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Wicken Toys Blog

  • Win a Berg Compact Sport Go Kart!

    We're getting into the festive spirit and starting the run up to Christmas the right way. We're giving away one of our brilliant Berg Compact Sport Go Karts to one lucky person!

    It's super simple to enter – just follow the instructions in the box below! There are a variety of ways to enter and every time you complete one of the actions, you receive an even bigger chance of winning this fantastic prize worth £284.99!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Terms and Conditions

    1. This competition is only open to residents of the UK.

    2. There will be 1 winner. The winner will receive a Berg Compact Sport Go Kart or Berg Compact Pink Go Kart. 

    3. The competition officially launches on Monday, 14th November 2016.

    4. The winner will be randomly selected and contacted via email shortly after the competition ends on Thursday, 1st December 2016.

    5. No entries after the competition closure on Thursday, 1st December 2016 will be included in the draw.

    6. The winner will have all of their entries verified before being announced.

    7. The winner must have a valid UK mailing address.

    8. The winner will have 48 hours to reply to the email. If they don't reply within this timeframe, we will randomly select another entry.

    9. When entering this competition, you're agreeing to join our mailing lists.

    Wicken Toys offer an enormous range of fantastic indoor & outdoors toys, suitable for a variety of ages. Want to treat someone to a gift they'll never forget? We offer free delivery on all orders over £120 (T&C's apply - see delivery information page for more information) 

    In the Milton Keynes area? Then you should stop by the biggest outdoor display in the country!

  • Easter Egg Hunt Inspiration

    With Easter Sunday just a few days away, you have no doubt begun to scour your home and garden for appropriate Easter Egg hiding places.

    Every year as your children get older, and more experience at finding your hidey holes, you need to come up with new and ingenious ways to disguise the chocolate.

    We’re here to help with some suggestions you may not yet have deployed in your family’s history of Easter egg hunts.

    1. Hide Clues Not Eggs

    It’s looking like a rainy few days coming up so it’s not going to be a great idea to hide your Easter eggs out in the garden – unless your kids like them wet and soggy. But you may find successfully hiding them in the house a little too tricky. The solution? Don’t hide the eggs, take them hostage instead. Lock them up in a box (you can just use a cardboard box with a bike padlock), and plant a number of clues around the house and garden that will lead your children to the location of the key / passcode for the lock.

    2. Plastic Egg Treasure Hunt

    If you want to get them outside, scatter plastic eggs around the garden and tell the children they can only have their eggs once they’ve hunted them all down. Use different coloured eggs for each child so the game isn’t spoiled by one over-enthusiastic finder.

    3. Hiding places in the bedroom

    There are plenty of places to hide an Easter egg in a child’s bedroom. Here are a few suggestions: - Suspended over the back of the door – children will quickly look behind a door, but they’ll likely only look down at the carpet. If you can loop some string around the box and suspend it over the back of the door, with the other end of the string tied to the door handle it will be a while before they find it up there. - Buried in clothing drawers - Snuggled in with all the soft toys. - On the bookshelf – particularly effective on an orderly bookshelf where the box lines up neatly with the other books.

    4. Hiding Places Downstairs

    If your children share a bedroom, or perhaps you’d just prefer to spread them out around your house for the egg hunt, there are a good number of hiding places to be found downstairs. - In the washing machine and tumble dryer – just make sure nobody turns them on. - In the hoods of coats hanging up – nobody thinks to look up high. - On bookshelves. - Around the back of the TV, so long as it can be accessed easily without tripping over wires. - On the seats of chairs pushed under the dining table.

    5. Hiding Places In The Garden

    If you have sheltered, dry places like a playhouse, you could hide all the Easter Eggs in one spot and plant clues around the garden leading to them. Otherwise pop out early in the morning when the children are still sleeping (if it’s not raining) and hide them all around the garden. Make sure you stand each egg box on something waterproof or they will suck the moisture out of the ground and be ruined. On top of the climbing frame, on swing seats, at the top of the slide and on the trampoline are all places that can be dried off and used to hide Easter eggs.

    With the Easter Holidays under-way, you’ll be needing more inspriation for outdoor play (like the rhyme?), so check out the rest of the Wicken Toys blog.

  • Solar Eclipse Inspired Games For Children

    Today we understand that a solar eclipse is a natural phenomenon, an occasional reminder of our place in the Universe. We understand that whether we continue about our day, stop and observe it quietly, or run around shrieking like a headless chicken, after a few minutes the Moon will pass on by, the Sun will shine fiercely onto our planet once more, and normality will be restored.

