Summer Fun Basics

Three Items for Endless Summer FunYellow plastic shovel, empty yogurt cup, and used tennis ball

  • What: Ball, bucket, and shovel
  • When: 6 months to 10 years
  • Why: Be prepared for fun anywhere
  • Where: Amazon or your local store

I make sure I have three things in my stroller or the car anytime I leave the house now that the weather’s getting warmer: a ball, a shovel, and a bucket or some suitable substitute.

With those three things, I can keep three kids entertained and out of the house almost indefinitely. I favor tennis balls myself, as they have good bounce but stand up to outside conditions like wet and heat well. An inflatable ball (Gertie balls rock!) also works well, because it weights next to nothing and takes up very little space underneath the stroller or inside my bag.

Three cheap or no cost items for summer fun shovel tennis ball empty yogurt container

With this inexpensive items on hand, I can keep everyone entertained outdoors.

I can usually get a plastic shovel with a bucket for about $1. Whenever I see a deal, I buy three, one for each kid. I rarely take the bucket far, because their size means I can’t carry them all. Although I have been known to hang all three from the bag hook on my stroller, I normally keep some recycling on hand instead. Empty yogurt cups work remarkably well for us. Depending on what brand you buy, they have a very similar shape to buckets but on a much smaller scale. They also nest nicely, so I can leave three underneath the stroller without taking up all my storage capacity. Since we have an excess of these, I never have to worry about remembering to replace them in the stroller before we head out. They also double as bases or goalposts when turned upside down.

I use the cheap plastic shovels for outings and keep the good ones at home. I don’t care if we leave one of these behind, or if some other kid makes off with it while I’m busy trying to watch three kids running in three different directions.

Shovel, tennis ball, and yogurt cup stacks stored underneath Bugaboo Frog stroller

All three items take up barely any room underneath the stroller.

All of these things will also pack easily into the kids’ bike baskets or backpacks, too, if I get lazy and make them carry some things. These three items will entertain all of my kids’ various age ranges and attract lots of other kids at the park as well. If we hit a sandbox or find an empty tennis court, the number of games we can create seems almost as endless as summer days feel.

Toss in some water bottles, snacks, sunscreen, and wipes, and we’re good to go for hours.


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