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Garden Swings

  • Commonwealth Games In Your Own Back Garden

    This year the start of the Summer holidays coincides nicely with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

    Tempting though it may be to flop out on the sofa while your children are immersed in vidoe games, there's a whole lot of fun to be had when you play together outside.

    Kick-off your Summer break with these fun ideas for bringing the Games to your back garden.

    Fitness Training

    To excel at any form of sport, children must first develop the basic sporting skills of running, jumping, throwing and catching, balance and cooridnation.

    Elite runners don't hone there skill by running alone. They develop a range of skills to support their chosen sport through an extensive training programme.

    In the same way, for your child to attack a sport, they need first to be equipped with these skills.

    Set up an obstacle course in the garden incorporating your slide or climbing frame, and practice running the course and improving the time taken to complete it. This is a fun way of testing stamina and exercising all the main muscle groups.

    Improve coordination skills by playing in pairs. Throw a ball to each other, taking a step back after every successful catch, to increase the level of challenge. Or play a tennis rally, seeing how many times you can successfully hit the ball between each other.

    Younger children, or the young at heart, can chase and catch bubbles, either clapping them between their hands, or balancing them on the bubble wand.

    You should also develop a warm-up routine with basic stretches. Your children might already use one at the start of their PE lessons so this is their chance to teach you something.

    Commonwealth Back Garden Games

    If you have access to a park or beach, those are great places to re-enact the Commonwealth Games, as there is plenty of space to run, jump and throw things. If you don't mind the children having a later bedtime, head out around tea time when there will be less people around, and you can enjoy the space to yourselves.

    If you don't have a wide open space nearby, you can host Commonwealth Games style activities in your back garden, with these events especially adapted for smaller spaces.

    1. 20m Narrow Track Sprint You know runners have to stay between the lines right? Doesn't that look just a little too easy? Liven things up by making the lines really close together. In order to stay in lane your athletes will need to concentrate hard. Space the athletes a few feet apart, but make each track lane no wider then 4 inches. They will need to put one foot in front of the other, as if balancing on a tightrope. This will test speed, balance, coordination and patience.

    2. Super Safe Discus Hold a discus / shot put style throwing event, using a bean bag instead. You don't need as much space and it won't hurt if someone gets in the way of the flight path. You can measure each throw if you like, or mark out score zones and total up points. Either way this is a great way of incorporating some maths into your sporting afternoon.

    3. Long Jump Use cushions, pillows, blankets, whatever you can find to soften the landing. Use coloured tape to mark out distance lines, with each zone scoring a certain number of points.

    Hopefully these ideas have inspired you to create your own sporting events for the back garden.

  • Swing Set Maintenance Tips

    Adding a swing set to your garden can provide your children with hours of fun and relaxation. Whether they want to gently rick back and forth watching the world go by, or energetically reach for the clouds, a swing is a great investment for outdoor fun.

    Keep your swing set safe, and help extend its useful life with these top tips for play equipment maintenance.

    Plum

    1. Coping With Cold Snaps During a harsh cold snap, outside temperatures may drop below freezing. Check the temperature tolerance level in the manufacturing handbook. Although all the plastic component on our swing sets are suitable for use outdoors, their integrity may be compromised during extremely cold weather. If possible detach the plastic swing set and store indoors until the temperature improves. Also be aware that in cold temperatures the ground will be very hard. If you don't have safety matting underneath the swing set, a fall onto this harder ground can cause injury. 2. Metal Maintenance Whenever two metal components are in contact with each other, a small amount of oil will help keep them moving smoothly. Your manufacturer's information booklet should provide details of which parts require oiling, and when. Our metal swing sets constructed from galvanized steel or aluminium do not need any additional corrosion protection, and as a result and almost maintenance-free. 3. Wooden Components Our wooden swing sets are constructed from pre-treated timbers, which means they are ready to use immediately after assembly. Help keep the wood in good condition by ensuring it is not exposed to a continuous flow of water, for example from an overhead leaking gutter, and that any debris such as moss or soil is removed, as this could trap water against the wood, encouraging rot.

    4. Safety Area If you have used safety mats beneath the swing set, carry out a periodic inspection to ensure they haven't crept away from their intended location.