    But for ancient civilisations solar eclipses were impossible to explain, and were often met with a sense of terror.

    Use these games to explain how solar eclipses have been understood over thousands of years.

    Ancient China - Bang The Drums

    In ancient China it was believed demons were attempting to steal the Sun. The people would flock together during an eclipse and bang pots and pans as loudly as they can to scare away the demons.

    To recreate this in a game you will need a big yellow ball or balloon to be the Sun, and whatever noisy implements you can find (saucepans and wooden spoons should do the trick).

    Your children can be the demons to start with. Their job is to try to steal the Sun from wherever you’ve chosen to display it. If you catch them, you must bang as loud as you can, and they will abandon their efforts. This is a great game because provided you keep an eagle-eye out for little demons, you can get on with some chores while the little ones are plotting their plan of attack.

    You could just play for fun, set up a points system or even offer yummy rewards for successful total eclipses.

    If your children fancy a turn banging the pots, just switch roles.

    Vietnam - The Giant Frog

    In Vietnamese culture it was believed that the Sun disappeared as a result of a giant frog taking a bite out of it. Of course the Sun was too powerful for the frog and after burning his mouth the frog let the Sun go free.

    Turn the classic ‘What’s the time Mr Wolf’ into the Giant Frog game.

    Your children are giant frogs and you are guarding the Sun (use a pile of yellow clothes or a Sun made from segments of yellow card). The children call out ‘what’s the time’ and when you answer them they must jump forward like frogs, instead of taking strides. Every time a child successfully reaches you they can take a piece of the Sun and run back to base. But if the Sun gets angry, you must chase the Giant frogs away.

    For older children you can make the game more challenging by putting the Sun on top of the climbing frame or at the top of the slide.

    Vikings - The Chariot And The Wolves

    The Vikings believed the Sun was pulled around on the back of a chariot, perpetually chased by wolves. Every now and then a wolf would catch up and take a bite out of the Sun, causing the darkness, before the chariot sped away, taking the Sun to safety.

    You can recreate this story with a simple game of chase, each taking turns to be the wolf or the Sun.

  • Games, Crafts And Activities For Mother’s Day

    Straight up, hand this blog post over to the Dads.

    These are fun things to do on Mother’s Day, so Mums, you shouldn’t be doing all the prep for this.

    There’ a combination of crafts and games included here, so whatever the weather you’ll find something to keep them busy with.

    Make A Card

    Nothing says appreciation like a handmade cards. Older children can colour or paint whatever they like, but younger children may need a little direction. Cut out some flower shapes for them to colour and stick on, or use finger painting to make hearts and flowers shapes.

    Cooking For Mum

    The easiest thing to cook for mum is pancakes. Little ones can help crack eggs, measure ingredients and mix the batter. Older children can pour the batter into the frying pan. Dad’s in charge of flipping the pancakes.

    Cup cakes are also a good thing for children to make. As with the pancakes, mixing the batter is a child-friendly activity, and once the cakes are cooked and cooled, icing and decorating is super-fun, if a little messy.

    Kiss Chase

    The ultimate game of love and affection - kiss chase. But instead of Mum chasing the children, this time it’s their turn to run after Mum, capture her, and cover her with kisses.

    Heart Treasure Hunt

    Cut up little heart shapes and have your children hide them all over the garden - under rocks, on the climbing frame, under the trampoline, wherever they can safely reach. Make sure Mum doesn’t see what you’re doing. Now get Mum into the garden and time how long it takes her to find them. The children can help her hunt them down by giving clues of hot and cold. Repeat until Mum is exhausted, or swap over and hide the hearts for somebody else to find.

    Nature’s Gifts

    Go for a walk along the beach or the park, somewhere you will find plenty of pretty things lying around. Ask your children to hunt for a thing of beauty for Mum. When they hand it over, whether it’s a stone, a leaf, a conker, ask them to explain why they chose it. Mum will treasure that story every time she looks at the object.

    Guessing Game

    How well do we know Mum? This is like the old Mr & Mrs quiz. Ask questions like ‘what is Mum’s favourite colour?’ and ‘what is Mum’s favourite snack?’. If you have older children they can write down their guess before Mum reveals the answer. For younger children, have Mum write the answer secretly, then the children can guess outloud.

    Mum Says

    Like Simon Says, but it’s Mum giving the instructions. Imagine her joy when everyone just does as she asks for a whole 10 minutes without complaining.

