The weather is getting colder and, while we’ve already given a fond farewell to the lazy days of summer, that doesn’t mean the fun has to end. Winter provides endless opportunities for great, active play, both indoors and out. And, with the holiday season upon us, kids will be clamoring for new things to keep them at play.
Like last year, we’ve done our best to find products that you can bring home to make any space a great place to play. This year, though, we’ve partnered with the play experts at imagine toys to create the KaBOOM! Go Out and Play Collection, a carefully curated list of items geared to bring rich and robust experiences for the whole family.
Whatever their interests, these toys offer your children interesting and exciting ways to keep their minds and bodies moving. Best of all, these toys are also great for groups, which means more time for families to play together!
And, as a special bonus, with every purchase from the Go Out and Play Collection, you're helping to support KaBOOM! make sure that all kids get the active play they need to become healthy, successful adults. It's the holiday gift that keeps on giving!
When you're done unwrapping your gifts, here are some ideas on playful ways to repurpose the packaging.
Inhabit Design & Construction
Step-to-Play Giant Piano Mat
Sumo Bumper Bopper
Berg Moov Starter Kit
Polka Hop & Stripey Hop
Night Zone Football
Bonus Item: KaBOOM! Go Out and Play Backpack
For more winter play ideas, check out the complete Go Out and Play Collection at imagine toys.
Now that spring has officially sprung, it’s time to enjoy the warmer weather and longer days. Take advantage of the change in seasons with these five outdoor play ideas, and post a comment or send us a tweet to share your own.
Daylight saving time means extra time outdoors! Take a post-dinner trip to the playground and play until the sun goes down. (It’s a great way to make sure your kids get a good night’s sleep.) While you’re there, snap a photo of the setting sun and add your picture to our Map of Play.
Photo by Hari Hamartia (cc).
Don’t let the inevitable April showers deter you from going outdoors. Pull on your boots and get ready to puddle jump. Puddles make for great natural hopscotch courses—use a small rock to determine where to jump next.
Photo by joeltelling (cc).
They say April showers bring May flowers. Hit your nearest park or nature trail and challenge your kids to see how many shapes, sizes, and colors of flowers they can find. (If flowers haven’t sprouted up in your neighborhood, go on a spring scavenger hunt and look for worms, birds’ nests, and flower buds.)
Photo by cabby dave (cc).
Make a pebble your pal by transforming it into your favorite creature. For added fun, paint a dozen and “hide” them throughout your neighborhood to surprise and delight passersby. Unlike eggs, they won’t go rotten!
Photo by Avia Venfica (cc).
What do kids love more than pizza? What about growing their own pizza toppings? Spring is the perfect time to get a garden started—all you need are some seeds and a container or two. If you don’t feel like splurging on flower pots, get creative and use old books or a recycled milk jug. Download our guide to starting a pizza garden or watch this video.
Photo by Rachel Tayse (cc).
Does your family have a favorite springtime game or activity? Share your ideas in the comments section below, or send us a tweet (@kaboom).
When it comes to toys, we have long vouched for the stick and cardboard box. But of course, your kids are expecting a little more under the tree. Along with the gizmos and gadgets that are sure to top many wishlists, we hope you'll consider some toys that facilitate good old-fashioned outdoor play.
After searching high and low for some of the most unique and affordable outdoor play toys on the market today, we are excited to present you with 25 gift ideas that will get your kids moving, fuel their imaginations, and most importantly, bring a smile to their faces. No batteries included -- because there are no batteries necessary!
Want a shot at winning one of these? Enter our biweekly sweepstakes by sharing a photo of your neighborhood playground. Start by downloading our Tag! app -- for iPhone or Android. The more playgrounds you share, the better chance you have to win!
For more gift ideas, check out our Outdoor Play Gift Guide board on Pinterest. You can also pay a visit to some of the toy manufacturers represented here, most notably Hearthsong, Imagine Toys, and Imagine Childhood. And don't miss our list of all-time favorite toys, here.
Buddy Bounce Ball
Kitty Hawk Flyer
Giant Lawn Bowling Set
Triple Climbing Ladder
Flingshot Flying Monkey Sets
Catamaran Construction Kit
Fairy House Kit
Dodgeball with Shield Set
3D Sidewalk Chalk
Unbelievably Big Bubbles Kit
Brick Construction Kit
My Little Sandbox
Super Swingball Outdoor Game
Happy Giddy Tunnel
Think kids can’t handle cold weather? Apparently some schools do, keeping students indoors for recess at mild temperatures of 35 to 40 degrees.
One the other end of the spectrum, one Minnesota elementary school principal told USA Today that his policy is, “if it’s 15 below (or warmer), they go out, no matter what... At 20 below, it gets iffy.”
One of our favorite mantras, courtesy of ActiveKidsClub.com, is: There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. While this may not hold true during extreme weather events -- for instance, a certain hurricane named Sandy -- it is a good mantra for families to live by as the darkness and cold set in.
So bundle up, and get outside! Here are four of our favorite winter play ideas :
It’s tough to get your kids outside when all the other kids in the neighborhood are holed up in front of the TV, so use a block party as an excuse to lure nearby families out of their homes.
Free Range Kids posted a story on one such party in February — in MINNESOTA. If it can be done in Minnesota, you can do it too. Tempt your neighbors with the wafting aromas of chili and hot chocolate and the delighted squeals of playing children.
Photo by Daa Nell (cc).
