Toys for kids

We bought our first canoe this past fall. I’ve read in a few places it is fun to have floatable toys tied on for kids to play with. Our kids will be 5 & 3 this summer. What toys do you and do you not recommend?

Thanks for the help,


Floatable toys…

– Last Updated: Feb-01-08 5:57 PM EST –

If you tie floatable toys onto the canoe, you may create unnecessary problems for yourself & the children:

Attaching a floatable toy to the canoe may result in the toy/string becoming entangled in tree limbs, rocks, or some other obstacle. This may result in a capsize, if the string used to attach the toy to the canoe does not break easily.

The child may hang a portion of their body over the gunwale of the canoe to "play" with the floatable toy. I don't know what the weight of your kids are, but the 5 year old certainly weighs enough to put the canoe out of trim. If the child is hanging out over the gunwale; a quick turn, or coming into contact with a solid object might result in them being thrown from the canoe.

If the canoe for whatever reason capsizes; strings attached to toys & to the canoe(in close proximity to the kids) may create problems with entanglement for the children.

I would err on the side of safety, particularly in the case of the 3 year old. Seek other options for entertaining the kids. Make regular stops on shore, or gravel bars to let them take breaks, or play with their toys. In the canoe; stick a paddle in their hand on occasion, and let them learn something that is fun & useful.
Point out any wildlife & scenery that is interesting; a cheap pair of binoculars with some flotation attached can provide some distraction for them. Dip nets for minnows & crawfish, and cheap face masks for viewing the bottom of the river are also fun items for young kids. And the old stand by; get in the water & get wet.

Keeping kids well hydrated & slathering on the sunscreen will save mom & dad big hassles later.


P.S. Don't forget the treats.

I assumed you meant tied to the boat, but kept in it, so they can’t accidently go overboard? Any small waterproof toys tethered INSIDE the boat should be fine…but I agree that toys floating along the boat will be a BIG incentive for little ones to lean waaaaayyy over the side.

I always liked to bring along a small net and bucket and stop often to explore the waters edge.

I can’t see kids needing them
There are million and one things in and around them on a canoe journey that are more captivating than any toy. I think the toys would just be unnecessary clutter.

I agree with thebob and puddlefish
I don’t see a need for the toys. I have seen quite a few young children in canoes with their parents or other adults and just that experience alone was enough to brighten their eyes and put smiles on their faces. As thebob said take time out of the canoe to avoid boredom and it should be an enjoyable experience for all. No sense increasing the possibility of problems with unnecessary toys.

I think giving them a kid sized paddle is a good idea, as long as the five year old doesn’t start to hit the three year old with it (like I would have done with my brother who is also two years younger than I.)

Finally, I don’t want to nag, but make sure you all (especially the kids) have PFDs that fit and work. Have the kids test them out from shore before you put in.

It’s great you are starting them into canoeing at an early age. Keep it enjoyable and they will thank you for the rest of their lives.


– Last Updated: Feb-01-08 9:35 PM EST –

Little person paddles...that's all our two daughters ever had in the way of 'toys' when we paddled as a family. Painted the tip of one red for port, the other green for starboard. Usually had Scottie, our late but great canoeing dog, along. Whatever else they were, the girls were never bored when we went paddling and camping...great days, great daughters, wonderful memories...
We kept the stretches on the water fairly short - half and hour to an hour, then ashore to look around, maybe take a short hike, boil the kettle, and whatever...

If you have to bring toys

– Last Updated: Feb-02-08 9:01 PM EST –

into a canoe to entertain the toddlers while you are canoeing, they should not be in the canoe.
From a father of eight kids who all learned their love of nature from having a lot of it pointed out to them from trips in a canoe when they were little.
A four year old can have a miniature paddle and learn the value of teamwork as well as the basics of using it.
Leave the toys at home unless it is a camping trip where they have to be amused while meals are being prepared.


hunt for toys

– Last Updated: Feb-02-08 7:04 AM EST –

When Aaron was young and we tandemed, we would look for toys, and still do, while on the river. We've found over 150 golf balls on one little flat river we paddle. This developed teamwork and skills as one of us would brace while the other reached for the ball. Tennis balls,footballs, inflatable balls,all sorts of balls. Squirt guns have also been found. In the back of my truck right now are 3 balls we've found on recent WW paddles. Aaron likes to try to juggle them while sidesurfing, a trick he's learned from the local open boating legend.

natural materials
Kids love to toss things into the water…pebbles, sticks, pinecones. No need to buy anything.

Just as long as they are good about not throwing at people.

Little ones do love to dangle a little paddle over the side. They arent going to tip you over.

PFD for them is mandatory of course.

The only toys my 2 year old took many years ago on a six day BWCA trip was her favorite blanket and a bear.

This is what I thought
Thanks for the responses. I kind of had a feeling we wouldn’t need toys but since I read it multiple times I thought maybe we were forgetting something. Our son (the 4 yo) can’t wait to paddle himself. The canoe we bought came with 3 paddles so he thinks one is his and that we need to get our daughter (the 2 yo) a small kid paddle as he puts it. The canoe also came with 3 life jackets, 1 adult and 2 kids. We are going to wait until the season comes to try them on and test them. No point in making sure it fits in the winter so they can out grow them. Again, thanks for the help and we can’t wait to get out there.