    For more outdoor play inspiration, check out the rest of the Wicken Toys blog.

  • Solar Eclipse Special: How To Watch AND Explain It...

    ...because you know all you'll hear is 'why? Whhhhhyyyyyy? But whhhhy Mummy whyyyyyyy?'

    On Friday 20th March, much of the country will be plunged into darkness as we experience the first solar eclipse in 16 years.

    Most areas will experience an 85-90% eclipse, but some lucky folk, right on the tip of the British Isles will see a full eclipse.

    Here are our top tips on watching the eclipse safely and explaining the science behind it.

    Watching Safely

    There are specially designed eclipse glasses available to buy online. Be sure you are buying from a reputable seller, and check there are no scratches or lens damage to the glasses before you use them. Make sure children fully understand that they should never look directly at the Sun, even when the majority of it is obscured by the moon.

    Even with the glasses on it is only advisable to look at the Sun for a few minutes before taking a break to rest your eyes.

    A safer way, especially for younger children, is to use a pinhole projector. This funnels the light through a small hole, then projects the image onto a piece of paper. Unlike the glasses which can only be used by one child at a time, you can have multiple children looking at the projector image at the same time. And they will have their backs to the Sun, making it much easier for you to supervise them and keep them safe.

    The Science Bit

    A solar eclipse is a wonderful opportunity for children and adults alike to come to fully experience their place in the Universe.

    A complete solar eclipse is possible because although the Moon 400 times smaller than the Sun, the Sun is 400 times further away from Earth than the Moon. So when the two are in perfect alignment, it appears as if the Moon and Sun are the same size.

    A scale model would take you a while to produce, but you can explain the principles using a few toys.

    Hold a tennis ball and a ping pong ball, one in each hand, and ask your children which is biggest. Now take have one child stand at one end of the garden holding the tennis ball out, and another children at the other end, looking as if from Earth. You stand in the middle holding the ping pong ball, slowly stepping closer and closer to the observer until the ping pong ball has completely blocked their view of the tennis ball.

    Another fun way to demonstrate the effect distance has on our perspective of size is to turn your children into giants. Now they know already that their thumbs are not as big as the cat, dog or Mum’s head. But send them to the top of the climbing frame and ask them to imagine squishing animal or human passers by with just their thumbs and see what happens. They should start giggling when they realize their hands look giant when compared to people on the ground a few metres away.

    For more science, fun, games and outdoor ideas, check out the rest of the Wicken Toys blog.

  • How To Deal With Squishy Squashy Lawn Issues

    Half term has arrived. The children are pumped with energy and excitement, ready to get outside a play.

    And your back garden looks like a swamp.

    Here’s how to let the kids run free without obliterating the lawn.

    1. Give Up Decide now if you care about having any sort of lawn for the next three months. Not bothered? Great, let the kids roam free and get all muddied up. There’s nothing wrong with that. Come the summer you will have a patchy looking lawn - not pretty to look at but still perfectly fine to play on. Many of us have been brought up with a belief that well kept, vibrant green lawn means we are good homeowners. But there’s plenty more to life than green grass, so if your self-esteem can suffer the battering, give up on your dreams of a luscious lawn and let the kids have fun. Mud is great for their skin, and adds an exciting sensory element to their play experience. Plus, when they get really muddy, that’s a fab excuse for a bubbly bath then a hot chocolate, which is the perfect way to round-off a day’s playing.

    2. Zero Running Games Running across the wet grass will tear the blades up from their roots causing plenty of damage to the lawn. However, gently walking across the grass will cause much less (if any damage). There are lots of games you can play outside that don’t involve too much running.

    Skittles, hopscotch, and catch can all be played without running on the grass.

    3. High Traffic Areas If you have play equipment like a climbing frame or a trampoline, you could section off high traffic areas and simply accept these will be destroyed, while keep the rest of the garden as a child free zone. If the grass does get ruined in these walkways consider replacing it with something harder wearing like safety mats or bark chippings.

    4. Replace It If a swamp-like lawn is a persistent problem and it is impacting on the enjoyment you and your family get from your garden consider replacing it with an artificial surface, You can get something colourful and wacky, or a very life-like alternatives. Whatever you prefer, the range of artificial surfaces is now so wide, you will no doubt find something to suit your tastes.

    5. Aerate It You can encourage better drainage by repeatedly stabbing the lawn with a fork or aerator. This helps excess moisture drain through compacted soil, and helps relieve any tensions or frustration you may be experiencing during the school holidays.

