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  • Uses For An Unwanted England Flag

    Thousands of football fans splashed out on jumbo England flags or smaller car-mounted St George's crosses, only to find the team crashed out of the World Cup faster than you can say 'economy class ticket home'.

    At Wicken Toys we feel your pain, and we don't want your money, or flag, to go to waste. So here are some top tips for recycling, reusing and re-purposing your country's pennant.

    1. Picnic Rug / Play Blanket Spread jumbo flag on grass / sand, then sit on it.

    2. Handheld Hammock This will only work for small children and heavy duty flags. Lay flag out on floor, lay child on top, and place an adult at each end of the flag. The adults pick up the two corners nearest to them, and gently swing the child just off the ground, like a hammock.

    3. Summertime Sledge There may not been any snow, but that doesn't mean you can't go sledging. Sit your child on the flag, grab one end, and gently pull them around the garden. This works even better on a beach as the sand provides little resistance.

    4. Air Conditioning This is the cheapest air conditioning solution around. Soak the flag in cold water, hang up indoors, and place a fan behind it so the air blown through by the fan gets cooled down as it passes through the flag, before entering the rest of the room. 5. Fabric Playhouse Drape your jumbo flag over a climbing frame or even the washing line to create a quick and easy playhouse / den. 6. Sand Castle Markers The smaller flags on plastic sticks that can be attached to cars make excellent sand castle toppings. You will need to build extra large (and therefore awesome) castles to accommodate the size of the flags.

    7. Climbing Frame Kingdom Use flags big and small to transform your climbing frame or playhouse into a King's castle.

    8. Cool Down Wrap Soak the flag in cool water then use it to wrap up hot, sweaty children, and help them to cool down.

    9. Keep It Flying Lewis Hamilton is going strong in the F1 championship and the Silverstone GP is less than two weeks away, the English cricket team would welcome the extra support, and the Commonwealth Games are right around the corner. As you've gone to all the trouble of putting the flag up, you may as well leave it flying there a little longer.

    10. Recycle It If you can't face looking at your flag any more, don't just chuck it in the rubbish. Take it to your nearest textile recycling bin, usually at your local waste management facility. The flag will be shredded (which is probably for the best as it's clearly brought the team bad luck), and the fabric will be used to create something else, instead of just being added to the landfill.

    Congratulations, you have now completed our ten step programme to giving your England flag a new lease of life.

  • World Cup Fever In Your Back Garden

    The World Cup kicked-off last night, the land is awash with England flags, and children and adults alike are buzzing with football fever.

    The tournament is a great excuse to get outside and play with the children.

    Here are some ideas for hosting your own World Cup at home.

    1. Get Crafty If your children tend to shy away from arts and crafts, using a football theme can really help get their buy-in. Not everyone is going to grow up to be a Van Gogh, but craft activities are important across all ages for developing fine motor skills, creativity and imagination. Ask each child to invent a country name for themselves, and a fill an A4 piece of paper with a flag to represent their nation.


    2. Warm Up All athletes need to prepare their body thoroughly before exercising. Watch some clips of players stretching and jogging before a match and explain what they are doing, then head outside to complete a warm up drill.

    3. Draw Up Your League For each of the activities listed below, decide on a points allocation for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places. Your World Cup will be a league rather than a knock-out tournament. At the end of the games, whoever has the most points wins.

    4. Balloon Keepy Uppy Test hand eye co-ordination by setting out a small course for players to walk around, while playing keepy-uppy with a balloon. They can use their hands, feet, head, shoulders and knees to keep the balloon off the ground, while walking the course in the shortest possible time. If the balloon touches the floor, they need to go back to the beginning.

    5. Perfect Placement This game works best if you have a slide attached to a generously sized climbing frame platform. The aim of the game is to kick the ball up the slide, hard enough for it to reach the top, but gently so it stops on the platform rather than shooting down the other side. The winner is the person who takes the fewest attempts to balance the ball.