Kids love an outdoor hide-out, and you don’t need nails or construction skills to build one. Kids can build their own with whatever “loose parts” on hand: for instance, tablecloths, shower curtains, cardboard boxes, paper towel tubes, or newspapers.
The best part? The structure isn’t permanent so they can keep themselves busy destroying and rebuilding it over and over again. Here are some of our favorite homemade forts.
Photo coutesy of popupadventureplay.org.
Use the weather to explore the properties of matter with your kids and get artistic while you’re at it. Create cookie cutter sculptures, colored blocks, lanterns, balloon marbles, and lace -- all out of ice! Visit our Winter Play Pinterest board for more inspiration.
Photo via queenvanna.com .
Fire helps stave off cold and darkness, two elements that can bring on the wintertime blues. If space in your backyard permits, teach your kids how to safely build and feed a fire. It’s an amazingly simple way to keep your family entertained outdoors for hours after dusk.
Plus, you can turn winter walks in the park into “treasure hunts” for kindling.
Photo by Daniel Imfeld (cc).
What advice do you have for playing outside through the winter?
Our Summer Playground Challenge just drew to a close, during which over 60 parents explored local playgrounds with their kids, adding over 4,000 new photos to our Map of Play! We asked our newly minted play experts what it is that distinguishes a good playground from a great one.
From their many thoughtful responses, we’ve culled the 5 C’s of a great playground:
Many post-and-platform playgrounds offer the same play options over and over again. A great playground offers something new.
“I like playgrounds that offer interesting options to play on. Clambering up huge tires versus a wall or having a four person teeter-totter as opposed to two changes things up a little.” – Fezeka Saige
A great playground offers simple amenities that keep parents and kids playing longer.
“Shade and water fountains are a must! Children usually want to play during the afternoon but with the sun many times it’s not possible. Clean water fountains are also extremely important since kids finish exhausted after so much play.” – Alicia Vazquez
A great playground isn’t just for kids. It’s a gathering space for an entire community, from tots to teens to grandparents.
“I look for a sense of community in a playground. I also like seeing people of all ages... from older people practicing tai chi or playing chess and answering questions from my kids, to the teenagers, to the parents of kids like myself.” – Alex Nguyen
A playground that’s hard to find risks being underutilized. A visible playground teeming with children inspires passersby to stop and play!
I think [playgrounds] are best when people can see that they are there and that people are playing there. – Dana Wheatley
We know that play is not limited to the playground! A great playground is connected to other play opportunities, particularly green space or other natural elements.
“My favorites have always been those with lots of trees… and trails for riding bikes. Bonus: if the playground has great view!! We have some here on top of the hill or on higher parts of the city, and it's such a pleasure to be at those playgrounds.” - Annie
Photos from to bottom: Angelika Paul, KT, torbakhopper (cc), Sasha Yetter.
“When you are a kid you get to ride bikes, scooters, play with toys and use your imagination. You don’t have to go to work or do all the things old people do.” These are wise words from Caine, the boy who became an Internet sensation for his cardboard arcade and who recently reflected on growing older for his 10th birthday.
While we hope that adults still find time to play, Caine is right that childhood is a particularly opportune time to explore, discover, and create. The good news is that at age 10, he still has a few years before officially making the transition from “child” to “adolescent,” and we hope he makes the most of them!
To help him out, we’ve created a bucket list of things every kid should do before turning 13. Of course, we could go on and on, but here (in no particular order) are 23 things we consider essential. What would you add?
Let the games begin! Since our brave Playground Challengers are spending quite a bit of time playing this summer, we asked them what Olympic events their kids would rock... if the Olympics were held at the playground.
Here are five of our favorite new Playground Olympic events -- plus one event we hope your kids don't champion!
In which of the following would your kids take home the Gold? Got any new Playground Olympic events to add to our list?
Do you have Olympic fever? We do. After all, the Olympics encapsulates many of the elements that make outdoor play so critical: teamwork, skill development, challenge, and fitness, to name just a few.
This Saturday, July 28, As First Lady Michelle Obama leads the U.S. Delegation to the 2012 Olympic Games, she’s calling on families around the country to support Team USA, not just by cheering on our athletes, but also by organizing their own Olympic Fun Days.
Since we can’t think of any more fitting place to hold your own Olympics than at the playground, here are five Olympic-inspired playground games:
Find an Olympic Fun Day near you, or organize your own at Meetup.com. What are your ideas for Olympic playground games? Please share in the Comments section below!
Photo by Wayne Silver (cc).
Are your kids getting enough outdoor play this summer? We wish we could tell you to open your front door and shoo them outside, but sadly, many will find only empty streets, void of other kids to play with.
We can help you fix that. Here are five ways you can save play in your community, by not only getting your kids outside, but also the whole neighborhood. Click on each photo below for instructions on how to get started. Then, go play!
There are lots of nice things about Hawaii. But for most of us, the promise of an exotic beachside vacation comes with a lengthy plane ride and a hefty price tag. And while you may not live in Hawaii, we bet there are lots of nice things about your hometown too, if you take the time to look.
Being a nonprofit with a vision of a playground within walking distance of every child in America, we're especially partial to playgrounds. Why not take a week off work to explore the playgrounds your hometown has to offer? Here are five reasons to take a playground staycation:
And here's a bonus reason -- you can win prizes! From July 3 to August 13, every photo you submit of the playgrounds you visit can earn you an entry in our weekly sweepstakes drawing. We're giving away gift cards for toys, shoes, ice cream, outdoor gear, and more!
To reap all these exciting rewards, "book" your staycation by joining our 2012 Summer Playground Challenge!