Playtime is great for your child’s physical and cognitive development. Most children have been participating in online or remote schooling for more than a full year. They have often become less likely to go outdoors and play. However, the vitamin D from the sunshine can be one of the best things for them. Getting them outside can be challenging, though. Here are a few toys that might get them to put down the electronics and pick up some vitamin D.
A sand or water table is a great way to get children outside and learn simultaneously. The sensory table is excellent for learning about gravity, density, and have fun. A water table can be the perfect way to cool off outside on hot summer days. Splashing in the water is fun for kids of all ages. You don’t even need specialty diapers for this activity.
DIY Rock Wall
Build a DIY rock wall for your kids to climb. It can be designed for any age or skill level and grow with your children. Rock walls are great for gross muscle development and teach children balance. Rock walls are a lot of fun for little kids learning to climb, and they build upper body strength for older children.
One thing that parents forget is that their kids love old-school toys. There’s a reason we loved playing with water balloons is that they are great fun. Buy cheap balloons and fill them with water. If your children are small, watch them closely, but the balloons should be a big hit. You should remember to clean balloon pieces from the lawn when done so that birds and animals don’t choke.
Bats and Balls
Baseball is a summer sport. Get the kids outside with bats, balls, and gloves. For the littlest ones, you can buy plastic tee ball sets, but even teens can get in on the fun of whiffle ball or a classic game of baseball in the yard. Bases are also relatively cheap and usually made of rubber, so they don’t fall prey to the weather very often.
Pails and Digging Toys
Kids love to dig in the dirt. If you got the sand table, don’t forget the digging toys. However, you can also let them plant a garden. Digging is a great muscle activity, and kids love to feel helpful. If you are having trouble getting them to eat their veggies, a garden can also help them feel that they control their food. Pride in what they grow can be a great motivator.
Bikes, Tikes, and Ride-on Toys
Riding outside is a great way to get exercise and can be the catalyst for some of their fondest childhood memories. When I was a child, outdoor play was not complete until we climbed on our bikes and rode around the neighborhood with friends. Children still enjoy racing and trying to pop wheelies! Let them ride around the parking lot or neighborhood when possible. Getting a family set of bikes can also mean trips to the parks for bike trails.
Sidewalk chalk can be used to encourage a budding artist or to make the driveway look more festive. You can also draw hopscotch and other outdoor games with the sidewalk chalk for hours of fun. Tic Tac Toe can be more fun in the sun!
Water Guns or Water Sprayers
It’s important to teach kids safety when using water guns or sprayers, but they can also provide fun and cooling entertainment for children of all ages. If you are uncomfortable with guns, you can get sprayers or balls soaked in water to throw. Be sure that you remind kids not to throw at their friends’ faces or try to injure one another, but they can develop muscle skills and social skills with water toys.
Slip n slide was a staple of childhoods in the 80s and 90s, but many parents became concerned about safety. Other water slides have pools at the bottom and can be hours of entertainment. Inflatable slides are popular now and combine a bouncy house and waterslide.
Telescopes and Binoculars
Exploration of the outdoors doesn’t have to take place during daylight hours. Telescopes are great for exploring the universe with any age of the child. You can start with simple telescopes for your youngest children and build up to more powerful ones for teens or older children.
Skates/ Skateboards/ Rollerblades
Outdoor skates are a great way to get the kids exercising and hanging out with friends. Be sure that the wheels are specially designed for outdoor use. Skates/ skateboards/ and roller blades can also grow with your children. Scooters can be a precursor to skateboards if your child isn’t quite ready.
Children need time with friends and in the sunshine. You can allow them time to play with electronics, watch tv, and do things inside, but they still need outdoor experiences. Learning can also be fun when done outdoors. Muscle development, social skills, and even physical health can be improved with outdoor play and activities. Be creative. Getting your children outdoors does not need to be expensive.