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18 outdoor toys and games for kids of all ages

18 outdoor toys and games for kids of all ages

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  • Outdoor toys are one of the best ways to encourage kids to spend time outside.
  • We compiled some great picks for outdoor toys and products, from simple toys like bubbles and sidewalk chalk to more elaborate playhouses and bounce houses.
  • We talked to five child development and toy experts to find find the best outdoor toys for kids, including toddlers, elementary-schoolers, and tweens.

It can be hard to get kids off screens and into the great outdoors. But with the right games and toys, they'll be begging to go out, and you might even get to relax while you watch them play. From simple water balloons to elaborate inflatable pools, we compiled some of the best outdoor toys for your kids this summer.

To learn more about what to look for in an outdoor toy and to find some of the best, we spoke to five child and toy experts: Laurie Leahy, senior editor at Toys, Tots, Pets & More, Joyce Shulman, founder and CEO of Macaroni Kid; Lee Scott, director of curriculum and enrichment programs for The Goddard School; Adrienne Appell, senior director of strategic communications at The Toy Association and an expert behind the Play Today campaign; and Laurie Schacht, chief toy officer of The Toy Insider.

What makes a good outdoor toy?

Before getting into specific recommendations, our experts shared the attributes they believe are necessary for an outdoor toy to be great. Most of them agree that not only should an outdoor toy obviously get kids outside, it should also get them moving.

In addition, Scott recommends open-ended toys. "Using interactive toys help children express their creativity and build critical thinking skills," she said. Toys like this allow children to use their imagination while playing because there is no one set way to engage with them.

"Outdoor toys that stand the test of time are those that tap into a child's inherent desire for creative play, physical movement, and the joy of nature," said Shulman.

A good toy needs to be durable and safe, too. Be sure to practice constant, close supervision around water and always use helmets with toys like bikes and scooters.

Here are 18 of the best outdoor toys for kids:Read the original article on Insider

The best swing set

The best swing set
Kidkraft
KidKraft Cloud View Wooden Swing Set, available at KidKraft $1,099.99

This wooden swing set has it all: swings, a slide, a basketball hoop, a sandbox, bean bag toss, and a rock wall. Schact called it her dream swing set. "A swing set is a large investment, but this one will create a fun haven for kids for years," she said. The structure is made of wood, while some of the features are made of plastic. KidKraft estimates that it will take two people 12 to 16 hours to assemble, but once it's done, your kids (and maybe even your grandkids someday) will have years of fun ahead of them.

Recommended ages: 3 to 10 years old

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The best outdoor toy for sports lovers

The best outdoor toy for sports lovers
Step2
Step2 Soccer Goal and Pitch Back, $39.99, available at Step2

Whether your children love baseball, soccer, or hockey, this net and pitchback will help them hone their skills. The set comes with a goal/pitchback, soccer ball, two hockey sticks, a street hockey puck, and a pitchback ball. The goal measures 30 inches long and 48 inches high, and requires very minimal assembly.

Recommended ages: 3 years and up

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The best bike

The best bike
Walmart
20" Outcast Bike, available at Walmart, $98 and 16" Hot Wheels Bike, available at Walmart, $98

Schact recommends Dynacraft bikes because they feature kids' favorite brands and characters, like Hot Wheels, Hello Kitty, Jurassic World, and Barbie. "Their bikes also come with training wheels for new riders and will grow with kids as they are ready for just two wheels," she said. A toy that grows with your child can save you money in the long run, and Dynacraft makes bikes, like the Outcast, that aren't branded if you're afraid your child will grow out of their love for their current favorite character.

Recommended ages: Varies based on bike

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The best bounce house

The best bounce house
Little Tikes
Little Tikes Fun Slide 'n' Bounce Bouncer, available at Walmart, $394.73

I have not met a parent who has regretted making the investment in a Little Tikes bounce house. This one has a unique design with an internal slide, main bouncing area, and exit slide. It's big enough for three kids to play together (max weight limit 250 pounds), and it has enclosed sides for safety. With your purchase, you'll get a blower, storage bag, and stakes. It's easy to set up the bounce house in a few minutes, and then you can relax while your kids burn off all their energy.

Recommended ages: 3 to 8 years old

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The best slip and slide

The best slip and slide
Walmart
Wham-O Slip 'N Slide Wave Rider, available at Walmart, $18.35

This slip and slide is akin to what you might remember from your childhood. It doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles — it's just pure, simple fun. Appell recommends Wham-O's Slip 'N Slides. When choosing any slip and slide, she cautions parents to make sure there is a bumper at the end to protect children, and you'll find that on Wham-O's Wave Rider. It's a 16-foot slide with a water wall running down the side and around the bottom bumper.

Recommended ages: 5 to 12 years old

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The best water balloons

The best water balloons
Walmart
Bunch O Balloons, available at Academy Sports and Walmart, from $19.99

Gone are the days of spending an hour prepping water balloons for a water fight. With Bunch O Balloons, you can fill and tie 100 water balloons in less than a minute. All you need to do is connect them to the hose, turn the water on, and pull them off when they're full. They'll come off sealed and ready to go. Leahey gives Bunch O Balloons her seal of approval.

Recommended ages: 3 years and up

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The best inflatable kiddie pool

The best inflatable kiddie pool
Walmart
The Little Tikes Rocky Mountain River Race Inflatable Slide Bouncer, available at Walmart, $439.40

Schacht recommends this pool, and every parent I've talked to who has it raves about it. "The Little Tikes Rocky Mountain River Race Inflatable Slide Bouncer is a pool and so much more. It's completely inflatable and includes a climbing wall, two slides, and a wide splash pool. There's even a surprise bucket that will pour water on kids' heads as they climb up the wall!" said Schact. The slides are designed to stay wet and slippery for a smooth ride, and the dual slides are the perfect setup for races. It's big enough for four kids to play at once with a maximum weight limit of 350 pounds.

