As a mom of 3, I understand the importance of fostering creativity and play in my kids’ lives. We love exploring outside, those warm, summer days are fleeting here in the Chicago suburbs. We’ve had a warmer than usual end of winter this year, and have gotten outside more than usual for this time of year. So when summer rolls around, we are outside as much as possible. I found some great outdoor toys over the years, and have learned what my kids love vs. what just sits there. They regularly use their pool with built in water slide, chalk, and stomp rockets – all good for hours of fun. And newest to the rotation this year? Giant Jenga pieces used as blocks.

The Best Outdoor Toys for Kids

In a world where kids often have easy access to iPads, TV shows, and video games, getting our kids outside is more important than ever. I am not anti-screen time. My kids watch TV and movies, but I really want them outside when the weather is nice. I used to go outside on summer days and not come back inside until dinner time, and want those childhood experiences for my kids. Playdates with neighbors, dirty knees, and exploring. I want my kids to use their imaginations and to enjoy being outdoors, so I’ve compiled a list of our favorite outdoor games and toys for kids.. Many of these toys make great indoor toys but are ideal for backyard fun, pretend play, and will keep your kids busy on warmer spring and summer days.


Play Mats and Picnic Blankets

We love having picnics on nicer days, and a great play mat is ideal for just sitting down and playing with some favorite toys or games. 


Waterproof Mat

We have 2 Gathre midi mats and they're great, but too small for the whole family. Break it out on a sunny day and use it for sensory play, crafts, or a family picnic. 
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Ride-On Toys

Ride-on toys are a favorite, and while I prefer toys that let push kids to be physical, ride-ons are fun. My kids each have a 2-seater ride-on car, so they can ride around with friends. The one here has a remote for parents which I appreciate since we can override any potential crashes. But in the end, I do prefer Flintstone-esque cars and toys that make my kids move.



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Ride On Car

The 2 seater ride-on car comes with a remote control that overrides the car. We love it.
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Micro Kickboard


The best part about this scooter is that it converts to a normal scooter that works for kids up to age 6! The push handle is clutch for walks with younger toddlers who can't scoot on their own. Push it like a stroller and help them learn to use their legs and balance. Then turn it into a regular scooter once they're old enough.
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Water and Sand Toys

Playing in the water is one of my kids’ favorite things to do. They love spending summer days at the pool, and when we’re home, I usually set up our folding water table and some of their favorite toys. These interactive tables promise hours of fun and creativity. Silicone toys are great for water and sensory play. I hate bringing messy toys inside, so this is the best time for chalk, paint, and kinetic sand. 

Little Tikes

Fold-Up Water Table

This water table is ideal for small spaces, or for those of us who appreciate items with a smaller footprint.
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Sun Squad

Rainbow Pool

Pools are a classic and are ideal for young kids and hours of outdoor fun. My kids have had simple small kiddie pools but they strongly prefer this one with a slide – it's a lot more fun!
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Outdoor Toys

These are some of my favorite outdoor toys for younger kids, from durable rubber roads and blocks, to stepping stones that build gross motor skills. 


Flexible Rubber Road

This is one of my favorite toddler toys - both my girls love creating roads. And it's great for both indoors and outdoors.
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Sensory Stones

The sensory stones are a bit of a splurge but my kids and their friends obsessed with them. She loves playing restaurant, and they're great for a sensory bin or water tables.
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Stepping Stones

These are great for indoors or outdoor use and make the perfect obstacle course.
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Bubble Blower

We leave our bubble blower on while the kids play. It doesn't make giant bubbles but it blows a ton of (smaller) bubbles. The girls love it and it adds a little ambiance.
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Stomp Rocket

Rocket Launcher

Nothing like an old classic. This has been a huge hit with my kids and their friends.
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Giant Jenga

Our friends use these at outdoor blocks and my kids had a BLAST making towers outside. Just ordered this one since the weather has been so nice, and love that they can build outside now!
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Kinetic Sand

Mini Sandbox

A dirty sandbox is the last thing I want in my yard, so this kinetic sand is perfect because it comes in a tiny box that folds right up. You could also add Kinetic sand to a sensory table.
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Play Houses and Furntiure

Backyard Discovery


Finally! A cute playhouse that doesn't cost a fortune. This is just under $300 and is darling. Most of the ones in this price range need to be painted, or the ones that look like this are $1,000+
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Pottery Barn Kids


This tent is a great way to keep your little ones safe by the pool or at the beach, but it's a fun play tent, too. 
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