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Playhouses

  • Best Outdoor Toys For Five And Six Year Olds: What School Aged Child Wants In Their Garden

    This is the third post in January’s series about which outdoors toys are best suited for each age and stage.

    In this post we’re looking at the play equipment 5 and 6 year olds will enjoy playing on.

    A Mention For Milestones

    Around this age children are able to climb and use a slide comfortably, keen to play together and some may be able to use a swing without an adult’s help.

    Choosing the right toys for this age is a careful balancing act. The play equipment needs to be enjoyable to play with, yet at the same time offer scope for learning and an appropriate level of challenge.

    Invest In A Climbing Frame

    This is a great age to invest in a climbing frame. Choose a high quality wooden climbing frame and you will get many years of use from it, and hundreds of hours of play.

    Look for a frame that offers opportunities to swap accessories in and out. These small, inexpensive changes will help keep your child interested in the climbing frame, and enable you to update the features to match your child's developmental ability.

    For example, for a five year old you might start out with a frame that as a simple step ladder. as your child gets older this will become easier and easier for them to use. By about the age of seven, you could swap the ladder for metal rungs or a rock wall. Then a year or two later update it again with a climbing net. If you have a climbing frame in mind and want to discuss the accessory option, please contact us and we can talk you through what’s available.

    Funtime

    Some climbing frames with swing arms also allow you to swap the swings out for other hanging toys like a trapeze or rings. This is great for updating the climbing frame as your child gets older, but also enables you to adapt the frame if you have children of wide variety of ages.

    Being Sociable

    As previously mentioned, at this age children become more interested in playing together and enjoying each other's company.

    Some climbing frames can have gliders or boats attached to them so that two children can swing together. The benefit of these types of swing is that parents have the opportunity to listen in on conversation the children are having while they gently push the glider, which will no doubt include some priceless gems.

    As their hand-to-eye coordination develops they may also enjoy a swingball set. Gently batting a ball back and forth provides the opportunity to play with a friend or a parent and enjoy a conversation at the same time, something that five and six years olds are very keen on.

    Although they may need to duck to get through the door, at this age many children still enjoy playing in a playhouse. You can update the look as your child gets older to keep them interested. For example, the playhouse may start out as a cosy miniature home but with the addition of some camouflage netting, green paint and Nerf guns it can become an army barracks for older children.

    All

    For more outdoor toy ideas check out the rest of January's series on matching play equipment to your child's age.

  • Best Outdoor Toys For Preschoolers: What Three and Four Year Olds Want To Play With

    This post is part of January’s series of guides on which outdoor toys are suitable for each age range.

    The first post in the series looked at toddlers. Now it’s time to turn our attention to a more feisty bunch - preschoolers.

    A Word About Developmental Milestones For 3 And 4 Year Olds

    All children develop at different rates, but as a general rule between the ages of three and four most children reach the developmental milestones described below. Understanding what your child is currently capable of and what they will be learning next is a great start on your quest to find outdoor toys that are both engaging and challenging.

    Milestone: Playing Ball Games

    Around this age children learn to catch and throw a ball. Start out with a big but relatively light ball (a football will likely knock them clean over). Keep a stock of different sized balls in the garden as learning to cope with the variety will help develop their ball skills.

    Milestone: Make And Recreate Shapes

    All you need to facilitate this huge learning leap is chalk and a willingness to watch your back garden and patio be covered in scribble. Another fun way to incorporate mark-making into play is by providing a paintbrush and water on a sunny day and have your preschooler make shapes on the fence then watch as it dries out and disappears like magic.

    Milestone: Follow Three Part Commands

    Ideally a four year old would be able to remember three steps and carry them out without prompting. This will be an essential skill once they have started school as instructions from the teach may come in multiple stages and they will be expected to work independently.

    You can help your child develop this skill through play. Start with two commands (go down the slide then hop on one foot, for example) then add another, and another. You could turn it into a game by timing them, or seeing how many instructions they can string together, or what commands they remember from one day to the next.

