When the weather gets better, you might be dying to get your kids off their screens and into some fresh air. Whether you’re accessorizing your outdoor space at home or looking for something portable to take to the park, there’s a wide range of toys to suit every budget.
oan Kennedy is director of Camp Rockwell in Cashel, Co. Tipperary, which has been running summer camps for children since 1970.
“I thought the big Jenga was a big hit,” she explains. “But be careful when it gets really high that the stones don’t fall on a little one’s head! The big match four was another firm favorite.”
Ollwyn Moran, child development expert and founder of Cognikids, favors multifunctional games that encourage creative thinking. “One thing to remember about outdoor play is that a lot can be unstructured and child-led – but that doesn’t mean it’s unsupervised,” she says. “Help set up and roll out new games, then give them the freedom to make changes, upgrades, and eliminations.”
A sand and water table, Ollwyn notes, will not only develop their imaginations, but a whole host of other skills as well. “Little ones improve their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination through activities like pouring, squirting, stirring and squeezing,” she explains. “It helps to master the pincer grip, which allows them to hold a pencil properly at school, tie their shoelaces, use scissors and use cutlery. Water features are a great way to introduce basic concepts and engage in conversations about science in an informal way. Kids learn so much deeper and faster when they are having fun.”
She also suggests a crawl tunnel to develop physical strength, agility and focus. “They can range from toddlers to teens, and you can get transparent ones for kids who might be a little scared of colored tunnels,” she says, noting that they work on outdoor and indoor surfaces like grass, sand, wood, etc .Carpet or tile.
Ollwyn adds that pool noodles are ideal for a variety of ages and can improve balance, strategic planning, cooperative play and hand-eye coordination. “Use them to build a tunnel or obstacle course, play balloon keeppies, or use them as goal posts by connecting two and anchoring them in the ground.”
On a tight budget, she recommends giant chalk, which can help develop grasping skills, among many other benefits. “It can be used to learn colors, numbers, shapes, counting, patterns, and sequences by drawing them or just sorting the chalk pens,” says Ollwyn. “It provides a great opportunity for creativity and imaginative play and what a fun way to introduce handwriting. Allowing your child to spend time just doodling and doodling and doing their own thing allows them to “immerse” themselves in their own play. This makes it a very meaningful experience and helps improve their ability to concentrate.”
We’ve rounded up 12 of the best games to keep kids entertained outdoors.
1. Giant wooden tower blocks
This Jenga tower can be built up to 124 cm tall – more than 4 feet – and can be used outdoors and indoors, wherever you have enough space for the blocks to fall safely. In addition to improving motor skills, problem solving, balance and coordination, fun for the whole family is guaranteed.
2. Huge 4-in-a-row
An oversized version of the classic Connect 4 game, the set measures 53cm x 46cm making it compact enough to slide against a wall to free up space in the garden when not in use.
3. Garden Quotas
This family game is always popular – and a great game to improve hand-eye coordination. The Traditional Garden Games version has a classic design with a wooden base and four natural rope rings. Players must throw the ring (or “Quoit”) on one of the pins to score points: each pin is worth a different value, and the highest score wins.
4. Classic swing ball
For a bat and ball game that doesn’t require you to run around the neighbor’s house to collect stray balls, you can’t beat Swingball. The goal is to hit the ball past your opponent enough times to wrap the string around the post, which can invoke the fighting spirit in players of all ages. This model is designed for grass or sand; look for the All-Surface Base (€39.99, Smyths) for harder ground.
5. OkoNorm chalk
Get hours of fun for a few bucks with a box of Chunky Chalk. This version is a mixture of natural plaster and chalk stained with pigments. The crayons have a rounded shape that makes them easier to hold and are suitable for drawing on stone, concrete, asphalt, blackboards and wood.
6. Smart Ball
For a toy that’s just as fun alone or with a group, try the Smart Ball. The goal is to use your feet, legs, knees and chest to keep the ball from hitting the ground as the ball lights up each time and counts when it touches your body. It’s great for practicing keepie-uppies, or kids can challenge friends or family to see who comes closest to the magic score of 100.
7. Pool Noodle
Not only for playing in the water, but also at home or in the park, these foam noodles can be used in a variety of ways and help to improve motor skills, promote variety and improve coordination. Decathlon offers versions in two lengths, in pink, blue and turquoise.
8. Aerobie Pro Flugring
This toy is the next step up from a frisbee and may be better suited to parks, beaches and other places where you have a lot of space – a good toy to keep in the car for days. The Pro Ring was used to set a Guinness World Record for the longest throw: an amazing 406m. The thin design allows the disc to travel great distances, while the soft rubber edges make it easy to throw and catch.
9. Sand and water play table
Ideal for child-friendly play, this 2-in-1 table comes with a bucket and four accessories. Just remember to never leave your child unattended when playing with water, no matter how small the amount.
10. Jump rope
The Irish jumping company sells a range of ropes for all ages. For kids there are 7ft jump ropes for those under 4ft and 8ft jump ropes for those between 4ft and 5ft 5 inches ($9), or there’s the more durable 10ft jump rope with beads ($19 ) which can be trimmed to any length. For family fun, check out the 16ft rope (€16) which is suitable for up to three people hopping together.
11. Crawl tunnel
The tunnel is available in two sizes and also in a transparent version (98 €, SensationalKids.ie) for children who need full visibility. It can be used in the garden, on the beach or in the hallway at home and can be easily stowed in the supplied storage bag thanks to the Velcro fastener.
12. Wooden Limbo Set
Limbo is a perennial favorite – especially for kids who have a distinct advantage! The maximum height of the wooden Uber Games set is 1.5m, with 16 pegs so you can change the height for a bigger challenge.
https://www.independent.ie/life/all-to-play-for-the-best-garden-games-and-toys-for-kids-41571626.html Everything to play with: The best garden games and toys for children