8 Gifts to Inspire Outdoor Play

from Wildlife Promise

Guest post by Jennifer Savedge

BoySnowAngel_WendyCook_219x2191. Bicycle

From trikes to ten-speeds, a new set of wheels is a classic gift for a kid of any age. Inspire your child to take the new ride for a spin by planning a family biking safari, as described in the book 365 Smart After-School Activities. Here’s how:

  • Divide players into teams and give each team a digital camera (or camera phone) and a list of items in the neighborhood to be photographed.
  • When all teams have finished, compare pictures to see who got the best shots.
  • Be sure to hand out praise for goofy stuff like blurriest shot or most bizarre angle.

2. Snow building tools

“Brickers” and “ballers,” plastic molds  that create perfect snowballs and bricks, and are favorites of Tiffany Washko of NatureMoms.com. Tiffany says her children “spend all day making forts, castles, etc., and then they have snowball fights with the area kids. Plus the toys double as sand toys for summer,” explains Washko.  Give your kids these fun snow toys, and then declare a family snowball-fight challenge! Be smart: First build a snow wall with the “bricker” to defend yourself.

3. Outdoor game sets

These days, many kids don’t recognize the word “game” unless it is preceded by the word “video.” Break this link with a fun outdoor game set like bocce, croquet, or horseshoes. You can play by the official rules or mix each game up. For example, try playing a game of crazy croquet.

4. Winter sports gear

If your kids are up for a more fast-moving outdoor adventure, give them ice skates, skis, a sled, or a snowboard. Your choice of gear will depend on your children’s abilities, as well as on their access to slopes or frozen water. And consider including lessons or a season pass to the slopes!

Watching_Magnifying_ Glass_LauraWhitehead_160x1505. Binoculars/magnifying glass

Running around is great, but some kids also like to stop and smell the roses—or at least look at them more closely. Budding naturalists will love binoculars that give them a better view of the birds in the sky or a magnifying glass for close-up looks at snowflakes or bugs. Give them a field guide to the wildlife, flowers, and trees in your area, as well as a journal for jotting down sketches or notes about their favorite finds. Or download Ranger Rick’s nature notebooks here!

6. Bubbles

Did you know that when you blow bubbles outside in the winter, they might freeze? I’ll bet your kids don’t. So if you really want to wow them, give them a bottle of bubbles and head outdoors on any day below freezing to show off your nifty new trick. It works best when you catch the bubbles on the wand and watch them ice up.

7. Gardening kit

There are plenty of gardening kits for kids out there, but make the gift really special by setting aside a small portion of your yard, or a container on your deck or patio, for your child. You can start in the winter by planting seeds inside. Check out these 16 tips for cultivating your child’s green thumb.

8. Scooter

My eldest daughter has a scooter, and it has barely broken contact with her foot since she got it. You don’t need any game ideas or additional gear to get kids “scootering.” But if you do decide to get a scooter, be sure to get yourself a new pair of sneakers just to keep up! And it’s a good idea to have your child wear a helmet.

Need more ideas?  Check out this round-up of some of the best nature and outdoor gift ideas on the Web. Happy holidays!


Jenn Savedge is the blogger behind TheGreenParent.com and the family channel on Mother Nature Network . She also authored three books on going green, including The Green Teen: The Eco-Friendly Teen’s Guide to Going Green.