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Sports & Games

  • Solar Eclipse Inspired Games For Children

    Today we understand that a solar eclipse is a natural phenomenon, an occasional reminder of our place in the Universe. We understand that whether we continue about our day, stop and observe it quietly, or run around shrieking like a headless chicken, after a few minutes the Moon will pass on by, the Sun will shine fiercely onto our planet once more, and normality will be restored.

    But for ancient civilisations solar eclipses were impossible to explain, and were often met with a sense of terror.

    Use these games to explain how solar eclipses have been understood over thousands of years.

    Ancient China - Bang The Drums

    In ancient China it was believed demons were attempting to steal the Sun. The people would flock together during an eclipse and bang pots and pans as loudly as they can to scare away the demons.

    To recreate this in a game you will need a big yellow ball or balloon to be the Sun, and whatever noisy implements you can find (saucepans and wooden spoons should do the trick).

    Your children can be the demons to start with. Their job is to try to steal the Sun from wherever you’ve chosen to display it. If you catch them, you must bang as loud as you can, and they will abandon their efforts. This is a great game because provided you keep an eagle-eye out for little demons, you can get on with some chores while the little ones are plotting their plan of attack.

    You could just play for fun, set up a points system or even offer yummy rewards for successful total eclipses.

    If your children fancy a turn banging the pots, just switch roles.

    Vietnam - The Giant Frog

    In Vietnamese culture it was believed that the Sun disappeared as a result of a giant frog taking a bite out of it. Of course the Sun was too powerful for the frog and after burning his mouth the frog let the Sun go free.

    Turn the classic ‘What’s the time Mr Wolf’ into the Giant Frog game.

    Your children are giant frogs and you are guarding the Sun (use a pile of yellow clothes or a Sun made from segments of yellow card). The children call out ‘what’s the time’ and when you answer them they must jump forward like frogs, instead of taking strides. Every time a child successfully reaches you they can take a piece of the Sun and run back to base. But if the Sun gets angry, you must chase the Giant frogs away.

    For older children you can make the game more challenging by putting the Sun on top of the climbing frame or at the top of the slide.

    Vikings - The Chariot And The Wolves

    The Vikings believed the Sun was pulled around on the back of a chariot, perpetually chased by wolves. Every now and then a wolf would catch up and take a bite out of the Sun, causing the darkness, before the chariot sped away, taking the Sun to safety.

    You can recreate this story with a simple game of chase, each taking turns to be the wolf or the Sun.

  • 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.

  • Anyone For Tennis?

    Inspired by Andy Murray's success in making i to the final of the Australian Open (he plays Djokovic at 8.30am tomorrow), we're in the mood for some tennis.

    However, as much as we love to play outdoors, we don't like frost bite. So to keep all of our fingers and toes warm and toasty, we've come up with tennis inspired games that can be played indoors.

    Learning To Rally Over A Net

    You'll need something that moves really slowly, and won't cause any damage when it inevitably bashes in to furniture and the TV.

    Bashing a balloon back and forth works really well. You can use your hands, short tennis bats, or even large circles of cardboard to hit the balloon.

    Add a little extra challenge by creating a net to hit the balloon over. You can tie a piece of string across the room and drape a light sheet over it. You could also use sticky tape and empty cereal boxes to make a wall and stand it between you.

    Keeping In The Lines

    Learning the scoring system for tennis, and whether a ball is in or out can be a challenge on an outdoor court, with a moving ball. If you don't sport where the ball lands immediately there's no Hawk-Eye or instant replays to help you out. Use masking tape to mark out a court in your kitchen or front room. Use marshmallows to play this game instead of balls so that when it lands, it stays put. The aim of the game is to get the marshmallow into your opponents side of the court. They must hit it back with a tennis racket, before it touches the floor. If the marshmallow lands outside of the lines, the person who received it score the points. If it lands inside the lines, the person who hit it score the points.

    Swingball

    Obviously not the type of set that must be staked into the ground as that would make a terrible mess of your carpet. But if you have a Swingball set lingering in your shed that has a box base, why not fetch it indoors.

    See

    Sure you'll be cold for a few minutes while you make the dash across the garden, but you could count it as your morning workout and reward yourself with a hot chocolate once safely back inside.

