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summer playtime

  • Wicken Toys looks at playtime for pre-schoolers Part 2

     

    In our previous blog, we walked you through what sort of outdoor toys were best for your pre-schoolers to help them learn, grow and develop in a safe and fun way. We knew that there was a lot more to look at than we could fit into one blog. So say hello to Part 2!

     

    What we’re looking at today are the transitionary toys that take pre-schoolers into the beginnings of their childhood and into school itself.

     

    So to continue...

     

    Think climbing frames. These are larger and more physically demanding on children. They provide a challenge and get children active. But not all climbing frames have to be dull, plain metal shapes. We like to stock climbing frames with a little extra  va-va-voom!

     

    Take for instance the Plum Steenbuck... this is a compact play centre that is suitable for young ages and growing minds. This is the first sort of climbing frame you should get for your young children between 18 months and 6 years.

     

    Once again, we don’t specialise in boringly designed outdoor toys. We believe a climbing frame should not just be a climbing frame. It should be fun and ripe for imaginative play! The Captain Plum Play Centre is shaped like a pirate ship and is perfect for any child who wants to re-enact Pirates of the Caribbean or take on the persona of Captain Jack Sparrow!

    While the weather is still good (fingers crossed) perhaps it is worth investing in the something tailor made for sunshine playtime.

     

    The Intex Beachball Fun Pool is a paddling pool for children 3+ and it helps to adjust your child to being in the water and seeing it as a fun experience rather than a daunting one. It’s colourful and fits snugly into any garden.

     

    If you can’t get to the beach this summer, bring the beach to you. Consider getting a paddling pool and most importantly of all a sandpit to get the kids practicing with building those sandcastles! The Plum Octagonal Sandpit comes highly recommended. It’s a generously sized play area that is suitable for children 18 months+.

     

    For children less inclined to jumping and splashing about, the TP Activity Table is a good option. It’s a multi-purpose table suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. If your child likes to paint and draw, it’s a perfectly sized table! And it will gives the children an area to call their own whenever they feel like getting a little messy with the paints and crayons!

     

    These are some of our choice outdoor toys for children at that pre-school/slightly older age where they can find plenty to do to keep them busy. For more information on our outdoor toy ranges please browse our site or contact us.

  • The heat is on? Some advice about protecting your children in the sun

    Wicken Toys are back with a helping of advice for how to keep your little ones safe on even the sunniest of days.  It’s fun to play outside in the sun, but that doesn’t mean safety should be overlooked! It's not been the summer we were all hoping for but expectations are high for an Indian Summer come August and September.

     

    The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays are divided into three broad categories: UVA, UVB and UVC.  Although UVC rays are the most potentially dangerous, they are stopped by the ozone layer of the atmosphere, so we needn’t worry about those for the time being.  UVA and UVB rays, however, can both cause lasting damage – UVA has been linked to skin aging and wrinkling, while UVB is associated with sunburns, cataracts and damage to the immune system, although both are suggested to contribute to the likelihood of skin cancer.  It’s not all doom and gloom though, in moderation and with sufficient preparation these rays will only contribute to a pleasant summer and allow your kids to play outdoors happily.

     

     

    Not all sunlight is of the same strength – close to the equator and at higher altitudes the sun’s rays are stronger, so take particular care if you’re planning a holiday abroad this year.  These rays are at a concentrated strength at certain times of the day too, usually between 10am and 4pm in the northern hemisphere.  At these times it’s generally best to avoid the sun altogether if possible, but if it’s a necessity there are precautions you can take to make sure your youngsters are as safe as they can be.

     

    Sunscreen is a good precaution, but it should be used as a second line of defence, not a primary one.  The first line should be your child’s clothing – the best way to stay safe in the sun’s rays is to cover up.  Hats with large brims should be provided, and a shaded area such as an umbrella is an essential addition to any outdoor play area.  When applying sunscreen, remember to choose a bottle with as high an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) as possible to provide your children with the best protection they can get, and ensure that the often missed areas such as the back of the neck are liberally covered with lotion.