    3 And 4 Year Olds Love Role Play

    This is the age when the world of fantasy really comes alive for children. They want to be just like mum and dad, and they will play with anything that gives them the opportunity to act out these roles. Play kitchens, ironing boards, ride in cars, anything that replicates the adult world in preschooler size will be a big hit.

    This is a great age to buy a playhouse. To your little preschooler this small addition your garden will be a perfectly proportioned portal to a whole world of imaginative play.

    Plum

    For added interest, we sell playhouses mounted on stilts that have a slide to play on and a challenging ladder to climb.

    The rest of this series on choosing the right outdoor toys for your child's age will be published throughout January.

  • Wicken Toys for the imagination: climbing frames and playhouses

     

    Children have very active imaginations throughout their childhood. You will often hear them playing role-play games and escape to exciting worlds with the help of just one simple toy.

    Imaginary play is a brilliant tool for brain development as well as social skills and creativity. Moreover, this type of very creative play is favourably very physical as they can spend hours running around the garden; however, with the continuous introduction of exciting, smart, new technologies, imaginary play is becoming a decreasing occurrence among westernised households where we are lucky to have televisions, laptops, game consoles, mobiles, and iPods. These mostly demand all of our attention for their screens which makes them a lazy, passive learning process, and a form of entertainment that lacks in physical movement.

    Here at Wicken Toys, all of our products showcase the vast possibilities for imaginative play, especially for the outdoors. We believe that it is very important to stimulate young imaginations and get them into the fresh air outside more often.

    In this blog post we’re going to take a look at some of our most imaginative and exciting toys that will help to draw your children away from the television screen and into the garden.

    Our All Out Play climbing frames and playhouses (in some cases, these combine to create one magnificent piece of outdoor play equipment) have some very interesting designs. Pictured below are the All Out Play Fort and All Out Play Climbing Den and Playhouse. The fort (below) is a smaller playhouse compared to its much larger relative, but it is still an excellent fort all the same. It has arched doorways, flagpole, arrow slit windows, and even crenellations to hide behind.

    All Out Play Fort playhouse

    It won’t be long before you have dragons flying around your home and medieval armies marching straight for your house, so hide behind the battlements and get your arrows ready!

    All Out Play climbing den and gatehouse set

    The All Out Play Climbing Den and Playhouse Set could turn into anything; a jungle hut, swamp hut, castle fort, or a tree house. Playhouses like these allow children to do many fun, physical activities like crawling, climbing, sliding, swinging, and hiding. As you can see there are three main components: connecting bridge, gatehouse, and den. There is a place for everyone: the knights, the guards, and even the damsels in distress.

    Another one of our favourite themed pieces of outdoor play equipment is the TP Forest Pirate Galleon.

    All Out Play Pirate Galleon

    It has all of the important features that you would expect from a Disney pirate ship: pirate sails, deck seating area, ladder, captain’s cabin, ships wheel, and gang plank. Many fantastic characteristics to keep even a large group of birthday party guests entertained whilst they journey around the oceans of the world.

    Click one of the following links to browse through the rest of our outdoor play equipment ranges.

    Climbing frames, playhouses, swings, slides, trampolines, wheeled toys.

  • Shelter from April showers

     

     

    Rest assured once Easter has passed, it isn’t long before you hear sudden bursts of rain splashing against your windows and bouncing of the rooftops. April means April showers and your children will now have to prepare for very fast transitions between sunshine and heavy rain as they play in the garden.

    There is a way for your children to continue playtime outside and avoid becoming drenched by April showers. Have you ever considered adding a playhouse or two to your collection of outdoor play equipment?

    Wicken Toys’ selection of outdoor climbing frames and playhouses boasts many designs with excellent shelter; a great solution to all of your children’s April shower concerns.

    In this blog we’ll be taking a look at a couple of our favourite shelters in the form of outdoor playhouses and outdoor climbing frames. Lots of these have exciting features incorporated into the designs such as slides, ladders, rock walls, windows, and even climbing nets and hoops.

