Holiday Gifts for Outdoor Play: Think Outside the (X) Box

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Paging through the latest toy catalog from one of my favorite department stores, I noticed not one of the kid’s holiday toys encouraged outdoor, let alone active, play!

Little do they know that there are a ton of exciting gifts your kids will love that will also give them some super beneficial play time in the great outdoors. Think happy rosy cheeks, smiles, laughter, and kids that zonk out at bedtime from all that energy burned outside!

Holiday gifts ideas for outdoor play.
This season, make sure kids are getting active and outdoors with these awesome gift ideas for outdoor play.

Here is Be Out There’s list of top holiday gifts for outdoor play:


Gifts for Learning


  • Build a Bird HouseBird Feeder or Both!: Each kit contains building materials, fun stickers, plush birds that make real bird calls and a Ranger Rick Certificate.Subscribe to our awesome Ranger Rick Magazine
  • Ranger Rick MagazineTake your kids closer to nature with amazing photographs, real adventures, rain or shine activities, and intriguing information about animals and natural wonders. Subscribe to the award-winning Ranger Rick magazine (ages 7 and up), or our brand new Ranger Rick Jr. (for ages 4-7).
  • Sand Table: Sand play is actually a great way for toddlers to learn.  It encourages creativity, is soothing, and helps young children build important physical and social skills that last a lifetime.
    And they like it.
  • Owl Puke: Don’t knock it ’til you try it. I don’t know any little boy who can resist this and it’s highly educational. The kit includes sanitized owl puke and lets kids reconstruct real skeletons from actual owl puke. It also comes Owl Puke Exploration Kitwith a magnifying glass, wood dissection probe, work mat and bone sorting chart. For ages 8 and up.
  • Grow a Fairy Garden: There are surprisingly quite a few kits where you grow real plants (start them inside during the winter) and add miniature fairy accents to create a beautiful fairy garden. Get inspired to make a bigger garden this spring.

Gifts for Playing


  • Throwback and Low-tech Gifts: Don’t forget the simple joy of low-tech toys like jump ropes, kites, sidewalk chalk, and any variety of ball (football, soccer ball, kickball) for pick-up games on the lawn. Or for a different spin, what about a slack line?
  • A Bike: This one never gets old. Bikes are timeless gifts that let kids explore and get some exercise. Don’t forget a helmet! Scooters are also a popular option to get them moving.
  • All-terrain Remote Control Toys:  This remote control vehicle goes over land or sea! There are even some aircraft that sync with your iPad or iPhone (how cool). Make them play outdoors for fresh air and to avoid breaking lamps or other fragile household items.
  • Great Gear:  We love the saying “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.” Make sure kids are prepared for anything Mother Nature throws at you. Hats, jackets, or these awesome rain gloves keep kids protected and outside all year.
  • Play Camping Equipment: There is something magical about sleeping under the stars, even if it’s just pretend. This one-touch play tent is perfect for playing in the backyard. Complement it with a kid’s camping light – also doubles for lighting for night time exploration! Then you’ll be ready to camp this summer.
  • Digital Camera: This is a great gift for older kids, even though younger and younger kids are comfortable using this kind of technology. Encourage kids to photograph your family outside or to take pictures of wildlife and post on Wildlife Watch.

Gifts for Exploring


  • Kid's guide for exploring the great outdoors.Ranger Rick’s Nature Notebook: In this notebook, Ranger Rick leads kids through some awesome outdoor adventures for each and every season. Kids record what they see, hear, smell and touch along the way.
  • Kid’s Fishing Rod: Give a fishing rod with the promise of a trip to a local fishing hole in the future. Mattel has a great Barbie fishing rod, or build your own.
  • Magnifying Glass: A handy kid-proof magnifying glass is a great stocking stuffer. Help your little explorer see snowflakes, bugs, leaves and more – all up close and personal!
  • An Adventure Together: The gift of time is hard to wrap, but can be the most lasting present your kids will get. In today’s hectic world exploring a new place together or going for a walk in the neighborhood to see what you can see are low-cost, easy ways to bond with your family. Quiet moments are when some of the best memories are born!

Find more fun gifts for kids from National Wildlife Federation.