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Pop-Up Tents and Toys

You've probably seen these self-pitching just open them up and toss them and they stand up by themselves. You can also store them very compactly after folding them back up.

Children are delighted by small crawly-hidey places, and these pop-up tents and tunnels offer plenty of those.

When I first developed this page, Playhut was pretty much the only company making these toys, but there are now more twist-and-fold toys available.

The Playhut Megahouse, criss-cross tunnel and the large maze set are very popular items in my home. We've had them for four years and the kids still love them (and the toys are still in good shape.


Crawl N' Play
by Playhut
Manufacturer's age: 3 - 8 years

Editorial Review

This lightweight, sturdy, flame-resistant nylon play structure can be set up in 30 seconds. There are no poles to piece together and insert (or lose or break). The Crawl N Play pops open and keeps its shape, thanks to the sewn-in spring-action frame. Indoors or out, the three modular units--one 32-by-33-by-33-inch block with four round openings and a roof window, plus two tunnels, each 18 inches across and 20 inches long--fit together with hook-and-loop tabs. Kids can create a clubhouse, a castle, a dungeon, a tower, a jail, a rabbit burrow, a bear's den, a pirate ship, an outlaw hideout, Aladdin's cave, a house on the prairie--whatever a game of make-believe seems to demand. The structure folds up to fit in the included nylon carry case, and it can be connected to other Crawl N Play modular sets to form larger structures. -- Ava Natov

Megaland Playset by Playhut
Manufacturer's age: 3 - 7 years

Editorial Review from

A landscape of tunnels and hiding dens can instantly be assembled in your yard or family room with this compact modular play structure. One of the best features is the abundance of colorful balls (there are 50!). Pile them all into one cube and children can experience the feel of a small-scale ball room like the ones in commercial play areas. When children tire of burrowing, crawling, and hiding, they can use the balls to shoot hoops into the built-in basket. The pop-up nylon play structure is easy to assemble, but be careful while assembling--modules spring open quickly. The challenge is folding it back into the carrying cases (no careless cramming--adults will have to follow instructions carefully). Megaland works with other PlayHut structures. The set includes one large hut with basket, one medium hut, one small block, two tunnels, two carrying bags, and 50 balls. -- Gail Hudson

Pacific Play Tents

Neon See-Me Connecting Tunnel
by Pacific Play Tents
Manufacturer's age: 3 - 9 years

Editorial Review from

Free your child's inner groundhog. This pop-up tunnel is meant to be an accessory to Pacific Play Tents, but most kids will want to move into it--permanently--or pull the 6-foot-long, reinforced tube up around themselves and walk or crawl around, pretending to be caterpillars. The spring-open construction is sturdy and assembly free, and the "See-Me" windows really are fun for kids to peek through. As a tent accessory, the tunnel is easy to fit into the tent's perfectly cut hole and will stay put during the most vigorous play. -- Claire Dederer

Tunnel Junction Set
by Pacific Play Tents
Manufacturer's age: 3 years and up

From the Manufacturer

The Pacific Play Tents, Inc. Tunnel Junction folds conveniently and compactly in only seconds and sets up just as easily for hours of explorative and inventive fun. The Tunnel Junction connects any 4 standard sized Pacific Play Tents, Inc. tunnels for instant Hide N Seek fun! The choices are endless when you connect any of our tents to the tunnels.

My suggestions for toys every home should have.

K'Nex are a plastic construction toy somewhat similar to Tinker Toys.

Dolls, furniture and accessories.

Legos, Duplos and Mega Bloks
The classic contruction toy -- interlocking plastic bricks.

Wooden Trains
Classic Brio train sets and accessories.

The Childís Toys and the Old Manís Reasons Are the Fruits of the Two seasons. - William Blake

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