Top Outdoor Toys for Toddlers and Preschoolers + Strider Bike Giveaway

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Thanks for stopping in to check out 2013’s Ultimate Outdoor Gift Guides.  We’ve thought of great gifts for everyone on your list and want to get your holiday started right with lots of great GIVEAWAYS as well!  Go here to see all our ideas!


Getting your toddler or preschooler excited about being outside is one of the greatest gifts that you can give them.  In addition to providing lots of opportunity to be outside discovering the world around them, here are 5 gifts that are sure to provide nonstop fun for your little one!

Strider Bike

It’s no doubt that you’ve seen a few of these cruising around your neighborhood or local park.  Strider has completely revolutionized how kids learn to ride a bike.  We are now completely sold that they are easily the best bikes out there for little kids.

Read to the bottom to find out more about Strider and for a chance to win one!  


Tonka Trucks –

My kids are hard on their outside toys, and metal Tonka trucks stand up to all that abuse.  Being outside 365 days a year, being driven through the sand, water, mud, and snow.  We have 2 that we’ve had for 4-5 years and they are both holding up amazingly.  About $30 on Amazon here.

Sand Toys, Buckets, Shovels –

Don’t discount this one because it’s winter.  My kids use their buckets and shovels all year round.  They make sand castles at the beach, collect rocks on hikes, dig with them in the snow, and are somehow always entertained if we have a few of these on hand.  A must have for little kids on adventures!  Check out this set for less than $7 on Amazon.  Also, if you’re looking for a shovel that will last for years, go for an adult shovel.  Our kids have small snow/rescue shovels and they’re pretty indestructible.  Not sure how widely available these are, but our Costco has a 2 pack of these shovels on sale for $30 – looking tough!


Balls –

Another classic that every kid will love.  Available everywhere and something that can be used for everything.  We got Jimmy a 4-pack of softball sized balls for Christmas last year and he’s played with it more than any other toy we own.  Look for something on the soft side which are a good option for the toddler/preschooler age range.


Play Tent-

Although these aren’t hard to find, search around for one that’s durable and can be for outside play (hint: it probably won’t be the one with Disney Characters on it).  This is a great way to get your tyke excited about the joys of camping, and will help them be nice and comfortable with the whole situation when the weather warms up and you head out on some bigger adventures.  Here’s one we really like for about $25!



More about Strider Bikes

For years, we’ve been intrigued by the concept of a balance bike.  When Mason was younger, we saw them around, but didn’t realize how ingenious they were until we tried to take the training wheels off his bike.  It was a frustrating process that took him months to figure out.  We vowed that with Chloe things would be different.  So we took Mason’s old bike, and disassembled it so it was now a “balance bike” and wrote about it here.  It worked fine, but there were always a few things that bugged us.  One was that the seat didn’t go low enough, so for her first year of riding, we removed the seat and she sat on a pool noodle (an inherently flawed design).  The other major problem was that it was HEAVY.  There’s nothing quite like having to carry home an exhausted 2-year-old and their 15 pound bike from the park.

 This time around, we decided that we shouldn’t waste our time and we should start Jimmy with a Strider (he’s so lucky, we test out most of our failures on the older kids…so sad for them…).  Honestly, I can’t believe that we waited so long!  This bike is amazing.  Jimmy is 17-months-old and easily fits on the bike (he’s in the 50th percentile for height, so quite average) and it wasn’t even on the lowest setting.  The seat and handle bars are super adjustable and even fit Chloe who is four (though the longer seat post accessory they make would be helpful for her since she’s so tall) .  The other part that completely blows my mind is that it’s only about 6 pounds.  Jimmy can lift it up by himself!  It’s amazing.  It is weightless compared to the old clunky DIY version we’ve used before.  Plus, look at him beaming as he rides it – just like the big kids!

So why should you get a balance bike instead of a “cute” one with Dora the Explorer on it?  Simply put, they teach kids better.  Traditional bikes teach kids to pedal, but balance bike teach the more difficult skill of actually balancing!  Once we decided to transition Chloe to a real bike, it only took about 30 minutes for her to pick up.  That’s a huge improvement over the several months it took to wean Mason from training wheels.  So don’t repeat our mistakes – just get a Strider! $109 at striderbikes.com

The awesome folks at Strider Bikes want to make sure that your little one has an awesome Christmas and are giving away a red Strider ST-4 to one of YOU!

