We’ve had a few days of mild, spring-like weather, and even though it’s rainy again today I’ve started thinking about summer. I know I’m not the only one thinking warmer weather and playing outside: my twitter stream and blog feed are full of longing for winter to be over. Isobel asks every day if we can go outside and play bubbles.
In anticipation of spending hours and hours outside I’ve been thinking of a list of things we will need to get through the summer. Toys, specifically. I want to build a simple, inexpensive set of toys for the backyard. My goal is to find as many of these at thrift stores, yard sales, and dollar stores as possible.
Bowling set – when we were growing up there was a disgusting drink called a SQUEEZE-IT. Man, it tasted foul but it came in a cheap plastic soda-like bottle that made excellent bowling pins when stacked at the end of our long sidewalk. Our cats, ever curious, used to get in the way, and my Dad repurposed the game as “Bowling for Cats.”
Fishing poles – my sister and I each had a child’s fishing pole that we used for actual fishing a handful of times and ‘cat fishing’ the rest of the time. My dad would put weights and a large plastic tie at the end of our Snoopy fishing pole lines. We’d stand in the bed of his pickup and cast our lines across the lawn and every cat in the vicinity would chase the plastic tie as we reeled them in. Sometimes we wore our Snoopy life vests for extra realism.
Magnifying glass – for examining plants and bugs. I’m also thinking about finding some small binoculars or a spy glass for trips to the park.
Frisbee – my neighbors had an ingenious use for their Frisbee: when not in use as originally intended, they turned it over and filled it with bubbles. Wide, shallow, and perfect for bubble wands, it was not easy to spill and more than one kid could use it at once.
Water toys – Repurposed toys for a water table, bucket of water, or wading pool.
Obstacle course items – I’m having a hard time coming up with items for an obstacle course. Hula hoops? Jump ropes? Tunnels? Help me out on this one, internet.
Large paintbrushes – I heard about this idea somewhere a long time ago: get a bucket of water and a large paintbrush and your kid can ‘paint’ designs with water on the side of a house or a fence.
Kite – Anyone seen some cute ones online? If Isobel really enjoys kites, I’d spring for a nice one.
Balls – various sizes and kinds
Badminton set – Isobel’s too young still, but I’d use it.
Sand toys – buckets, shovels, and sand molds
Croquet set – I found one at a yard sale when Isobel was a newborn. Now all we need is a lawn to use it on.
Wading pool – we have one from last year, but I’m not sure if it will still inflate. And what about Slip ‘n Slides? Do they still make those?
Chalk – any creative uses for chalk out there? Or fun things for kids to draw?
I’d love to hear any ideas you have on toys for the backyard. What outdoor toys do you consider essential? What am I missing?