    6. Penalty Shootout For this you will need a football goal, or create goal posts using jumps, flags, or whatever else you have to hand. Start just a few feet from the goal and shoot. Everyone who scores is still in the penalty shoot out. Now mark out a new penalty spot a few feet further back, and everyone has a turn shooting from here. Again, everyone who scores is still in the competition, and can take another shot from a goal even further back. This continues until there is only one person left, or you can't get any further away from the goal.

    You can make up as many activities for your league as you like, and for an additional element of maths learning, have the children add up their own totals (with your supervision of course).

    While the current sunshine and high temperatures make a welcome break from the storms experienced in the water, it can make playing outside an uncomfortable affair. Get in the garden before 11am, or after 4pm, to avoid the worst of the heat, and get the most enjoyment from your planned activities.

  • Garden For Footballers

    If you have a budding footballer int he family, convert your back garden into the stadium of their dreams with these play ideas.

    Equipment Ideas A set of goals would be the obvious choice for a football fan, or one will suffice if you have a small garden. Although positioning them against the fence might seem like the logical thing to do, your child won't hit the target every time and the incessant banging against the fence will likely drive your neighbours to distraction. You can avoid too much noise by either stringing a very taught net across the fence to bounce the balls back, or placing the goal in front of the back of your house, so the noise only troubles you and your family.


    If your child doesn't have anyone to go in goal, or prefers to play solo, look for a goal like TP Super Goal with Trainer, that comes with a target sheet to put across the goal mouth.

    If space is limited, you can get a football equivalent of swingball, which is essentially a football on a string, tied to a post in the garden. There are also training balls that are tied to a wrist strap, which are ideal for a round of keepy-uppy as the ball won't be able to stray too far away.

    Play Inspiration Besides a regular match of football, there are plenty of ways to practice the skills a budding young footballer needs.

    To hone dribbling ability, set up a small football assault course, and time how long each lap takes. Take a photo of the course so you can recreate it another day and try to beat the personal best.

    During a match a player needs to rely on their ears as much as their eyes. Develop listening skills by playing a passing game blindfolded. Before the game starts, pick one animal noise that indicates it's time to pass the ball. The blindfolded player remains in the centre of the lawn. They can turn on the spot but should not walk or run as they may trip and hurt themselves. The other players, who are not blindfolded, can walk around the centre player, quietly making different animal noises. The centre player must listen carefully to identify the correct animal noise, which means they need to pass the ball, and work out which direction the sound came from so they can successfully complete the pass.

    Re-purposing Stuff You Already Have Passing a ball successfully requires good directional skills, but also judgement about how hard to kick it. Practice judging the force required by kicking a ball up the slide with the aim of it coming to a rest right at the top and staying there.

    Practice chipping a ball by labeling the rungs on the climbing frame ladder with scores, and chipping the ball between the rungs. If you set a target score, or get your child to add up their own points, you can combine football practice with some maths questions.

    For more play ideas and garden inspiration, check out the rest of the Wicken Toys blog.

  • Football Training In Your Own Backgarden

    The new football season is in full swing, and local youth football clubs are facing up to a packed schedule of training and football matches.

    Here's some ideas from Wicken to help hone those football skills from the comfort of your own back garden.

    #1 Dribble Practice You've probably already got plenty of natural obstacles in your garden, so use these as dummy defenders, and encourage your child to dribble around them. You can set up a course, or call out which obstacle to go around next. Make it competitive by timing how long it takes them to dribble around the course, and challenging them to go faster next time.

    #2 Perfecting The Pass Being able to accurately pass the ball is a very important footballing skill. One thing that will help improve the accuracy of your child's passing is if they can learn to rely on their ears to locate the player. For this game you will need an open area of grass, without any obstacles. Blindfold the child and stand them in the centre of the space. Then quietly move around before calling out to them. The aim of the game is for your child to locate where they need to turn too, and how far they need to kick the ball, without using their eyes.

    #3 Controlling The Kick The strength of the pass is just as important as how accurate its direction of travel is. If you have a slide, your child can practice kicking the ball with just the right amount of force by trying to get it to land on the platform at the top of the slide. They need to kick it hard enough to roll up the slide, but not so hard that it runs back down the other side.