    Don't Put down sheets of wood or cardboard in an effort to protect the grass underneath. The pressure and lack of light will destroy the remaining blades.

    Do Sprinkle on some lawn seed as we head towards the Spring and some food to encourage the grass to grow. You'll soon have a luscious looking lawn in need of a mow.

  • Games You Can Play In The Rain

    So half-term is here, and unless you’re prepared to embrace the rain, there’s a good chance you’ll be stuck indoors for the rest of the week.

    And indoors is no fun, so here are some outdoor games you can play that take advantage of the wet weather.

    Make A Rainbow Use coloured chalks to create beautiful patterns on a piece of paper, then hold it out in the rain and let the raindrops create a magical picture.

    Chase The Rain Watch where the rain collects and follow its journey as it flows down slopes and finds the nearest drain. This game is a great way to make going for a rainy walk around the neighbourhood more fun.

    Puddle Jumps Not in them. Try jumping over them. Find the biggest puddle you can and see if you can clear it in one jump.

    Listen Just stop moving and listen to the sounds of the raindrops falling. Can your children hear the difference between rain falling on a car and the rain falling on leaves. This is a great activity for the end of the day if you are wanting to calm the mood down a little.

    SideWalk Chalk Make chalk paintings by creating works of art on the patio and letting the rain blend the colours together.

    Mud Kitchen Go beyond basic mud pies to create a whole array of culinary earthy delights. Create a bespoke mud kitchen by taking cheap utensils and mixing bowls outside to a grassless patch of ground.

    Obstacle Course For older children you could add a little bubble bath into the mix and create a super slippery obstacle course. Avoid including climbing or activities at heights. Stick to slipping underneath obstacles and squirming around hurdles.

    Create A Weather Station If the wet weather is set to stick around for a while you could set up a weather station to measure the rainfall over the week. Use an empty jam jar and tape a ruler to the inside. At the same time every day go outside and record how much is in the jar and tip it out. If it’s raining really hard you could complete hourly checks. Plot your findings on a chart to look for patterns.

    Wet Weather Safety It’s great to get outside come rain or shine, but there are a few extra safety precautions you should take when playing in wet weather. If the ground was hard before the rain fall, the grass will be very slick, so children should be careful when running as their feet may slip out from underneath them. It is also worth mentioning to little ones that plastic and metal surfaces will be extra slippery so they may find it hard to climb slide ladders or hang on to monkey bars.

    For more play ideas, whatever the weather, check out the rest of the Wicken Toys blog.

  • How To Make Your Own Water Wall

    This maybe seems a little crazy for a February activity, but there’s a lot of good reasons to set your waterwall up now. Kids love playing with water no matter what the weather. And as there’s no need for them to get (too) wet when enjoying this activity, you can wrap them up warm so they won’t feel the cold. Plus if it's a rainy day, just looking at the rain’s journey through the waterwall is fun.

    If you’re still getting frosts where you live, it would be best to wait a few more weeks for the night’s to warm up. If the plastic gets frozen it may become brittle, creating a broken water wall and potentially sharp edges.

    Always give your waterwall a thorough inspection before use.

    Be Inspired

    The first step towards creating this cheap and easy play centre is to get inspired. There are some fab images on Pinterest you can use, but also look around at the water play centres available online for ideas.

    Pick The Perfect Spot Next you need to scout around your garden to identify the ideal location for your water wall. It needs a balance of light and shade. You don’t want your children to be standing out in the exposed sunlight for great lengths of time, but if the play area is in permanent shade it will be cold, uninviting and as it never dries out, it may cause algae or mould to grow. A good compromise is to pick a sunny spot, then use a parasol to shade the area when your children are using it.

    If you have a climbing frame with a redundant side, filling this in with a bit of board can create a water wall on one side, and a den effect on the other.

    Gather Materials Collect plastic bottles, guttering, tubing, anything waterproof that can guide the path of water either through it or over it. You will also need a large peg board or fence panel, even an old painted door will do, to attach the pieces to.

    Get Building Sketching out a design and then buying the materials to make it can prove expensive. A more affordable way to create your own wall is to pile up all the materials you have, leaf through the inspirational images you have found, and find the best way to fit it together.

    Open Ended Play Leave plenty of scope for imaginative play. You could leave some of the areas unfinished and keep spare building materials in a bucket so your children can experiment with completing the path with different pieces. You can also use loose fittings, for example a single nail will act as a pivot, so the children can move the pieces on the board into different positions.