    Just Play With The Balls

    You could just play with tennis balls instead. Line up some empty plastic drinks bottles for a game of tennis ball bowling. For added fun and a little injection of addition practice, you could write scores on the bottles.

    Or you could line up empty boxes or buckets and take turns trying to land tennis balls inside without them bouncing back out again.

    With a few tennis balls to hand and the right intention you'll be able to come up with plenty of your own tennis-inspired games.

  • Best Outdoor Toys For Ages 13 And Up

    Buying presents for a teen is no easy task.

    By now most children have outgrow the outdoor play equipment they enjoyed when they were younger.

    They may also now start to feel self-conscious about charging around the garden with the wild abandon like they used to.

    Never Too Old For Outdoor Fun

    But don’t assume your teen is too old for toys. Playing outside provides an important opportunity to unwind from school, and enjoy some fresh air and exercise. The toys you buy now are an invitation to play, permission to continue enjoying fun activities.

    You will have more success coaxing your teen into the back garden, if you focus your efforts on activities you can enjoy together.

    Just Bounce

    Springfree

    A trampoline is an ideal piece of play equipment for all ages. It can be difficult to find outdoor toys that serve all of your children well, but a trampoline does the job nicely. You can even have a bounce on it yourself.

    Larger trampolines allow for me freedom when bouncing about, allowing your teen to burn off energy without crashing into the sides.

    Always choose a trampoline with a purpose-built fitted net.

    Tempting as it may be to load a large trampoline with all your children at once, don’t. It’s not that the mat can’t take the wait. Trampoline manufacturers advise one person at a time only as smaller jumpers can get bounced about by bigger jumpers, and any collisions may result in injury.

    Used solo, however, a trampoline can be a great way for your teen to get some exercise without having to stray too far away from home.

    Start Driving

    Berg

    Adults buy our top-end go-karts, so they certainly are suitable for teens. These are designed to be pedaled fast, by older children and adults. The Berg’s are especially suitable for teens thanks to the Brake Freewheeling System. When you stop pedalling at speed, the pedals stop turning round, so although the go-kart will continue with the momentum, the pedals don’t keep smacking the rider in the back of the legs. Then to slow down, simply put a little backwards pressure on the pedals and the go-kart starts to scrub-off speed.

    Outdoor Shelter

    If you’ve ever considered getting a summer house or gazebo, now would be a good time. Providing a quiet space for your teen to meet friends, out of the house, but not away from your supervision, gives them the independence and freedom they crave, without compromising on safety.

    Water Pistols

    For the summer months, keep an arsenal of water pistols to hand. Nobody ever outgrows water fights.

    If you also have younger children, checkout the rest of <a href="http://www.wickentoys.co.uk/blog/tag/matching-toys-to-ages/"January’s series on outdoor toys for all ages.

  • 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.

  • Guide To Buying A Table Tennis Table | Play Ping Pong At Home

    Oh how we all giggled when Boris proclaimed 'Wiff Waff is coming home', but one year after London hosted the 2012 Olympics, the nation is filled with table tennis lovers.

    If all that running around Andy Murray-style looks a little hot and exhausting for you, but you enjoy the thrill of a furious rally, then ping pong is the sport for you.

    It's a great game for all ages to enjoy together, and as such makes a fun addition to any family home.

    Buying a table tennis table (try saying that three times fast) is a significant investment, so it's worth doing some reseach before making your purchase.

    Here's a few points to consider before parting with your cash.

     

    Do you want it to fold away for storage, or be a permanent fixture?

    It's an attractive idea, having a foldable table, so when it's not in use you can free up the entire room that it occupies when you are playing. However, be realistic about the amount of effort it takes to pull the table out, set it up, then put it away again. Will this amount of preparation and tidying away put you off using the table? If your table is out all the time there will be plenty of spontaneous rallies, played on the spur of the moment, when you have just a few minutes to spare. Also consider that even when the table is folded away, it will still be a considerable size, so do you have somewhere suitable to store it?

    On the other hand, think about what might happen if you leave the table out all of the time? If your family home is prone to clutter corners, are you going to use the table as yet another dumping ground, making it difficult to play a game when you want to? You can combat this problem by keeping a two baskets ontop of the table. One is for the table tennis bats and balls. The other basket if for clutter, so that when you want to use the table you need only temporarily move the basket, rather than transport a mountain of bits and bobs.

