We love being outside. I am completely convinced that time spent playing outside makes my kids happier and healthier. It seems there's an endless supply of fancy (read: expensive) toys designed for outdoor play. That's great if you've got money to throw away, but I am a firm believer that outdoor fun should be simple, cheap, and easy. Throw in some sunshine and you've got a recipe for hours of fun. Here's my top 3 essentials to keep little ones occupied for hours:
We also have one of those awesome beach ball sprinklers, but my boys always beg for the hose. So simple. Just use the "mist" setting on your spray nozzle and they will laugh wildly. I promise.
There's a reason that sand boxes have been around forever. It's because they're awesome and toddlers love them. We got ours for free on craigslist, so again, don't spend a lot on something fancy here. An under bed size plastic box works great here too (just make sure you have a tight fitting lid to keep critters out). Get creative with what you use in the sandbox - cars, trucks, measuring cups, funnels... the possibilities are endless!
I love sidewalk chalk. It's cheap (I got a box of 50 for $5 at the grocery store) though you can make your own. I love this idea for erupting ice chalk (from Learn Play Imagine). We use it on our patio, picnic table, and sliding glass door. Occasionally on our white dog too (he's a good sport). It washes right off so after a rain we get a fresh canvas. Love it!
Add in a little sunscreen, some snacks, and this is really all you need for hours of fresh air entertainment. Get outside and enjoy!