I love to give a gift to a child that will get them moving and playing outside. I look for toys that can handle the wear and tear of my 3 kids ages 4, 8 and 10. They play hard and I expect their toys to be durable. Being a toy buyer for our shop, I see thousands of toys throughout the year and we test out lots of them. The ones we end up carrying are the ones that pass the test. They are fun, they last, and they encourage active, imaginative play. Here’s a few of our favorites:
These sturdy, metal ergometric stilts are incredible for fun, balance, and confidence. My kids were nervous to try them out initially and I loved watching them timidly try to stand and then eventually they had huge smiles on their faces as they walked around confidently on the stilts.
A heavy-duty all metal pogo stick that is fun and handles lots of jumping around. We have a lot of laughs when we jump on the Pogo stick. We first tried these out at a music festival this summer and jumping around on a pogo stick listening to great music is extremely fun exercise and a definite stress release. There are 2 sizes, one for 90-160 lbs and one for smaller kids 30-70 lbs.
This requires a lot of fun practice to master. We practiced inside near our bed to catch our falls. Later outside next to a fence to get balance. Eventually we got the hang of it. It is great exercise and extremely good for coordination and balance. Most recommended for kids 8 and up. We had some elite athletes try it and be impressed with how it works to build strength and endurance. The Air Pogo Jumper is a great example of how toys can encourage fun physical activity.
A fun game that is a combination of Frisbee and Bocce . We took this out to our cabin for a family gathering with a mix of ages from little 4 year olds to grandparents. The game starts with throwing the disc wherever you want then everyone stands holding their rubber chickens and you flick them and try to get them to land on the disc. This is the kind of goofy game that keeps you from taking yourself too seriously AND gets families outside moving around.
A beautiful, versatile wooden swing that allows kids (and adults) to swing both sitting down and standing up. The Swurfer is another toy that gives kids confidence as they do it more and more. The sturdy handles make it easy to grip tightly. The gorgeous hard maple base stands up to lots of exuberant play.
Every kid needs a kite. Personally I love the pocket kites because I don’t have to worry about losing or breaking poles. We have a couple different sizes which I put in our backpack when going for a hike and especially on outings to the beach. The pocket kite is very easy to fly and on a recent adventure to the beach all the kids flew it, plus a couple kids who were just walking by.
Easy to catch, flies long and level, and with bright LEDs the clear center illuminates and makes it look like an awesome flying saucer. The Skylighter makes nighttime disc play a blast. We started with one and moved to 2. By the way, get one for your dog who’ll LOVE it too!
A versatile, transportable slackline that has been a huge hit everywhere we’ve set one up. Slacklining is when you string up climbing webbing between 2 trees or posts and attempt to walk across it, circus/tight rope style. Climbers invented the slackline as a way to increase balance. Slacklines are now seen in parks, fields, backyards and at the beach and are popular with kids and adults alike. When we string the slackline up kids and adults are eager to try again and again. It is fantastic for balance and strength for all ages. My son loves it so much, we had a slackline birthday party when he turned 7 and set several up for the kids to play on.
Ziplines are incredibly fun. We are seeing more and more zipline adventure parks all around the world, but you can have that fun in your own backyard. You need 2 sturdy trees and this durable, heavy-duty zipline kit and you have your very own zipline for your kids to play on whenever you choose. This is a huge hit for kids from 4-13.