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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi, my name's Jill and I live with my long-term partner Fred and our adorable little Sophia aged 4. I'm very keen on making sure that most of Sophia's time is spent outdoors, whenever possible, as I want her to stay active and enjoy those kind of activities rather than sitting around watching TV on the sofa. As I've read in another thread on the forum, our kids seem to get hold of electronic devices like mobile phones and tablets at too younger age these days and are often left unsupervised without the correct parental controls being enforced. I think its great for kids to learn about and understand technology at an early age and of course a lot of the toys you buy these days involve technology, but there should be a balance. You want your kid to grow up outgoing, confident and socially in-tune, not a recluse that only communicates via social media. So back to my question, I want some good outdoor activities/toys that will help keep my daughter active, that are safe and that will also help her to develop. Does anyone have any good ideas that maybe I wouldn't have thought of? Also, where do other mothers shop for their toys? Do you buy toys online & if so, where are the best places to shop? Thank you!
 

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My girls are six and three (nearly four). The outdoor toys they love are; trampoline, sand pit, water table, hula hoops and bikes.

They both want scooters for Christmas.

We also have an easel which we set up outside for painting and and A-frame chalkboard which lives outside. As a result a fair bit of chalk drawing happens on the concrete and outside walls of the house. We periodically draw a hopscotch?board, ?court on the back verandah with chalk. We also have a giant noughts and crosses made from a square of artificial grass.

We've had limited success with gardening and fairy gardens. They'd probably be more engaged with the garden if I was and the fairy gardens kept getting dug up and the bits taken away so I've given up on that for now.


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Our bikes, trikes and scooters get lots of action.

We have a dome climber that we love. We hung a disc swing in the middle to make it even more awesome.

We also made a circle of different sized stumps. The kids can follow it along like a path, use them for tables and chairs, etc. We had an outdoor tea set that got used a LOT in the stump area

Our sandbox doesn't get used as much as my empty garden box. Something about mud, I guess :)

We have a play tent that I pull out sometimes. The kids really love that.

And lastly we had a big bag of small plastic animals that have been making their way around our yard for years.



For reference, my older girl is 6 but has definitely been playing happily with this stuff since 3 or 4.
 

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The park. At that age that's what we did most. We have a park with a mud pit and a water source with shovels and "logs". Many kids love dirt piles, sand, water, cars, boats, buckets etc. In the winter we'd go tobogganing, my son hated skating.

Nature walks.

Visits to local attractions, we have a farm that kids can visit here.

The pool, our pools are mostly free. By 4 he may have outgrown the backyard kiddie pool, I can't quite remember.

My son had a trike but it pretty much lived indoors, he did not want to ride it outside. At that age she might be ready for a balance bike. I would take my son out in the bike trailer, as he no interest in biking on a 2 wheeler.

Early Learning centres and indoor gyms.

A pop up tent got some use at a friends house.

My son was super active and our backyard (alone) wasn't a huge attraction for him.

Check out this company:
http://www.naturalplaygrounds.ca
 

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We have a yard they love, and have had a series of swings from our big tree. We've also hung bars and rings, but I think I started putting those up later than 4? Not sure. Basically by letting our yard be a mess, they've had a lot to play with. Digging in the sand (sandy soil), playing with stumps, plants, sticks and rocks, taking small indoor toys like hard animals outside. Even the smallest yard becomes a jungle for a 3 inch hippopotamus. Climbing in our tree (unfortunately you can't buy a good one like ours). Throwing and kicking balls. The most expensive thing we bought at that age was the rope for the swing. Letting go of any idea of landscaping was probably the best thing we did for them.

Someone gave us a hand-me-down plastic playhouse with a door and a couple windows, and they loved that, even if most of what they did was climb onto the roof and jump off.

Mine would have LOVED the old tent idea.

Anything messy you don't want your kiddo doing indoors. Painting rocks. Mine also loved (and still do) chalk. Mud is always a favorite.

Getting to places like nature preserves. Going hiking, even if it's a quarter mile that takes 2 hours and most of the time your child is playing under a shrub pretending it's a den. If you can get out to a park, especially one that's more natural and not just grass, it doesn't seem like you need anything at all, although having a playmate helps.

Grassy parks are fine too. We rarely took anything besides bats, balls and frisbees to the grassy parks, but they always found something to do. I would just let them loose.

And bikes! Whatever your kiddo is ready for. My kids were using training wheels at that age, but it really doesn't matter what they're pedaling.

I really think that one of the great things about getting them outside is that it does something to jump start their imaginations and you really don't often need formal "toys."

Wow, writing this really brought up some fun memories. Enjoy!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My girls are six and three (nearly four). The outdoor toys they love are; trampoline, sand pit, water table, hula hoops and bikes.

They both want scooters for Christmas.

We also have an easel which we set up outside for painting and and A-frame chalkboard which lives outside. As a result a fair bit of chalk drawing happens on the concrete and outside walls of the house. We periodically draw a hopscotch?board, ?court on the back verandah with chalk. We also have a giant noughts and crosses made from a square of artificial grass.

