Author Topic: Outdoor toys / play equipment that provide hours of entertainment for toddlers?  (Read 1061 times)

HappierAtHome

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8832
  • Location: Australia
Looking for ideas for outdoor toys or play equipment for my toddler. Preferably ones that provide good bang for your buck, will give toddlers free rein to develop skills at their own pace and that transition well for older kids. I don't want to spend money on equipment that will break easily and / or he will grow out of too quickly.

We have a clamshell, half of which we use for a kiddie pool. He loves that in hot weather.
Planning to use the other half for a sandpit.
He's just starting to get interested in kicking or throwing a ball around.
When he's older, I know a trampoline is a great idea based on the hours and hours and hours my nieces and nephews spend on theirs.

MayDay

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3665
A mini trampoline that you can drag indoors in winter is a great thing.

Anything to climb on was a hit, but you have to balance how big it is. I didn't want to spend my time standing behind them making sure they didn't fall off.

We had a plastic car- little tykes......  Blanking on the name. They can ride in it. That thing was so popular!

chemistk

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 265
We have a small 6-ft trampoline (with a net) in our basement, since our backyard is a hill. That thing hat paid for itself 10 times over for our 3.5 year old. Kids have mountains of energy and need to move - when it-s too hot, cold, or wet outside our son jumps for hours.

Otherwise - chalk, balls, sand toys, frisbees, kites, a truck or two all see tons of use in our household. Bugs, rocks, sticks, water, and sand probably see more use outside than the 'toys'.

Keep in mind that despite your best efforts, whatever goes outside (outdoor toy or not) will eventually be subject to very harsh conditions. A lot of it will break/be lost after a year or two.

Hula Hoop

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 704
  • Location: Italy
We live in an apartment so no back yard but the best outdoor toys for us have been good quality scooters (Micro brand - totally worth it) as we walk everywhere and the kids ride their scooters and also skipping ropes.  The girls are 6 and 10 and they want to be professional rope skippers when they grow up (this really is a thing - there are youtube videos).  Also basketballs and balls for kicking around.

marion10

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 261
We had a small little tykes slide that we put so you slid into the pool- waterpark! That would only be good up to age 4 or so- it was very small.

Cranky

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1305
We also had a Little Tykes slide that we used for many years, through 3 kids, both indoors and outside. It was a fabulous investment.

A little water table is also pretty great.

I'm a red panda

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6955
  • Location: United States
We had a plastic car- little tykes......  Blanking on the name. They can ride in it. That thing was so popular!

My daughter makes a beeline for her "Cozy Coupe" anytime she is in the garage.   She hasn't figured out how to make it go forward yet, but she scoots it around backwards.


My outdoor toy strategy: anything I can pickup free on Buy Nothing Project :)
Although right now, running to touch our fence, and then going to the other fence is a pretty popular activity.

I do want to get a mini-trampoline when she gets a tiny bit bigger; it's on the grandparent Christmas list.

MicroRN

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1011
It does take up a lot of space,  but a geodesic dome climber is worth it.   Great physical activity,  but it's also a prop for things of imaginative play.   It's a house,  a spaceship,  a base.  You can throw an old sheet over it for a sheltered party area too.

driftwood

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 243
If you have a yard, cut out 1-2' of grass and then you have a dirt pit. Add water and it's a mud pit. We had one in our yard from pulling out a post and it was my kids' favorite yard toy. Honestly. Before we moved I filled it in and it wasn't an issue with the landlords. You might have to add dirt every once in awhile to keep it from growing too big. That sentence sounds weird...if you fill it in with dirt that will prevent your kids from digging deeper/wider and making the hole bigger.

gatortator

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 108
If you have a yard, cut out 1-2' of grass and then you have a dirt pit. Add water and it's a mud pit. We had one in our yard from pulling out a post and it was my kids' favorite yard toy.

+1. ours is a patch of our rock garden in a corner of the yard under a shade tree.  The kids call it the "secret spot" and have been using the spot for 4+ years now along with neighborhood kids.  they make mud pies and pretend they have a bake shop.  they pretend they are witches/wizards and make potions.  they pretend they are fairies and use plant trimmings from the garden for various fairy notions.  they pretend they are bears, wolves, puppies or kittens and that is their den.  And sometimes they just dig or stack the rocks in various ways. 
« Last Edit: September 12, 2018, 01:35:20 PM by gatortator »

AMandM

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 598
Yes to the dirt pit (if you can stand the laundry!). Ours was a mine for a long time--a previous owner had dumped out the contents of an aquarium so "jewels" aka colored rocks would turn up pretty frequently.

erutio

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 251
I second the recommendation for a micro brand scooter.  A bit more expensive than other scooters but very worth it. 
Also, a balance bike.  Try to skip tricycles and training wheels altogether, as it has been shown these are actually detrimental to learning how to ride a bike. 

I would recommend against a trampoline, not for fun factors (of course they're fun), but because of safety issues.  Studies have shown they significantly increase your chance of sustaining a spinal cord injury.  Also, some insurance companies will also increase your premiums if you have a trampoline in the house/yard.

I hate plasticky things, but a water table has been wonderful.   Mud or sand pits are also great.  At our house, our kids get dirty when they play. We got over it pretty quickly as they get to dig, build, scoop, plant, and get to use their imagination.

