10 of the best outdoor toys for kids that won’t break the bank. Get your kids away from their screens and into the great outdoors this summer. Includes ideas and play activities for each toy and a free play card printable.
Summer is here and every evening you can hear the sounds of children playing. I loved this time of year with my boys. FINALLY we could head outside and release some of that pent up energy that built to a fever pitch over the winter.
The best part about warmer weather is the outdoor playtime. Stepping out of the back door without having to put on winter gear was (and still is) the ultimate freedom.
My boys spent most of their summer outside. Our backyard was a magnet. They spent hours out there. I can still here the sound of them playing and laughing.
I would say that the most magical moments of their summer days took place outside. It was definitely part of their good old days.
And the best part?
GETTING YOUR KIDS OUTSIDE DOESN’T NEED EXPENSIVE TOYS
Over the years, I gathered some fabulous outdoor toys that gave hours of play. We were managing on a lower income, so when I chose to spend our hard earned cash on toys I wanted them to be something that would last and be used well.
I’ve put together a list of our family’s favourite outdoor toys. They are all under $10, so it won’t break the bank to stock up. Most of these were the things my boys played all of the time.
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10 under $10: Cheap Toys To Entice Your Kids Outdoors
I’m sure that you already have many of these things already. So all you have to do is gather them up and have them ready. If you want to purchase any of these they will be under $10.
1. Sidewalk Chalk
This is a staple for outdoor play! Kids never tire of drawing on a driveway, the patio, and even themselves. I use this sidewalk chalk.
I discovered that you now get glitter sidewalk chalk! Where has this wondrous thing been all my life? The kids at the library will love it.
Play ideas for sidewalk chalk
No summer would be complete without bubbles. What is it about this toy that appeals to kids? Not all bubble mixture is equal, but this one works well.
This is another toy that draws in every kid. Balls get kids moving and help develop gross motor skills.
Play ideas for balls
6 outdoor ball games your kids will love to play
An unusual ball
I did some research and discovered this unusual ball. It has great reviews and sounds awesome. According to the manufacturers
- Waboba Moon ball makes a unique “Pop!” sound when it hits the pavement
- This high-flying outdoor ball bounces up to 100 feet in the air! (30 meters)
Doesn’t it sound cool. Still any ball that you already have will do just fine.
We picked up loads of rocks and stones and even pebbles in our outdoor adventures over the years. They are a wonderful toy and completely free. They are a backyard version of the building block. I love that they are completely open-ended, so they can become whatever your kids want them to be.
Play Ideas For Stones
- Water displacement activity
- Rock balancing activity
- Combine small stones and chalk to play hopscotch
- Making an Inukshuk
It’s amazing what children can do with sticks if given the time and space. I’ve seen sticks be used to build dens and tepees. They double as fishing poles, bow and arrows, swords, and walking sticks. My kids built bridges and dams with large sticks. They are another open ended toys and the price is great!
Play activities for sticks
- 20 ways to play with sticks
- The Woodland Trust has a wonderful downloadable sheet with 20 suggestions for playing with sticks.
- Make a maze with sticks
- You can also make land art with sticks and stones
This one needs no introduction. Frisbees help get kids moving and helps improves agility. Even better throwing them makes the arm “cross the midline.” This is one of those motor action that is really beneficial for brain development. You find a decent Frisbee here.
Play activities for Frisbees
7. Tin Foil
This is the one toy we didn’t use. Oh how I wish I had known, but who would have thought tinfoil could be an outdoor toy? When you make a tinfoil river it is. Last summer we made tinfoil rivers at the library.
I must admit I was VERY dubious about this activity. I wasn’t sure it would work.
The kids LOVED it. They made little boats and played with it all afternoon. You can get instructions from Frugal Fun For Boys and Girls. BTW you will probably want to get the heavy-duty kind of tin foil.
You can also use tin foil to
Technically the last two aren’t outdoor activities, but they are fun!
8. Camping tarp
Not a traditional toy by any means, but camping tarps are so versatile.
- Fold it over a clothesline and weigh down the edges to make a tent.
- Use it to make the roof or wall of a den
- And on those really hot summer days use it to make water slides
9. Jump rope
I remember playing for hours with a jump rope. We had all kinds of jump rope rhymes and I would challenge myself to get up to 100 skips (if only I could do that now). Playing with a Jump roping is a great activity for heart and lung health. It also helps develop co-ordination. once again not all jump ropes are equal, but this one got great reviews.
Play activities for jump rope
10. Hula Hoop
This is another one of those toys that has all kinds of benefits. It gets kids moving, builds core strength and develops co-ordination. Besides hula-hoops are so versatile.
Play activities for hula hoops
- Put them on the ground and use them as target for bean-balls or lawn darts.
- Try spinning and rolling them. How long can you keep them up?
- Hang them from a tree branch as a target
- Here’s some hula -hoop games
- You can even use them to make a hide out
I tried to find some hula hoops on Amazon. Anything with decent ratings was very expensive. The cheaper ones had some very bad ratings. It is the kind of thing you can pick up at a dollar store.
Putting it all together
We used a large tub like this one to store everything. Clean up was fast as the boys just had to toss everything in.
We did need to remember to put it under cover as it would fill up with water when it rained. Any box, tub, or basket will do. it doesn’t have to be fancy.
One thing I love to do with kids is to give them a challenge. It is a great way to encourage team work, creative thinking, and problem solving.
I love to stand back and watch a group of kids work something out. It’s fascinating and can also keep them occupied for ages. Here’s 4 challenges
1. Obstacle course
Gather long sticks, hula hoop, camping tarp, ball, and skipping rope into a pile. Add a note “Make an obstacle course. Can you find some other things in the yard to use? ”
2. Fairy house
Make a pile of sticks and stones. Add a note, “Make a house for a fairy to live in. Where will you build it? Will it have a garden?”
Related: How To Make Fairy Houses Your Children Will Love
Put all the toys in a pile . Add a note “Use these things to invent a game? What rules will you need?”
Gather up long sticks, larger stones, hula hoop, camping tarp in a pile. Add a note “Use all these things (and anything else you can find) to make a fort. come up with a name and a secret password.”
Exclusive Bonus (Free)
Here’s a sneak peak. (The actual printable is clear and sharp.)
- Click on the image to download and print. Any paper will work, but Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified card stock would be ideal. There are four valentines on each page, so print as many copies as you need to cover the class list.
- Cut out and laminate if desired.
What is your child’s favourite outdoor toy? Do you have any to add to the list? Remember they have to be under $10.