    Our wooden climbing frames and wooden playhouse come in a variety of fun shapes and sizes, some of which have a theme like our All Out Play Rocket. With this your kids could end up flying to the moon and back; all in a day’s work (and remain dry).

    All Out Play Rocket

    The All Out Play Rocket’s hexagonal shaped roof is durable enough to last through the worst of April showers with its tough hardwood and marine plywood. Additionally, all of the fixings are either galvanised or stainless steel to help avid unsightly rust and corrosion.

    Inside there is also another floor level to climb up to.

    inside of the All Out Play Rocket

    Another one of All Out Play’s playhouses is this simpler design called the jungle hut. It is small enough to be tucked away at the bottom of the garden and will make a brilliant little den for planning all of those garden adventures. This has the same precautionary features to weather any amount of rain and the same tough hexagonal roof as the Rocket.

    All Out Play Jungle Hut

    Our TP products range also has playhouses and wooden climbing frames with excellent shelters and plenty of entertainment.

    This TP Forest Lodge comes with its very own verandah and a 1.8m green slide. The stilts ensure that the lodge is kept away from the wet mud and big puddles.

    For a larger verandah and platform, the next TP model up will suit. This is the TP Forest Villa 2 which will be a great option to last many April showers.

    TP Forest Villa 2

    Contact us for more information about our playhouses, wooden climbing frames, and all kinds of other garden toys. We can provide you with advice as to which product may suit your garden and children best.

  • Climbing frames for real climbing

    From a young age, children have an urge to climb no matter what environment they are in: trees, fences, walls, the back of the sofa, and all sorts of other things that they shouldn’t climb in and out of the house. Why not present your kids with a brand new climbing challenge?

    There are many climbing frames in the Wicken Toys outdoor play equipment and garden toys selection.

    The physicality of climbing makes it a very beneficial exercise for children. This is why we make sure that our climbing frames provide an exciting challenge that is waiting for them when they arrive home from school.

    There are many benefits of outdoor play equipment with climbing walls; even if it is only a very small one.

    Body strength and core muscle strength will soon increase after a few months of climbing. Your child will gradually develop a lean muscle build and tone. Ultimately it is a physical workout for the whole body whereas a lot of other sports just concentrate on certain areas.

    Additionally climbing walls also improve balance, flexibility, and coordination. Although it may only seem physical there is a lot of thought required for climbing as you have to look ahead and plan your route up the wall; much of which depends on your strength, balance, and reach. It is a great achievement for your child to experience when they finally reach the top of the wall.

    Climbing may seem like a daunting sport to introduce your kids to, but they don’t have to climb actual rock faces or conquer mountains straight away. You don’t even have to get them involved in an indoor climbing club either. Start off with one of our frames with a small ‘rock’ wall.

    Playtime Easton Tower

    Our Playtime Easton Tower has a large rock wall leading up to a large 1.5m high play platform. As you can see, the green holds are accompanied with a rope to help children reach the platform. The wall isn’t on a vertical angle so this would be a great choice for introducing your children to how exciting climbing can be.

    We also have this wonderful All Out Play Climbing Centre which looks like a castle. The large rock wall on several sides means that your kids have the option to traverse around the fort as well as heading upwards.

    All Out Play Climbing CentreTP Kingswood Top Deck Climbing Frame Set 2

    Similarly, this TP Kingswood Top Deck frame presents more of a challenge with its tall, vertical rock wall.

    Take a look at the rest of our climbing frames. There is bound to be at least one which will be a suitable size for your garden and keep your children away from the television for hours.

    Feel free to contact us for more information about our products.

  • Start planning your next Easter egg hunt now

    We’re certain that there were many outstanding Easter egg hunts last Easter weekend. Although Easter is now finished for another year, why not start planning 2014’s early and make sure it is going to be the best ever eggs-travaganza?

    To begin planning an Easter egg hunt that the Easter bunny would be proud of, you will need to consider certain features that will ensure optimum egg-hiding and maximum fun. Our outdoor play equipment range boasts all of the characteristics which will help you to construct an entertaining Easter egg trail.

