This is a photo of a young child playing outside looking at something in the dirt under his feet.

Even with the best playground equipment, young children can start to get bored outside and boredom leads to the kind of play that can drive you nutty. You know, the kind of play that ultimately leads someone to tears.

Anytime I see a bored kid on my playground, I hand them a bucket. An empty bucket naturally invites children to fill it up with something. They just can’t help themselves.

A bucket is my number one go-to outdoor play tool

In fact, the number one outdoor tool I recommend having available for your children to play with is a bucket.

I don’t have any swings, slides, or monkey bars on my outdoor playscape but what I do have is a stock pile of little metal buckets. Every day, the children head outside and the first thing they grab on their way out to play is a bucket.

Collections bring satisfaction

They use the buckets to gather up acorns, rocks, snails, dirt, flowers, leaves, or as many worms as they can find or dig up.

Young children love to collect items from nature but not because they have any actual plan for those items. They just like to stock pile up their found treasures because it feels satisfying to do so.


  1. Without the right tools for play, young children can get bored, even outdoors.
  2. Boredom often results in the kind of play the ends in tears.
  3. A small bucket helps promote constructive play and exploration.

P.S. I recommend small buckets rather than big buckets. A small bucket is easier for them to fill up and carry around. The bigger the bucket, the less interested the children tend to be and the less time they will stick with their treasure hunting adventures.

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