Get kids playing outside this summer with our favourite backyard toys 

From water toys to imaginative play, these toys are hits with our kids.

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School’s out for summer, and if you don’t have a matrix of camps and visits already mapped out, you’re probably facing the next nine weeks at home with the kids. Sure, unstructured time and a little boredom can help children develop skills and creativity. But you probably don’t want them hanging around the TV and tablets all summer, either.

If you’re looking for a few ways to encourage the kids to get outside this summer and enjoy the backyard, now’s a great time to boost your outdoor play options. From water toys to items that encourage imaginative play, here are a few things our own kids have tested and love.


Tired of kids throwing your pillows outside for an impromptu game of The Floor is Lava? Invest in these cute but sturdy stepping stones instead. They’re great for fostering creative play and problem-solving, plus they help kids develop balance and agility. They stack for easy storage in the shed but are light enough for kids to move them around, creating obstacle courses in the backyard or inside on a rainy day.
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For years, we’ve invested in water balloons to cool off in the summer. But picking up little plastic shards (and hoping the dogs don’t eat any) is never fun. So this year, we invested in reusable water balloons and aren’t looking back. These silicone orbs are great for smaller hands, easy to fill, and don’t hurt as much as regular balloons upon impact. The best part is that they’re reusable, which means lots of water fun all summer long.



Outdoor games are fun for kids and adults alike, especially simple ones. Cornhole is a classic because it doesn’t require a ton of skill, and you can team up for fun competition. This particular set is a hit with our kids because it glows in the dark, which adds an extra layer of fun on warm summer nights. This kit also folds up and is easy to take on the road, which makes it ideal for camping, picnics, and more.


A classic but kid favourite, sidewalk chalk is an excellent excuse for kids of any age to get creative outside. Draw courses, characters, games and more with this 64-pack from Crayola. The vibrant colours are rectangular so they won’t roll down the driveway, plus this pack includes a couple of neon, glitter and tie-dye sticks for extra fun options.
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Remember playing with these in gym class? Parachutes are great for small groups of kids. Use them for a variety of games that foster teamwork and problem-solving. This parachute is vibrant and kid-friendly thanks to its sturdy handles and design, and it doubles as a lightweight picnic mat or cover when you need one.



These vibrant playground balls are a hit with our kids for various activities, from handball to soccer. They’re easy to spot at a playground and have a grippy surface that makes them ideal for small hands. They’ve also got a good bounce to them, which kids love. Quickly inflate these balls with a hand pump, throw them out in the yard, and let your kids have at ’em.



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Unless you’re lucky enough to have a big yard, a giant trampoline might not be the most practical thing to set up this summer. Still, trampolines can be a great way to expend energy and get kids moving. Enter this portable trampoline with a safety bar designed for kids and adults alike. Kids can play on it solo or use it as part of an obstacle course or game, then it folds up when you’re done for easy storage.


Is this a dog pool? Absolutely. And that’s why it’s so great for kids. The sturdy material means that kids can’t easily puncture or break it, so it should last for a long time. There’s no need for inflation and the unit folds flat for practical storage when not in use. It’s easy to cover with a tarp if you want to warm the water overnight, and when you’re ready to drain it, this pool comes with a side spout that saves your back.


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We used to have a wood playhouse, but it was difficult to store in the winter, and the wood eventually rotted. So we opted for a less expensive, basic Little Tykes model, which the kids love. It’s the perfect “home base” for their creativity and games and fits a few kids at a time when friends are over. But it’s also sturdy and easy to clean with a hose and rag or pressure washer, making it a backyard win. 
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Kids love having their own place to eat or craft outside, and this kid-friendly picnic table has been a favourite with our kids for years. There’s enough room for four small bums at a time, the umbrella protects them from the sun, and the plastic material is sturdy, easy to wipe down, and lasts for years.


Water and sand are always hits with kids, and an elevated water or sand table can inspire hours of playtime. Fill it with sand when the weather is too cold for water or with water when kids need to cool down. This particular table comes with fun dino friends, and you can fill it with sand and water at the same time. In our experience though, it’s best to stick with one at a time, or else you may find yourself with a muddy mess.



Sometimes, the best outdoor toys are the ones that kids can use in multiple ways. Like this carnival accessories kit, which comes with cones, hoops, bean bags, and a mesh bag to hold it all while not in use. Kids can come up with their own games or create obstacle courses, inspiring creativity, problem-solving, and teamwork along the way.
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You can never have enough bubbles, so stock up this summer. Bubbles are great for kids of all ages, whether they’re attempting to blow some or chase after them. Our kids have the most success with Gazillion Bubbles, which are reasonably priced, come with fun wands, and are non-toxic for those pets or curious kids who might be playing along.



Bug and critter catchers are a great way to foster kids’ curiosity and love of the outdoors while taking some of the fear away from such creatures. This bungalow kit comes with mesh screens so kids can safely check out their catch, along with a magnifying glass, observation jar, and tweezers.


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