Other goodies:
Simple sidewalk chalk or sidewalk paint.
Spray bottle.  Fill it with water and let them "water" the plants and grass.  Don't know if it's universal, but our kids LOVED them. 

Some not so great toys (usually given as gifts):
Toy lawn mower:  Everytime we were out in the yard, DD would ask us to bring it out.  She'd push it out a little, and inevitably get bored with it.  One of the adults had to go retrieve it everytime.
Cozy coope (and other toy cars): Very short window of use.  Too little, and you're pushing them the whole time.  Too big, and their knees don't fit in there anymore.
Kites:  DS was given a kite for his 3 year old birthday.  Kites are great, but for toddlers, just a source of frustration.   Wait until they are older for kites.

elliha

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 338
We have a slide indoors that my 2 year old likes, he calls it his "weeee weeee" as the sound he makes when he goes down it. That could work outdoors too. All kinds of buckets, cups, trays etc. can be used both in water and in a sand pit. Both my kids love to water the plants which was really more watering the grass so a small watering can is also fun. If you have concrete or asphalt on your drive way chalk is also fun. A plastic wheelbarrow or plastic lawnmower were also used by both kids.

The things I have listed are all cheap and both my 2 year old and 6 year old can play with them.

I'm a red panda

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6955
  • Location: United States
I would recommend against a trampoline, not for fun factors (of course they're fun), but because of safety issues.  Studies have shown they significantly increase your chance of sustaining a spinal cord injury.  Also, some insurance companies will also increase your premiums if you have a trampoline in the house/yard.

Other goodies:
Simple sidewalk chalk or sidewalk paint.
Spray bottle.  Fill it with water and let them "water" the plants and grass.  Don't know if it's universal, but our kids LOVED them. 


Just FYI- when I say trampoline for a toddler I mean this:
https://www.amazon.com/Little-Tikes-630354M-3-Trampoline/dp/B00AU0O7QI/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1536782874&sr=8-3&keywords=mini+trampoline+kids


The spray bottle is a GREAT idea! I don't think my daughter quite has the dexterity, but I'm going to keep that in mind!

erutio

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 251


The spray bottle is a GREAT idea! I don't think my daughter quite has the dexterity, but I'm going to keep that in mind!

Yes, a spray bottle may be harder for smaller hands.  Another thing we did was just give our kids our garden hose nozzle, turned to the mist setting, with the water turned on low flow.  Our nozzle had the locked on position, and the mist setting minimized water waste (most of the water just went to the lawn anyways).

tyrannostache

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 140
Honestly, for my very small toddler, we get the most use out of the dog's water dish and the landscaping rocks in the sideyard. She has a handful of cups and a bucket, and she will pour water back and forth or put rocks in and out of the bucket for minutes on end. To spare the dog his water, I often put out a big wide tupperware container to use instead.

nessness

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 283
Water table, scooter (the radio flyer one is good for toddlers), tricycle.

Any interest in getting a few backyard chickens? Because those are far and away my toddler's favorite thing in our yard.

v8rx7guy

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1043
  • Location: PNW
Our son turned 3 this year and he is big into tractors and such.  I re-purposed a large tractor tire (probably about 5/6' in diameter) into a sandbox for him.  I cut one of the tire sidewalls off and put the in tact sidewall towards the ground.  It took about 3/4 of a yard of sand to fill it and he plays in it for hours on end.  I also bought a mini excavator thingy that he can sit on and manipulate the bucket with two handles that he loves to play on.  Just an idea.

Kinda like this:


HappierAtHome

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8832
  • Location: Australia
Thanks for all the great ideas so far!

marion10

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 261
A medium size paintbrush- not a little water color brush-  it pastry brush size and a bucket of water- you can paint the sidewalk with the water.

Kitsune

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1572
A medium size paintbrush- not a little water color brush-  it pastry brush size and a bucket of water- you can paint the sidewalk with the water.

You can also get chalk paint - 18-month-old doesn't care, but chalk paint and water and brushes and my 4-year-old is occupied for a good half hour. I think we spent 10$ on 5 bottles early this summer, and we're almost out, but in terms of cost to use: A+ rec for the older set. And we don't have to clutter the house to store it over winter :)

For the younger set: seconding recommendations for sandboxes (with buckets and shovels), and bonus points if you can get a bit of water to it (bucket works). HOURS of fun. Also chalk and pavement, balls, swings (needs more adult help, but does keep them contained for a good 15 minutes, and sometimes that matters), and, honestly, a garden they can pick through - I swear my son spent more time fetching sweet peas out of the garden than he spent playing, some days.

sandyvanburen

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 22
We got our kid a swing and a slide when she turned 2. She's almost 5 and still uses them A LOT. We also got her a sand-table as we found the clam wouldn't protect the sand from heavy (or not so heavy) rain. The table was easier to move into the shed.

For the rest our kid plays in the yard with bubbles and chalk and just last spring we gifted her a little plot for herself to garden in. She really enjoyed planting seeds, watering them, pulling weeds, singing for her seeds (not kidding!) etc. Whe the flowers finally came, she would just sit there in awe and watch them! We also helped her plant strawberries and I promise: your very own grown and plucked strawberry tastes better than  anything else!!