    #4 Volleying Raising the ball into the air from a static position is a tricky skill, but useful for dodging past defenders. Label the rungs of the ladder on your climbing frame or slide, so that each space above the rung has a points value. Then take it in turns volleying the ball through the gaps. The winner is the person who scores the most points.

    #5 Football Rounders You'll need a but more space for this game, so if you don't have a big garden, you might need to pack up your Thermos flask and head for the park. You'll also need at least five players. One child is the 'batter', another is the bowler, and the remainder are fielders. Play the game just like rounders or cricket. Roll a ball along the ground, and the 'batter' needs to kick it as hard as they can. If a fielder catches the ball, or traps it dead under their foot, the 'batter' is out. If the ball is not out, then the 'batter' can score runs by running between his batting position and a predetermined marker, approximately 20 feet away. He has until the bowler is holding the ball again to score as many runs as possible. Everyone gets three bowls to reach as high a total as possible before it's the next player's turn.

  • Advantages of team sports play equipment for children

    Team sports are extremely advantageous activities for children of all ages as they offer a host of learning developments, encourage character building, and provide lots of enjoyment.

    Why not try introducing your children to team sports before they can take part in the school sports teams? We have many garden toys and pieces outdoor play equipment that can be used for team games with family and friends.

    There are many advantages to encouraging your children to play team sports like football, netball, basketball, tennis doubles, and not forgetting table tennis doubles.

    • Outdoor play equipment best showcased in our tp products will create wonderful opportunities for your children to build long-lasting childhood friendships (they could go from being man of the match to the groom’s best man).
    • Unsurprisingly, after a few team games children will very quickly begin to develop team working skills. In addition to this they will also have the chance to learn about leadership when it is their turn to be team captain.
    • Even as adults we can all have our ‘bad-loser’ moments. Regularly playing a team sport with outdoor play equipment like our tp products football nets, table tennis tables, and netball posts, your child will learn how to respect opposing teams and lose gracefully (although admittedly, some of us never grow out of being a bad loser).
    • Being part of a team means that you are also partly responsible for that team’s success and even if it is only every summer evening in your back garden, teams are often a long term commitment. Team sports can teach children to learn the importance of loyalty to team mates and learn why be committed to something is important. A great life skill to have in time for employment!
    • Our team sports garden toys can help children to quickly realise that to get better at something you have to work hard and practice regularly. Playing a sport like football in your garden most days could produce the next premiership footballer.
    • Even though you might hate sports, a weekend afternoon of playing a sport like basketball with your kids could change your mind. Instead of family bonding time taking place infront of the television, take the family fun outside and get some fresh air and exercise. Furthermore, your kids will learn to enjoy sport, exercise, and outdoor activity from an early age which will be very healthy for them in the long run.

    Take a look at our outdoor play equipment for all kinds of sports like this ‘tp super goal with trainer’, and choose a garden toy that will get your family out into the garden in time for warm summer evenings.

  • Score a goal in the garden with some football fun


    As a nation, there's one sport that kids and adults alike in the UK like more than any other, and that sport is football. From the tiniest kids kicking a ball around their garden to grown men cheering on their favourite team at the local stadium, football is something people up and down the country are always getting involved with, whatever their age.


    More than just a fun past-time though, for many kids football is a great way to make friends by joining their school team, and an enjoyable way to learn the value of teamwork. Perfecting their technique with an at-home goal can sharpen their football skills and show them that practice and hard work really do pay off, which are useful lessons for later life.


    Of course the real joy to be had from getting your kids a football goal has nothing to do with these useful side effects though; you'll just love seeing their happy faces when they score against their friends! As we understand the universal appeal of football in Britain, Wicken Toys offers 5 different goal sets to put your kids' footballing prowess to the test and help them perfect their aim.


    To start your youngsters out on the footballing pitch, we have the compact and impressively easy to put up Spring Up goal by Tp, which pops straight up in your garden and can be packed back down into an easy-to-carry bag. This means you can take this lightweight goal anywhere you like, though its smaller size means its ideal for children to use in even small gardens.

