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game ideas

  • Top Tips For Keeping Fit On Rainy Days

    There are plenty of blog posts and advice articles on how to keep kids entertained on a rainy day, but many are focused on craft activities or build dens.

    With the British winter on it's way, many parents fear being stuck indoors for days on end, because without plenty of exercise, their children go just a little bit bonkers.

    To help you prepare for the impending bad weather, and forthcoming half term, here are some simple ideas for keeping fit and active on rainy days.

    1. Puddle Stomping

    Unless your child is at risk of melting in the rain, it's not compulsory to stay indoors when wet weather strikes. For many children a pair of wellies and an umbrella are all that's needed to turn a miserable afternoon into puddle stomping revelry.

    2. Timed Treasure Hunt

    Take a collection of small toys, such as metal cars or action figures, and hide them all over the house. Run timed trials to see how quickly all the toys can be recovered. This will be messy but should burn plenty of energy. Adding the time is crucial. Most indoor activities are carried out a fairly leisurely pace. Add a timer to encourage an extra burst of energy and your children can enjoy a good workout while having fun.

    3. Dance

    Find the biggest space in the house and dance. Play musical statues, musical bumps, musical chairs. Jazz it up anyway you like, but get moving to the groove.

    4. Bring Outdoors In

    Some outdoor play equipment can be used indoors if you have enough space. Basketball nets and football goals can be moved indoors. Just remember to put away any precious belongings and substitute the balls for a small foam ball instead.

    Swingball

    Swingball poles with weighted bases rather than spikes can also be used indoors if you have a room large enough. Make sure you have space to swing the bat comfortably without knocking anything over.

    5. Fitness Videos For Kids

    If you don't have a DVD suitable for kids there are some very entertaining videos available on YouTube. Alternatively most of the major games consoles sell at least one exercise based video game for kids.

    6. Balloon Volleyball

    Divide a room in two using a ribbon or piece of string, blow up a balloon and enjoy a match of balloon volleyball. The balloon travels so slowly even little kids can join in, and because it is so light it's unlikely to cause any damage.

    7. Hula Hooping

    Ideal for expending short sharp bursts of energy, hula hooping can be exhausting. Best of all it doesn't require much space, and the equipment is super-cheap to buy.

    8. Unwind With Yoga

    Keeping fit doesn't have to be about sweaty foreheads and raised pulses. Yoga is a great way to increase strength and flexibility, key measures of overall fitness. For kid-friendly yoga instruction learn a few moves from YouTube videos.

    9. Indoor Snowball Fight

    Grab any (clean) used paper you have lying around and scrunch it up into snowballs. Create two bases and play an elaborate game of 'capture the flag' with paper snowballs as weapons.

    Fore more play ideas check out the other posts on the Wicken Toys blog.

  • Outdoor Games You Can Play In The Rain

    Mostly what you will find when you search for rainy day activities are a selection of crafts and games to keep your child occupied when they are stuck indoors on a rainy day.

    But there's no reason for rain to stop play: it's only a drop of water. Getting regular exercise is just as important for children during the colder months, especially if they have been kept indoors at playtimes due to the wet weather.

    Get you and your children suited up wellie boots and wet weather gear, and you can enjoy the fresh air and even the damp weather, with these outdoor play ideas from Wicken.

    1. Puddle Jumping On rainy days parents spend a lot of energy keeping their little ones feet dry and out of the puddles. But splashing about in these tiny pavement ponds is a huge amount of fun, so put on some wellies or old shoes that can be ruined, and go for a walk around your neighbourhood to find the biggest puddles you can. Make it into a game by calling out to your child which feet they should hop into the puddle with.

    2. Colour Yourself In If the weather is warm enough, send your children out in their shorts or swimming costume, and give them some damp chalk or bath crayons to draw all over their wet skin. When they've run out of room on their bodies, maybe the patio could be brightened up with some chalky artwork.

    3. Camp Out Pitch up a tent so you can still enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of being outdoors without getting wet. Add some cozy cushions and books to create a comfortable reading den. You could do this with a playhouse too.

    4. Boating Lake This works best if you set it up before a night of heavy rain. Put up your splash pool so it gets partly filled by the rain. Then make your own sail boats from old plastic bottles and set them loose on the water.

    5. Listen To The Rain Walk around your garden, and listen to the rain. Encourage your child to hear the between the rain falling on the grass, a patio, something plastic, a leaf. Collect some objects in the garden together, and listen to the rain falling on each one. Take turns holding an object up to the other person's ear, who must have their eyes closed, and see who can guess what it is just from the sound of the rain splashing on it.

    6. Float Or Sink You will need a big puddle, or your paddling pool for this one. Collect some small objects from the garden, then ask your children to make a prediction about which ones will float and which will sink, then put the objects onto the water one at time to test them out.