    5. Nuts and Bolts Over time, nuts and bolts may wiggle themselves use. This can damage the swing set as component parts are given the freedom to rub against each other. Check them over regularly, for example once a month, to check they are tight enough. Also look out for signs of rust. If a bolt rusts through it is no longer structurally secure, and can be very difficult to remove, so it's better to replace it at the first sign of trouble.

    6. Smooth And Safe Whether the swing set is made from wood or metal, all the surfaces should be smooth to the touch. Look out for any sharp edges that could snag clothes or scratch skin.

    7. Seat and Chain Inspection When inspecting the seat and chain, pay particular attention to the point at which the chain attaches to the frame, and where the chain links to the seat. Also look for any cracks in the plastic of the seat, as it will need to be replaced immediately. 8. Do It Yourself Our swing set frames are designed for use with the swing seats supplied, any any other manufacturer supplied attachment. Please do not modify the set with your own additions such as car tyres, or by looping chains over the cross-bar, as this will impact on the safety of the play equipment.

    All of our swing sets come with a manufacturer's guarantee and are designed to be as maintenance-free as possible. If you have any questions or would like further information about caring for play equipment from Wicken Toys, please contact us.

  • 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.

    TP

    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.

  • How To Build A Soldier Training Ground In Your Garden

    If weather forecasts are to be believed, your back garden won't be drying out anytime soon. If your children are experiencing cabin fever from being bound, gagged and deposited in front of Cartoon Network, then it's time to get outside and embrace the mud.

    And what could be muddier than your very own army assault course. Be warned. This is only for mud-friendly families who can cope with the epic volume of laundry this project will create.

    Here are some obstacle ideas for creating a challenging assault course in your garden.

    1. Slide Climbing How many times have you told your children to climb the ladder and come down the slide, and NOT the other way around. It's time to eat your words, and challenge them to scale this mountain face however they can. Maybe they will sit down and wiggle backwards, or perhaps they'll scramble up on hands and knees.

    2. Camo Netting If you don't happen to have an army camouflage net hanging around, some old curtains or bedding that you don't mind getting completely ruined should do the trick. Weight it down around the edges with sand bags, or nail tent pegs through the corners (make sure they are pushed deep into the ground to avoid injury).

    3. Tire Run Old tires make a versatile addition to kids' play spaces. You can instruct the children to step through one whole at a time, or walk along the edges when the tires are lying down, or hold a tire upright to crawl through.

    4. Ladder Run Use sticks to mark out a ladder, or lay a rope ladder on the floor. On the way out, step between the rungs, and on the way back, jump into the spaces two footed.

    5. Spider's Web Use a ball of wool or string, and wrap it between the posts of your swing set, climbing frame, or whatever else is to hand, to create a complex web that requires skill, precision and patience to negotiate.

    6. Balance Beam Prop a plank of wood up at either end on bricks or old tires, to build an instant balance beam.

    7. Tin Can Alley If it's not too windy outside, you can load up a foam bullet gun, and shout down drinks cans. For added excitement draw points scores onto each can.

    8. Soft To Rescue Hide a stash of soft toys behind enemy lines. Your child's mission is to find the toys, stuff them into a backpack, and complete the rescue mission by returning them to safety.

    9. Homemade Tunnels Cut a circle out on either side of a large cardboard box to create a tunnel. If you can get your hands on more than one similarly sized box, you can tape them together to create a longer tunnel.

    Time how long it takes each child to complete a lap, and keep a note of their best results.

    10. Invest In A Permanent Fixture

    This Pyramid climbing frame from Plum provides a permanent obstacle course in your back garden. There are three ways to scale to the top: a wooden ladder; a rock climbing wall; and a scramble net. Thick camouflage canvas either side creates a dark, sheltered hideaway underneath. Perfect for adventurers and explorers.

  • Teaching Your Child How To Pump The Swing

    That's quite an American expression, but 'how to swing a swing' didn't sound right either.

    Like learning to ride a bike, or tie your own shoelaces, learning to pump the swing is an important milestone on your child's journey to adulthood.

    As I've just found out myself, it can be a little heartbreaking to find that you are no longer required to push the swing, and my biceps are certainly going to miss the work out.

    Writing a post about the benefits of owning a swing earlier this week had me wondering how children learn to push the swing themselves, and if there is anything their parents can do to help them with that.