    In this blog we’re going to talk through several garden toys and pieces of play equipment that would be suitable for a family pub’s outdoor play area/garden for kids.

    On your marks, get set, go!

    Our Plum My First Wooden Play Centre is an exciting way to get the Easter egg hunt started. It has many places to hide tiny Easter eggs which are always a good way to begin a trail towards a big surprise. You could slot clues into the rock wall, climbing net, and inside of the play den.

    The next part of the hunt could be the TP Explorer 2 Climbing Frame with Den and Jungle Run. This challenging climbing frame with its high up den and monkey bars presents lots of possibilities for an Easter egg hunt. You could try hanging pieces of string with clues on the ends or eggs from the rungs of the monkey bars and the kids will have to jump to get them.

    The halfway mark of the trail can be the TP Castlewood Tower. Complete with a fireman’s pole, this climbing frame tower will be lots of fun and the platform is certainly big enough for some larger surprises and bigger eggs.

    Hide the next clue buried underneath the sand in this TP Sherwood Sand-pit.

    tp sherwood sandpit all out play climbing den and gatehouse set

    Our All Out Play Climbing Den and Gatehouse Set (above) will make a very interesting obstacle with all of its exciting features and slide. The possibilities for Easter egg hiding are endless. For something a little bit smaller, take a look at our All Out Play Jungle Hut.

    Next it is time to take the Easter egg hunt out onto the seven seas with this TP Forest Pirate Galleon.

    Finally step into the land of knights and dragons with the All Out Play Fort. This will make a great finishing line to hide the biggest and best Easter egg. Maybe the Easter bunny will be waiting in there too.

    We also have many other garden toys and outdoor play equipment which can all be used for commercial events or home celebrations like this. Contact us for more advice on which products would suit your event and space best.

     

  • Last through the cold start to spring with wooden kitchens

    It seems that spring isn’t here just yet but you only have a couple more months to keep your children entertained indoors until they can venture out to their garden toys.

    We stock a wide range of outdoor play equipment for children but whilst rainy, cold days are still more frequent than warm and sunny ones, toys such as wooden kitchens can be an excellent purchase.

    Plum products have a number of interactive wooden play kitchens. With taps that turn, work surfaces, hobs, and dials that turn, your children are sure to spend hours occupied in their own little world of with cooking, cleaning, and washing pots.

    They will look especially delightful in a little girl’s bedroom. Alternatively, place it in your actual kitchen when it’s time for dinner; you never know, your child could become a Michelin star chef!

    When summertime does begin to arrive, these toys aren’t just limited to indoors; they can also be used in dry weather as outdoor play equipment and garden toys too. You can place them inside playhouses so not only will your child have a kitchen, but they will have a pretend home too (the different role-playing game possibilities are endless!). Moreover, they will remain dry even if it does start raining.

    We have picked out a couple of our favourites so that you can continue to keep your children occupied through the cold, rain, (and snow).

    This Plum Terrace design is probably the most elaborate one we have and also one of the biggest.

    Complete with a pretend microwave, fridge, freezer, oven, hob, sink, taps, and even storage, this design is perfect for a demanding little chef.

    You will notice that there is even a painted mosaic tile pattern behind the sink. Are you jealous yet?

    Plum Terrace Wooden Play Kitchen for children

    A smaller and simpler alternative This Plum Cabin is a great example of just how cute plum products can be. Despite the fact that it is a smaller design the work surface, sink, and oven are also accompanied by a washing machine so that your child can keep on top of washing their cuddly toys as they wash the pots!

    Plum Cabin Wooden Play Kitchen

    Like the Plum Terrace, this Plum Cottage design has all of the features you would expect to see in a real kitchen.

    As you can see there is a fridge, freezer, oven, hob, taps, sink, storage, shelving, and a microwave.

    The vibrant colours are sure to capture your children’s imagination and will compliment most playrooms and nurseries.

    Plum Cottage Wooden Play Kitchen

    If you would like to see more products like these, just click on the links at the top of each of our website pages.

