The playful guide of summer toys for young kids (12 ideas under 20$)

Raluca Loteanu July 10, 2017
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summer toys for young kids

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My favorite thing about summer is that allows us to spend a lot of time outside the house. When they are able to play outdoors, kids don’t need a lot of toys because they always find creative ways to have fun. So during the summer I only focus on affordable toys that allow us to do many activities. After researching many ideas of summer toys for young kids, I created a list of our favorite ones. I truly believe that kids don’t need expensive toys to have fun! Contrary, simple toys can challenge and develop their creativity and imagination.

So my plan for this summer is to use toys and materials that offer us a variety of play opportunities! I also want to encourage my son to practice his motor skills, so I bought things that can be used in outdoor games.

Before I start to share with you our list of favorite toys, I want to let you know about a summer planner that I’ve recently discovered. It’s called The Complete Summertime Fun Planner and it’s created by Kim Anderson, the author of the Thrifty Little Mom blog. It contains a big list of activity ideas, an activity planner calendar, summer packing checklists, reusable scavenger hunts and other nice resources. I would recommend it for children above 5 years but we were also able to adapt it for Bogdan (who is 3 and a half years old). We used all the resources excepting the chore chart and the reading goal tracker. And we enjoyed them! You can find out more details about the planner here.

summer toys for young kids

photo credit: locrifa /

Here is our list of summer toys that are both engaging and affordable! I hope that you’ll like them too!

1. Sidewalk chalk

It may seem that sidewalk chalk is such an unimportant item but it can bring so many play opportunities! The sidewalk chalk games are one of our all-time favorites!


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We have the Washable Chalk Collection from Crayola with a great variety of colors. We also discovered the sidewalk paint which is so great for a lot of activities. The Washable Neon Sidewalk Paint set from Crayola is perfect for outdoor art. We also tried the Yoobi Washable Roller Sidewalk Paint and Bogdan liked it very much! We created a chalk racetrack on the sidewalk and it brought us hours of play!

Here are some nice ideas you can try with sidewalk chalk:


Number Recognition Play from Danya Banya


A Big Chalk Maze for Preschoolers from Hands On as We Grow

2. Sand toys

Kids enjoy playing in the sand! So sand toys are a must-have during the summer. There are a lot of sets in the stores but my favorite is the Sunny Patch Seaside Sidekicks Sand Baking Set from Melissa & Doug. I like it because it is good for imaginative play too.

3. Gardening set

One way to keep kids engaged and responsible during the summer is to involve them in gardening activities. The Gardening Tools for Kids with STEM Early Learning Guide are great for teaching kids about nature and plants. What I also like about this set is that it can be transformed into sand toys so it brings 2 in 1 fun for kids!

4. Toss games

We purchased the Toss Zone – Educational & Sensory Learning Ball Game for Children and it allowed us to do many toss activities. It can be used with plastic balls or even with folded socks if you don’t have any other items at hand.

5. Bean bags

I’ve just discovered bean bags this summer. But they are so great for activities! We tried many ideas using the Nylon Bean Bags Toy and we created easy games for us to play together. If you feel crafty, you can create the bean bags yourself using this tutorial from All for the Boys.

Here are some play ideas from Playworks: Six Kids’ Games to Play with Bean Bags.

{ Read also: Parenting challenge: Our plan for a month full of outdoor play }

If you want to combine bean bags with the toss zone, I recommend you this Double-Sided Bean Bag Toss Game With 8 Bean Bags from Melissa & Doug. It has a bright design and develops hand-eye coordination, number recognition, and counting skills.

6. Egg race game

This Egg and Spoon Race Game is fun and it helps kids burn their energy! You can also create the game without buying the toy by simply following this tutorial from Kidspot.

7. Ring toss game

The ring toss game can give your kids hours of fun! There are a lot of models for this game but I like The Ringer Wooden Ring Toss Game from Hape the most! The rings and the poles are color-coded to increase the challenge.

A ring toss game helps kids develop dexterity, focus, creativity, and fine motor skills.

8. Water Beads

If your kids like sensory activities, I am sure that they will like Water Beads too! We use them indoor but it’s better when we play with them outdoor. If you have a water table in your yard, water beads are a very good addition to it.

If you need inspiration for activities to try, here are some great ideas from The Artful ParentWHAT TO DO WITH WATER BEADS.

9. Plastic cone sets

I would have never imagined how many fun activities these plastic cones can inspire! We have this Fluorescent Plastic Cone Set and we tried a lot of activities that we really enjoyed. They are perfect for burning Bogdan’s energy with slalom running games. We also use them in our obstacle courses and outdoor games.

10. Hula hoops and toss rings

Ever since I read these Hula Hoop Games from Learn Play Imagine I wanted to try them out! They are easy and fun.

We’ve also adapted some of these ideas to use toss rings instead of hula hoops. We have these Plastic Multicolor Toss Rings and we use them in a lot of creative ways. Besides using them in toss games, they are also part of obstacle courses and jumping activities.

The toss rings improve hand-eye coordination, precision, and accuracy.

11. Twister game

The classic Twister game is a perfect way to have some family fun! Kids also practice gross motor skills and color recognition, so it is educational too!

The rules can be easily understood by young kids and the Twister game can become a joyful outdoor activity! If you don’t want to buy the game, you can use the D.I.Y. Twister Game tutorial from Designed Decor to create your own homemade game.

12. Bubble fun

All young kids love bubbles! Running after bubbles and caching them is a game that can keep kids busy for a while. 🙂 But there are also some toys that can make bubble play even more fun!

Here are our favorite bubble toys:

KINGBOT Bubble Blower Machine for Outdoor Play is great for little hands and encourages active play.

Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Blossom Bright Bubble Trumpet is a good toy for teaching young kids to blow bubbles. And it’s cute too!

2 BUBBLE WANDS & SOAP MIX allow kids to easily make giant long lasting bubbles. Parent’s help is needed for making the bubbles but the fun is guaranteed!

Fisher-Price Bubble Mower is our top favorite bubble toy. A friend from the park has it and Bogdan plays with it a lot! Basically, it allows kids to make bubbles on the go! If your child likes pushing toys, I think that this toy is a really good choice!I hope that you liked our ideas and you found some inspiration on our list! At the end, I add here an additional idea of affordable summer toys that worked great for us. We bought a Shark Kite a couple of weeks ago and Bogdan is so happy to play with it! We fly it in the windy evenings and he likes a lot to run around with the kite!

If you have any other recommendations of nice summer toys for young kids, I would be glad to find them out and add them to the list!

We still have two more summer months ahead of us and we plan to fill them with a lot of playful moments!
If you are looking for some awesome summer toys for young kids, here is a list of 12 nice and affordable ideas. They cost under 20$ and bring a lot of fun! | Affordable summer toys | Awesome summer toys | Summer toys for toddlers | Summer toys for preschoolers |

If you are looking for some awesome summer toys for young kids, here is a list of 12 nice and affordable ideas. They cost under 20$ and bring a lot of fun! | Affordable summer toys | Awesome summer toys | Summer toys for toddlers | Summer toys for preschoolers |

If you are looking for some awesome summer toys for young kids, here is a list of 12 nice and affordable ideas. They cost under 20$ and bring a lot of fun! | Affordable summer toys | Awesome summer toys | Summer toys for toddlers | Summer toys for preschoolers |

photo credit preview photo: Sunny studio /

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Raluca Loteanu

If you find yourself on this blog I invite you to discover us as the happy family we are, who look with optimism and joy at life. If you want to contact me, you can find me on email, I gladly respond to each message.

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