     

     

    Dehydration is also a danger in the sun.  Everyone needs to take in water to keep functioning properly – this is even more important when so much of your body’s water is being lost in sweat during active play or evaporated due to heat.  It’s essential, therefore, to make sure your kids have a bottle of water handy at all times too.

     

    Remember to set a good example to your kids – take care of yourself as well as them.  In the meantime, make the most of your summer, have a good time, and play safely!

     

    Next week we will address the issue of what to do with the kids during the alternative summer weather - all this cursed rain!

  • Let’s ride! Children’s bicycle adventures this summer

     

    Anyone who remembers watching ET for the first time will recall the infectious wonder and magic experienced when seeing that bicycle take off for the first time; a beautiful moment that has since become an iconic image recognised around the world. Never has the adventurous spirit of children been so perfectly captured on film – and the film’s portrayal of children getting everywhere on bicycles led to a massive resurgence and demand for children’s bikes that year.

     

    The reason we mention this is because ET helped to get bicycles back into the hearts and minds of children as not just a way of getting around but also as vehicles for adventure. Wicken Toys has always been a firm believer in outdoor toys acting as both fun entertainment for kids and good exercise.

     

     

    Bicycles give children an independence that is very important at the developing ages and before puberty kicks in. It allows them to get to school, make paper rounds, go riding with friends, cycle around the block at weekends, have races in the park, and most importantly of all, give them a healthy day out where they are exercising in the open air.

     

    This summer we are encouraging parents to get their kids back on the bikes or teach them how to ride so they can eventually take off down the street on their own. Learning how to ride a bike is an important rites-of-passage for any child.

     

    We suggest starting them off with Balance Bikes. These have become hugely popular in the last few years in the UK promoting balance, co-ordination and confidence in children learning to ride.

     

    A balance bike provides the opportunity for children to feel stable and confident before moving onto the "real" thing. This range offers a wide choice to suit all needs including budgets.

     

    The Kettler Speedy Balance Bike is perhaps the best value for money with foam filled synthetic tyres and rubber tread, rear brake and safety handles with foam protector. Ideal for children 2 years and up.

     

    The Kettler Sprint Air Princess is more suited to girls sporting the same features as the Speedy Balance. It’s light, easy to assemble, extremely safe to learn on and it comes in pink so that reluctant little princesses might be more encouraged to try it out. Once again the age is 2 years and up.

     

     

    The Kettler Run Air collection (for both boys and girls) tops the range with an innovative easy access frame design, ergonomic padded seat, wire wheels and all the other standard features from the other models in the range. They are perfect for children to learn on.

     

     

    Seek out the Balance Bike most suitable for your child and set them on the path to independence and adventure this summer. For more information on our bicycles please contact us and we’ll help you pick the right bike for your little ‘uns!

  • 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.

  • Easy Riders – children’s tricycles

     

    So the sun is shining a bit brighter leading us into a (hopefully) brighter summer. When it comes to taking care of the kids and their demands for playing and having fun there are many different options you can choose from. But what could be better than putting the wind in their face, getting them to head out on the highway, look for adventure, whatever comes there way? You can make it happen. These kids were born to be wild!

     

    Today we’re recommending children’s trikes and tricycles to get them on the move into summer. Trikes are a wonderful way for developing children’s balance, hand-eye coordination and make for a great way to prepare them for bicycles later on down the line.

     

    The German company Kettler have been manufacturing kids trikes for years and probably have the best reputation in their market, which is why we at Wicken Toys have such a loyal relationship with them and their products.

     

    The top of the range Top Trikes feature:

    • Air tyres
    • Extendable frames
    • Freewheel facilities
    • Strong metal frames

     

    There’s plenty of easy riders to choose from.

     

    Take for instance The Funtrike. This trike has the aforementioned free wheel facility which basically is a patented feature that allows the child to rest their feet on the pedals whilst you guide with the parent pole. The pedals will only engage when the child begins to pedal.

