Summer days seem to scream for outdoor toys, backyard adventures, and family fun. Our family loves being outside, whether it be riding bikes, on a nature hike, at a community splash pad, or simply enjoying time in our own backyard.
The Nature Conservancy shared research that in a typical week, only 6% of children ages 9-13 play outside, and kids ages 8-18 spend an overwhelming 53 hours a week on entertaining media such as video games. How do you draw kids outside and keep them engaged with the outdoors? How do you inspire them to be active?
Two things have worked for our family:
1. We limit screen time. The kids are allowed screen time in the morning, but all screens have to be off before lunch. In full transparency, our oldest son will complain there’s nothing else to do, but then I’ll gently remind him of the 100 other things he could be doing…including chores. I’m a mean mom, I know. I simply refuse to let their brains turn to mush just because it’s summer.
2. We lead by example. We don’t just expect our kids to go outside; we try to go outside as often as we can, too. I’ll sip my tea on the back deck. We’ll water flowers. If I happen to see a backyard neighbor outside, we’ll head over there and chat. If my husband is working from home, he’ll take his laptop and paperwork outside to the patio table and work there for the afternoon. In the evenings, we’ll go for a power walk and torture the boys by making them ride their bikes alongside us. On the weekend, we’ll drive to a county park and investigate a new trail.
One of the reasons we chose our current home when we moved here five years ago was for the wide open, park-like backyard. We knew it would be perfect for enjoying summer as a family! While we’ve chosen not to splurge on a swingset, we do have a few simple toys that’ve paid for themselves over and over again. They’re perfect for helping us draw the kids into the backyard!
Our 3 Favorite Backyard Toys For Ultimate Summer Fun:
1. Dome Climber
I have to share this one first since it has quickly became the ultimate-favorite-awesomest thing of ALL at our house. When I first saw it online I wasn’t sure if it would be a wise choice for our family, but the reviews are what sold me. People are raving about how much fun their kids have using this dome for creative play!
Besides swinging from them like they’re monkey bars, the dome has also been both a jail and a playhouse. Throw a large sheet over it and it makes for a great fort, too. This has been our best backyard buy yet! (This one on Amazon was the best price I’ve found, and it shipped directly to our door so I didn’t have to hassle with transporting it home. It’s heavy!)
Crawling, hiding, rolling around… these tunnels provide endless hours of fun, especially when our kids were at the toddler/preschool ages. We have the caterpillar tunnel, but there are all sorts of cool tunnels you can choose from, even a four-way tunnel or a tunnel/tent combo. I love that they easily fold away for storage, and they can also be used as an “inside toy” during the cold winter months.
These were a gift for our family and they’ve been a blast to own. They’re a great way to integrate multiple people into outdoor play, whether you have a large family gathering or several energetic neighborhood kids looking for something to do! This GoSports goalie set is almost identical to the one we use, with multiple sizes to choose from.
Tell me… What are your favorite toys for backyard play during the summer months?