    7. Mud Pies Dig out some old bowls and spoons you no longer need cluttering up your kitchen and send the children out to make you a delicious mud based dinner: mud pie, mud soup, and even mud quiche decorated with flowers.

  • Fun Games To Play On A Trampoline

    A trampoline can bring hours of fun and exericse without you even needing to leave the house. And you can liven things up with these trampoline game ideas.

    Please bear in mind when you are playing these games that trampolines are designed to be used by one person bouncing at a time.

    Poison Balls One person is jumping on the trampoline, and another keeps time with a stop watch. Put two or three balloons. The player needs to bounce for as long as possible before they get touched by one of the poison balls.

    Simon Says A variation of Simon says, where this time the object of the game is to get the person on the trampoline to fall over. One player stands in the garden, and the other is on the trampoline. The player on firm ground demonstartes moves that the person on the trampoline has to copy. Count how many moves the person on the trampoline was able to complete before falling over, before the players switch over. The person on the trampoline should only attempt a a move once the person standing in the garden has successfully completed it.

    Sequences This is a great game to play with your child to help them develop their sequential memory. You stand in front of the trampoline and perform a movement, such as a jumping jack, then your child copies. Next you perform the first movement and add a second, and your child copies these two. Continue building on the sequence and see how many movements you can both string together.

    Bouncing Multiplication Ask your child to count their bounces in their head, then shout out when they hit a bounce that is on the 2, 5 or 10 times table. You can choose whichever times tables they are currently learning. To make it easier you could count out loud for them, and just have them shout out when they hit the multiple. You can make it more difficult by each of you taking a different times table so you will both be shouting about.

    Bouncing Alphabet / Counting For younger children you can encourage them to count up in ones on each bounce, or say each letter of the alphabet. For older childen try counting up in multiples, e.g. 2, 4, 6, 8. Multi-Tasking Play catch with your child while they bounce, or ask them to throw a small ball from one hand to another. By asking their brain to manage two tasks at the same time, they are learning to improve their brain processing power, almost like upgrading a computer.

    Bubble Bounce Blow bubbles above the trampoline (this works best if you or another child can sit on a climbing frame), and the child on trampoline needs to bounce as high as possible to pop the bubbles. Bouncing Twister Did you know you can use chalk on a trampoline mat? Test on a small area of the trampoline first, then check it washes off. Use chalks to draw different coloured shapes. Then instruct your child with a sequence of spots they need to bounce between.

    For new trampolines, safety nets and replacement parts, check out our trampoline section.

  • Outdoor Play Ideas To Get Kids Talking

    With September upon us, most children have headed back to school to fill their days with excitement and activities. And when you welcome them from the school gate, with open arms and, eager ears, keen to hear about the day's triumphs and distasters, you will most likely be greeted with an 'I don't know' or 'I can't remember'.

    Does this mean your child has spent the entire school day in a zombie-like state plonked in front of an educational video? Of course not. They have been busy playing with friends and learning something new. And while it is understandable that you want to hear all about the six hours you were apart, your child is not too keen on expending any more energy on the school day, by reliving it as they fill you in.

    Here's a few games and ideas to help you tease the information out that you are so desperate to hear.

    1. Play Schools You'll need to be subtle about this, bide your time, and wait until later in the evening or even at the weekend. Gather together all the soft toy animals and dolls you can find, and build your own school at home. If you have a playhouse in your garden you could even make a little sign, and mount a bike bell on the outside of the building. Let your child decide who is to be the teacher, and who are the pupils, and let them take the lead to see how this game will flow. Don't expect a word for word reenactment of a typical school day. However, you will see some of the highlights, and some of the strong characters that your child encounters, and this can provide a starting point for a conversation. For example, if your child rings a bell to signify lunch time, you can ask if there is a bell for lunch time at their school. Then ask another question about lunch time. Leave long pauses and your child will likely fill them with information about what they typically do during the school day.

    2. Get Swinging Sitting face to face to have a conversation can sometimes feel confrontational. Instead try sitting on swings next to each other, or you can stand behind and push their swing. The swinging motion will also help relax your child, ease of the stresses of the day, and make them more open to conversation.

    3. Play A Game Of Eye Spy Play a game of eye spy, then after each letter is answered, ask one question relevant to the answer that could be a conversation starter. Make sure you talk about lots of aspects of your child's life, not just school. School is a huge part of their life, so if you allow the conversation to flow you will eventually get to hear about their day away from you.

    4. Play Side By Side Many children simply need to reconnect with their parents before they are ready to have a conversation. Play quietly side by side in ther garden with whatever play equipment you have out there, let your child take the lead, and be attentive to what they are saying.