     

    It also has parent handle and a tipper bucket. This trike is definitely suited to beginners who need close supervision from a parent (hence all the additional safety features). Suitable for age ranges 2+ years.

     

     

     

    The Kettler Happy Trike Racing is a bigger and more complex trike that works best on children who already have been in a tricycle before. There are optional safety harnesses available on all these trike products.

     

    Each Happy model features a unique frame design, which can be extended to grow with your child.  In addition, one easy adjustment changes the handlebars from fixed, for use with the parent pole, to free for the child to steer.  They also incorporate Kettler's automatic freewheel facility.

     

     

     

    On the other hand, the Kettler Top Trike Air Fly offers maximum comfort thanks to the use of large air tyres and ball bearing hubs.  It features a unique extendable and separable frame, lockable handlebars for use with detachable parent pole, freewheel facility, rear handbrake for parental control, and an optional safety harness. Options of pink or blue colours.

     

     

    You can purchase a safety harness separately for extra support and safety, especially for first timers. The Safety Straps are a perfect addition to the Kettler trikes range to keep your child secure when in use. It attaches to the seat and frame.

     

     

    Give your children a taste of freedom and adventure this summer. Let them loose in a park, on your block or in your garden so they can really enjoy themselves and become the easy riders they were born to be!

  • To me, to you – ball games this summer

     

    Okay, so it seems premature talking about a summer that seems to be holding back from arriving on our fair shores over here in the UK, but the truth is that sun will get here eventually and when it does, you want to be ready.

     

    The kids will be on summer holidays in less than two months so you need to start thinking “activities!” Believe it or not but kids will want to play outside when its sunny! And if that’s the case then the best way to encourage that i to make sure that they have plenty of games and outdoor toys to go to.

     

    Ball games is what we’re focusing on here this week at Wicken Toys. Who’d have thought that just having a ball and a net would be enough to keep them entertained all day? Well, just ask schools! They always keep the children occupied at playtime and in P.E. lessons through ball games. Plus, it’s fund for adults to join in to.

     

    What we’re looking at today is specific ball games.

     

    Football

    Yes, it’s the nation’s crown jewel this sport and many children get into it from a young age. Why not challenge the little ones by getting a Giant Goal so they can actual have a real game with each other? It’s all well and good giving them a ball but in order to complete the game they need to have the other main ingredient.

     

    The tp giant Goal is big enough for Dad’s and teenagers to enjoy as well as the younger family members. If you’re boys are football crazy then this is the best place to start their summer with.

     

     

    Basketball/Netball

    Traditionally netball is played more by girls than boys but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a mixed sport at home, after all this tp Netball complete set doubles as a basketball net too. This is one of those team sports that really gets kids to co-ordinate and work together, more so than most and also teaches them excellent hand-eye co-ordination. Netball set with fully adjustable ring and net height, from just above the base up to 10 feet.  It’s ideal to encourage even very young players.

     

     

    Table tennis

    If the summer proves to be more rainfall than sunshine, then indoor ball games are always an alternative option. None more so a better one than table tennis. The Kettler indoor table has a strengthened undercarriage & playback facility. It’s Kettler's best selling indoor table. INCLUDES FREE 2 bats, 3 balls and a net.

    That said if you already have a table or decide to put together a make shift one, all you need is the bat and balls.

    You can get a Kettler Table Tennis pack of balls and Kettler tennis table bats to play like pros do. It’s a lot of fun and ocne again very, very good for hand-eye co-ordination.

     

     

    Talk to Wicken Toys about sports and games this summer whether it’s for a kickaround in the back garden or a championship game of table tennis indoors, we can promise you that when it comes to these activities we’ve got the balls for it! ;-)

  • The Fun List - this summer with outdoor toys

     

    Everyone has their ideal of what summer should be. For children though, they only want one thing; as William Wallace once said, “Freeeeeedom!” It’s their time away from school where the world is their oyster, so to speak. Wicken Toys really gets this idea. Summer holidays are a time for children to really feel like children without the confines of school rules and regulations and classes and stuffy old learning! It’s their time to have FUN.

