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Best Children’s Outdoor Toys: Go outside and do something.

By Melissa Summers

We live in the suburbs of Detroit, I rarely lock my door and I feel pretty safe in our neighborhood. Safe from crime, I do not feel safe from the irritation of loud neighbors. So you’d think my kids would be living the same kind of carefree stay outside from morning until night life I lived as a child. But they do not. There are a few reasons for this. I can’t say that the constant media coverage of every abduction, shooting and overall bad things which happen to kids hasn’t affected me and my ability to let my kids run around the neighborhood unsupervised. Our neighborhood is also lacking in children so there’s no one to run around the neighborhood with and finally we lack a garage so the kids bikes and other outside toys are difficult to get at in the crowded shed.

But all that is going to change this summer as we move to a new place with a garage, a private backyard and a lot of kids to play with in our new neighborhood. This coupled with the fact that I have a difficult time filling the summer with 1,000 activities when my kids have nothing to do leads us to today’s Buzz Off, Outdoor Toys.

horseshoes.jpgGet your kids ready for retirement today with this rubber horse shoe game. When my husband and I were first married we lived in a small duplex with a retired older couple next door. Each morning I was awakened by the “clink, clink, clink” of Mr. Wood perfecting his horse shoe game for the winter when they’d return to Florida. Logan and I had an elaborate story we entertained ourselves with involving Mr. Wood and his place on the Horse Shoe Pro Circuit. There were bitter rivalries between different retirement communities and even groupies…in our mind at least.
My kids love ring toss games and they keep them occupied for almost 20 minutes! Hooray! 20 minutes doesn’t seem like a long time, until it’s summer and then a summer 20 minutes feels like hours. This colorful wooden set from Boikido is perfect. Just make sure you make it easy to put away after the kids are done playing: Wood + Rain = No more fun.

beejumprope.jpgThis year in gym class my kids have been working on jumping rope. Jumping rope is great exercise and if you can get a few kids over there are so many games to play in the rope. You might even squeeze 30 minutes out of this activity. I love these bug handled ropes at Amazon.

beachballsprinkler.jpgMy kids are a little annoying about sprinklers and playing in the water. They want to do it but then the minute they get wet they act surprised, as if they thought a sprinkler which shoots water would not get them wet. Still this oversized beach ball sprinkler looks like way too much fun to resist. How many minutes can I get out of this?

bikebells.jpgI’m not featuring any bikes in this round up, but you have to have a bike for your kid. My kids are currently unwilling to take their training wheels off and I think my daughter will be 30 before she ever learns to ride a two wheeler. My plans for them this summer include a lot of bike riding so I’m going to have to do something to get them on the bike in the first place once we “lose” the training wheels in the move. These bike bells are just $9.75, are bright and cheerful and will help you track your child’s location in the neighborhood.

stilts.jpgMy son has been asking for stilts for the last two years. I’ve avoided buying them because I thought he was too young and it seemed so easy to just make our own. I realized though we’re never going to make them and Max is old enough to give it a try so I’m checking this set from Villac. The stilts come in white and green or red and black with ladybug handles. (There’s also a pair available from a different brand at Amazon.)

bowlingpinsclowns.jpgA few years ago my Santa Claus brought a foam bowling set and the kids loved it. We set it up in the hallway and let them have at it. They tried it outside but the concrete is hardly ever smooth enough to keep the pins upright. Enter this clown set which keeps the pins on a single rod so the goal is to tip the clowns over making them lose their hats. Easy to set up, even for little hands.

croquet.jpgMy grandfather had a croquet set and I remember many hours playing in the backyard. Of course, we weren’t very good and I’m certain I would have been better if we’d had mallets sized for us, like this set. I am also certain I would have been better at croquet if my set had been packaged in this bright striped bag. To this day I am not very good at croquet, don’t doom your child to a life like this. I am not overstating the truth at all.

Up next: cooking with kids!

Melissa Summers
About the Author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.


Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

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  • That clown bowling set looks great – I friggin HATE having to set up the pins over and over. However, I’m having trouble with les website to order. But surely I can find one for us ‘mericans, right? Thanks for the ideas!

  • Kate

    My girls have a croquet set and it keeps them occupied for a good hour at least. Most of the time, they don’t even play croquet as much as they play with the croquet things. Either way, I’m happy they are busy outside.

  • Lisame

    The six year old that spends his weekends w/his father and me LOVES LOVES that croquet set! I was way surprised at the enthusiasm. We live in a duplex and the driveway works lovely.

  • Don’t forget bocce! It’s an awesome game.
    And an added bonus for us is that the little white guide ball in bocce is called the ‘jack,’ which my Jack loves.

  • Lisa

    After playing with the stilts at Greenfield Village my kids asked for some too. My father-in-law made sets for all the grandkids a couple of Christmas’ ago, now sometimes my driveway looks like a circus training ground for all the neighborhood kids.
    There is also the game of catch with the 2 sticks and the hoop (that can be decorated with ribbons) they play at Greenfield Village. My kids love that too.

  • I love the clown bowling – ingenious! The sprinkler ball is awesome, too. I’m thinking you could trick somebody with that and soak them. Which is always fun.

  • sumo

    What kids need today are Jarts! You know, with the big pointy steel tips?
    Kidding of course. Even as a boy I could tell those things were dangerous (which made them all the more enticing). Not only are they banned, but the government asks that all old lawn darts be destroyed.
    Did you know they are still legal in England? Check out these bad boys!

  • Amy

    My Mom is in taking golf lessons, so she’s been practicing her swing in the back yard. My 2 year old spends 2 days every other week with her, so Mom bought her a set of her very own golf clubs. Kidlet is a total mimic, and it’s hysterical to watch her tee off, and then swing the club so hard she falls down. She gets right back up and laughs hysterically right along with us.