    Independence Is Good As tempting as it is to keep pushing your child on the swing, maybe because you enjoy the physical connection, or because it's nice to be needed, there are good reasons to step away and allow your child to figure it out themselves. Firstly, they will get lots more physical exercise when they become their own motor and get those legs pumping back and forth. Secondly, the action of moving their legs in unison, helps develop bilateral co-ordination, the skill needed when the two halves of the body need to work together to achieve one goal.

    Is Your Child Ready To Go Solo? Pushing your child to do something before they are either physically or mentally ready for it is a real recipe for disaster. If your child is used to swinging in a protective bucket seat, they will need to the used to the sensation of having less support, and the importance of holding on with both hands. Try your child out on the swing seat, with your gently pushing, so they may become accustomed to keeping their balance. This may take a few attempts, and don't push too high, as at some point your child will test the need to hold on by attempting one, or even no-handed swinging, before falling off. Set A Good Example Many children learn best when they have had the chance to watch someone else ride a swing first. Watch some other people in the park, and narrate their swinging motion, or jump on a swing yourself, and call out when you are kicking out and tucking in.

    Getting Started For little legs it can be very difficult to get a swing started, and without any support, figuring out the appropriate timing of kicking out and tucking in is pretty much impossible. If the seat is low enough to the ground, show your child how to put their foot out and kick-off to get themselves started. If that's not possible, then offer a gentle push to get them going. Then begin calling out what they should be doing with their legs. Make It A Game You are most likely going to feel pretty stupid standing outside calling out 'kick out, tuck in' over and over again. Take the silliness to a new level by pretending that you are an RAF parachute instructor. Before the swing takes off, ask your child to give you a ground-based demonstration of the moves they will be expected to carry out. Then once airborne issue instructions in your best Queen's English. Throw in the odd 'tally hoh' and 'permission to take=off' and you'll both be in fits of giggles.

    Browse or selection of swing sets available to buy online for delivery direct to your home>>>

  • A Positive Swing For Childhood Development

    A swing set is such a simple piece of play equipment, but can bring hours of joy, and improvements to your child's well-being, making it a great investment for your garden. Physical Benefits Outdoor exercise provides the opportunity to gently increase the heart rate, and breath in plenty of fresh air. Pumping the swing burns calories and works quadriceps and hamstrings as your child's legs pump back and forth. Whether your child is self-powered or is enjoying being pushed by you, the simple act of keeping balance and not falling off, is working their core muscles around the back and abdomen which are essential for maintaining good body posture, as well as working the shoulders, neck and arms.

    Encourage your child to stretch their legs right out as they swing, to elongate the muscles which can help with growing pains. They should also hold their back straight to help develop good posture, and allow them to fully expand their lungs, and fill them with fresh air. For much of the day, slumped in a school chair, your child will be using breathing inefficiently, and not using their lungs to their full capacity. Taking deep breaths outdoors, while exercising outdoors on the swing can improve alertness and induce a feeling of relaxation.

    By pumping the legs together, your child will be developing their bilateral co-ordination skills, which are essential for enabling both halves of the body to work together to achieve a task. Emotional Benefits The simple, repetitive nature of swinging allows children the opportunity to let their mind wander and process what they have learned throughout the day. It can also be a great way to burn off any frustrations, while enjoying the pleasure of a cool breeze rushing past. If your child does not usually want to talk after time at school, or in childcare, you may find the conversation flows more easily if you are enjoying a swing together.

    Plum

    Social Benefits Since the swing is outside, this exposes the child to nature, and usually to other children, prompting exploration of the world around, them as well as play and interaction with others. Swinging also provides the opportunity for teamwork and sharing, if you have one swing that needs to be shared; or communication and mimic skills, if you have two swings that the children can swing in time, or in opposing time on.

    Sensory Stimulation Swinging back and forth provides powerful stimulation for the child's vestibular system, the sense that tells them where their body is in relation to space and gravity. The vestibular system is a vital to a child's development of muscle tone, and movement, and having this system work well helps children feel confident in their physical abilities, and secure in their environment. Further sensory stimulation is provided by the noise in the surrounding outdoor environment, and through the rapid movement of air across the skin. Exposure the this type of stimulation helps your child practice rapid processing of information, which will help them respond to new situations more quickly, and cope with very stimulating environments, such as the school dinner hall, or a crowded public place.

    Browse our range of swing sets available to buy online now.

  • What's the Easter Bunny got in store for your garden?