    A slightly bigger but still compact alternative is the 6 x 4 foot Tp Goal for £23.50, an easy-to-assemble goal made from galvanised steel and rot resistant nylon netting with a lifetime guarantee against rust damage. Either of these two models are perfect for younger children just beginning to discover the joys of football.

    As your kids get bigger, of course, so do the goals. Move on up to the tp Super Goal which comes with an attachable training panel containing several ball-sized holes. This will challenge your children to get the ball through these holes, giving a narrower target than the open goal which can be used for individual practice play when no other kids are around to take a turn in goal. This goal is suitable for children of up to around age 10 and has been enhanced with fix-in ground stakes for added stability.

    On the other hand, if your child wants to practice their goal-scoring accuracy but you don't have space for the 2.13 by 1.52 metre Super Goal in your garden, you might prefer the innovative tp Baloopa. This inventive creation is a free standing raised hoop which allows your child to test their skills when space is tight and costs just £16.75.


    For those lucky enough to have a big, spacious garden though, there really is nothing that compares with the tp Giant Goal; a 3.05 by 1.95 metre professional standard goal. This huge goal is so big that even adults will want to join in with the fun, so your little ones can keep playing with it when they're no longer so little.

    With a goal to suit every garden, every budget and every child, there's nothing standing in the way to helping your child develop their footie skills. Who knows, they could just end up being the next big thing in the football world.  Contact Us for further information on our products or browse the site to see for yourselves.

  • Mum and Dad’s Excellent adventure this summer


    Okay, you know that the kids are going to have a totally awesome summer holiday whether they are playing outside in the sun, indoors watching television, or playing video games in their bedroom! They don’t have to go to school and that’s the whole point. But what about Mum and Dad? You poor things always have to put the kids fun times first before your own. Well today in Wicken Toys blog we will take you through how you can enjoy yourselves too!


    Mums and Dads have the hardest job... period. Raising children is the most important responsibility in the world, well, next to nuclear weapons release...


    This summer you can join in with the kids in activities designed to suit both you and them.


    If the weather fits... slide it!


    Outdoor Slides in the garden is a perfect way to mix both fun for kids and fun for adults too. Setting up one of these bad boys out back presents plenty of good times to be had by the whole family. Crack out your swimwear because it’s going to get wet!


    Tp Aqua Slide is what we are referring to here. You can use it with any slide or just lay it on the garden and away you go. Great fun made better by the extra slippy silicone surface which helps propel you down the garden at great speed. It’s guaranteed laughter for kids and parents.



    On the other hand, if you are more of a sporty Dad or Mum, perhaps getting your kids involved in an active sport would be the best answer to this conundrum of resolving the disparity between an adult and child’s idea of fun.


    It’s the season of sport – Euro 2012, Roayl Ascot, Wimbledon, and of course the Olympics! So why not get your back garden to be a participating arena for your own set of football frolics and table tennis tournaments.


    We have Tp Giant Goals which are a great way for Dads to get in on the football action. They work for both children and adults. If your sons are keen football fanatics then this is the ideal choice of garden toy.



    Alternatively, you can always go for the more relaxed, but just as challenging, Kettler Stockholm Outdoor Table Tennis. It’s an indoor indoor table too with strengthened undercarriage & playback facility. Perfect for use inside or outside, depending on the temperature and weather. It’s a beautiful little package that Mum and Dad’s can play against each other or their offspring.


    There’s a little something for everyone. The more the outdoor play equipment translates to the hardworking parents, the better we say!


    Enjoy your summer with your children and get in on the adventures!

  • Father’s Day at Wicken Toys


    As you may or may not be aware, Father’s Day is coming up!


    The 17th of June this year marks another occurrence of the tradition celebration of fatherhood and male parenting – what better time of the year is there for all those Dads out there to spend time with their kids?


