No matter the weather, my boys and I absolutely LOVE to be outside. The fresh air does wonders for all of us, even the dog. And although I am the type of mom who lets my boys play in the dirt, I much rather prefer that they use some of the amazing outdoor toys that are on the market.
So without any further ado, here are our tried and true outdoor toys that have withstood the rough play of two little boys and the freezing cold and blazing hot days that we Chicagoans are subjected to by Mother Nature.
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- Gymboree Bubbles Through attending Gymboree Play and Learn classes, I learned the wondrous magic of their bubbles. I’m not sure if it is the consistency or a secret ingredient (I have heard it is sugar) in their formula, but they are AMAZING. The bubbles are absolutely fool proof and last for hours and hours. And they come with an awesome bubble blowing wand that is great for kiddos who are just starting to become independent and want to do everything themselves. Perfect for a 1st birthday gift!
- Playground Balls Don’t be fooled—not all balls are created equal! If you have kids who love to bounce the ball against the pavement, walls, fences, etc. you probably already know this since cheap balls tend to spring leaks all of the time. As a school teacher, I know the one tried and true type of ball that survives recess all year long: the thick, rubber playground ball. I promise it will last longer than any other ball you have ever had!
- Infalta Bowl Speaking of balls, what do most kids like to use them for? To knock things down of course! We love this Land of Nod bowling set because it is not only stylish and well made, but it also keeps my boys focused on an activity while practicing strategy and of course, counting.
- Bikes For the younger set, a balance bike is best. And since I am no expert on this topic, I reached out to local expert Lesley of Roscoe Village Bikes.
Balance Bikes —These are the lightest version of bike available and are appropriate for younger toddlers (1.5 to 2 years old). Why are they popular? In Lesley’s words, “The advantage of a balance bike is it can help kids learn balancing and handling so that they can reply less on training wheels and learn to ride a regular two-wheeler more quickly.”
“Regular Bikes”—Starting off with a 12” bike is best to start with around age 3. One of Lesley’s top picks for girls is the Jamis Miss Daisy 16” because it is durable, comfortable, and great for learning. Jamis makes boy versions of bikes as well.
Be sure to visit Lesley at Roscoe Village Bikes to try out both a balance and regular bike, as well as gain from her insight as not just a bicycle shop owner, but also as a parent. As she pointed out to me when I was trying to find a bike for my preschooler, the most important part is that he loves whatever kind of bike he picks and takes his time on his lifelong bike riding journey.
- Bike Trailer Planning a family bike ride? Then keep your little ones safe and cozy in a Burley bike trailer. I love that there is enough room for both of my boys, as well as some toys and blankies so that we can enjoy long weekend rides whenever the mood strikes us.
- Scooter There are so many different types of scooters out on the market, but I have found that starting with the Mini Kick Scooter is the best way to go. It is perfect for younger ones who are establishing their balance, lightweight, and has stability features such as being low to the ground, three wheels, and lean to steer handle bar that is perfect for 3-5 year olds. Talk to Katherine at Building Blocks Toy Store about the many different scooter options as your child grows…and of course, helmets, too!
- Radio Flyer Tricycle Sometimes the classic is best. And in the case of the Radio Flyer tricycle, this couldn’t be more true. The fact that this tricycle can grow with your child with an adjustable and removable push handle makes it the perfect investment for your family. We have had ours for over four years and you would think it was brand new by looking at it—a testament to the great quality and craftsmanship that you can expect from Radio Flyer.
- Sand and Water Table Since we love sensory play, we prefer the most basic sand and water table out there. Not only is this product sturdy, but it is extremely easy to clean out since the bin is lightweight and removable, unlike more “snazzy” water and sand tables on the market. It also has an adjustable height, which allows the sand and water table to grow along with your kids.
Don’t forget to head to your local neighborhood shop to make sure you are getting the perfect things for your family.
Looking for fun places to play outside? Simply search “outdoor” in the side bar.