbors.
Outdoor Discovery Critter Case
Bug Catcher Vacuum with Critter Habitat Case
Gardening Tool Set
On The Nature Trail Book
Skillmatics Card Game
Walkie Talkies for Kids
Scavenger Hunt Game with Walkie Talkies
Scavenger Hunt Card Game
GeoSafari Jr. Talking Telescope
Sometimes, the simplest ideas for child’s play are the most fun! Exploring the nature around them opens up so many sensory skills and helps with their cognitive and psychomotor development.4 It may even expose them to a topic they didn’t know they liked, such as birds, plants, or bugs, which can lead to new play through books and puzzles. These are my favorite toys and books to help your young bug catcher.
No matter what category your child gravitates toward, the benefits of outside play are endless. These outdoor toys for kids will lead to discoveries and adventures, helping them sleep better, get a little vitamin D, and more.1 And it’s all found in our backyards! Happy playing!