Our Favorite Things:
Great Toys to Get Kids Outdoors
To celebrate the arrival of warmer weather, we searched for the newest and best outdoor toys.
- A New Tool for Sidewalk Artists
- Rollerblades That Grow With Your Kids
- Energy-Burning Fun
- Turn Bugs Into Movie-Size Monsters
- Play With Your Veggies
With its quintet of colorful chalk sticks, the Rainbow Rake gives sidewalk sketch artists an easy way to spruce up outdoor canvases. A quick slide of the 2-foot handle spreads or pulls together the tool's fingers, letting kids make myriad multicolor lines, swirls, and, yes, rainbows.
Ages 4 and up. Crayola, $10 (chalk replacement packs start at $1) Click to buy
It's the simple adjustment mechanisms found on the Micro II Total Fit System that knock the competition out of the roller rink. Kids can quickly change the snugness of the no-lace skates with the turn of a dial. And parents can stretch the size (as well as their money) with an easy-to-lengthen boot. One buying tip: the skates were too narrow for one tester, so be sure to try before you buy.
Available in sizes 12-2, 2-5, and 4-7. Ages 6 to 12. Rollerblade, $110 Click to buy
One part pogo stick, one part hop-ball, Zoingo Boingo offers a surefire way for your child to have some bouncing-good fun. Riders grasp the bungee cord-like handle, place their feet on the hard plastic platform, and, with a bit of practice, use the springiness of the ball to launch themselves skyward. Over and over and over and over.
Ages 8 and up (there's a 143-pound weight limit). Spin Master, $20 Click to buy
With the Big Bad Booming Bugs Giant Bug Projector, little entomologists can not only collect their prized backyard specimens, but also easily display them for all to see. Kids simply pick up insects with the scoop (the light facilitates after-dark searches), place them in the viewer, adjust the lens, then project the creepy-crawlies up to -- yikes! -- 50 times their size on a wall or ceiling. (Note: No insects need be harmed in the making of this horror movie; simply release them when you're done.)
Ages 6 and up. Little Kids, $13 Click to buy
At just over 3 feet long, the sturdy Peapod Rocker is the perfect backyard seesaw for two. Only one tot? Let her sit in the middle for a fun solo ride. When the weather turns cold, you can even harvest the sweet pea for indoor use. The large legume is part of the Happy Garden line, which also includes an eggplant rocker and a carrot slide.
Ages 3 to 5. Chicco, $60 Click to buy