Outdoor Gifts for the Little and Big Kids in Your Life!

If you want to buy fewer toys and enable more adventure, here are 12 outdoor gifts for the kids of all ages in your life.

Outdoor Gifts for the Little and Big Kids in Your Life! (Photo: White child in a hat with moose antlers, Who Pooped in the Park? book cover, plastic bug light, water bottle, children's bike, and Camp game display(

“We are not buying a whole bunch of toys for Christmas,” I said to my husband last year. In fact, that’s pretty much what I say every year. We’re not always successful, but generally try to focus on gifts that support our values of simplicity and adventure. Outdoors gear does both while also getting our kids more excited than ever about going out in what can be frigid weather in our area.

Adding some of these gifts to your kids’ (or your own) Christmas lists can help winter feel more fun and spring feel closer than ever. Here’s gifts that are great for our three favorite outdoors activities: hiking, biking, and camping.

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Pedal Bikes and Responsibility

Pedal Bikes and Responsibility. Moving from a balance bike to a pedal bike is a big jump. Was my four-year-old ready for it? (Photo: A kid riding down a sidewalk on a balance bike.)

“Where are you going?” I yelled at Sprout across the playground as he zipped around on his balance bike. “I told you not go back there!” My words echoed off of the wall of the building that my son just disappeared behind. My face dropped into a frown as I waited for him to emerge from the other side. When he came around, I walked up to him and said, “You are not using your bike for the rest of the day.” Of course, he broke down wailing.

Another day, Sprout wheeled his bike down the sidewalk near our house, feet flying. But this time, he dragged his sneakers along the pavement when I yelled, “Stop!” Coming to a halt, he waited for Little Bird and I to catch up, despite his fidgeting hands showing his desire to go, go, go! As soon as we reached him, he was off again, speeding ahead but listening for my call.

As I decided whether or not to buy a pedal bike for his fourth birthday, I thought about what side I should weigh more heavily. Was he responsible enough for this present or not?

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Becoming a Family Cyclist

Text: "Becoming a Family Cyclist / We'll Eat You Up, We Love You So" Photo: Bicyclists standing in a group with their bicyclists in a park

Ants. So many ants. They were crawling all over the seat, fabric and metal bars of my bike trailer. I poked at the swarm with a leaf, but they just scattered. I sprayed them with Lysol, but that didn’t seem to faze them. Finally, after hearing many proclaimations of “Ew!”, Chris stepped in. After spraying the whole trailer with the hose and shaking it upside down, he declared that I would not be bringing Little Bird on his first ever bike ride that day.

Before I became a mother, I had dealt with a lot of problems on the bike, from flat tires to thigh-grinding hills. But never ant infestations. This was only one of the many times I’ve had to adapt one of my major passions after becoming a parent.

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Guest Post: How to Raise Kids Who Value Biking and Walking

Bicyclists on a triple bicycle in the Tour de Cookie

Among the many skills I want to pass on to my kids, getting around on their own power is actually pretty far up there. Biking and walking places provides exercise, helps get kids outside (with all of the associated benefits!), and provides them a level of independence that they won’t be able to get any other way.

That’s why I’m thrilled that I have a guest post up at Parent.co on teaching kids to value  bicycling and walking.

Here’s the first two paragraphs:

“In my day, we walked a mile uphill both ways in the snow” is the ultimate cliche for cranky parents to compare themselves to kids these days. But walking and biking have huge benefits beyond the ability to complain later on.

Active transportation establishes lifelong healthy habits for life, builds relationships with neighbors, minimizes greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, and increases kids’ independence. While our society advertises a minivan as the ultimate family vehicle, it is actually possible to shift trips away from the car.

Read the rest at Parent.co!

Outdoors Family Challenge: Day 2 Prompt – Walk or Bike to a Destination


Welcome to Day 2 of the Outdoors Family Challenge! This is a seven day challenge to help get you and your kids outside, living more sustainably, and connecting more with nature and each other. You can read about our experience yesterday or check out the archived prompts on the Outdoors Family Challenge page.  If you would like updates each morning with the activities, sign up for the email list or like my Facebook page.


Walk or bike to a destination.

One of the best ways to get outside and connect with your community is to walk or bike places for transportation. Many of my favorite memories as a child were formed from behind a set of handlebars. Now, my family regularly walks to the park and grocery store. 

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Resources for Family Biking and Biking with Kids

Family Biking Resources


As promised, here’s the post on family biking resources, albeit two weeks late.

Like anything with kids, family biking is a bit more complicated than the adult-only version. Fortunately, the family biking community is generous and loves to share stories, tips and advice. Here are some of the best resources about family biking I’ve seen

Kidical Mass Rides
Kidical Mass rides are the cutest bike rides around! These rides focus on encouraging families to ride together, especially for transportation. They include both kids on their own bikes and adults carrying kids on their bikes (via bike seats, cargo bikes, trailers and tag-a-longs). They are typically 1-4 miles, go to somewhere fun (like a park or ice cream), and ridiculously slow. I lead the ones in Rockville, but there are 47 cities in North America with Kidical Mass rides, six of which are in the DC region alone!

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Bike Month: Family Bike Profiles, Kristen Bonkoski

Family Biking Profile_ Kristen Bonkoski, Rascal Rides

May was Bike Month! Although it’s now June, I’m finally wrapping up my Family Bike interviews because I got so many responses from awesome people. Over the course of five weeks, I profiled Kathleen from Portland, Stacy from Buffalo, NY, Kate from D.C., Leanne from D.C., Sarah from Chicago and Mike from Fairfax, VA. Keep an eye out for a final post on the best family biking resources I know of.

This final profile is of Kristen Bonkoski, who lives in Salt Lake City, UT with her husband and son. She and her husband run the website Rascal Rides, which has the goal of #morekidsonbikes. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Bike Month: Family Biking Mini-Profiles, Sarah Sparks Floyd and Mike Essig

Bike Month_Family Biking Mini-Profiles

Today is the last day of May, which is National Bike Month! To celebrate, I profiled a number of awesome families who bike with their kids for transportation and recreation. So far, I’ve interviewed Kathleen from Portland, Stacy from Buffalo, NY, Kate from D.C., and Leanne from D.C. I planned on running one profile a week, but I actually received too many responses for the five weeks of the month! So I’ve got two shorter ones today and one final one later in the week. 

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Family Biking Profiles: Kathleen Youell

Family Biking Profiles_ Kathleen Youell-2

May is National Bike Month! To celebrate, I’ll be profiling some awesome families who bike with their kids for transportation and recreation. Later on, I’ll also highlight some excellent resources for family biking.

Here’s the fourth of my Bike Month family biking profiles, following Leanne, Kate, and Stacy. This interview comes courtesy of Kathleen Youell, who lives in the bike utopia of Inner SE Portland, OR. (If only we were all so lucky!) She has two children, a son who is almost eleven and a daughter who recently turned nine. While her family is originally from Sacramento, they moved to Oregon about eight years ago. She runs portlandize.com, tweets @kyouell and is one of the administrators of the PDX Cargo Bike Gang Facebook group.

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