As a mom of four kids, having a fenced-in backyard fun zone full of outdoor toys for kids is a lifesaver. I need a space outside the house for my kids to stay occupied and play together, without having to keep track of everyone at a park. To be honest, it’s a bonus if they will play independently, allowing me to keep an eye on them while accomplishing other things.
Over the years, we have gathered a collection of fun outdoor toys for kids that entertain ages toddler through grade school. Below is a list of outdoor toys for kids that have provided hours of backyard fun for my family.
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Swingset or Play Set
We started out with a relatively inexpensive metal swingset in our backyard. It is rare that our kids do not go on the swingset when they play outside!
Last year, we were excited to add a Gorilla play set to our backyard. I did a ton of research on playsets, and Gorilla play sets seem to be praised for their high quality and durability. I found one that had:
- a rock climbing wall plus a ladder,
- two slides (so multiple kids could slide at the same time),
- a wooden roof that I thought would be more durable than a tarp,
- a large clubhouse (again, we have four kids!),
- two swings, and
- a trapeze bar.
It seems that our version (Double Down) is out of stock, but this Gorilla play set — the Outing III with wooden roof — looks extremely similar.
It took my husband a couple of days to build, but it is beautiful and sturdy, and our kids have so much fun on it! I’ve got to admit, I enjoy swinging on the Gorilla playset, and when I do, I do not feel like I am going to knock it over!
We did not buy the Gorilla play set on our own. We asked birthday party guests and family members to pitch in toward the play set in lieu of individual gifts. This approach worked out really well!
Our baby swing has been used often for all four kids and is a must-have if you have toddlers.
There will likely be a slide on your swing set, but if not, a separate freestanding slide is a must. (Even if there is one on your swing set, you can’t really have enough slides—especially if you have a large family!) We have this 3-feet long Little Tikes slide for younger kids (ideally ages 1-2 or so), and this 5-feet long slide for older kids (2 and up).
For small toddlers, a push car with a handle has provided loads of fun (and exercise for Mom!). It’s easy to maneuver—in fact, many a time, I have pushed the toddler while holding the baby. Side note: If you live close to your kids’ school, I have seen parents pushing their toddlers in the push cars to school pickup! Older kids enjoy driving around the coupes. Of course, if you can manage to splurge for an electric car, that would probably take the cake!
When my older two kids go to a park, they are drawn to anything they can climb. So, when my mom wanted to buy them an outdoor toy as a gift for becoming a big brother and sister (yet again), I suggested this Lifetime Dome Climber. It has been a fun addition to our backyard fun zone, although they do fight over who gets to sit on the top!
Kids who visit our house also seem to enjoy playing on it. It has held up very well through winter snow, and it is also moveable if you need to mow the lawn underneath or put it in a different part of the lawn.
Our water table sees a lot of use in the summer months. We enjoy the Step2 Spill & Splash Seaway Water Table because it’s a good size for the kids, came with lots of toys and accessories, and has an umbrella for coverage. It does not have a drain, so we have to overturn it to empty the water. However, I have heard that water tables with drains sometimes leak, so this might not be a downside!
A sandbox keeps kids busy with creative play for hours! We got a small turtle sandbox, which includes a cover to keep out rain and pests. Alternatively, you might choose a sand table. Don’t forget the sand toys, as well. My kids had a lot of fun with their sand baking set, and my son likes to drive trucks and diggers around in the sand.
Tee Ball Set
We recently got the Grow-to-Pro Tee Ball set by Fisher Price. My 5-year-old son has had so much hitting the ball across the backyard. It’s nice not to have to be on “pitching duty!” Conveniently, you can adjust the height on the tee. And of course, once they no longer need the tee, you’re left with a sturdy bat and ball for backyard fun.
Years ago, my parents brought us a backyard roller coaster they’d found secondhand at a garage sale. This toy has been fun for the kids from about 18 months all the way up to 6-and-a-half (and probably beyond). I am amazed at how well toddlers can operate it on their own! Although I do not think our model of roller coaster is in production anymore, this roller coaster by Step2 is similar and rated well on Amazon.
My kids love to engage in pretend-play in their playhouse. They seem to prefer larger playhouses with fun features like tables or play sinks, like the Happy Home Cottage by Step2. In addition, they like playhouses that have shutters so that they can play peekaboo.
Our bounce house has been an extra special treat for the kids. It is a hit at birthday parties and playdates. (As a caveat, I have not found it to be the easiest toy to store when it’s not in use.) Our Little Tikes Dunk ‘n Toss Bouncer does not seem to be produced anymore, but Amazon reviewers seem to love the similar Little Tikes Jump ‘n Slide Bouncer.
Bonus: Printable Backyard Activity Cards
If you are looking for ways to keep your kids entertained while they are in the backyard, you will love these free printable activity cards. Learn more here!
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Originally published in October 2018