    Well who can believe we're already in to March almost and that Easter is but a few weeks away!

    If you're thinking of ways to inspire the children over the holidays then Wicken Toys can help! We all know the British weather can be challenging but Easter (even if the sun isn't quite shining) is  a fantastic time to get outside and enjoy the Spring!

    Whether it's having a game of footie in the garden or if you want something a little more grand, then we've got some inspiring ideas to get you thinking!

    Now, if you remember back when you were young, how much fun was the humble slide?  As a great activity and for some mini thrills, a slide is a wonderful way to encourage your children to be outside enjoying the fresh air. With a hint of trepidation at the steps, the ultimate result is always laughter or an exciting scream as the little ones make their way down to the bottom.

    Continue reading

  • Playtime paradise - create a play park in your back garden

    Sometimes you drag the kids to the local play park and other times, they drag you! How about you make it easier on everyone... bring the play park to your home! It’s not that big a proposition or even that expensive a venture.

    What constitutes a basic children’s playground or park?

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  • Outdoor play - keeping kids fit and active in the winter

    Winter is often a time when kids don't feel inclined to play outdoors. It is far more appealing to them to stay in their rooms and play video games or watch TV than to venture out into the cold yet magical world awaiting them outside. Playing outdoors is not as bad for your little ones as they'd have you believe. Providing they are wrapped up warm in winter coats, hats and scarves, and remain active while they are outside, then outdoor play can help your children stay fit and actually keep them warm.

     

     

    So in today's blog we thought we'd look at some great toys and activities to keep your little playing ones outdoors in the magical winter weather.

    Sledging

    Sledging may be an obvious one but if we continue to have the kind of weather we've been having of late then a sledge or toboggan will provide hours upon hours of outdoor fun for your children. Remember you can never be too soon when it comes to buying a sledge. It's always better to be pre-emptive than for your child to miss out when the snow finally arrives.

    Climbing frames

    A climbing frame is always a popular outdoor plaything. In the wintertime, clambering on one of these play structures will not only keep your little ones fit and active but also give them a great vantage point from which to view their wintery surroundings. A climbing frame can not only help your child's sense of balance and coordination but also help expand their imaginations as they imagine it is a spaceship or moon base.

    Trampolines

    A trampoline is perhaps the most energetic way to keep warm and active whilst outdoors. The simple act of bouncing up and down outdoors is perhaps as magical and transformative as snow itself. Indeed, it's probably as close as your children will come to the magical act of flying that is so prevalent in children's storybooks and indeed their own imaginations.

    Garden swings

    This feeling of flying is mirrored in the classic garden swing. Children can occupy themselves for hours pushing each other back and forth. A swing is a classic for a reason. Swinging is quite simply, one of the most fun outdoor activities ever! Children love to play on the swings because of magical feeling of flying through the air. Likewise, unlike many children's play activities its one that adults can really feel a part of. As a parent you will be more than appreciated for taking up that all important role of "the pusher".

    So when it comes to wintertime, outdoor play is often a good thing for your children. Helping them to keep fit and active as well as developing their imaginations. Indeed, here at Wicken Toys, we are great advocates of outdoor play for this reason. It gets children away from the TV or games console and enables them to use their imaginations in creative role playing games. Outdoor plays are not only versatile but can also feed your little ones' imaginations; encouraging them to become cowboys, wizards and spacemen and to utilise their surroundings in a way that is good for both body and mind.

  • Outdoor toys – the best investment for your childrens’ health and development

    Outdoor toys – the best investment for your child's health and development

    When it comes to toys, you really can’t beat outdoor toys! Aside from being fun they offer so much by way of development for your children.

    Outdoor toys can be purchased in different designs and of course have different purposes. So whether you need a swing for the little one or an exciting climbing frame to keep them busy, you will always be investing in your childrens’ health and well-being.

    Staying indoors day after day is an all too tempting option. Even as adults we can often choose the TV over exercise, but the truth is, energy and keeping fit starts when we’re children so it’s good to create an environment where it’s the norm to keep busy!  Outdoor toys foster growth in all different ways for children. They can help children learn to play with others, they can help them learn about sharing or decision-making and even improve their co-ordination. And just because it’s January does not mean that it’s too early either. Getting outside can often help to keep the bad germs at bay and will help your child to build up a good resistance to the bugs that go around so often.

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