×

Registration

Profile Informations

Login Details

or login

First name is required!
Last name is required!
First name is not valid!
Last name is not valid!
This is not an email address!
Email address is required!
This email is already registered!
Password is required!
Enter a valid password!
Please enter 6 or more characters!
Please enter 16 or less characters!
Passwords are not same!
Terms and Conditions are required!
Email or Password is wrong!

outdoor play

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Valentine's Day Themed Fun For Kids

    Coming up with fun outdoor activities to keep small people entertained is a lot easier when you work with a theme.

    Thankfully there seems to be some sort of celebration or festival in just about every month of the year and February is no exception.

    Which brings us to Valentine’s Day. It’s probably not advisable to turf the kids outside and tell them to invent their own Valentine's themed games (unless you don’t mind them playing kiss chase all day). We’re here to rescue you, with a selection of V-Day games for all the family.

    1. Heart Hunting Cut some heart shapes out from coloured card and hide them all over the garden. Make the shapes smaller for older children. If you want to add a competitive edge you could leave a different colour out for each child, then have a timed race to see who can find all their hearts the quickest, or who can collect the most hearts within a set amount of time.

    2. You’ve Got Love Mail Set each child up with some pens and coloured paper and ask them to write a love letter, or draw a picture to each member of the family. You could even create a family postbox to put them in. Then when you are together, nominate a postman to empty the box and deliver the letters.

    3. Valentine’s Balloon Games Did you know you can buy heart shaped balloons? Well you can. So for an easy afternoon’s entertainment, buy a pack, blow them up and leave the children to use their imagination.

    4. Cupid’s Arrow Make a jumbo heart, with smaller outlines inside to use as a target. Tape it to the ladder on your slide or climbing frame so it’s held up by something sturdy. Then use foam bullet guns to shoot at it. Alternatively you could cut a heart shaped hole out of an old sheet, secure that in an upright position and try to throw balls through the gap.

    5. Valentine’s Sensory Play You could make a Valentine’s themed sensory play station. Use an old splash pool or a water play table and fill with anything pink, white and red. Water beads, jelly, shaving foam, food colouring, flour, anything that feels icky, is non-toxic and doesn’t stain. Put each ingredient in a separate cup and let the children experiment with different combinations.

    Often to get the party started (even if it’s just you and your kids in attendance) a small amount of structure and a gentle suggestion is all that is needed. You’ll probably find that your children quickly deviate from the activities you had planned. When this happens you should congratulate yourself for inspiring them, and take a moment to admire their fertile imaginations.

  • Best Outdoor Toys For 11 And 12 Year Olds

    #6 Outdoor Toys For 11 and 12 Year Olds

    As I plough on with this month’s series of posts dedicated to finding age appropriate outdoor toys, I’ve now hit the impossible-to-buy-for pre-teen years.

    There’s no denying it - creating this list isn’t going to be easy, but here goes.

    Something To Aim For After a stressful day at school your child ,may be seeking some solitude. Many jump straight onto the video games to flood their brains with something fun. The problem with this is that their brains have already spent the day being flooded with information and emotion, and what it really needed in the late afternoon was the opportunity to process and store what it has already taken in. This continued flooding will postpone processing time until the next time your child is busy doing nothing, which will most likely be bedtime. And trying to process a whole day’s worth of data in bed does not lead to a good night’s sleep

    An activity like shooting hoops will help your child unwind at the end of the day without over stimulating their tired mind.

    Netball or basketball hoops, or goals with targets on are great for providing a degree of challenge and something to aim for.

    Something To Share Have you ever noticed how when you go for a walk with someone you can often enjoy a deeper conversation than if you sit face to face. Enjoying an activity side-by-side takes the pressure of the participants, defuses conflict and makes conversational pauses more bearable.

    Make opportunities in your garden for these side-by-side interactions to take place. Working on the same flowerbed, sitting on neighbouring swings, or a large swinging hammock all work well, require little investment, and don’t take up too much space.