We've had limited success with gardening and fairy gardens. They'd probably be more engaged with the garden if I was and the fairy gardens kept getting dug up and the bits taken away so I've given up on that for now.


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There are some great ideas there, I think the easel & chalk board would be a good shout as my daughter has taken a shine to colouring, painting and drawing. I'm a little bit put off by trampolines but that's because I had a friend who got injured quite bad on one so its just one of those personal things and I'd be worried sick even if there were safety measures in place. We do actually have a small sand pit that we bought recently but it only took her attention for the first few days, then she got bored of it. We are looking at getting a bike as its good to get them practicing early. Not sure we'll do the hopscotch etc but I love the idea and they may be worth further consideration. We have an ok sized garden but its mainly a lawn and decking, there isn't really 'garden' as such as I'm not a fan of maintaining it. I love the outdoors but gardening has never been my thing :smile:
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The park. At that age that's what we did most. We have a park with a mud pit and a water source with shovels and "logs". Many kids love dirt piles, sand, water, cars, boats, buckets etc. In the winter we'd go tobogganing, my son hated skating.

Nature walks.

Visits to local attractions, we have a farm that kids can visit here.

The pool, our pools are mostly free. By 4 he may have outgrown the backyard kiddie pool, I can't quite remember.

My son had a trike but it pretty much lived indoors, he did not want to ride it outside. At that age she might be ready for a balance bike. I would take my son out in the bike trailer, as he no interest in biking on a 2 wheeler.

Early Learning centres and indoor gyms.

A pop up tent got some use at a friends house.

My son was super active and our backyard (alone) wasn't a huge attraction for him.
Yes, to the PARK if you have one available nearby!

Also, a soccer ball and tennis shoes!

I think making more time for us to spend the weekend as a family at some of the local attractions is a must. We do try to go to these places but before you know it, another month has passed and you say you are going to go somewhere but don't. Plus, things have settled down now financially and my partner has more money coming in with better hours so all our weekends should be free from this month on-wards. I think we both feel a bit more energised as a result and want to make sure we put that extra effort into parenting. I've been taking her down the park whilst he's at work and she does enjoy that, chasing the dogs around and playing on whatever activities are available. I think a nice walk as a family where there's some good wildlife on offer should be penciled in as that's helping her to learn about nature. Swimming is something that we should do more, I don't really like taking her on my own so its usually when my sisters free that we go. As far as tobogganing & skating goes, it sounds super fun. I'm going to explore those types of activities more as I think she'd take to them quite well, she's pretty fearless.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
We have a yard they love, and have had a series of swings from our big tree. We've also hung bars and rings, but I think I started putting those up later than 4? Not sure. Basically by letting our yard be a mess, they've had a lot to play with. Digging in the sand (sandy soil), playing with stumps, plants, sticks and rocks, taking small indoor toys like hard animals outside. Even the smallest yard becomes a jungle for a 3 inch hippopotamus. Climbing in our tree (unfortunately you can't buy a good one like ours). Throwing and kicking balls. The most expensive thing we bought at that age was the rope for the swing. Letting go of any idea of landscaping was probably the best thing we did for them.

Someone gave us a hand-me-down plastic playhouse with a door and a couple windows, and they loved that, even if most of what they did was climb onto the roof and jump off.

Mine would have LOVED the old tent idea.

Anything messy you don't want your kiddo doing indoors. Painting rocks. Mine also loved (and still do) chalk. Mud is always a favorite.

Getting to places like nature preserves. Going hiking, even if it's a quarter mile that takes 2 hours and most of the time your child is playing under a shrub pretending it's a den. If you can get out to a park, especially one that's more natural and not just grass, it doesn't seem like you need anything at all, although having a playmate helps.

Grassy parks are fine too. We rarely took anything besides bats, balls and frisbees to the grassy parks, but they always found something to do. I would just let them loose.

And bikes! Whatever your kiddo is ready for. My kids were using training wheels at that age, but it really doesn't matter what they're pedaling.

I really think that one of the great things about getting them outside is that it does something to jump start their imaginations and you really don't often need formal "toys."

Wow, writing this really brought up some fun memories. Enjoy!
Yes, we looked at getting a play tent or something of sorts. We were considering a small outdoor Wendy house, its really just been down to whether we have quite enough space for it and also the fact that we've not really had the money. It may be something we come back to and consider again for Christmas or her next birthday.

I remember playing on the swings at my grandparents house that they'd constructed from an old tree, with my siblings and cousins, we had some happy times there.
 

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Trampolines do get a bum wrap these days, don't they? And I understand why for very young children-the surface tension and rebound can do some harm to kids 6 and under for the backyard variety. It is something that really requires some supervision and rules, but I have to say, that was one of the favorites when I was a kid! And that was without the safety features that are available today. I am not sure why it is looked upon that much differently as riding a bike or climbing a tree? Both you can fall and do some real damage.

Edited: Sorry, I just realized you were talking about play equipment for a 4 year old. Whoops! I didn't read well enough.
 
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