  • 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

  • Playing house - opening the doors to playhouses this spring

     

    As the weather improves and we see more sunny days ahead (the recent snowfall notwithstanding!) it’s a good opportunity to start thinking playhouses for the kids. At Wicken Toys we have some ideas about the best playhouses currently available and what we think will give your children the most fun during spring time.

     

    Playing at home for kids can be turned into a much more exciting experience. Playhouses are a greta way to encourage imaginative play for pre-schoolers. They can cater to children playing by themselves and with their siblings or friends.

     

    The key attraction for children is that they can role play and the educational merits of playhouses are that children (knowingly or unknowingly) can practice social skills while enjoying their playtime. Think about it – playhouses are basically platforms for children to pretend to be their parents by “owning” and “living” in their own house. They adopt etiquette very quickly.

     

    With a playhouse kids can play inside or outside in them. They are designed as outdoor toys but work just as well inside the house on those cold or rainy days. With spring weather and signs of summer spreading across the UK there has never been a better time to encourage children to play outdoors!

     

    Playhouses come in different shapes and sizes that can suit individual gardens and homes respectively according to their specifications.

     

    The Forest Wooden Cabin Playhouse is a compact lodge with window frames and fabric door perfect for children aged between 1-10 years.

     

     

    Go from small cabin house to fortress castle and tower set (which boys tend to go crazier for!) Children will instinctively recognise that the Castle can be a fairy palace, a Wild West fort, or a stage for medieval chivalry and pageantry.   Then they can run accross the bridge into the tower and act out some other imaginary tale.

     

     

    Or for something a little more scaled back and not quite so epic, you can find the All Out Play Jungle Hut more appealing. It has a wooden floor as its base and looks great in gardens.

     

     

    Choose from a standard playhouse or a hybrid playhouse / Climbing frame by All Out Play. All Out Play playhouses look great in any garden, solidly built and strikingly unusual.

     

    Playhouses blend well into any environment. Each design includes an enclosed space that is great in all sorts of weather, but also allows your children to play securely in their own private fantasy world.

  • Playhouses - stage sets for your children's fantasy worlds

    Now that Christmas is over, you may find that some of magic of presents given to them over the festive period is beginning to wear off. It is not unusual to find that by the middle of January, children who thought that the latest must-have action figure or doll would bring then endless satisfaction and happiness are starting to lose interest in favour of more versatile, interactive and substantial sources of entertainment. When it comes to toys, children will always come back to those tried and tested outdoor classics such as, swings, climbing frames, trampolines, sand pits and dare we say, paddling pools, for when the weather gets that little bit warmer.

    In one of our previous blogs we talked about the wonders of swings and how they encourage children to spend more time in the garden surrounded by the natural world. We have also described the sheer joy of watching your little ones pushing out unaided on a bike for the first time. In fact there are so many outdoor toys to choose from, all of which will have a unique impact on your child's experience and development.

     

     

    Here at Wicken Toys we are fanatical about outdoor play. Indeed, this passion is drawn from our personal memories of playing outdoors. All of us have special memories of outdoor play; imagining we were cowboys, Indians, pirates or wizards. In fact, a particular kind of memory that we all share here at Toy Towers is that of making a tee-pee or den by throwing a rug or sheet over a climbing frame or swing. So for this blog we thought we'd focus on some very exciting garden play houses and how they can be used in multiple ways to help expand your child's imagination.

    We have an exceptional range of playhouses to assist your little ones in their games of make believe, so as to make imaginative play, just that bit more realistic. Our wooden playhouses are by All Out Play and not only look great in garden, blending in perfectly with the natural environment, but are also exceptionally well built and robust. Not only this but also a good playhouse will provide a stage set for your kids' most exciting adventures. Be it a castle for friends to 'try' to invade, a pirate ship sailing the seven seas for plunder or a hybrid playhouse / climbing frame that can double as a tree-top village, these playhouses will ensure that your little ones get the most excitement from their outdoor play. These designs also include enclosed spaces, which means they are great in all weather and enable your children to feel secure in the perfect surroundings for their imaginative fantasies.

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