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From Fat Brain Toys: Young child playing with Buggy Light, an insect viewing toy, outside with flowers in foreground.

Awesome Outdoor Play for Smaller Spaces!

Beginning in the Spring, carrying through the Summer months and even well into the fall, many kids will want to play outside any chance they can get. We know that in Boston not everyone has access to large outdoor play areas. A lot of houses only have small yards, if any, and there isn’t always time to get to a park or field where kids can run around in open spaces. So, what activities can you do outside if you don’t have a yard to play in? 

Plenty! 

Don’t worry. There are lots of options for those who are working with smaller outdoor spaces. From bubbles to bug keepers to jump ropes and outdoor games, there’s bound to be something for everyone. A lot of these smaller-space outdoor activities work indoors too, so the fun can keep going even when you come inside. Keep reading for our recommendations. 


Activities

Bubbles and Bubble Machines

A classic for a reason, our customers LOVE bubbles in the warmer months! They can be used at any time of year, but sometimes can leave marks or residue that you have to clean up. Using bubbles outside eliminates that problem. Plus, it’s fun to watch them float, especially if they get picked up by a breeze or maybe even interact with a bug! Bubble machines add to the fun by emitting a stream of bubbles automatically, so you can just fill it up and go! Bubbles definitely don't need a lot of space to work, and can be enjoyed at any age, from babies to adults. 


Sidewalk Chalk

Sidewalk chalk presents a perfect activity for city dwellers, who are likely to have a lot of pavement to work with. It’s a great way to encourage creative, artistic expression. Chalk art can be done alone or with friends and siblings, and doesn’t require any particular skill–pretty much anyone can do it! 


Activity Table and Water Mats

On extra warm days, water toys are especially refreshing and fun. A Sand and Water Activity Table is pretty easy to set up and move around, and doesn’t take up lots of space. An activity table can be used in various ways – as a general play area, or with a bit of water for an imaginative and sensory adventure! Water play mats are easily portable options for babies and toddlers, and many are made for both indoor and outdoor use, making them a versatile choice.  


Active Play 

Portable Lawn Games 

These games are specifically designed to be easy to set up and take down, and only need a little bit of room (some more than others). A lot of these can be used indoors as well, so you can still use them on rainy days! Some of the best options for smaller areas are Pop-up Basketball, Ring Toss, and Bean Bag Toss. 


Foam Pogo Jumpers 

These are pogo toys designed for young hoppers! They are made of durable foam and are very fun to use, but don’t require a lot of room (unlike a more serious pogo stick, then you would definitely want more clearance). Just make sure you don’t use your pogo jumper in or near the street! 


Jump Ropes and Hula Hoops

These classic active toys have been around for ages because they can be used in almost any setting, with options for beginners through experienced users. You can skip rope with the simplest steps or do complex double-dutch moves. Hula hooping can be basic or an impressive feat demanding serious coordination. Both jump ropes and hula hoops can be used solo, or shared with friends. 


Yo-yos, Juggling, and Kick Bags (aka Hacky Sacks)

Interested in a little challenge of dexterity and hand-eye coordination? Grab a yo-yo, juggling balls or pins, or a bean-filled kick bag and head out to practice your tricks! The kick bag, or hacky sack, is best if you like games, while the other options are perfect for those who enjoy performing. All can be fun solo activities, and all but the yo-yo can also be used in groups or pairs. Great for yards, driveways, parks–almost anywhere! 



Science & Nature

Bug Keepers, Microscopes, and Magnifying Glasses

Get up close and personal with nature’s crawling critters, if that’s your thing. Use a bug keeper to catch and observe bugs and insects, or grab a microscope, bug viewer, or magnifying glass to give you a unique, detailed insight into the natural world. These are amazing items for nature lovers and science-inclined kids.


Gardening Toys 

Kids’ gardening tools, such as toy shovels and rakes, garden accessories, and toy wagons are your choice for kids who are drawn to plants and dirt! Let them help maintain a beautiful flower bed, or give them a little patch of yard to dig up as they please. These toys are easier to use than true tools, and easy to clean if needed. They’ll help kids to learn how to take care of a garden and explore the plant world. 


Nature-Inspired Crafts

For creative spirits who love the outdoors, nature-inspired art is a top activity. Use sunlight to create interesting pictures with Sunart paper. Take a flower press and use it to preserve some spring and summer blooms, and even turn your pressed flower items into beautiful crafts. 



Think Outside the Box

Just in case you need more options, it’s always fun to think of other creative ways to play outside! For example, take-along art sets and journals are easy to use anywhere, a perfect choice for the creative kid. Playsets or vehicles that are made from plastic are usually very easy to clean, so no need to worry about them getting dirty when playing outside. Then there are active games like Ribbon Ninja and Yoga Dice that don’t need a lot of space and provide a fun way to spend an afternoon outdoors. Musical instruments can be great take-along toys (or tools) as well–like a play trumpet, or the unique Rock n Roll It Piano, a flexible piano keyboard that rolls up for the simplest portability and setup. 

 

 Whatever your play style or amount of space, there are some great ways to have fun. And don’t forget the sunscreen!




Outdoor Toys by Age


Age 0-1 Bubbles

Age 1-2 Bubbles, Sand/water Table, Water Play Mat

Age 3-5 Bubbles, Sand/water Table, Sidewalk Chalk, Bug Keeper, Magnifying Glass, Pop-Up Basketball, Foam Pogo Jumper, Gardening Toys

Age 6-8 Bubbles, Hula Hoop, Jump Rope, Yo-yo, SunArt Paper, Flower Press, Gardening Toys, Sidewalk Chalk, Ribbon Ninja, Bug Keeper, Magnifying Glass, Ring Toss, Bean Bag Toss

Age 9-12+ Pocket Microscope, SunArt Paper, Flower Press, Sidewalk Chalk, Jump Rope, Yo-yo, Ribbon Ninja, Hacky Sack, Ring Toss, Bean Bag Toss, Juggling Balls, Bubbles


(This list represents some of our suggestions, but certainly not all possible options!)

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