My parenting style is typically quite minimalist; our playroom isn’t overwhelmed with toys and my kids play reasonably well with our collection. But I have also realized that summer days are long and we all need a little extra dose of fun to get through the next few months. Getting the kids out of the house and into the back yard definitely helps keep them entertained and can be good for their learning and development. There are so many fun outdoor games available for kids these days, from giant bubbles to kickball croquet. You can turn your back yard — or front yeard — into the ultimate summer “playborhood” with any or all of these wonderful outdoor toys.
This giant round tree swing is perfect for whiling away those long summer days. It will bear up to 400 pounds in weight, so plenty of room for two kids or a parent to join in. Hang it under a tree to create the perfect place to read a book and enjoy some downtime.
Take sprinkler fun up a notch with this glorious rainbow sprinkler featuring multiple jets. This giant family-sized one is suitable for kids ages 18 months and older. If you are planning a summer party, this sprinkler is going to be a hit and a simple way to keep the kids entertained and cool the whole afternoon.
I’ve never met a parent whose kids didn’t love a water table. This water table comes with a fishing game and launcher so you're kids can spend their days catching and launching plastic fish.
4. Body bumpers
At some point every day, one (if not both) of my children will get a bout of cabin fever and just want to bounce off anything and anyone. These inflatable body bumpers would allow even the most active kids to bump and bonk to their heart’s content.
Inflatable pools have come a long way since I was a kid, and this one with a sprayer and a slide is just the right level of fun for toddlers.
If the playground is a bit too far, bring a hint of the playground to your back yard! This kids' seesaw is small but sturdy and can accommodate two or four kids at a time, weighing up to 100 pounds per seat, which means it’s great for little and big kids alike.
7. Kick croquet
Croquet always reminds me of my grandmother, who hadn’t played a minute of sports in her life but was ruthless with a mallet. Of course, croquet is a bit of a dangerous endeavor with small children. Those balls are rock hard and absolutely destined to knock out a window or a tooth when left in the hands of children brimming with summer energy. But this kick croquet uses soft balls and giant wickets, so you can teach your children the art of this posh sport without the risk of replacing glass or treating concussions.
For older kids who are able to wrangle a bubble wand, this kit will have them ready to make those giant bubbles you often see street entertainers creating in big cities. Your back yard will be turned into a party destination in no time. The good news is that the kit makes over two gallons of bubble solution, so your kids can practice for a very long time.
This 12-foot-long inflatable water slide is the perfect way for kids to cool off on a hot summer day. It includes two inflatable speed boards to cushion every splash landing. The continuous mist is provided by a connection to your garden hose. The kids will be jumping, sliding and splashing all day long.
10. Tree climbers
Let your kids climb your backyard trees with these tree-friendly foot holds. Each one has a strap that wraps around the tree trunk and locks in place with a crank clip. Setup is quick and the straps will fit most trees up to a 28" diameter. If you're thinking of placing these super high up in a tree, you might want to invest in a helmet! This product is recommended for kids ages 12 and older.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in July 2019, and updated in June 2021.