Inexpensive Outdoor Fun

Each year I try to come up with some new things for us to do outside that do not cost all that much and keep my little guy entertained. Currently he is super into anything dealing with dirt and shovels. We have been able to let him dig some holes in our driveway which he loves to do. Last year someone got him a little plastic shovel and rake set. These of course did not last even until the end of the summer so this year we were able to find him a metal set. As long as we are out there with him he is able to use it since it is a little dangerous. However, I think that we will definitely have this set for a while!

Another thing that we do, especially when it is super warm outside, is give him a spay bottle full of water and let him go. The great part is that you can get a spray bottle at the dollar store. We actually picked up two of them and have water fights sometimes. It is a great way to run around the yard with him and stay cool at the same time. When he is playing with them himself he likes to make “graffiti” on the side walk or on bricks. The best part is that as he goes along the water dries and he is able to start over. This year he has been spraying it on the ground to make roads for his trucks.

This year we also picked up a little slip and slide. We have a pool for him but he is not super fond of just sitting in the water to play unless we are sitting in it with him. Now, on super hot days this isn’t too bad but other days not so much. So the slip and slid is perfect. He runs down it and then likes to lay on his belly and slop through the water. The best part is that the simple ones do not cost too much and it great fun.

A couple other classics that keep Ray entertained over and over again are chalk and bubbles. He loves both. For his birthday last year we did get a bubble machine and have been very careful about cleaning it out after every use so that it is lasting us a while. He is able to spend hours outside just running after the bubbles. And the best part is that sometimes you can get some great pictures of them having some summertime fun!

Other than that the best way to find some great summer toys is to go to a yard sale. We have been able to get all sorts of little trucks and stuff for him to play in the driveway and in the dirt with. For all of the trucks that he plays outside with I always just look for some that he can scoop and haul dirt with that kids have been pretty rough with already. Most of the time people are selling those for pretty cheap and you won’t feel bad when he is pushing them through dirt and sand.

What are some of your favorite things for your little ones to do or play with outside? Leave me a comment below!

Melissa and Doug Toys

As my son is getting older and older I keep finding myself drawn to purchasing toys that will really help him learn and develop is motor skills. If you have ever looked for toys to get your kids, a lot of them out there do not foster any learning at all. In some of my research I have learned that you should take the batteries out of some of the toys so that kids can learn without letting the toy just talk at them. So as I have been looking for stuff I keep finding myself drawn to all of the Melissa & Doug toys.

Most of these toys are considered “old school” toys today. Which I am very grateful for. I love the wood puzzles and the paint with water papers. We also have one of their wooden train sets which is really great for little ones that just want to push a train around a track. The one we got also includes a bunch of pieces so that as he gets older we are able to build onto it and it should last him a while.

Lately little man has really been into doing puzzles. He is getting pretty good at some 24 piece ones and for Christmas he got a really awesome train one that I did not even realize that it was a Melissa & Doug puzzle until we started putting it together. He is also really into painting which I am finding is a great activity for him in the winter when it is too cold to go outside. One thing that we found that he just loves is a travel paint by water book as well.

Some of our favorite Melissa & Doug products right now are:

4 in 1 Linking Floor Puzzle
This puzzle has four different train cars that all link up together. The best part is that in order to find the pieces to each of the cars there are shapes on the back of each piece that allows you to separate the puzzle into the four different sections. This helps little man with matching and sorting so it is fun for him to just sort the pieces into piles before we even put the puzzle together!

African Plains Wooden Jigsaw Puzzle – 24 piece
I love this puzzle because it is all wooden so it is very durable and is able to stand up to him putting some of the pieces in the wrong place. He is also learning his animals and the colors are very bright and vibrant. We are thinking that we will probably get him a couple more puzzles like these since they are so great. They even make some that have 48 pieces so when he gets a little bit older. These puzzles also make great gifts for themed birthday parties!! This year we might do a dinosaur theme party for Ray’s birthday and I already know the puzzles that we will have to get him.

jigsaw-puzzle

On The Go Water Wow!
We love this on the go paint with water book. It is great for in the car and we usually take it with us where ever we go. First you fill the little tube that inserts into the paint brush then they are able to paint on the pages which then shows the colors. There are even hidden things within the pictures so it is fun for them to find them as they “paint”. Once the page is dry it goes back to the black and white and they are able to paint on it some more later. This is one of the best purchases that we have made!

My First Paint with Water
Just like we had when we were younger. They are great but are probably better for kids that are a little bit older. My little guy gets frustrated when all the colors run together and all he gets is brown. Once he starts to try and stay in the lines a little more then he will really have fun with these pages. I would definitely suggest getting some better paint brushes to use rather than the one that it comes with since the better ones tend to hold a little more water and it just makes it easier.

Train Sets
Almost any of the train sets are amazing and you can even buy singular trains at almost any Target that will work with the Melissa and Doug tracks. Which is definitely a plus in my book.

All of these toys are great for kids of all ages and the best part is that they can also grow with them. I usually can find these products from the Melissa and Doug website, Target, and even TJ Maxx and Marshals stores.

Let me know what some of your favorite toys from this brand are I would love to find some different things that we might like to play with!