Kid Gear, Outdoor Play, Toddler Toys (+3), Toddlers / Preschool / Early Years

2018: Backyard Toys

Now that summer is upon us, we are in yard playing mode everyday.  One of the first thing little man says after he gets up is, “outside, Mom?” then he is headed off to find his shoes and get outside to play.  I love that my boys love being outside.  They love watching the birds, catching frogs (or anything else they can fit inside their bug catchers), and running around “super fast” as they say.  I think they really just love what they feel is getting to play freely.  Below is a few of the items they love to play with during their free-spirited run around in the outside time.

Hape Toys recently came out with a group of nature toys and they are GREAT!  They have a variety of options that will help encourage your little ones to explore nature in their own backyard and wherever they go.

  • Nature Detective Set: “Get a close-up look at leaves, bugs and the rest of nature with this handy 4x magnifying glass! When you find something interesting, use the two tones on the whistle to inform your friends.” (from
  • Pocket Swing: “Relax when you’re out in nature with this fun portable swing set! Once set up between two strong trees, it provides a fun swing or a place for children to sit.” (from
  • Adjustable Telescope: “Get a closer look at distant objects with this 8x telescope! Made of sustainable bamboo, it’s perfect for observing birds and animals. Comes with a handy wrist strap and storage bag for a spontaneous get-away.” (from
  • Hide-and-Seek Periscope:  “See without being seen with this cool periscope! Made of sustainable bamboo, it allows you to peek over walls and into rabbit and bird holes. Comes with a handy wrist strap.” (from
  • Flower Press Kit:  “Create your own art collection with this leaf and flower pressing kit. Use the included paints and brush to turn dried plants into colorful works of art.”


Bug Catcher:  This has to be one of the best things we have ever gotten our sons.  Our boys love catching things.  This hasn’t always been the case for our Big Man, he has taken some time to warm-up to the idea, but now he loves it.  Most of the summer, you can find him restocking his bug box with fresh leaves, a few twigs and rocks and then searching for caterpillars, frogs or some type of bug.  (The rule in our house is if you catch something you can keep it for the day but it gets released at the end of the day.)  It has been a great way to teach him about insects and animals.  We picked one up at the local dollar store for under 5 bucks and it get used daily.  (We also have an insect magnifier that is he loves to look at creatures up close.)  For older kids that are really into the bugs the Nancy B’s Science Club Bug Discovery Lab & Incredible Insects Journal, might be the perfect summer project for them.



Mookie Swingball Soccer Reflex:  Mooki makes some wonderful outdoor toys.  Last summer we got the Mookie Swingball (see Our Summer Favorites Blog).  The Mooki Soccer Ball is a toy for kids just getting into soccer, in the early years of learning soccer, or for just playing around the yard to burn off energy.  The Mookie Swingball Soccer Reflex comes with a small air pump, and a soccer ball that is attached to a base by a cord.  Your kid can adjust the length of the cord to practice different soccer skills like shooting and saving the ball.

  • Solo Practice: Either with or without a target goal
  • Two or more players: Each player takes turns to return the ball
  • Goal Keeping Practice: Placing the Reflex Soccer base in front of the goal, the keeper kicks the ball away, then tries to save the returning ball  (From

My favorite part, you don’t have to run and get the ball out of the woods, from across the street or anywhere else it might escape to.  It is easy to store and a great option for your little athlete.


Tonka Trucks:  Tonk Trucks seem to be one of the classic toys that everyone has had growing up for generations.   When Little man was born the Tonka Classic Steel Mighty Dump Truck was a gift from him to his big brother and has been a terrific outdoor.  Whether it is hauling dirt, rocks, or pinecones, it is getting played on with a great amount of “tough love”. They are tough and solid enough to withstand it for just over 2 years now and counting.  We do play with them outside but do not leave them out in the rain since they are a mix of metal and plastic.  We have added to the collection with the Tonk Classic Steel Front End Loader and the Tonka Steel Bulldozer.  They are one of those toys that can be a bit pricy but I see them often in second-hand stores.  (A great place to look for them second-hand, and not have to leave your house is at KidsStuffCanada. It is a second-hand store that is online based out of Victoria, BC and often has a great selection of Tonka trucks as well as other little kid treasures.)


Bubble Machine:  Bubbles.  What kid doesn’t love bubbles?  I mean even after a seeing someone else playing with bubbles I feel like adults want to join in the fun.  This summer we finally got a bubble machine and the boys love it.  In all honesty it was an impulse buy because it was on sale for cheap.  We purchased the Gazillion Tornado.  Overall it is good, and produces lots of bubbles.  I will admit it is not the easiest to reload the bubbles.  It comes with a small bottle to pour more bubbles in and then put onto the machine but it always ends up being a mess so I just pour the bubbles directly into the machine myself.  If you visit there is a blog post about the 10 Best Bubble Machines.   I think it I had looked more into it at the time I would have looked for one that has a better filling and refilling system.  Even with the bubble refilling issue, it has been a great toy for the boys.

Bubble Macine

Water Table:  To think of a time in my life without a water table is a sad thing.  I remember when we lived in a condo and I wanted so badly to get a water table for our Big Man but was terrified of him dumping water off our balcony, onto our neighbours below.  When we moved to our next home, we did not have a ton of space but we were on the ground floor so I figured if the water table took up the entire patio it would be worth it and it so is!  Water tables are great because they have a variety of things that kids play with them, you can add toys more toys easily or just let them splash around, you can move it to what works best for your kid, and it keeps little ones entertained (and cool).    We have the Little Tikes Fish’n Splash Water table and love it.  It is big and stable enough for both boys to play at, but not too big that you cannot move around it.  There are a tons of water tables out there, my suggestion is when you are getting ready to purchase one, get the dimensions of it and measure it out in your outdoor space.  Also make sure that it has good sturdy base.  The first one we ever got the legs were so wabbly it broke in less than a week.  (Here is a link to the tenbuyerguides 10 Best Water  Tables for Kids and Table Playsets in 2018.)

Water Table


We love being outside.  What are some of your favorite backyard toys?

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