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Best Overall: Step2 All Around Playtime Patio with Canopy Playhouse
A playhouse provides a wonderful opportunity for children to be transported by their imaginations without ever leaving the backyard. The Step2 All Around Playtime Patio with Canopy Playhouse is full of activities that let your kids cook up some fun, like a pretend kitchen and grill. It’s got everything they need to throw their own garden party, with a dish set, mock pots and pans, and even some toy hot dogs and kebabs. There’s also a sand and water area for more interactive play—we love the tower with a wheel that turns as kids pour water inside.
Customers write that assembly is fairly straightforward (not always a given with playhouses)—but more importantly, it provides hours of play for their four-year-olds, who love to help “make dinner” while their parents work the real grill. The open design with a canopy above also makes it feel more spacious than a traditional playhouse and ensures bigger kids won’t feel cramped inside.
Best Garden Toy: Liberty Imports Garden Wagon & Tools Toy Set for Kids
This garden toy set is perfect for the backyard or a trip to the beach. With 16 individual pieces ranging from rakes and trowels to a watering can, it’s perfect for kids who want to join in when it’s time to plant flowers or dig up weeds. A colorful wagon makes it easy to transport, and a set of flower pots become the perfect tools for sandcastle construction during a day at the beach. The set is also free of BPAs and other chemicals, and it's built to stand up to all the enthusiastic destruction your kids can throw at it.
Happy customers write that the Liberty Imports Garden Wagon and Tools Toy Set is a great teaching tool for kids fascinated by their parents’ love of gardening. Even though it's a toy, all of the components are functional in soft soil, allowing kids to dig little holes and toe the line between playtime and real gardening. Still, it’s perfect for sparking their imaginations as they pretend to plant flowers and water the lawn.
Best Water Toy: Little Tikes Spiralin' Seas Waterpark
Turn your backyard into a waterpark with this interactive toy from Little Tikes. It’s chock full of fun features that will let your toddler splash around and experiment, like a Ferris wheel that scoops balls out of the water and a set of gears that spin when water pours through. It’s a great way to entertain kids outdoors as they develop motor skills, and it’s surprisingly versatile—the included balls that float in the water double as handheld squirt toys. The entire toy holds seven gallons of water, with the centerpiece being a central spinner that powers a lazy river.
Customers write that the Little Tikes Endless Adventures Spiralin’ Seas Waterpark is the perfect backyard toy for a hot summer day. It provides a great way for kids to cool off while keeping them entertained for hours. It’s easy to fill and clean up—just make sure your kid’s in a swimsuit when playtime starts.
Best for Adventures: Norsy Toys Mini Discoverer Bug Catcher Kit
Want to turn your backyard into an expansive wilderness? The Norsy Toys Kids Camping Gear Explorer Kit has everything required for an afternoon of exploration and adventure. It includes nine fully functional tools, including a pair of binoculars, a compass, and a butterfly net. There’s even a no-battery flashlight that charges by a crank and a headlamp for exploring caves (or just the back patio). All in all, it’s a great way to get kids away from the TV and into the great outdoors.
The Norsy Toys Kids Camping Gear Explorer Kit is perfect for adventure-loving tykes, customers write and can be brought along for added fun during a real camping trip. The items in the kit are all good quality—you might even find yourself using the flashlight when yours runs out of batteries. Expect your 4-year-old to spend hours catching caterpillars and exploring the outer reaches of their backyard.
Best Active: Activ Life Kid's Flying Rings (2 Pack)
While your 4-year-old might not be quite ready for a real game of frisbee, they can still get active with this pair of high-flying rings from Activ Life. They’re easier to catch and throw than a regular frisbee, flying straight and fitting easily in small hands. They also float in water, making them great for games at the beach. The set includes two rings and comes in a range of exciting colors—including a glow-in-the-dark set that looks amazing flying after sundown. And while a standard frisbee can be painful if you don’t catch them perfectly, these rings are designed for comfort (saving you the worry of a jammed finger during play).
Customers write that their 4-year-olds were able to throw the Activ Life Best Kid’s Flying Rings surprisingly far—they’re lightweight and aerodynamic, amazing young kids with every toss. The open center also keeps the mess to a minimum during beach days (it won’t hold sand or water). It’s a great way for kids to get active and spend some quality time playing frisbee with their friends and parents—yes, older folks love them too!
Best Slide: Little Tikes First Slide
If your 4-year-old is the kind of kid who wants to go down the slide again and again at the playground, why not bring one into your own backyard? The Little Tikes First Slide brings safe, exciting fun to your home with a slide that unfolds in seconds and can be enjoyed by kids from 18 months to six years old. A two-step ladder connects to the slide itself and quickly folds away for easy storage when playtime is over. The slide is three feet long, and play helps develop your kids’ balance and coordination—while the desire to go down it, again and again, will keep them fit and active.
Customers love that the Little Tikes First Slide can be used either indoors or outdoors, writing that their kids enjoy sending their toys, stuffed animals, and just about anything else down it when they’re not sliding themselves. The plastic design is highly stable, alleviating fears of the slide tipping during rougher play. The inclusion of handrails at the top of the slide is also smart, helping kids stabilize as they climb the ladder.
Best Interactive: iPlay, iLearn Golf Toys Set
The iPlay, iLearn Golf Toy Golf Ball Game is an interactive toy that engages your child’s mind and keeps them entertained for hours. Each golf set comes with everything a kid needs to learn the game of golf and perfect that hole-in-one. This toy helps strengthen hand-eye coordination and motor skills and encourages social play and social interaction. Each set comes with a base unit, a golf club, two club heads, a tee stand, and 15 golf balls. The club is adjustable, ranging in length from 21.6 x to 29.6 inches, so your child won’t quickly grow out of the set.
Owners praise the iPlay, iLearn Golf Toy for its design, saying their children can’t get enough of this interactive toy. It’s easy to put together—and though there’s a small learning curve, once your four-year-old gets the hang of it, he or she will never want to stop.
Best for Multiple Kids: Pure Fun Rocker Kids Seesaw
Toddlers love playing and learning with older siblings, but it can be difficult to find a toy that appeals to a wide variety of ages. The Pure Fun Rocker Kids Seesaw is an outdoor (or indoor) active toy made for social play, safe for your 4-year-old but entertaining enough to entice children up to age ten. Each molded plastic seat can hold up to 75 pounds and the durable steel construction is weather-proof. The seesaw’s total dimensions are 59 x 19 x 20 inches so it’s the perfect active toy for smaller backyards.
Reviewers say the Pure Fun Rocker Kids Seesaw is loads of fun for toddlers and older children, stating that the toy feels sturdy and safe. Many do note a fairly arduous assembly process, so keep that in mind when purchasing. The good news, though, is that owners say it holds up well over time (even through snow and rain).