Kids of all ages, from toddler and preschoolers, to school-age children and beyond, need to get outdoors as often as possible. Outdoor fun and games offer both mental and physical benefits, and that’s why kids at our daycare in Rockville, MD experience scheduled activities outside of the classroom. Away from the supervision of professional childhood educators, though, kids must also experience measured outdoor activities. In fact, parents and home caregivers must insist that children GOMO (Get Out More Often). One way to accomplish that is by using a selection of outdoor toys and games.
What to Look For in Outdoor Toys
There are a broad variety of outdoor toys that it’s often challenging to pick the right one. But if you follow these basic guidelines, you can’t go wrong:
At Rockville daycare centers, kids have a choice of outdoor games to play. While trained childcare professionals are always at hand, all the toys and games are picked with kid’s safety in mind. Parents too can follow the 5-point checklist above to choose the best outdoor toys for their kids.
Our Top Picks for Best Outdoor Toys
So, which are the best outdoor toys for your kids? Below, you’ll find a range of outdoor toys and games for children of all ages. These toys also appeal to youngsters, both boys and girls, with different personalities and temperaments. Best of all, our list includes toys that have aspects of creativity, as well as mental and physical activity.
Playing a game of Catch is always fun, especially in homes with siblings, or for outdoor group play. These games involve two components – a toss object (typically a ball) and a catch object (often a single mitten or glove. If you don’t have wide outdoor play spaces, like our daycare in Rockville, MD does, Toss and catch is still a great activity where there’s limited amount of safe space – such as a backyard or a driveway. Kids will exercise their limbs, and improve their hand-eye coordination skills. It’ll also help improve stamina, dexterity and swiftness.
However, many toss-and-catch games come with oversized balls, balls that are hard and brittle, or mittens that don’t fit well on the hands of toddlers and preschoolers. It’s important to, therefore, look for toss and catch components that are right-sized, and which don’t harm kids when playing.
Why take your kids to a community pool on a hot summer day, when you can easily create your own “pool experience” at home. There are any number of commercially available Inflatable Pools and Splash Pads, of varying size and water capacity, that you can buy and set-up anywhere – your backyard, your driveway (when cars aren’t moving in/out), or a school parking lot during summer break. The best part about this outdoor splash play activity, is that you can pack-up everything and take it indoors once the fun is over.
Kids will learn the basics of swimming and floating, before it’s time to take them for formal swimming lessons. Most importantly, it’ll entice them into going outdoors to cool down and chill out with friends – a good networking and socializing skill. There are, however, some basic safety tips to make splash play safe: No drinking the splash pad water. Encourage sandals or other open-toed footwear in the pad. Make sure the child has showered first, before entering the pool with others. And no edibles must be permitted in or around the pad or pool. Sunscreen and a hat are strongly recommended in hot sunshine.
If you really want your child to get into the GOMO mood, then there’s nothing like a Balance Bike to get them started. Riding a bike during game time at our Rockville daycare centers is a perfect way to get some outdoor time. They’re also great to get your child started off on their very first biking experience. These are smaller, lighter-framed, and narrower bikes, compared to regular kids’ bicycles. However, they come with features like lower seats, broader foot rests, and are generally more kid-friendly.
Of course, you could also opt for a regular kid’s bike, and add on training wheels as an option. The end result is the same: If you want your child to have fun outdoors, then entice them to GOMO with the toys they love best. As always, outdoor safety first: Always have an adult present when kids are biking. Insist on them wearing a helmet and knee and elbow pads. And never let them bike on busy streets or roads.
If you want your kids to really burn calories, break out in a sweat, and build their muscles, hone their motor skills, and practice eye-limb movement coordination, then an Obstacle Course kit is a great outdoor toy. It can also facilitate team building. These kits come with a range of components, such as colored plastic cones, bean bags, rings, and ropes to create barriers and obstacles. An adult can set the course up depending on the age and capability of the kids, and then referee the games. Use your Sidewalk Chalk to startup a giant scorecard to motivate kids to complete the course faster and score points.