    As tempting as it may be, asking lots of questions is not the way to find out about your child's day. They will feel a lot of pressure, especially when you get frustrated by the inadequate replies and are more likely to shut down than open up. Take the time to be quietly present with your child and they will soon relax enough to share some interesting stories with you.

  • Upcycle Your Wellies

    As Autumn approaches, many parents have bought new school shoes, P.E. trainers, and wellies for the forthcoming wet weather. But what can you do with the outgrown wellie boots cluttering up your hallway? If they are in good enough condition you could sell them on, pass them on to a friend’s child, or give them to a charity shop. Sadly, after a year’s worth of puddle stomping, most boots are not in a fit condition to be used by a second owner. Here’s some creative ideas to save those rain boots from the dustbin, and give them a new lease of life.

    Homemade Clogs If the wellies have recently been outgrown, or were simply past their best, you can modify them into a new type of footwear, by cutting the leg part away, leaving the boot backless. This creates a pair of rubber clogs, perfect for temporary footwear when fetching something from the garden, or for stomping around the beach on the sand and in the water.

    Wellie Boot Planters If you get nostalgic at the site of your children’s outgrown shoes and clothes, then this one is for you. By using the wellie boots as garden planters you’ll be reminded of all the adventures those boots went on with you, everytime you look at them.

    You’ll need to puncture the soles of the boots to ensure sufficient drainage to cope with Britain’s wet climate.

    To provide some extra stability you can add a few stones, or even a little wet cement, before you add the soil.

    Garden Storage Abandoned boots make excellent light sabre holders, or tennis ball pots. They are the perfect, fun and quirky storage unit for those small toys that get lost amongst the lawn and foliage.

    Welly Wanging This is a made-up sport to test your child’s aptitude for javelin and shot put in later life. Take a welly, make sure everyone else is standing a safe distance away, and throw that welly as far as possible. A great stress buster for all the family.

    Obstacle Course Part fill the boots with sand, soil or wet cement, to add a little stability to them. They can then used as markers for a football obstacle course, or as obstacles to negotiate go-karts around.

    Homemade Pet Feeder Cut the toe off the boot, leaving the sole intact. Fill the boot with cat biscuits or food pellets. As the animal scoffs the food from the toe area, more biscuits will roll down to refill it. Stuff the remaining boot into the top to act as a lid.

    Family Scarecrow Gather up all the outgrown clothes you have and make a family scarecrow to guard your garden, with the boots as his footwear.

    Bling Them Up You could use the boots as a canvas and unleash your children’s creativity upon them. Stick on sequins, gems and ribbons, for some crafty upcycling. Once you’ve finished decorating, you can move the boots onto one of the projects listed earlier.

    For more creative outdoor play ideas, check out our blog.

  • Improve Bilateral Coordination In Your Back Garden

    Playing out in your back garden with the kids, isn't just about having fun. You might not notice it but you have a garden loaded with occupational therapy opportunities, which can help improve your child's performance in sports and academically.

    Bilateral What?

    Bilateral coordination is required when you use both sides of the body at the same time. This can happen in three ways: * When both sides are doing the same thing at the same time, like when you roll out pastry with a rolling pin; * When both sides perform the same motion, but alternately, like when you are walking or riding a bike; * When both sides of the body are required to do different things, for example when you are buttering toast.

    Bilateral coordination is required just about all the time, as there aren't many occasions when one half of your body is focused on a task, while the other half rests unoccupied.

    Why It's Important

    The best sportsman have excellent bilateral coordination. Your child may not have their sights set on a professional sporting career, but even so, their enjoyment of sport will be significantly enhanced if they are good at it. Developing skills such as bilateral coordination in separate activities goes along way towards improving your child's performance at any sport.

    But it's not just out on the playing field that bilateral coordination is important, it's employed in the classroom too. Reading, writing, art and scissor-work all require both sides of the body to work in harmony together, so that brain power can be diverted to the work in progress.

    Improving Bilateral Coordination At Home

    The way to develop this skill is to use it and practice it. That means performing sets of repetitive movements that replicate the three scenarios described above: both sides working together; alternating; or making different movements. Repetitive exercise is boring, so it's better to integrate them into fun games you can play for a few minutes every day in your own back garden. Here are some ideas to get you started.

    Both Sides Working Together: Using a swing; Throwing and catching a big ball with both hands; Jumping on a trampoline; Skipping if you jump with both feet together.

    Both Sides Alternating: Climbing the ladder to go down a slide; Swinging across monkey bars on a climbing frame; Pedaling a bike, trike or go kart.

    Each Side Making A Different Movement: Using a scooter; Tree rubbing, or rubbing a crayon on paper over any outdoor surface; During water play, holding a container in one hand, while using the other hand to pour water into it; Use large templates of pictures, shapes or letters, and colour them onto the patio or fence with chalk, as one hand needs to hold the stencil while the other uses the chalk stick.