    These have the added bonus of being in your own back garden. If you have younger children it can be difficult to get time away from them to be able to connect with your eldest. Sharing an activity in your own garden means you are still at home for younger children, but your older child can benefit from your attention.

    Somewhere To Relax Nobody ever grows out of a swing. Well, we may one day become physically too wide for a swing, but in our hearts we still love to swing.

    But at the age of 11 and 12, swinging is about relaxation rather than thrill seeking. Now is a good time to swap that old plastic swing seat for something a little bigger and more comfortable, like a tyre.

    You should also check the maximum weight limit of the swing frame, and double check it is well anchored to the ground.

    We’re nearly at the finish line now. There’s just one last age category to look at - the teenagers.

  • Best Outdoor Toys For Nine And Ten Year Olds

    Around this age, the amount of space you have available really becomes an issue. They can run faster for longer, kick and throw further, and crave independence.

    In this fifth instalment into our outdoor toys for all ages series, we look at toys to encourage outdoor fun for 9 and 10 year olds.


    Liven Up A Walk With Weaponry

    If your children have reached the age where a family stroll brings on a barrage of moaning and feet dragging, it might be time to liven things up a bit.

    Take your family somewhere quiet, with an arsenal of toy guns and turn your gentle meander into a high energy shootout. You’re outdoors. You’re all moving about. And best of all, everyone’s happy.

    For added impact, cap guns really get the excitement levels up.

    If you take guns (like Nerf) that fire foam bullets, set some rules about bullet retrieval. Leaving bullets outside is littering, and they could be a danger to local wildlife. Count them all out, then count them back in again before you go home. Can’t find all the bullets? Then retrace your steps. No-one's getting a hot chocolate until every last bullet is accounted for.


    Upgrade Your Existing Climbing Frame

    If you’ve already got a swing set or climbing frame, you can upgrade the accessories to add a new level of challenge relatively easily. Many of the main manufacturers like Plum and TP Toys sell accessories that can be used instead of a swing. Older children will enjoy twirling on a spinning wheel, or challenging their upper body strength on a trapeze.

    A word of caution first though. Check the weight guidelines for your play equipment against your child’s weight. Ten year olds come in all shapes and sizes. Just because the swing is usually suitable for a 10 year old, doesn’t mean it is suitable for your ten year old.


    Keep Them Close With A Go Kart

    Remember when your child was little and you could let them ride their bike while you walked at a gentle pace alongside.

    And then that triumphant day came when they could ride without stabilisers.

    And for about 60 seconds you were so happy for them. Then you realised how fast they could ride, and that you would never be able keep up, and you slumped to floor muttering ‘what have I done? What have I done?’ (just me?).

    You can get back those laid-back four wheel days with a go-kart. They’ll can put plenty of effort into pedal power, racing round the block like Fernando Alonso, and you can march behind, because no matter how hard they try, they will never get that go-kart to go as fast as a bike.

    Parenting win!

  • Best Outdoor Toys For Seven And Eight Year Olds

    They’re bigger, stronger, filled with energy, and yet suddenly they seem a whole lot more interested in TV and video games than in running around outside with their friends.

    But with our help you can still lure your seven or eight year old back out into the garden.

    Climbing Frame

    Don’t have a climbing frame yet. still not sure. Procrastinate any longer and you will lose valuable play opportunities. Every day you spend thinking about it is another day your child could have been climbing it.

    Look for a climbing frame that offers challenging climb and scope to be played with in a variety of ways. For example the Plum Pyramid features a rock wall, climbing net and a camouflage den, making it a more attractive plaything for older children.

    Goal, Net, Hoop, Any Kind Of Target

    By this age children have grown in confidence when it comes to ball skills and will be playing games like football and netball in school. Installing a goal, net, basket or hoop at home provides the opportunity to practise shooting skills either with friends or even with mum or dad. There aren't many outdoor games parents will enjoy playing, not least because they would break the equipment (have you ever seen a grown man snap a swing in two? It’s not a pretty sight). But a ball and something to aim at is all that’s needed to pass a pleasant afternoon.

