With spring and summer weather allowing for more time outside, you might notice that your child's outdoor space needs a little face lift. There are countless ways to bring nature into your child's outdoor play, but what about the outdoor toys to also fill the space with? In order to help your child get the most out of their play it is helpful to provide open-ended and developmentally age-appropriate materials. When outdoors, these materials will likely be a combination of natural and manufactured elements to both keep it interesting and direct your child toward choosing how they want to play.
Dr. Maria Montessori writes about the importance of prepared environments, and this doesn't just apply to spaces inside the home, your outdoor set up can be just as educational and child-driven! Dr. Montessori also found that children who spent time in nature developed responsibility, learned creative problem-solving strategies, and had reduced levels of stress. After a year of what has felt like endless screen time for us all, it is time to treasure the opportunity to spend time outdoors.
Below you will find 12 ideas of Montessori-inspired toys to add to your child's outdoor summer play:
Included in this kit is a metal watering can, a metal trowel, a rake, a spade shovel, pots for gardening, as well as a canvas tote bag to keep it all organized. This kit is perfect for encouraging your child to join you (or lead the way) in gardening. The materials are child-sized and high quality. There are positive reviews from families using this kit with their child as young as 22 months old.
This handmade rope ladder can be hung indoors or out and is a fun new take on a climbing rope. The four sides present an extra challenge in balance, coordination and strength for your child.
A well-crafted hand kite is a toy that can be used year after year. The solid wooden hoop with vibrant colorful ribbon can be enjoyed by infants and parents together while watching it blow in the air. An older child will quickly figure out how to make the kite soar in the wind or trail behind them as they race through the yard.
These stilts are a fun challenge for children ages three and up. They help develop gross motor skills, enhance coordination and balance, all while providing a new and exciting challenge for your child. One reviewer even suggested getting out your hot glue gun and decorating the stilts to make them even more special.
Recommended for ages 3 to 10, this A-Frame Hideaway and Climber is a great addition to almost any backyard. One side of the frame is a rock wall that allows your child to summit to the top and ring a bell upon their success. The other side has a window with stars and moon graphics, to invite imaginative play. This is sure to provide hours of physical and joyful play on long summer days.
Balance boards have become a hot toy on the market in the past few years, and there is a good reason why. They can help your child develop their equilibrium while making for a fun exercise routine, then flip it over and it becomes a ramp for cars or even a small slide. This balance board is made of curved plywood and is approved for ages 12 months to 6 years.
A sandbox is the perfect addition to a backyard to create a space for open ended, imaginative, and collaborative play. This sand box is large enough for multiple children to play inside of and also has a cover to keep out weather (and neighborhood pets!).
This set of 6 stepping blocks can be set up in limitless configurations for imaginative and fun play. They can be used in obstacle courses, follow the leader, floor is lava, and countless other games. The stones help your child build their balance and coordination, as well as help develop spatial awareness of distance and height. The stones come in 3 sizes, small, large and extra large, with two of each color.
Setting up an art easel outside is a great way to encourage more outdoor play, and a way to make cleanup even easier. This durable easel has three different height settings making it accessible even for the youngest of artists. It includes a dry erase board, chalkboard, and paper roller. You can also purchase an Easel Companion Set to inspire your little artist to get to work.
This climbing dome has multiple five-star reviews, and will likely bring back joyful childhood memories for you as your child climbs, swings, and jumps from this structure. Although this requires a good amount of space in a yard—it is 10 feet in diameter and 5 feet high—reviewers say it has replaced large play structures in their yard and gets just as much use. The climbing activities this lends to can help improve a child's spatial awareness, sense of balance, and motor skills—you may even find that the interior of the dome makes for a great playhouse, too!
The internet is full of sensory table ideas, and once it is moved outside the options for play (and mess) continue to grow. This popular IKEA table works with their TROFAST bins, and is just the right size for exploration. Whether filled with water, sand, oblak, construction vehicles, or water beads this table is sure to get a lot of use. Due to popularity, and affordable price, this item frequently comes in and out of stock, grab one up while you can!
A balance beam is a great way to stretch and engage your whole body. This child-sized balance beam is designed for children ages 18 months to 8 years and can be used indoors or out. Lily and River toys are designed specifically to enhance creativity, self-confidence, motor skill development, and muscle growth.
We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.