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summer holidays

  • Get Muddy With These Mucky Play Ideas

    Mud glorious mud.

    You might view mud as an unwelcome hazard associated with playing outdoors on a rainy Autumnal day, but it can be a really awesome way of cooling down in the Summer.

    Just add a splash of water to some dry baron ground to make this simple yet effective play substance.

    Reasons To Get Muddy

    1. Sensory Play Mud is a very tactile substance and provides a multi-sensory play experience. Sensory play is essential for the development of toddler and pre-schooler brains. Exposure to different substances gives their little brains plenty of practice in translating the sensations felt through the finger tips to make sense of what is in front of them. Stimulating multiple senses at the same time (touch, sight, sound and smell are all involved when playing with mud) requires the brain to become adept at taking multiple signals and decode them. This is all great preparation for the learning that takes place in school, where children must become skilled at listening to the teacher and watching what the teacher is doing, while screening out other stimuli.

    2. Hand Eye Co-ordination Walking is easy right? Walking on snow is a little bit trickier and requires greater concentration and physical effort. Now apply that logic to playing with small hand held toys. Dolls, cars and action figures are great for developing hand eye co-ordination and fine motor skills. Now coat them in a layer of slippery slimy mud, and you will see your children testing those skills in new, challenging circumstances.

    3. Relaxation Because muddy play stimulates multiple sense at the same time and facilitates creative, flexible play, it has a calming affect.

    Ways To Play

    - Cooling mud: Mix ice cubes with dusty dry mud to create a seriously cool slipper substance to roll about in. - Mud bricks: Fill an ice cube tray with mud and leave it in the Sun to bake into hard mud bricks. This works best in silicone trays as they are easier to release the bricks from. You can also use a muffin tray as the sloped edges eases the hard mud out. - Mud sculptures: Hunt around the garden for sticks, stones, twigs, petals and leaves to add to a lump of mud and create a rustic nature-inspired sculpture. - Mud castles: Who says castle-shaped buckets are only for the beach? - Mud kitchen: Donate old cooking utensils and bowls to the garden so your children can make mud pies in their own garden kitchen. - Mud painting: Use decorators paint brushes to redecorate the fence, climbing frame and garden furniture with muddy paint. It should keep your children busy for hours and will wash away with the rain. - Mud cupcakes: Fill silicone cupcake cases with mud, then use leaves, petals and tiny stones from the garden to decorate the cupcakes with pretty patterns. - Construction site: Add trucks, tractors and cars to a patch of mud to create a muddy town or construction site. - Footprints investigation: In slightly wet mud, take some of your children's favourite toys and use them to make footprints. Then challenge your kids to work out who stepped where.

    For more outdoor play ideas, check out the rest of the Wicken Toys blog.

  • Survive And Thrive In The Summer Holidays With A Family Schedule

    The Summer Holidays are upon us, and whilst it may be tempting to kick back, relax and let the children run wild, you may find the six week stretch more enjoyable if you implement a routine. Why Routines And Schedules Are Important Children thrive on predictability, feeling more secure when they have an idea of what is coming next. You can flex your daily schedule as required but if certain milestones throughout the day, such as meal times and quiet times, remain the same, you may find their mood and behaviour is better.

    It's also important to remember that even when school is out, children still need plenty of sleep. If your children rise early regardless of what time they crash out you will need to maintain a sensible bedtime each evening.

    What's Important To You Depending on the ages and temperaments of your children you may want to create a detailed daily schedule, or a simple outline of the key points throughout the day. The most important thing is to start by defining what is important to you. Do you want the children in bed by a set time each night so you can complete housework, homework, or relax in peace? Are meal times set or flexible each time? Will there be nap times or quiet reading times? Is it all fun, or is there some school work to get done. The things that are important to you will form the basis of your schedule every day. Collaborate Brainstorm with your children some fun stuff they would like to try out during the holidays and places they would like to visit. Pinterest and parenting sites are awash with ideas for arts, crafts and educational activities to do, but don't assume your children will love every single one of them. Let them join in the planning by giving them a preview of what's on offer and asking their opinion.

    Make It Balanced Each day should provide a balance of outdoor games, rest and relaxation, time spent together, and opportunities to be alone. Some scheduled activities will help avoid boredom-induced poor behaviour, but it is also important to allow plenty of time for little minds to wander and hands to explore without intervention.

    Reinvent The Familiar If you've had the same garden play equipment for a while, liven things up by adding a new piece, or think of new games to play with the existing structures. A few old sheets thrown over the climbing frame make an excellent den, and the slide can be turned into a high speed bowling alley.

    Put It On Display When you've written up your plan for the day, put it on display where the children can see it. It will give them clear expectations of when they are expected to amuse themselves, when they need to be ready to leave the house, and when their next meal will be ready.

    A Help Not A Hindrance Above all else remember that your daily plan should be a help not a hindrance. There's no need to stick to it slavishly every day at the expense of and spontaneity.

  • Safe playtime in the sun


    With the arrival of the summer the kids will no doubt be desperate to play outside with their friends and have some fun in the sun. However, there needs to be certain measures taken into account when allowing your children to play outdoors, especially in summertime.


    Playing outdoors is important, for toddlers in particular, but so is protecting them from the sun and the heat.  It can be difficult, as a parent, on just how much time a child should be allowed to be out in it. There is a danger leaving young children out for extended periods of time in exposure to intense heat. Coupled with their activities it can lead to serious problems.



    It's common knowledge that the sun contains harmful ultra violet (UV) rays. However, sometimes it’s easy to overlook this when dealing with your already busy schedules, your children's play-dates and the ever-increasing madness of summer. Summer conditions can end up having a lasting negative effects to a child's health. Now we’re not saying you need to be overly-protective and neurotic when it comes to a child’s outdoor playtime. This is the furthest thing from what we believe.


    Children should be able to experience freedom and fun, and no time is better for that than in summer. You just need to supervise them and protect them accordingly.


    So the first question is; how long should parents’ allow their children to play outside?


    Well, if you’re adequately prepared there are ways in which you can effectively judge playtime length. The amount of time a toddler should spend outside really depends on the parents, the temperature and the amount of effective shade covering.


    Tp 121 Forest Hexagonal Sandpit


    Have sunscreen with you if you’re taking them to the beach or to the park and be sure to apply it to their skin at least 15 minutes prior to their going out in it. You know the drill – noses, faces, neck and arms, any exposed area that is susceptible to being burnt. Reapply sunscreen every two hours while outside in the sun, more frequently for anyone who has spent time in the water.


    Always carry water with you, either in a big bottle or in individual bottles. Children tend to dehydrate quickly and due to their fast-paced energy fail to realise when they have been overdoing it. This is where you need to step in and make sure they drink enough fluids to keep their bodies hydrated.



    Get them to wear a hat to help shield their head, forehead and face from direct exposure too, whether they want to or not!


    In high heat, try to limit your child’s playtime to short intervals with rests in between in the shade. The sun is strongest between 10am and 4pm, so it’s the time to be most aware. Many outdoor playtimes take place in the morning or early afternoons.


    Try and prepare some activities and games to keep toddlers under the cover of shade more often. Parks are good as they have plenty of tree shade but at beaches it’s best to bring a beach umbrella along.


    The children are anxious for summer to come into full swing as they get tie off school and more time to play with friends in good weather. Encourage it always, but make sure you are keeping an eye on them and protecting their bodies from sun exposure and the sweltering heat that is to come.


    For info on outdoor toys and outdoor play equipment please contact us.

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