Get the Kids Out of the House and Outside with the Lil’ Monkey Climber

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Summer break may be over, but that  doesn’t mean your kids days enjoying the outdoors need to end. Now that the kids are back in school it is even more important that they get good outdoor play and exercise each day. Exercise not only strengthens their little muscles, builds coordination and motor skills, and gives them a mental break from the grind of school, it also allows them to get a healthy dose of vitamin D to stave off all those lovely viruses they come in contact with at school.

You’d think that getting kids to play outside would be a no-brainer. “Hey kids, go outside and play!” There. Done!

Hahahahaha. Yeah, right. Anyone who is raising kids in this technology age knows just how difficult it can be to convince a child that running, climbing, jumping, imagining, interacting face to face with another human being is just as fun as being glued to a screen.

And speaking of screens, sometimes when my kids come home from school they want nothing more than to plop down in front of the television. As soon as their little tush hits the couch, they promptly become TV zombies for the rest of the day. When my kids watch too much TV they get really grumpy and become much less inclined to listen to their parents. A couple years ago when my oldest was in his first grade year, we decided that this wasn’t going to fly in our house.

How to Get Kids Out of the House and Playing Outside

Gotta love my 8 year old’s camera face. What a crazy man!

Here are a few of the things we have done to get our kids excited about playing outside even when the electronics are singing their siren song:

  1. Talk together as a family and establish clear after school expectations: Decide what works for your family. Our family decided that instead of the two hours of TV they used to get on school days, they are now encouraged to play after school (what a novel idea!). If they get bored, and have spent a suitable time outside, they can watch up to 30 minutes of an educational show–my boys are huge fans of Wild Kratts and Odd Squad.
  2. Have fun play equipment for your kids to play on: Depending on your financial circumstances, this could mean great climbing equipment–like the Lil’ Monkey climber I’m going to show you below–or a built-by-hand sandbox–which is what my husband made for my boys back in the day when we were living on grad student income.
  3. Get out and play with your kids: I don’t do this all the time–I’d never get anything done–but sometimes kids need need someone to model great play. As a plus, you’ll get some great quality time with your kids, a bit of exercise, and some vitamin D.
  4. If all else fails, and you’re about to be driven mad because you’re convinced your child must have a diagnosable addiction to his iPad…well, just read on…

the Lil Monkey dome Climber

Recently, we were sent the Lil’ Monkey climber for the kids to try out. The makers of the  Lil’ Monkey climber have put a new spin on getting kids excited to be outside and be active. The Lil’ Monkey climber dome comes with a free downloadable app that can be activated and played with a QR code on the climber in an effort to give even the most reluctant kids motivation to get moving.

We’ve had the Lil’ Monkey climber in our backyard for several weeks now. It was fairly easy to put together once I realized what to do–I had a little mishap before I realized that there were corresponding letters on the connecting pieces. The pieces, once put together, aren’t impossible to separate, but they are pretty darn difficult.

After I figured out what was going on with the lettering on the pieces, set-up was pretty simple. It took me a little over an hour to do–with the help of my 8 year old, 5 year old, and (more hindrance, less help) 2 1/2 year old. Though it was simple, it took a bit of muscle. My husband would have been much better equipped for the job, but I got my exercise in for the day by putting this bad boy together.

Unfortunately, I accidentally put the final top bar on without first securing the Lil’ Monkey flag that acts as the QR code for the app. Try as I might, I could not get any of the top bars unfastened so that I could slide the flag on. That may be something to keep in mind if you hope to dismantle this for winter storage. I won’t say that it is impossible to take apart once put together, but I couldn’t do it.

I wasn’t, however, too disappointed after I tried out the app (I just taped the flag to the top bar). The app didn’t come with any sort of instructions, and once we got past the first level, the app didn’t seem to work at all. (I’m not sure whether the app wasn’t working or whether we just didn’t understand how to use the app.)  More importantly though, the app doesn’t really seem to encourage the child (or any of the children) to play on the climber. Rather, in order to play the app, the child has to stand back, away from the climber, point the tablet at the climber, and then walk around the climber to encourage the monkey on the app to collect the virtual fruit off the climber. It would be much more fun if the app would engage the child’s playmates in challenges on the climber. While the app wasn’t for us, it could be extremely useful in helping children who are very reluctant to leave their devices come and play outside.

App aside, my kids have absolutely love the Lil’ Monkey climber.

8 year old and 11 year on on Lil Monkey Climber

I was a little wary about letting my 8 year old and 5 year old on the Lil’ Monkey climber together–I thought my 8 year old would be too big for it. I couldn’t see how it would be strong enough to hold both of them, but to my surprise, the Lil’ Monkey climber is very strong! In fact, here is my 8 year old and his 11 year old cousin on the Lil’ Monkey together.

The kids have had great fun climbing, swinging, and hanging. The boys also like to throw their grandma’s play parachute over the climber to make a fort!

When my 5 year old and two year old play on the climber, we’ll slip some old lawn chair pads on the ground. To be safe you might want to put a gym mat or something under the Lil’ Monkey climber.

Lil Monkey Climber

The Lil’ Monkey dome climber is one of those additions to our house that will give the boys years of entertainment. It is so light–it only weighs 18 lbs.–that I may decide to bring it down to the basement playroom during the snowy winter.

One thing to note: the Lil’ Monkey Climber does not come with anchors to secure the climber to the ground–it recommends purchasing them separately. We haven’t had a problem so far, but when my older boys get really rowdy on the climber, it pulls up an inch or so from the ground. I would feel so much better if anchors came with the climber.


About Amy @ Oh So Savvy Mom

Amy is mom to three, wife to one, and a sister and aunt to many. Her family is a former military family now settled in Lehi, Utah. Oh So Savvy Mom began as a way for Amy to share parenting and product advice with others. Just as she has evolved, Oh So Savvy Mom has evolved into a resource for Healthy Living for Families, Food, Parenting, and Family Travel.