    These are just a few ideas to get you started. Now you know what bilateral coordination is and how it develops, you will be spotting it in every day play. Isn't it fascinating how fun and games helps children develop the skills need for independent living.

  • Climbing Frame Inspired Games

    Don’t let your outdoor play equipment be neglected this summer. If the novelty of your climbing frame has started to wear off, inspire new interest in it with these game ideas.

     

    Ghost In The Graveyard

    For most fun, play this game after dark, but make sure you’ve picked up any stray toys littering the lawn first.

    Underneath the climbing frame is the haunted house. One person is nominated as the ghost hunter, and the rest are the ghosts. You all start-off in the haunted house then as the hunter starts counting to one hundred (or whatever number you decide), the ghosts run off and hide. Once the hunter begins their search, the ghosts need to run back to the safety of the haunted house without getting caught. The first person to be caught, or last person to get back safely is the ghost hunter next.

     

    Climbing Frame Bowling

    Set some cups up, open end down, like skittles on the platform of your climbing frame. The aim of the game is to bowl a tennis ball up the slide and knock down as many cups as possible. The skill comes from judging how hard to throw the ball: too soft and it won’t make it up the slide; too hard and it will shoot up in the sky, missing the cups.

     

    Crazy Golf Course

    Use your climbing frame as a huge prop in a back garden crazy golf course. If you have a sandpit under the frame you can use it as a bunker. Or place a cup at the bottom of the slide, and try gently tapping a ball down the slide and into the cup. For a competitive element, stick three cups or plastic flower pots, side by side, and write a points value on each one, then place the target at the bottom of the slide, and see who can score the most.

     

    Ladder Toss

    This is also known as golf ball ladder, or ladder bola. For this game you will need to make your own bolas: a piece of string around 4-6 inches long, with a weighted ball, usually a golf ball, on each end. The aim of the game is to toss the bola at the rungs of your climbing frame’s ladder, and you get a point for every bola that wraps itself around a rung and stays put. You can add a little maths work to the game by assigning a points value to each rung.

     

    Cornhole

    To set this old fashioned cowboy game up you will need an old bed sheet, with a few holes, about 4-6 inches wide cut into it. These are targets, so feel free to decorate them with paints and assign points values to each one. Then secure the sheet to the open side of your climbing frame, making sure the sheet is pulled taut. The aim of the game is to toss beanbags or tennis balls through the holes. If the weather is good, you could leave this set up all through the summer holidays.

  • Literacy Games To Play In Your Garden

    The Summer holidays is a time for fun, rest and relaxation, but it’s important to keep little brains active, so there’s not too much relearning to be done when they go back to school in September.

     

    Nobody wants to be sat at the kitchen table with a workbook on a sunny day, so take their home education outside with these tips for learning outdoors. A change of scenery and the extra sensory stimulation provided by being outside helps facilitate learning.

     

    Letter Collages

    Take squares of cardboard and use double sided sticky tape to mark out a letter on each card. Then go outside and hunt for natural material to stick to the tape and watch the letter emerge. This works really well with cut grass, daisies and dandelion clocks.

     

    Story Walk

    Have you ever played the game ‘consequences’ where each player adds another paragraph in turn to the story? Go on a walk outside together, with each person taking in turns to tell a part of the story. Count out 20 paces, then stop and be inspired by something you see and say the first paragraph of the story. After another 20 paces, the next person looks around for inspiration and adds a little more to the tale.

     

    Take A Book Outdoors

    Take a favourite story outside and challenge your little ones to come up with the most unusual perches in the garden for reading. Maybe they will sit on a swing, or hide under the slide. It is just as important for young children to develop a love of stories and reading, as it is for them to learn technical skills such as phonics. You could make a reading den by securing a blanket over the climbing frame and filling the space with comfy cushions to relax on.

     

    Eye Spy Phonics

    Play a game of eye-spy, but instead of using the starting letter, use phonic sounds. Once your children are familiar with the game you can change the position of the sound, for example “something with ‘oo’ in the middle”.

    Sequencing

    Learning to recall sequences is an important skill for literacy and numeracy. Go for a walk around your neighbourhood and note down landmarks in the order in which you see them. Then play a game where you recall your walk, one landmark at a time: “We went to the shops and we saw a red post box”, then the next person says “we went for a walk and we saw a red post box, and then we saw my school”, and so on.

     

    Punctuation Hunt

    Look around your garden for objects and natural materials that look like punctuation marks. You might even find some letter shapes too.

     

    Idioms And Metaphors

    For older children, playing outdoors provides the opportunity to discuss idioms and metaphors. You could start by collecting some materials together, then attributing an idiom (an everyday saying) to each one. For example, a stone would become ‘stone the crows’, and you can explain (or look up) where that expression comes from and what it means.

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