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Kids Outdoor Playhouse

Kids Outdoor Playhouse | Children’s Outdoor Playhouse Reviews

I love kids outdoor playhouse! Some people call me immature; I prefer the term ‘young at heart’. When I pass by a park, I’m pretty likely to jump on the jungle gym.  I can’t resist a swing set and I certainly can’t resist a kid-powered merry-go-round. Each time I see a playhouse, regardless of its disrepair, a temptation to play creeps upon me. All of these things bring up feelings of nostalgia and dredge fond memories of simpler time. When I was younger, we had a little butter-colored playhouse.

By the time I grew into it, the plastic siding had faded to the color of skin and sky-blue shutters desaturated to a shade of periwinkle. The sink was broken. The floor sat on crooked ground. Regardless of its disrepair, that little thing became so many things to me: a police station, a schoolhouse, a space ship, a gas station, and a bank in the midst of a robbery.  I like to think that those earliest days of imaginative playtime sparked my love of writing.  Even after I outgrew it, that Little Tikes building never went far. If I look out my back door now, peering past curling willow tendrils, I can see it folded behind the garage. Made-to-order nostalgia.

In short, a playhouse can play a big part in a child’s formative years. It can be their shelter from the storm, their creative outlet, and the source of imagination.  I want you to be able to pick the best playhouse for your family and to give them that spark that drives the happy moments of their life. We have to answer a few questions before we get there. What makes the best treehouse? What do some of the most popular outdoor playhouses for kids have in common?

Best Kids Outdoor Playhouse | Children's Outdoor Playhouse Reviews

Kids Playhouse Criteria

While this is certainly no master’s thesis, requiring thousands of hours in research and many sleepless nights, we put some thought into our playhouse selections. All six meet fulfill four separate criteria on material, age range, consumer rating, and price.

All of these playhouses happen to be made out of plastic; wooden items tend to be marketed towards children older than our targeted range and have been purposely excluded from this list. We only selected items suitable for those between the ages of one and nine years of age; this represents the range of children most likely to be interested in these items. In order to ensure some modicum of satisfaction, l of our selected items have more than a four-star rating and more than 20 customer reviews. Lastly, as we know that young kids can strain the wallet, we only featured playhouses with prices under 650 dollars. If you want a different set of criteria, or need some ideas on narrowing your ideas, you can scroll down to the last section of this article.

Moon Sand

Many people have probably heard of this and have made it…I hadn’t done it with my kids before and want to share it, along with some tips on making it, storing it and playing with it.  My 2 year old had a “moon” party for her birthday.  (Side note: We are quite random with our birthday themes around here and I am a firm believer in letting the kids pick the theme because anything can be turned into a party!)  I made moon sand to send home with the cousins we had here…I haven’t heard if the parents are loving or hating that yet!  But, we love this stuff and think it’s a great activity for sensory play AND mixes things up on these long winter days.


  • Flour – the amounts depend on how much you want to make (See notes below in the Directions).  I think you need at least 4 cups.
  • Oil – baby oil is the best because it smells nice.  But I am sure you can use any kind.  You need at least 1/2 cup.
  • Large tupperware with a lid (The Dollar Store has big ones that are great for this!)  We like to play with it, put the lid back on, then play with it later – EASY.
  • Cookie sheets for playing
  • Tools and toys that can be submerged and then washed off

Road Trip Activities for Kids

Road trips are an adventure in themselves, but with kids?  It’s a whole new kind of adventure!  We have taken several LONG ones and would like to share, in hopes someone will benefit from some of them.  The following ideas are for various ages, but mainly toddlers to elementary school-aged kids.  For Road Trip Meal Ideas, check out THIS POST.

I felt a little silly when I packed for this 27-hour road trip, because I was spending so much time preparing activities – well, let me tell you, being “over prepared” was a good thing.  One thing to remember, it’s great to have variety because some of the things I thought they would spend lots of time on, they didn’t and other things I wasn’t sure they’d even like, they ended up loving.  

Each child had their own 3-ring-binder, which they chose the color for ahead of time.  Inside, I put things that were specifically for them.  Most activities were inside of a clear sleeve so they could use a dry-erase marker on it and wipe things off.  On the front cover, they had a map of the country so they could follow the route if they were interested.  This is a good idea because they had a visual when they asked how much longer we had to drive!  They had a pouch inside that held writing tools (including dry-erase markers, washable markers, pencils, pens, etc.)  The 7, 5, and 3 year old all had varying Car-BINGO sheets so they could play together along the way.  The older two had Sudoku (kid-versions), Tic-Tac-Toe sheets, math problems, word searches, and mazes. There were coloring sheets in the pocket so they could color – they picked out what they wanted ahead of time.  The younger two love stickers so I made sure I had a large variety of those (start collecting those free address labels you get in the mail!)   I packed each child a backpack with their things inside…they did not get to look inside until we hit the road!

Acorn Wreath

It’s that time of year again…when acorns keep falling on my head!  So, here’s a fun idea to put them to use.
We live in an area that rains acorns these days! The kids have been collecting them and playing with them for weeks so I thought it was about time to make a craft with them. This is no Martha Stewart wreath…but it’s fun, festive and almost free! The kids were involved in the first few steps, and I finished assembling it during nap time.

Lots and lots of acorns
10 – 12 empty cardboard toilet paper rolls
Duct tape
Red, orange and brown tempera paints
Hot glue gun
Raffia (I pulled dried up strands of some plant from our yard) or twine
Roughly an 18″ wire frame (JoAnn Fabrics had a green wire frame for about $3)

Wacky Sponge Ball

Here’s another water-play idea, similar to “The Fun Hose” – the kids have enjoyed playing with these fun things – and they only take you minutes to make!  

Several sponges
Rubber bands, thick and strong ones, or zip ties
Scissors (adult should do the cutting)

Purchase a bunch of cheap sponges, multi-colored are fun but not necessary.  Cut them apart (the long way) so you have strips that are about 1/2-3/4 inch thick.  Gather about 10 of them together and wind a rubber band around the middle.  Thick rubber bands are best (like the ones that the newspaper comes in).  Dunk them in water and have fun while staying cool!  They also are great for helping wash the car 😉

“Squirreling Around Indoors”: Camp IN

The kids have already been enjoying the beautiful fall weather. However, sometimes I need them to stay inside while I cook dinner or nurse the baby. When they seem to get tired of the same old toys and activities, I break out the tent! It only takes a couple of minutes to set up and they spend hours playing inside of it. We have our lunch in it (all finger foods), read books inside of it, and they have even made up games or stories to play. Just another idea to break out of the usual routine!

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