     

    Do you want to use your ping pong table outdoors?

    Of course you can take an indoor table and use it outdoors, if the weather is good enough. But regularly using an indoor table outdoors, will eventually damage it.

    Outdoor tables are made differently to indoor tables. They are more expensive, but being able to leave them erected on your patio gives you plenty of opportunity for spontaneous ping pong games, without needing to give up a room in your house.

    Outdoor table tennis tables are designed to endure all the weather our British climate can throw at it, but naturally the table will last longer if you protect it with a purpose built cover, and/or you store it in a shed or garage over the winter.

     

    Other points to consider:

    • If you like top practive solo, look for a folding table, that allows you to prop one half up and use it as a backboard to practice against.
    • Before you buy, make sure you know what the price includes so you are not disappointed on delivery. You will need a net, at least two bats, and some ping pong balls.
    • Look for a ping pong table with wheels, as these will make it much easier to move out of the way when not in use.

    We stock both indoor and outdoor table tennis tables, plus a selection of accessories.

  • Advantages of team sports play equipment for children

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

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

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

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

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

  • Excuses, excuses…is it you or the children avoiding outdoor play this winter?

    Well as another day passes we would ask you – Did your children get outside or spend their after school time in the house watching TV or playing computer games?

    There are plenty of excuses the children will come up with for not going outside – such as ‘It’s cold” or “I don’t feel like going outside” or even worse – “it’s boring”. However, while they come up with the excuses, we as parents must acknowledge that by allowing them to give us those excuses and do nothing, we are probably not always doing them a favour.

    While winter can seem like the wrong time to play outside it is in fact a great time to get out and enjoy some very clean air! In fact, if the sun is shining on a winter’s day then there’s absolutely no reason to stay in!

    Continue reading
  • Benefits of Outdoor Play to Children

    If you’re currently reading this in your living room while your kids are sat on the sofa watching a cartoon then this blog is perfect for you!

    It’s time to switch that TV off and get your kids outdoors!

    Continue reading
  • Bikes & Trikes for your kids’ delight from Wicken Toys

    In today’s blog we thought we would offer some insight into the many bikes and trikes we offer here at Wicken Toys. We’re not going to say the word synonymous with December the 25th but let’s be realistic it is on the horizon at least, which is the reason for this very blog.

    Bikes and trikes are popular gifts most of the year, but they are particularly special for the day where a man comes down a chimney for some and drops off a lot of toys.

    So here is our definitive list of top buys this season, which includes a range of discounted items giving you the chance to get in early and perhaps save a few pennies in the process!

    For ages 2+ the Kettler Funtrike is a brilliant wheeled experience for your young one.  It’s ideal for the park, because it comes with a parent handle (so you can keep your little adventurers from going off too far) and for added fun, it has a tipper bucket.  So whether they want to collect cones or other nature inspired items, this trike will offer a lot of fun.

    For added safety you can opt for the safety harness, which is available as a separate purchase.

    The special thing about this trike is that it incorporates Kettler’s patented ‘freewheel facility’ that lets your child rest their feet on the pedals whilst you guide them with the parent pole!

    For a two wheeled experience, then we would recommend the Kettler Run Air Fly balance bike. With air filled tyres for optimum comfort, easy access frame and safety handles complete with foam protector, it’s a fantastic bike for the avid cyclist!

    The bike has an adjustable ergonomic seat (padded) and a parking stand, so you can encourage your children to take care of their mode of transport with ease.

    This is perhaps considered the top of the range and will bring hours of enjoyment and fun.

    Finally for the racer in the family then there’s nothing quite like a Go Kart. The Kettler Nitro Extreme is for ages 7 to 12 and is one of our best selling Go Karts.  It delivers on both the fun and performance stakes and here’s why…

    It has a sturdy frame and non slip pedals so older children can keep the memento going when they’re racing around.  It also has high performance tyres (as you would expect any top Go Kart to have).

    For added safety the braking is handled with a dual action hand brake  and for sheer style it has a rather attractive front spoiler!

    If this hasn’t wet your appetites for all toys that have wheels then nothing will! Why not visit us and see these wonderful toys up close and personal? We’re ready to welcome when you arrive!

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