    There’s a huge variety of activities that a father can take part in along with his child (or children), from a simple cinema visit to a day at the beach or a holiday.  We at Wicken Toys have a few additional suggestions in mind!


    Get your Dad up and moving with a game of table tennis with the Kettler Stockholm Indoor Table or the even more durable anti-dazzle Champ Indoor Table!  These two models come with everything you need to get started, including nets, bats and balls too.  A classic choice, table tennis is sure to put a nostalgic smile on the face of any father.  There are outdoor variations of both the Stockholm and the Champ tables so if you’re feeling optimistic about the summer ahead you can prepare with these weatherproof table tennis kits.




    We couldn’t go talking about Dads and not mention football.  There’s no more traditional or stereotypical a father/son bonding session than a kick around the back garden with a football.  Why not add that extra pinch of stadium realism by adding a TP Goal?


    Your little one can experience the thrill of a penalty shootout while Dad gets to relive his own childhood – after all, us adults are all just big kids at the core!  If you’ve got a little more room in your garden then consider going for a more authentic experience and moving up to a TP Giant Goal?  The larger size makes it more of a realistic challenge, and with the UEFA Euro 2012 tournament still ongoing there’s everything to play for!  Get your Dads and lads to don their favourite kits and battle it out on the turf.



    For more ideas, take a look around the Sports and Games section of our website.  Alternatively, if you feel your father would like to make the most of the (hopefully) long hot summer, check out our selection of Above Ground Pools and various inflatables so the younger ones can join in the fun too.


    Whatever you decide to do with your Dads, we at Wicken Toys wish them a happy Father’s Day, and hope you make the most of it!

  • Having fun in the outdoors with Wicken's outdoor toys

    Having fun in the outdoors with Wicken Toys

    Playing out in the fresh air with our children is so much fun. With growing health problems in Britain, the more exercise and fresh air they get, the better it is for them to keep them healthy. Wicken Toys has some fun outdoor toys to get children exercising and active from a young age. And that’s what it's all about: showing children that they can have fun in the outdoors away from the TV and games consoles.

    The TP Spiro Hop

    The Spiro Hop can provide endless entertainment and activity for children. This new ‘spin’ on the traditional seesaw will leave your children in a spin.

    If you have children of different ages and sizes, you can counterbalance them by moving the centre bar in the opposite direction.

    The feet of the Spiro Hop are padded and the seesaw can be moved indoors if the weather starts to get too severe for them to play outside. Spiro Hop has padded seats, which means that the kids can bounce up and down or spin around until they're too dizzy to continue. (Which will probably never happen!)

    This award-winning outdoor toy is a must-have for children that love frantic, crazy fun. Avoid if your children get motion-sickness.



    TP Super Goal with Trainer

    Goooooal! The TP Super Goal with Trainer is the outdoor toy to buy if your son or daughter is football mad and wants to get better and better. It’s a new model and comes with the Trainer to help them improve their aim and coordination for playing football. They can use it for target practice to improve their aim for the next big game at school; the Super Goal with Trainer also comes with nets behind the trainer holes to hold the balls in place when you score.

    TP Super Goal with Trainer is perfectly sized for the garden and comes with a guarantee against rust-causing failure that can impair some other outdoor toys. The nylon nets are also resistant to rot, meaning that your TP Super Goal with Trainer will score a hatrick on the longevity front.

    It comes with ground stakes for extra stability when your children are scoring super goals. Get this one if your children are footy-obsessed!

    TP Ballooppa

    Back on the football games for the great outdoors, the TP Ballooppa will have your children exercising and healthy without them even realising it. As an outdoor toy, this focuses on high-energy football practice, coordination and improving the players’ aim.

    TP Ballooppa is also a tethered sports toy. An adjustable 6m tether keeps the player from breaking your windows or garden furniture as they go for goals. The tether also stops the ball from flying off into the neighbours’ gardens or into the road near your house. It gives you complete peace of mind whenever your child is playing in the garden and that’s so important these days.

    Whatever your children love doing, Wicken Toys has some fantastically good outdoor toys that will keep them active and happy playing outdoors.

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