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

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 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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