While most kits are made from harmless materials, such as plastics and fabric, the components can – at times – break and leave jagged chipped ends. If a cone is chipped, make sure you remove it from the course. Also, don’t place roped barriers too high; otherwise kids may trip on them as they attempt to clear the course in record time.
There are some days where kids just want to go out and play…but they want something “mindless” but fun. Well, Swing Sets give them just that! The best thing about swings is that you can also teach kids about gravity – how force propels them higher, and gravity brings them lower. Outdoor swinging is also a great way to get some fresh air and sunshine, without indulging in strenuous effort.
Most parents and children who attend daycares in Rockville, MD will see one on the premises. But there are a number of outdoor backyard swing sets to choose from – and some even have a 3-child capacity. Some models even come with a climbing ladder for extra exercise and limb strengthening. When choosing the ones that are best for your kids’ needs, make sure to test the chains, joints and couplings, and ensure they are well-made. Don’t go for a swing that’s too high. And install it over grass, turf or a sand pit for additional safety.
Initially, your kid will likely need supervision when playing outdoors on his/her new swing set. It might also be wise to get them to wear a safety helmet and kneepads – just in case. Once they’ve mastered the art of gravitating up and down, you can let them on their own – provided they follow the “not too high” rule!
If you are looking for an inexpensive, no hassles, and yet highly creative outdoor toy for your kids, then Sidewalk Chalk is it! There are no moving parts. No assembly required. And it’s highly portable and mobile, so you can take it anywhere your child goes – backyards, driveways, sidewalks (obviously!), parks, and vacation places.
Sidewalk Chalk is the ideal choice when you want your kid to enjoy a bit of fun and exercise with classic hopscotch. There’s no better way for kids to exercise their limbs, and refine their coordinated hopping, jumping and leaping skills. Hopscotch also helps kids hone their visual skills – as they prepare to make a leap, they must base it on an estimate of their own strength and the perceived distance to the target square.
But Sidewalk Chalk also opens the doors to many other outdoor activities for kids of all ages, including Outdoor Pictionary, Drawing and Sketching, Creating Mazes and playing games in them, Tracing the shadow of friends and objects, like trees and water fountains.
Safety tips: Buy chalk that only has safe ingredients – no harsh chemicals. Only draw where it’s safe and permitted. And, if required, clean up before they leave.
If you have kids that have peers (friends, siblings), then there’s no way they won’t enjoy shooting hoops! And even if they’re the only child, they’ll spend hours practicing like the pros. You may even see one indoors at our Rockville daycare centers! A basketball hoop is a fun way to get kids outdoors for some fresh air and sunshine. But it also helps develop social skills, team play, cooperation with others, strategic thinking, and motor skills and coordination.
Because this is such a versatile toy, make sure you get one with an adjustable base, so kids of any age can play. Even toddlers can benefit from picking up a ball, walking to a low-adjusted hoop, and placing the ball inside to score a point!
Clearly, if kids are throwing the ball into the hoop from a height or a distance, the shot can go awry. Make sure there are no breakable structures nearby – flowerpots, windows, and parked cars. And because shooting hoops can be intense, at times, making players lose perception of where they might be, make sure you set it up away from traffic – both motorized and pedestrian.
MCCA has been recognized by the Maryland State Legislature for its commitment to Montgomery County issued a quality programs and special needs child care Proclamation in 2016 to MCCA for its commitment to Montgomery County child care for more than 50 years. MCCA was also selected as a 2018 nonprofit finalist for a MOXIE Award for boldness and innovation
MCCA is the oldest nonprofit licensed child care provider in Montgomery County and started its work in 1968 as a Community Action Project of the War on Poverty. Recognizing the need for quality child care programs in their neighborhoods, a group of local activists formed an association to establish centers in Montgomery County that would serve a diverse population and establish high standards for child care. Now, more than 50 years later, MCCA’s dedicated and expertly trained staff continue their tradition of providing high quality child care and play-based education for children.
Families with school aged children who can afford their child care expenses during the school year often struggle to afford the all-day programs they need when school is out for the summer. The Richard Krampf Summer Adventures Scholarship Fund was established to help provide children a safe and stimulating place to spend their weeks when school is out. Please contact an MCCA Director for details on how to apply.