Recommended ages: 5 to 10 years old

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The best kite

The best kite
Walmart
In the Breeze Rainbow Kite, available at Walmart, $13.99

This simple 30-inch kite will look beautiful in the sky and give you and your child an excuse to get outside on a windy day. It's a classic rainbow diamond kite with a beautiful rainbow tail. It's made of weather-resistant fabric and fiberglass rods and is recommended for winds from 6 to 20 mph. It comes with a kite line and handle, so your kids can get out and fly it right away.

Recommended ages: 3 years and up

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The best sidewalk chalk

The best sidewalk chalk
Michael's
Crayola Sidewalk Chalk, available at Michaels, $6.99

Crayola is a long-revered brand, and their sidewalk chalk doesn't disappoint. Schact recommends Crayola as a tried and true brand for kids. This set comes with 48 different colors, ideal for any young artist who really wants to get creative. It washes off easily with water, and each piece of chalk is squared so it won't roll away.

Recommended ages: 4 years and up

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The best bubbles

The best bubbles
Walmart
Gazillion Bubbles, available at Amazon, $11.63

Most of our experts hailed bubbles as an excellent classic outdoor toy. This solution of bubbles from Gazillion will ensure your child won't come running asking for more anytime soon. It features a long 7-in-1 bubble wand that makes every breath count. The bubble solution is nontoxic and doesn't stain, so you can hand over the bottle and let your kids have at it.

Recommended ages: 3 years and up

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The best sandbox

The best sandbox
Amazon
Kidkraft Outdoor Sandbox with Canopy, available at Amazon and Walmart, from $179.48

Sandboxes are the ultimate open-ended outdoor toy, and we especially love this one because it has a canopy to shield kids from the sun. Insider Reviews named this the best wooden sandbox. The innovative design includes benches that double as storage for toys. It also includes two plastic bins for kids to incorporate into their play and a mesh cover to protect the sand when not in use.

Recommended ages: 2 to 8 years old

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The best outdoor games

The best outdoor games
Amazon
Wooden Toppling Tower, available at Amazon, Walmart, and Overstock, from $64.67

Shulman said giant outdoor wooden blocks are a great outdoor toy. Kids can use them to play a classic game of Jenga, but they can also be used as building blocks. This set includes 54 blocks, a carrying case, and a dry-erase board players can use to make up their own unique rules. This element is wonderful for helping kids get creative and develop critical-thinking skills. Depending on the set you choose, your tower can reach up to 5 feet.

Recommended ages: 8 years and up

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The best outdoor playhouse for kids

The best outdoor playhouse for kids
The Home Depot
Kidkraft Forrestview II Wooden Playhouse, available at Walmart, $449

This playhouse has it all to fuel your kid's imagination: doorbell, chalkboard, clocks, kitchen, bench, and planters. The wood exterior is neutral, so it can fit in with your backyard decor. The cedar siding will have no problem weathering the elements in your backyard. Even better, it's designed for easy assembly in approximately four hours.

Recommended ages: 3 to 10 years old

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The best sprinkler

The best sprinkler
The Home Depot
Giant Giraffe Sprinkler, available at The Home Depot, $55.43

Schacht and Appell both recommend this giant giraffe sprinkler. "This epic giraffe tower of water will help to create a summer of fun and take your backyard to the next level," said Schacht. Unlike many other blowup yard toys, the giraffe doesn't require a fan to stay inflated. Blow it up, connect it to the hose, and let it do its magic. It stands over 9 feet high, spraying water down on your kids from above.

Recommended ages: 3 years and up

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The best outdoor blasters

The best outdoor blasters
Amazon
Nerf N-strike Elite SurgeFire Blaster, available at Amazon, $24.88

"Nerf blasters are a fun one for outdoor play. Kids can use them as target practice or engage in a backyard Nerf battle with friends," said Leahy. Nerf battles will surely get your kids active while they're playing outside. The Nerf N-Strike Surge Fire blaster can hit a target from 90 feet away, and kids can choose to fire one dart at a time or 15 in one surge.

Recommended ages: 8 years and up

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The best water blasters

The best water blasters
Amazon
Super Soaker Scatter Blast, available at Amazon, $9.99

Super Soakers are another classic summer toy, and this Scatterblast Blaster won't disappoint your kids. It sprays five streams of water at once and even has an attached sight so kids can learn to aim. Kids use a pump handle to shoot the water, which can travel up to 34 feet. The water tank holds 22 ounces. This is a simple and inexpensive Super Soaker that's ideal for backyard battles.

Recommended ages: 6 years and up

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The best outdoor toy for nighttime

The best outdoor toy for nighttime
Amazon
Capture the Flag REDUX, available at Walmart and Amazon, $49.90

Leahey recommends glow-in-the-dark Capture the Flag because it's perfect for the whole family. If you've never played before, the rules are simple: Find the opposing team's hidden flag without getting caught. This glow-in-the-dark version takes gameplay into the night with glowing territory markers, bracelets, and orbs (flags). Capture the Flag is a great way to help the family or neighborhood bond and engage together. This set also comes with 12 game variation cards, so you're not limited to only playing Capture the Flag.

Recommended ages: 8 years and up

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The best scooter

The best scooter
Target
Micro Maxi Scooter, available at Amazon, $129.99

Appell recommends the Micro Kickboard brand, and I've tested one of their toddler scooters as well. Their scooters are very well made and sturdy. With two wheels on the front, it's easier for kids to balance. It also features a lean-to-steer design — kids use their body weight to maneuver rather than turning the handlebars. The T-bar is adjustable to grow with your child, making this an investment that will last for years.

Recommended ages: 5 to 12 years old

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