Enter below:

Looking for more gift ideas?  Check out all our current gift ideas and giveaways here, then head over and see what the other top #outdoorfamilies bloggers suggest:

Brave Ski Mom – Gifts for a Skiing Family + *Giving away 2 Activejunky.com gift cards*
Crag Mama – An All-Weather Gift Guide for All Year Adventures
AKontheGO – Holiday Gifts for Outdoor Conscious Families
Tales of a Mountain Mama – Best Gifts for Outdoorsy Families + *Giveaways from Wizbang Hats and Teton Sports (Kids’ Sleeping Bag and Pad) + an exclusive discount for Sierra Trading Post*
AKSkedaddle – Gifts for Outdoor Loving Mothers
Rain or Shine Mamma – Christmas Ideas for the Outdoorsy Kid + *Giving Away a $100 Gift Card From Hanna Andersson*
Go Adventure Mom– Holiday Gift Guide
Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies – Snow Warm!  An Outdoor Mom’s Christmas Wish List

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70 thoughts on “Top Outdoor Toys for Toddlers and Preschoolers + Strider Bike Giveaway”

  1. We love where the weather is beautiful this time of year. We try our best to wear our kids out on Christmas Eve with bike riding!

  2. We love going out to the tree farm and cutting down our own Christmas tree. It’s a hefty hike out and lots of work pulling it out to the car and so much fun every year!

  3. We also love heading out to the tree farm and cutting our own tree. Our kids pride themselves on being the perfect tree pickers and that invariably leads to long walks on the farm.

  4. We love going out to cut our own Christmas tree! It’s been a favorite tradition of mine since I was a kid and I love sharing it with my son now!

  5. We live in a ski town where the road that goes up and over the notch is closed every winter. It is too narrow with large boulders on either side for the plow trucks to make it throug. So every Christmas we walk to the top of the notch. It is a magical place filled with snow & ice.

  6. I am a firm believer in balance bikes, my son is only 5 months old but I’m dreaming about the day he gets his first bike!! And his first tonka toy!!

  7. My parents used to recreate the scene at Bethlehem in our barn. We started with a house full of people and when Mary and Joseph would come to the door, we would send them to the barn. The guests would follow them down there and we would have a Catholic Mass surrounded by farm animals. It was awesome..

  8. I remember it taking forever to be ready to get my training wheels off. With my daughter I definitely want to try the balance bike method.

  9. As a pediatric physical therapist – I can’t say enough good things about balance bikes! Can’t wait to try one with my little munchkin next spring. She will be 17 months old by the time the snow has melted in our neck of the woods – so it is good to know that the Strider would fit her! Thanks for the post

  10. My husband is a city firefighter and is always scheduled to work on Christmas. Last year, I took my kids (2.5yr and 3 months) nordic skiing with our chariot trailer. We had a picnic of hot cocoa and fresh oatmeal cookies and talked about everything we saw along the way. We brought nutbutter pinecones to hang on trees as Christmas presents for the birds. This year, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to pull them alone!!!! I’m hoping my 3.5yr old will be able to ski on her own for a bit because my 15 month old son is now 30lbs!!!!! That adds up to 90lbs of kids and gear.

  11. Our local zoo would open on Christmas Day. Because most people at are home it was like a ghost town, but we looked forward to it every year.

  12. Anything outdoors… Esp skating at our lake, zoo lights, walking around the neighborhood to look at lights, and trying out whatever fun outdoor equipment we got for Christmas (this yr the kids get snowshoes)

  13. My family planted a Christmas tree outside. We never have to by a tree that’s been cut down. We keep the presents inside though.

  14. We always like to go for a walk at some point during Christmas Day. It feels good to get out in the fresh air and walk off some of the food we’ve indulged in…

  15. The only outdoor Christmas tradition I can think of is that we go over to a house and sit and watch their lights for 20-30 mins! They have one of those awesome ones where you can tune into a station and watch all the lights go along with it!

  16. We live in SoCal so I love going to a walk or run on Christmas. Last year we had a beach bonfire on Thanksgiving. I’d love to make that a Christmas tradition too.

  17. Well…growing up my parents always had us put carrots out in the yard for Rudolph each year. When my little brother was about 5…decided he wanted to put them on the roof so Rudolph didnt have to come down to get them! My dad said no…but when he wasnt looking….my brother threw them up on the roof! In the morning….the carrots where gone…and dad was not at the hospital…so guess it went okay during the night and Rudolph ate his carrots! 🙂 LOL

  18. When I was a kid we did all of the S’s for Christmas vacation: skiing, sledding, snowmobiling, ice skating, snowball fights and shopping. 🙂

  19. As a kid it was tradition that Mom and I set up the very large ceramic nativity set out in the yard. It is such a great memory of mine!

  20. I like making luminaries and putting them out. If the whole street did this on a certain night, it would be so pretty to take a walk and see them.

  21. On the topic oof gift giving, steer clear of just presenting them money.
    Offering cash definitely gives out the view, “I couldn’t be irritated to think much about you, there you go, that’s in reality what you are worth to me.”

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