    All

    Swings

    By this age a child should be willing and able to swing themselves. You will still need to supervise from a safe distance. For tips on teaching your child how to swing solo check this blog post from the archives: Teaching your child how to pump the swing. Make sure you position your swing away from any structures that your child could hit while swinging back and forth, and out of the line of play. For example if your children usually run a certain way from the bottom of the slide to the back of the climbing frame, keep the swing clear of this route so they don’t run right into the feet of someone on the swing.

    Plum Gibbon Swing set

    Plum

    Messy Play

    You may imagine a water play table to be suitable for younger children, but older kids will get good use from it too. Children this age love to explore nature, collecting bugs and leaves. Use a water table to create a home from home habitat for their new best friends, before repatriating them back to their original hiding place at the end of the day.

    For more ideas on matching your outdoor play equipment to your child’s age and stage of development, check out the rest of January’s blog series.

  • Dreaming Of A White Christmas? Top Snow Play Alternatives

    There’s plenty on the blog about sledges, winter play ideas and snow-based fun, so we thought you’d be all set this December for icy activities. And then we saw the weather forecast.

    The long anticipated white stuff doesn’t look like it’s putting in an appearance anytime soon. For young children addicted to Frozen and conditioned by movies to believe it isn’t Christmas without a blizzard, this may come as a crushing disappointment.

    We can’t squeeze snow from the clouds, but we can help you cushion the blow with these top ideas for faking that wintery wonderland feeling.

    #1 Marshmallow Snowballs

    Marshmallows make a great snowball substitute. You can keep it simple by giving each player a small bag of fluffy marshmallows and letting them go all out. Or for older children (and adults, who will definitely want to be in on this game) set up a dodgeball-style game, where anyone hit with a marshmallow or has their throw caught, switches to the other team. Regardless of how you play, set a rule about not aiming above the shoulders. These are soft and fairly painless, but anything hitting you in the eye hurts so is best avoided.

    #2 Or Paper Snowballs This is a top game to play on Christmas afternoon. Take all that leftover, ripped, screwed up wrapping paper and put it to good use. Assign each player a stack of paper and allocate a set amount of time (5 or 10 minutes for them to create their own paper snowballs). Then let the mayhem begin.

    #3 Make A Snow Scene This is best done in a large tub, old splash pool or a water play table. Use some cheap bars of soap and grate to create realistic snow. Add dolls and action figures, those around 5 inches tall work best, to create a snow scene. Then your children can play in the snow on a small scale. #4 Fake Snow Sensory Bin This one also calls for a tub or similar container. Mix 3 cups of bicarbonate soda (you can buy it by the sack load online, much cheaper than buying from the baking aisle), with ½ cup of cheap hair conditioner to create fluffy, squishable, moldable snow. Add arctic creatures, and glass pebbles or marbles that have been cooled in the fridge to create a multi-sensory experience.

    #5 Sledge On The Beach Thanks to the long and slender nature of our island, a good number of our readers are positioned near to the coast. If your children are desperate for a sledge ride, and you have good upper body strength, head to the beach. You should be able to pull a sledge along the sand provided it is dry and not too stony. To really tire them out, get your children to team up and pull you along.

    For more fun and festive blog posts, go to the rest of the Wicken Toys blog.

  • Keep Off The Grass - What's Left Of It Anyway

    So how’s your lawn looking? The grass here is starting to look a little shabby, so I’ve been looking in to what I can do to restore it to its former glory, but also considering some permanent less muddy alternatives.

    Where’s The Grass Gone? So here’s what’s happened (well here at least anyway). It’s rained. A lot. Not torrential downpours, but a good regular sprinkling, often for a few weeks. So why has that ruined the lawn? Don’t we look at a grey day and muster the positivity to say ‘ah well, it’s good for the garden’? Well it’s not. Because the moisture has been readily available in the soil, the grass roots are shallow. They’ve had no need to reach down deep into the soil. So the grass isn’t very strong.

    Ideally in its fragile state it would be left to recover. No one would walk on it. And certainly no trucks would clip the edges of it. I think we both know that the grass here has not enjoyed that luxury. So after a little rough handling, many of the blades have abandoned ship, and what we’re left with is some muddy gloop (which at least I don’t need to mow).

