My kids would spend their entire summer outdoors and never come inside if I would let them! Today I’m sharing a few things that we always keep on hand during the summer months. A special thanks to the Step2 Company for providing an Extreme Coaster for review for this post as a part of their Step2 Ambassador program.
All four of my kids have been on spring break this week. The weather has been, well, spring-like, I guess. It’s chilly and cold one minute and hot the next. This back and forth with the weather has led us to strategically choosing our outdoor time, which has proven to be a bummer for the kids. They want to be outside all the time! With three boys, they love nothing more than to be in a sea of bubbles, sand, rocks, and dirt. I know that the hot summer months will be here soon, although not soon enough for them.
A few weeks before school lets out, I head to the store and stock up on things that are hits for outdoor play and can keep the kids entertained for hours. We do not vacation much in the summer. Jason travels some as a youth minister during the some (hello, summer camp!), and the kids are still young enough that they had rather stay home than go on a trip. Not to mention it’s super expensive to take a family of six anywhere, and the list of of volunteers to (freely) travel with us to help out with the kids is extremely short. Instead, we make the summer memorable in other ways. There’s lots of outdoor play and picnics. Here are a few items that I grab and keep on hand in the garage always to ensure that the kids never get bored!
Yes, most of the items are self-explanatory. And you may even have them on hand already! But I’ve found that it’s always nice to have a list all in one place. My mom brain is so short these days! This list is also a good reminder of things that need to be inspected prior to summer use!
Melanie’s List (see Jason’s at the bottom):
Bubbles- I buy each kid their own smaller tube of bubbles, and I purchase a larger jug of bubbles to refill the tubes. Someone always winds up spilling their bubbles, and I had rather them spill a small tube than a big one!
Sidewalk chalk- The sidewalk at our house looks like one gigantic mural during the summer!
Sand- I don’t spring for the colored sand. We buy the plain sand. The boys use it all over the yard for whatever adventure that they are on, and colored sand sticks out like a sore thumb in the middle of the lawn. If you do not have a sand box, a large plastic bin will do the trick, as well!
Inexpensive buckets- These are good for transporting sand, dirt, rocks, or water from place to place!
Inexpensive plastic small shovels- While my kids like sand toys, the shovels are their favorite. We go through many a plastic shovel!
Water guns- The size and price range will depend on the age of your kids. My boys are still small, and so I haven’t splurged on a big water gun purchase yet. We buy the cheaper ones, but I could see myself getting a nicer one when they are older.
Cheap toy trucks- These are great for sand dunes and much more! We save the nicer trucks for indoor play. Although I will admit, my boys do have a great metal dump truck that they received as a gift that has proven to be wonderful for outdoors.
Jump rope- This is solely for my daughter.
Bug catching nets- Boys and bugs, need I say more? My daughter enjoys trying to catch butterflies with these, too.
Plastic ice cube trays- We have an ice maker for home use, but the kids love playing with ice cubes in the summer. We freeze them in different colors for water table games or freeze little toys in them for play. The kids also like to keep one for sand play (pretending like they are making cupcakes, etc.).
Kid’s water sprinkler- We have a kid’s water sprinkler (shaped like a flower) that we use each summer. I always check it before the summer begins to make sure that it is working properly. It is one of my kids’ favorites, so we would be replacing it if it was not!
Play balls- We have a few cheap play balls that the kids use a lot. Our play balls have never lasted very long, so we check these each year to make sure that they do not have any leaks or holes. While you’re at it, check bike tires, too!
Consider investing in a nicer, new toy- Last year, I shared how each summer we invest in a higher quality outdoor play item for the kids. If you’re like us, and you do not take a yearly vacation, a new outdoor toy for the kids can be just as much fun for a fraction of the cost of a trip! This year, we have upgraded our Step2 Up and Down Roller Coaster for the Step2 Hot Wheels Extreme Thrill Coaster. The boys, while on the younger age limit for this coaster at the age of three, had outgrown the smaller coaster. The Step2 Hot Wheels Extreme Thrill Coaster has been a great addition to our outdoor play. The kids have been surprisingly awesome about taking turns to ride. It has a nice little hill that gives the kids that extra roller coaster boast!
Jason and his friend put the coaster together. Assembly did not take long, but having an extra set of hands definitely helped! The coaster features a 30 inch high platform, and the kiddos do need to keep safety first and wear a helmet while enjoying this coaster.
The coaster features steps for the kiddos to push the car up the track themselves, and they they turn and back into the coaster car. The coaster car has hand-grips, foot-rests, and a high seat back for comfort. The max coaster weight is 75 pounds with a recommended age of 3 and up.
Don’t tell anyone, but Jason and I both tried out the coaster. We are definitely over the weight limit, but we wanted to be included in the excitement. Let’s just say that adults and teenagers exceed the capacity of the car.
We are in the process of re-doing the kids playground. Prior to this year, the boys had a separate toddler playground from their sister’s big kid playground equipment. Wow, what a difference one winter makes! They are ready to tackle her playground and all of the big kid toys! The playground is a work in progress right now as we are pulling up the fencing around the boys’ little playground and re-arranging all the toys. For this reason, the Hot Wheels Extreme Coaster is not in it’s permanent place yet. The coaster, as well as other tall playground equipment, should not be on hard surfaces like grass that can turn to hard packed earth. Once we have finished with our playground arrangements, the coaster will be on mulch per the recommendations of the manufacturer.
Since Jason is now collaborating on the blog now, I quickly asked him what items that he thought should be on the list of items to have on hand for outdoor play. If you like “free,” then you’ll definitely be a fan of his list. 🙂
Apparently, this is all he had to play with as a kid, so these are the only items he recommends. He also played with them while walking to school uphill in the snow. Both ways. 🙂
What items would you add to the list? Do your kids live outdoors during the summer?