With winter coming to an end, the rainy, dinosaur umbrella days are gone, and the summer months just around the corner – there’s a good chance that you and your family will be looking to spend more time out in the backyard, doing what you can to enjoy the good weather and soak up the sun.
Like most modern parents, you’re likely in a constant battle with the iPad or laptop for your child’s attention. This means that it’s essential if you want to get them away from the screen and outside, spending quality time with all the family, that you equip your outdoor space with plenty of fun, entertaining activities.
While children always need adult supervision when playing outside, many of our picks will let you do that from the comfort of your patio chair while you enjoy the summer sunshine with a nice cold drink. This will help to give both mom and dad – not just the children – a relaxing, care-free summer, where everyone can kick back and soak up a little sun.
Before we get into our picks, we’ll touch on a few considerations that it’s worth keeping in mind before you start shopping for your summer backyard toys. These considerations include things like safety, durability, and developmental benefits, among others.
Things to consider when picking out backyard toys
While we don’t want to overcomplicate things too much, there are several considerations you should keep in mind when shopping for backyard toys online – these most significant of which are:
Safety: When you make any purchase for your kids, safety is paramount – and backyard toys are no different. Be sure to check for all the usual suspects – small, removable parts, small screws, or materials that, over time, may break down, creating hazardous. It’s also important to make an effort to regularly check and maintain any toys that are kept permanently outside, to ensure that they’re still safe.
Age range: A huge part of safety is to ensure that you pick out age-appropriate backyard toys. For outdoor toys, there is more to worry about than just removable parts – you’ll also want to check for the rated weight capacity of toys, especially any that your child will climb, ride, or swing on.
Durability: If it can break, you can be sure a toddler will find out. Sometimes they are like mini-destroyers, with the rough and tumble of child’s play damaging everything in its wake. This makes it essential to look for products that offer good durability, ensuring that they will stand up to everything your little one can throw at them, offering far better value over time than lesser, lower-quality alternatives.
Developmental benefits: All play has some benefits for your child’s development, but not all toys are equal in this regard. To maximize value and give your little one the best head start possible, look for toys that offer the most developmental value – particularly options that help promote creative, imaginative play and social skills.
Health benefits: One of the best things about backyard toys is that they’re some of the most active – being perfect for helping your little one burn off excess calories, keeping them fit and healthy. This makes it essential to pick toys that offer the most to offer to keep your children active.
Will it grow with your child: You don’t want to invest a ton of money on toys that make it through one summer – so make sure to buy ones that will grow with your child. Look for products that have an age recommendation of several years and any size adjusting features where possible.
11 of our favorite backyard toys
So, without anything further – let’s get to it! Here are our picks for 11 of the very best outdoor toy options for your backyard this summer.
1. Sidewalk chalk
Our list’s first pick is perfect for anyone searching for a creative backyard toy for their little aspiring artist. That pick is sidewalk chalk – perfect for drawing and coloring if you’ve got a patio or driveway at home.
Sidewalk chalk is one of the cheapest picks on our list – with a box of chalks in all sorts of different colors, setting you back maybe 10-15 dollars, depending on the brand and size of the set.
Besides their low-cost, the next best thing about this pick is that there’s no setup or clean-up. Crack open the box of chalk, let your little ones go nuts, then wait for the rain to come through and clean their little doodles away.
2. Bubble machines, wands, and mowers
Bubbles are great fun – whether blowing them manually, using an automatic blower, or – our favorite – making impressive, huge bubbles with a purpose-made giant bubble kit.
This pick is another excellent choice for anyone on a budget – with dinosaur bubble machines costing no more than 10 dollars – making them an incredibly great value backyard toy pick. They also offer some versatility, as their small size and being battery operated means they are just as good outdoors as they are at bath time.
Suppose your little one is just getting to grips with their new-found walking ability. In that case, you might want to opt for a bubble mower over a machine or wand, as that they can help your little one become more confident in their walking, offering not just fun but also a valuable developmental benefit for your child.
3. Sand and water tables and boxes
Kids love playing with sand and water – splashing, molding, and transferring from container-to-container – having great fun in the process. Suppose you’ve got the space and budget. In that case, you could consider a permanent sandbox; however, for most parents, a foldable sand and water table will offer the best value when it comes to budget and saving on backyard space.
Sand and water tables offer a great play option with minimal fuss, being easy to set up, clean-up, and fold away. They also provide a lot when it comes to playing. Combine them with your usual dinosaur bath time toys, or throw a few dinosaur-shaped molds, dino play-doh tools into the mix, or even just plastic cups and utensils from the kitchen – the possibilities are near-endless with this option.
Given the diversity of play styles that they offer, sand and water tables are among the best picks on this list when it comes to creative, imaginative play, which provides plenty of entertainment and developmental benefits to your child.
4. Play tents and houses
These options are great, offering a whole range of possibilities for creative, imaginative play. Whether you go for a play tent or dedicated playhouse will depend on budget and space, as the latter will be both more expensive and take up way more space, as once it’s been constructed in the backyard, you’re not going to be taking it apart.