    How To Fix It There’s good news. There is hope for a revival.

    And bad news. It’s likely to get worse before it gets better.

    As the cold weather sets in there will be frosts and maybe snow (Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!!!!). And then you / the children / the postman will stroll across, enjoying the satisfying crunch underfoot, totally oblivious to the fact that the fragile little grass blades are being decimated underneath.

    Then as the snow / frost melts, more water seeps into the soil.

    If your garden is lawn is looking as sorry a mine, it will seem unbelievable that it could get even more brown.

    So stay off the grass as much as possible. Even if that means having a polite word with the postman.

    Once the weather improves and spring is on the horizon, give the lawn a helping hand with some additional seed and plenty of fertilizer.

    Or Get Rid Of It For many families, simply staying off the grass is not an option. If you’ve invested in a climbing frame or other play equipment, you want your children to be able to play with it, even if it is at the expense of the grass. Even if half the lawn turns to mush, then gets tracked through the house.

    Artificial grass has improved massively in appearance in recent years, and is designed to withstand sporting activities and the British weather.

    Alternatively, if you’d rather avoid the faux appearance and commit to a non-grass-like appearance, there are a range of colourful rubberized play surfaces that can be laid instead.

    The most affordable way to make a big difference, is to install play surfaces in the areas around play equipment where the grass is currently taking the worst of the traffic. Then look after the lawn in the rest of the garden to keep the space looking green and natural.

  • Christmas Present Ideas To Inspire Outdoor Play

    It's the last day of November so by now you should be aware of the mominous tick-tock of the Christmas countdown clock.

    Is your Facebook feed stuffed with smug mum's celebrating Christmas shopping victory?

    Is your house already bursting at the seams with toys?

    Do you fear that the addition of another truckload of play things this festive season will cause your carefully organzied playroom storage system to buckle under the weight?

    Put your feet up with a nice hot chocolate and panic not - Wicken Toy have got this.

    This blog posts contains a list of ideal Christmas gifts for 2014.

    'What makes them so ideal?' - I hear you ask. Clever how the Internet works, isn't it? You think you're reading this in the privacy of your own home, when in reality I'm anticipating your every thought. Now where were we? Right, back to the idealness of our presents.

    1. They will make your kids go 'wowwwwwww' when they see them on Christmas morning. 2. They live in the garden / shed outside. Not inside your house. They'll be outside. Not taking up any space, because they are outside. 3. You can buy them by clicking a button on your computer. No need to drag your bones around the shops, elbowing other frantic parents out of the way in pursuit of the best bargain. Just point and click. And then your new outdoor toy will be delivered to your home.

    So enough with the tempting warm up waffle, here's the list.

    New Set Of Wheels

    Ketter

    In the colder weather, the trick is to keep moving, for parents and children. A new trike or balance bike gets children outside in the fresh air, and Mum & Dad have no choice but to trot alongside, so they get a good work out too. When it's time to come indoors and warm up, the bike / trike is stashed away in the garage or shed, taking up zero space inside your house.

    Messy Play

    TP

    Yes, that's a photo of a water play table, and no I haven't completely lost my mind. It's a little too chilly to be splashing about in the garden, but a water play table is a very versatile piece of play equipment. A water table can be used as the base for a range of different sensory activities. You can fill it with mud, sand, or even dry foodstuffs like pasta, lentils and barley. If you want to use it for water, bring it into the kitchen, then banish it back tot he shed when playtime is over.

    Their Own Home

    TP

    A playhouse stays out of your house and therefore requires no space at all. If you already have a toy kitchen, dinky table and other miniature version of real-life equipment, you can even migrate these toys into the playhouse and rediscover your living room carpet (briefly, before all the other new Christmas toys integrate with your existing collection).

    Got older children to buy for? Don't worry, we've got that covered in our next blog post.

Items 1 to 10 of 64 total

Page:
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. ...
  7. 7
My Cart

You have no items in your shopping cart.