    Recycle Don’t forget to finish your water wall with a bucket to collect the water at the end. Rainwater can be collected and used on the plants. And on sunny days your children can use a single bucket of water over and over again, rather than pestering for the garden tap to be turned on.

  • No Balls Please

    There’s no escaping it. When a ball bounces off a wooden fence it is loud.

    If you have restricted space in your garden (and a lot of us do) you may fear the dreaded crash caused by an errant football, or speeding tennis ball.

    But stopping these games altogether does you children no favours. Balls games give children the chance to develop hand-eye coordination skills, social skills as they interact while playing, and of course get much needed fresh air and exercise.

    So what can you do to prevent the bang crash wallop.

    We’ve got some suggestions here for ‘ball games’ without the wayward balls.

    1. Badminton Often overlooked in favour of tennis, but badminton requires just as much skill and concentration. Because the shuttlecock travels slowly it is unlikely to go far enough astray to hit the fence. And if it does, you’ll hear barely a tap as it is much lighter than a ball.

    2. Swingball Swingball is just like tennis, only the ball is tethered, so no chance of it escaping into the neighbour’s garden or bashing into the fence.

    3. Boules Played properly there is no chance of loud noises. These heavy balls plop soundlessly onto the lawn and stay there. You may hear a gentle ‘clink’ as two balls touch each other. This is a calm relaxing game requiring concentration so is ideal for taking energy levels down a notch if things get a little frenetic.

    4. Skittles If you don’t have a skittles set you can make your own with some sand filled [plastic bottles and a tennis ball. Help younger children aim by having them roll the ball down the slide towards skittles assembled at the bottom. Older children can add extra challenge by placing the skittles at the top of the slide and rolling the ball up it.

    5. Outdoor Table Tennis For the ultimate outdoor accessory, get a waterproof table tennis set. Designed to be kept outside (although best covered over the colder months), these tables are always set up and ready to go whenever the mood takes you. The lightweight ping pong balls will bounce all over the garden, but barely make a sound, so you there won’t be any loud bangs….unless you crash into the fence chasing after them of course.

    With a bit of imagination you can adapt traditional games and invent your own to provide plenty of outdoor fun with none of the noise.

    You may also be able to make small adaptations to your garden to help stop balls hitting the fence. A gulley around the edge of the lawn will catch ground skimming balls, as will borders filled with dense shrubs.

    If football is an essential activity it is possible to buy inflatable fully enclosed five-a-side pitches with high side netting.

  • Go-Kart Inspired Garden Additions

    A go-kart is an awesome investment. Four-wheeled and low to the ground, they are slower than a bike so older children can ride them in the garden long after they’ve outgrown doing laps on their bicycle.

    But what makes owning a go-kart extra special, is the full fake car experience. Caring for it, washing it, filling it up with ‘petrol’.

    Here’s how to make a go-kart garage your children will go crazy for.

    Car Wash First of all you will need a safe space for the car to get washed-off. You could provide a simple bucket of water and a cloth, and that will certainly be fun for a couple of minutes. But if you want to go all out in the fun stakes, you need to build a car wash.

    Cut up cleaning cloths into strips and hand them using some string, along with sponges from the underside of your climbing frame. Make sure they reach all the way down to around 18 inches from the ground. Now take a bucket of water around and dunk each sponge and cloth in to give them a good soaking. Now your drive-thru car wash is ready.

    Petrol Station The go-kart will also need a place to fill up. You can make a petrol pump by stacking two boxes, one on top of the other, and writing a dial on the top box. Then use a length of garden hose, or any type of narrow tubing to create a nozzle to reach into the car. You can make a checkout desk for another child (or you) to join in the game. Set up a small table with a toy shopping till, and you could even add some cardboard mock sweets to tempt the customers.

    Garage Everyone knows the safest place to secure your car is in a private garage. Give your go-kart a worthy resting place for the night by constructing a shelter. This is practical as well as fun. To protect the go-kart and maximize its useful life, it should be sheltered from direct sunlight and the weather. However, lugging it in and out of a shed everything your child wants to use it can get tiresome. Instead you can create a small garage port they can drive their go-kart into and store when not in use.

    There small sheds or storage units that attach to the house’s outside wall you could use, or you could create a wooden frame and add some tarpaulin to shelter from the wet weather. You could designate an area at the side of the house a parking zone, or underneath the climbing frame is a well sheltered spot.

    If you don't have a go-kart yet, check out our go-kart buyer's guide.

    For more outdoor play inspiration, check out the rest of the Wicken Toys blog.

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