Picking up a dinosaur play tent is a great, low-cost alternative to a dedicated, outdoor playhouse. And it’s not just the cost that makes them a good budget pick; it’s also their versatility. These tents can be put up and down in seconds, which makes them easily transferrable to your kid’s bedroom or playroom, being excellent for indoor play.
5. Tunnels and ball pits
These options are great! Easy to set up, mess-free, and a doddle to put away at the end of the day – kids love them, and they’re pretty parent-friendly – making tunnels and balls pits a great choice. They come in all sorts of themes and styles and can be bought separately – or together, as an activity set – there’s plenty of reasonably priced options out there to pick from.
Like play tents, these options are also just as good for use inside as they are out. They’re both more versatile and will get more use, as these can be played with indoors throughout the year. This makes them a pretty good buy, especially compared to some of the other strictly outdoor options included in our list of picks.
6. Inflatable kiddie pool
What would summer be without a pool? Well, we’ll tell you – a hell of a lot less fun, that’s what! They’re great fun to splash about in, jump and float on dinosaur pool toys, and are a great choice if you plan on hosting over the summer, offering a simple activity that’s fun for groups of kids – keeping them busy and entertained while you get on with the grown-up conversation.
That said, a kiddie pool might not always be the best pick – especially if you’re short on space. If this is you, read on, as our next pick – splash pads and sprinklers – will probably be more your thing.
Whether you decide to go for a pool, a splash pad, or anything else inflatable – do yourself a favor and invest in a battery-operated electric pump. The last thing you want is to be blowing up an inflatable pool manually all summer long – they’re relatively affordable and will make your life infinitely easier.
7. Splash pads and sprinklers
If you lack the space for an inflatable kiddie pool or are concerned about the potential health risks posed by standing water – a splash pad or sprinkler may be a better option. You can find them in all sorts of themes and styles, including awesome, giant dinosaur sprinklers – which would definitely be the choice we’d make!
Splash pads offer many of the same benefits as a pool – keeping your little ones nice and cool on warm summer days – with a much easier setup, less wait time, and a decreased risk of trips, falls, or other accidents.
They’re also great for keeping your kids active, helping them to burn off all those excess calories they can get through while they’re at home off school.
8. Bounce houses and trampolines
Kids love bouncing – whether in a bounce house at the fair, or birthday parties, a trampoline, or even just on mommy and daddy’s bed. They’re also great for keeping kids fit and active and will leave them exhausted and ready for bed without much difficulty at the end of the day.
If you are going for a bounce house – go for one with a blower. These are much better, as they aren’t going to deflate, requiring your attention throughout the day like a blow-up bounce house. It will obviously be more expensive – both to buy and operate – but it’ll be well worth it, as they offer a bounce house experience that’s much more like the “real” thing.
Trampolines are great, but they’re better for older kids. If you’ve only got young children at home – be careful with trampolines – in fact, skip this option altogether, sticking with a toddler bounce house instead.
9. Climbing frames, swings, and slides
Perhaps the ultimate backyard toy for keeping your little one fit and active – an outdoor activity playset, complete with climbing frame, swing, and slide, is something your child and all their little friends will have an absolute blast with.
But while they’re great, they can be both expensive and take up a considerable amount of space in the yard, given that they will most likely sit there permanently once set up – things that aren’t great for anyone with a modest-sized backyard and shopping on a budget.
If this is you, and you’re short on space and budget – stick with a dinosaur toddler slide. These are pretty reasonable, with a good one coming in south of $100, will last you for a good few years, and can be folded away – making them ideal for anyone short on backyard space.
10. Electric ride-on toys
While scooters and bikes are great – they can be used everywhere – whether at the park or even on the sidewalk. However, with electric ride-on toys, you’re pretty much limited to using these at home, in the back yard. Not only that – they’re perhaps the most awesome of all dinosaur toys! I don’t know about you, but I certainly wanted one as a child, but alas, I wasn’t fortunate enough to get one.
There are many great options with these toys – cars, trucks, and even quad bikes – there is such a wide range of high-quality, dinosaur ride-on toys to choose from today. And if you’ve got a little dino fan – there’s even a fantastic Jurassic Park jeep from brand Power Wheels – what could be cooler than that?
11. Don’t forget to think about outdoor storage
As you’ll likely be storing your backyard playthings outside, the usual dinosaur toy boxes and other indoor storage options won’t cut it. If you’ve only got a few backyard toys – your storage option could be as simple as an inexpensive, plastic garbage can.
However, if you’ve got loads to store, your best bet is to invest in a deck storage box – these are hard-wearing, water and weather-resistant, and come in a wide range of sizes perfect whatever your outdoor toy storage needs.
As the summer months fast approach, what better time than to get ready than now? In no time at all, we’ll be back to weekend barbeques, enjoying a good time with family, friends, and all their kids.
This makes it essential to ready your backyard with enough entertainment to keep the little ones occupied, giving the parents some time to catch up and talk about grown-up things.
With outdoor toys, there’s a lot to be head in the way of benefits – both developmental and health – which can give your little one a headstart and help them burn off any extra pounds they put on while sheltering inside during the colder months.
That’s it – our picks for outdoor toys. We hope it’s been helpful and that you and your family can use some of our pointers to have an absolute blast this summer!