Two young sisters run alongside a creek in springtime, each of them carrying a butterfly net.

Budget-friendly spring toys and other essentials for kids

The arrival of spring after a long winter with kids is every parent’s dream. We can open the windows, let the fresh air in, and send the kids outside without multiple layers. That being said, there are a few supplies that will help your kids jump into spring (and puddles!) while keeping outdoor time fun and active. Here’s a list of clothing, gear, and toys that will get you outside and moving.

Rain suit or rain pants

Being dressed for the weather means kids can feel free to be kids and splash to their heart’s content (and parents can feel free to let them). While rain suits can be pricey, the best bang for your buck is to check Facebook Marketplace, buy-and-sell sites, and secondhand stores like Once Upon a Child. For older kids, rain pants with a bib are perfect for keeping clothing dry and warm when they inevitably throw their coats off and complain that they’re too hot.

Pair of bibbed rain pants


Water is a fixture in spring—whether it’s puddles full of worms or a nearby creek that’s flowing again after the thaw. A simple net goes a long way to getting kids engaged in their environment. It helps to have a big bucket too. My kids like to catch crayfish, striders, and minnows in our local stream with their nets and examine them in a bucket of water for a few minutes before setting them free again. This simple activity is endlessly fascinating for kiddos!

Little boy runs while carrying a net

Shovel and bucket

Spring is gardening season, and what better way to prepare for another season of beautiful blooms than allowing your littles to dig in the dirt and help prep the garden beds. A shovel and bucket is also the perfect vehicle for kids of all ages to collect rocks and dirt, dig at the park or plant their own garden.

Two kids' pails with matching shovels.

Old bakeware/thrift shop bakeware

If you have some old pots, pans, mixing bowls, and stirring spoons taking up valuable cabinet space, then you also have all the makings of a mud “kitchen.” While fancier (read: pricier) versions abound on Pinterest, play is just as valuable and enjoyable when it’s done with old pots and spoons. Here’s how to get started on creating your own mud kitchen.

Child plays in backyard in a mud kitchen with pots and pans full of dirt

Chalk, bubbles, and skipping rope

These spring and summer classics are always worth the few dollars it takes to grab some. There are endless things to do with chalk, bubbles will delight pretty much anyone in the under-10 set, and a skipping rope will encourage kids to move their bodies and get active. While the dollar store often has all these options, the skipping rope handles can break quickly and have to be replaced. In this case, it might be helpful to opt for a sturdier one like this Green Toys skipping rope, which has the added bonus of being eco-friendly.

Skipping rope with green handles

Merino wool socks

I swear by merino wool base layers (and especially socks) whenever there are wet conditions. Rain boots and suits are amazing, but kids always manage to find a way to get their socks wet. When they’re wearing merino, little toes can stay warm as it wicks moisture away and helps regulate temperature. I also find my kids are very hard on their socks, and there are often holes after a week of wear. This isn’t the case with the thicker merino ones, which is what makes them budget-friendly for our family.

Pair of kids' merino wool socks

Scooter and helmet

The only thing better than a trip to the park is rolling up to the playground on two (or three) wheels. But the latest and trendiest scooter isn’t necessary for kids to work on their riding skills. There are plenty of budget-friendly options (like this Decathlon three-wheeled scooter) for little riders. You can also check your local buy-and-sell sites and Kijiji or ask friends about hand-me-downs before splurging on a brand new one (Mini Micro and Maxi Micro scooters retail for up to $200, but secondhand they often sell for way less).

Child's three-wheeled scooter

Mud, sticks, and water: Free!

The best spring toy, I would argue, is what nature offers in this season. Spring is such a magical time to watch the world come alive again. There are plenty of sticks to be found, puddles to jump in, and mud to make mud pies with. So if you’re feeling like even the budget options are a bit pricey for spring fun, remember that all kids really need to make the most of spring is nature and their imagination.

Read more about spring activity ideas:

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