Top Gift Ideas for Outdoor Play From The Blogosphere

by Carol Torgan, Ph.D. on December 19, 2009

'Snow play' courtesy of darkmatter at Flickr

'Snow play' courtesy of darkmatter at Flickr

Looking for a great gift idea to foster outdoor play? Odds are high you’ll find it here. Incredible folks from the play blogosphere have been busy in their workshops putting together amazing lists that will make you wish they would draw your name for a Secret Santa gift exchange.

Here is my top ten list of simple gift ideas, followed by a roundup of outstanding suggestions for creative, easy and innovative gifts from others.

  1. An old wooden box, shiny tray or big glass bowl to display and store found treasures.
  2. Seeds to plant a pizza garden (tomatoes, peppers, basil, oregano).
  3. A dog from the Humane Society who loves to go outside and play.
  4. A compass, a GPS, a box of trinkets for geocaching, and/or a great set of maps.
  5. Bright colored mittens that form perfect snowballs, galoshes that splash, funny ear muffs, sandals that allow mud to squish through your toes.
  6. Retro toys such as a hula hoop, slip n slide, or saucer sled, and a big red ball.
  7. A donation to a charity that encourages outdoor play for those who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity (see Charity Navigator).
  8. Sun block, a first aid kit, a bike tire patch kit, a flashlight, a water bottle, a Swiss Army knife.
  9. Homemade hot chocolate mix to warm everyone from the inside out after playing in the cold and a big pitcher that screams out for fresh lemonade for the dog days of summer.
  10. A big plush towel and a great smelling bar of soap to clean off the sand, mud, dirt, and muck.

Great gift ideas from folks who ‘play well with others’:

Mara Kaplan at Let Kids Play!! has been featuring 50 Toys in 50 Days. I especially like her list of 10 active outdoor toys for children with and without special needs which features the Hyper Dash and PlasmaCar.

The crew at Active Kids Club.com has put together a list of Top 10 #playoutdoors holiday gifts ideas in response to my challenge via Twitter. They ‘rocked’ with amazing ideas that include a DIY snowman kit and bird watching kit.

Debi at Go Explore Nature includes a bug container and nature journal in her list of 10 Holiday Gift Ideas for Little Nature Explorers.

Michele at Fun Orange County Parks asks in her list, Top Ten Outdoor Presents for Southern California Family and Friends, “…how can you wrap up play days and deliver them to your family or friends? Experiences are what it’s all about when it comes to the following gift ideas.” She  lists a wonderful array of memberships, including the America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass ($80).

Bethe at the Grass Stain Guru has written a beautiful letter to Santa. Her wish list includes, “A rainbow in the sky over a glorious rain puddle and good kite-flying weather this spring.” Amen sister!

Ben McKinley at Play Outdoors is Making my (Green) List and Checking it Twice. His list includes the gift of fresh local produce, which is a perfect solution to provide healthy calories to fuel all the play.

Arcady at Playscapes offers a list of Playground Books for Christmas. In addition to the  list in the sidebar, there is a stunning visual feast of retro playground books “full of interesting playground contraptions being built by men with mustaches and tested by kids with puffy hair and polyester trousers.”

Creative Play Plus has a wonderful list of DIY Creative Christmas Gifts that include homemade play dough and playsilks that can be dyed with Kool-Aid. How kool is that!

Free Range Kids guru Lenore Skenazy sums it all up in her blog post title, The Greatest Gift Of The Season: A Free-Range Childhood.  Nothing could be better for children of all ages.

Warmest wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Bethe December 19, 2009 at 12:17 pm

GREAT post, Carol! Thanks for including my Letter to Santa. So much good work going on out there around play and simplifying our lives. Happy Holidays! – Bethe @balmeras

Debi December 19, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Thanks so much for including my list for little nature explorers. What a GREAT list of your own & roundup of all our playoutdoors friends! Happy holidays to you & yours! – Debi @goexplorenature

Carol Torgan, Ph.D. December 21, 2009 at 7:21 am

Bethe and Debi –
It was a pleasure including your wonderful lists. Here’s wishing you a new year of pavement-warming sunshine and tree-rustling breezes.

Nanny Peta July 28, 2013 at 5:44 am

Great list,

The pizza garden is a great idea (as they all are) but my favourite is number (4) a dog from the local animal shelter.

I am actually considering getting another dog soon, you post has me thinking that l should go for a browse at the local shelter first

Thanks for reminding me of a great place to begin the search for a new puppy

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