Playing outdoors is a part of what makes kiwi kids special, and there are some great outdoor toys available. This guide to outdoor toys will help you find the best toys for your child, because kiwi kids are outdoor kids.
Children love to run, jump, crawl, shoot, bounce and generally play outdoors, and there are some great toys available to make this time extra fun. It’s a nice idea to have an ‘Outdoor Toy Box’ at the back door, so your child always knows where to look for extra stimulation. It also reinforces the fact that these toys are ‘outside’ toys, and stops rugby balls and skipping ropes from being played with inside.
Some great toys of your Outdoor Toy Box include:
Ball play helps your child develop in so many ways, and children enjoy them at all ages and stages of development. Ball skills are an essential building block for so many sports, so try to include a range of balls in your toy box so your child can experience different weights, sizes and shapes. Some great balls to include are:
- Tennis Balls
- Netball or Basketball
- Soccer Ball
- Rugby Ball
- Large Soft Ball for Volleyball or Tiggy Type Games
- A Super-bouncy Ball
- Mini Versions of Classic Sports Balls
As your child grows, they may develop a love for one particular sport but that doesn’t mean they have to give up all others completely. Having a range of balls on hand means they can play games just for the fun of it.
Bats and Racquets
If you have balls in your toy box, it makes sense to have some bats and racquets also. Your child doesn’t have to be the next Venus Williams to enjoy swinging a racquet, and I bet every Black Cap started with a game of backyard cricket. Make sure you buy bats and racquets which fit your child. There is nothing more frustrating than trying a swing a bat that is bigger than you are!
Frisbees and Rocket Launchers
Frisbees, rocket launchers, wind socks, and hacky sacks are all great alternatives to throwing a ball around. Your child will invent their own games and challenges amongst themselves, and you’ll be surprised by how long they will spend simply throwing things backwards and forwards.
As your child gets older, tossing a Frisbee (or anything else) around with them, is a great way to stay in touch. You can have a casual conversation between passes, and they can share what’s going on for them without feeling like they have been ‘sat down for a talk’.
There is something so soothing about flying a kite, and once it’s up in the air, children of all ages can take part. There are a whole range of kites available, from your basic diamond flyer to those with 2 strings and the ability to duck and dive on command. Kites are not just for little kids, they can be an art and a science, all rolled into one!
You can’t beat a good old fashioned water fight, and school aged children need little encouragement to start one on a hot day. Keep a few water pistols in the outdoor toy box, so that there are enough for friends to grab one if necessary. Keeping them in the outdoor toy box means there is no mistaking they are an outside toy!
Skipping is harder than it looks, and learning to skip can be an exciting and rewarding challenge for 6-7 year olds. To give them the best chance of success, make sure the rope is the right length for your child. They should be able to stand on the centre of the rope, and hold either end at their waist without any slack.
Okay, technically these might not fit in your toy box, but they are definitely an outdoor toy worth including. Older preschoolers will enjoy the challenge these toys offer, and kids up to about 8 or 9 will enjoy the non-sensical aspect of fun for funs sake.
Butterfly Nets and Bug Catchers
Children love to explore the great outdoors, and having these types of toys readily available will remind them that outside play doesn’t always have to be fast and furious. Talk to them about the concept of ‘catch and release’, and reinforce that insects are there to be observed, not ‘played with’ or destroyed.
Getting out in the garden is a great way for children to learn about the world, and having their own set of tools will encourage them to get involved. Watering cans, buckets, spades, troughs and wheelbarrows are all great gardening toys, but make sure they know where they can and can not dig before you let them loose. You may want to give them their own patch of garden – just to save confusion.
There are some great outdoor games and game sets for children, and while some of them might not fit in your toy box, they are definitely worth having on hand. Some great outdoor games include:
- Ring Toss
- Ten Pin Bowling
- Giant Chess or Draughts
- Giant Board Games
- Foam Building Blocks
Outdoor games can be fun for the whole family, and are a nice gift idea for a ‘family’ present. Our outdoor games get used all the time, and quite easily span the age gap from 8 – 24. Often when parents arrive to pick up their children after a ‘play date’, they stay for a glass of wine and a quick game themselves!
Wheely Good Fun
Of course no backyard is complete without the wonders of wheels – bikes, trikes, ride ons, skates, skateboards, scooters, trolleys, wagons, and carts. The key here is to find a set of wheels that fits your child, and make sure they have all the necessary safety gear. For more information about these types of toys, check out our articles ‘Bikes, Trikes and Ride Ons’, and ‘Skates and Scooters’ – coming soon.
Remember, you don’t need a big backyard to enjoy outdoor toys. New Zealand is full of parks and playgrounds, or take a walk to your child’s school and use the field. We are blessed to have plenty of open space in NZ, it would be a shame not to use it.