Besides stocking your pantry with the best snacks in the neighborhood, how can you make your house the hot summertime hangout where all the kids want to come play? Hint: It's not the newest movies or video games — everybody's already got those. The secret to summertime fun is outdoor play gear that makes kids want to get outside and play hard. We've rounded up some timeless favorites that will keep your kids (and your house) hopping.
Things for your backyard
One of the best ways to attract a swarm of children is to invest in outdoor play equipment — think playground gear— they'll all want to use together. A swingset is the classic choice for the younger crowd; if your goal is to attract playmates, make sure you get one with enough activities for several children at once. Trampolines are another favorite choice for active fun that gives kids a real workout. Assembly can be tricky; we recommend watching several demonstration videos on the internet before you give it a go yourself.
If you have a strong tree or other safe location to hang it from, a Round-and-Round swing thrills kids who love to spin. Its tight weave and smaller size make it a great choice for younger children too, who enjoy sitting all sorts of different ways without fearing they'll fall through.
Things that help keep kids cool
Outdoor play in the summertime invariably means water. Keep kids cool for hours with a water slide. Whether you choose a simple slide that connects to your garden hose or a gigantic inflatable slide kids can go barreling down, there's a fit for every backyard. On a smaller scale, fight the summer heat with water toys including water guns, funny sprinklers and sprayers — and of course the ubiquitous kiddie pool (don't forget a brigade of buckets, boats and other tools to pour and squirt with).
Things to move out on
It would be hard to buy enough bicycles for the whole gang, but you can stock up on other things to get kids moving. Kids who haven’t quite mastered bicycle riding but still feel the need for speed will enjoy cranking up the Ezy Roller ride-on; big kids will still have fun speeding along at ground level, too. Other get-'em-moving classics include pogo sticks and rollerblades.
Here's a neat little add-on we love: a Chalktrail for the back of your child's bike. Kids can scribe patterns on the streets and sidewalks and chart complex trails for follow the leader and scavenger hunts.
Things that are simply awesome
You’re never too old to play with bubbles. A bubble blower or set of wands turns any afternoon into an instant party. And be sure you have the classics on hand: jump ropes large enough for a group, plus a full selection of play balls and sports balls.
Our all-time favorite toy for outdoor play has to be The Great Big Outdoor Playball. As long as you have a good amount of space in your backyard, no kid will be able to resist the urge to push, kick, run, chase, and even climb inside the GBOP. Don’t forget an electric pump for easy inflation!
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