     

    We here at Wicken Toys have compiled our Fun List of activities for children plus the toys we think will best serve their summer of freedom and fun.

     

    1. It’s got to be the beach at the top spot!

    What kid doesn’t love to play in the sand and run amuck in the shallow waters of the sea? Beaches are the number one family holiday destination in the summer and they make for a great experience for everyone concerned, if the weather holds out of course.

     

    If you can’t make it to the beach every weekend with the kids you can always bring the beach to them! Get them a Forest Hexagonal Sandpit that fits at home in any garden. It’s ideal for building sandcastles and digging and certainly offers up the closest at-home equivalent of the beach. To match the sand of the beach with a sandpit you shuld also match the water of the sea for a pool.

     

    Get your hands on the Intex Fish Pool designed to be the closest thing to a safe water experience for young children at-home. There is enough room for mum and dad in this pool.  Deep side walls make this great for older children too. Intex are one of the worlds largest inflatable manufacturers and they inflate all their toys at the factory before they are packed.

     

     

     

    2. Water parks

    The next best thing to the beach is a water park. We don’t know quite what it is with kids and water but they seem to love going in it (unless it’s bath time!) Water slides are just a delirious treat for them but the parks can be very expensive, even for family special tickets. So if you’re not too keen on the idea why not build your own water park outside? It’s cheaper and just as much fun for the kids.

     

    The Aqua Slide is a very popular seller come summer time. It can be used with any normal slide or just lay it on the garden and away you go. Great fun made better by the extra slippy silicone surface which helps propel you down the garden at great speed. Guaranteed laughter for kids, Mum's and Dad's.  Yes, parents need to get involved too!

     

     

    3. Play Park

    When in doubt, the play park is always a safe bet. Swings, slides, seesaws, roundabouts, climbing frames, the whole works. There’s enough energy to spent there to make the kids exhausted by day’s end and allowing youa  break in the evening while they wind down to sleep.

     

    You can build your own play park of course by selecting from our range of garden swings, climbing frames and seesaws to create your own park package out back.

     

     

     

     

    This summer make it easier on yourselves by writing your own Fun List for the kids. It helps you to plan out activities and ultimately save some money in the long term.

  • Put a bit of bounce in your back garden

     

    Since we are getting closer to summer it’s time to open up the back gardens again to the delight of outdoor toys... well, at least to the delight of your children! It’s important to give them some activities to independently partake in at home and nothing quite beats that than the introduction of trampolines into the environment.

     

    Wicken Toys offers a highly varied range of trampolines that could suit small to large families and a variety of different sized back gardens. We have garden trampolines for very small toddlers, large full size heavy duty trampolines, cages/barrier trampolines designed for safety, plus many more.

     

    See if any of these tickle your fancy...

     

    The tp Junior Trampoline is a great way to improve standing, balance and jumping skills through play, suitable for 12+ months and for indoor and outdoor use.

     

     

     

    The JumpFree Trampoline Base Net 12ft and 14ft has netting that wraps around the base of the trampoline and prevents young children and pets from walking under the trampoline while someone else may be jumping up and down. It’s a very safe trampoline for children of most ages to use.

     

     

    The tp 8ft Capital Trampoline is suitable for 6+ years ages. It’s a no nuts-and-bolts designed frame which is easy to set-up with a weatherproof trampoline bed with quality padding. The easy slot-together frame means that taking in apart and piecing it together is a piece of cake.

     

     

    The Super Tramp Wallaby High Performance Trampoline is a heavyweight performance rectangular trampoline. There is no other rectangular trampoline that will match it on performance, quality and value. It’s a good choice for the whole family once again suitability ranging upwards from 6 years of age.

     

     

    Trampolines in the garden provide a great source of fun – even for adults! In summer, when the sun is shining and the warm air makes in perfect for relaxing in the garden, there’s nothing quite like watching the children laugh and play and bounce around.

     

    We discount all the products that we sell but at the moment we are able to offer the tp Sovereign trampolines at unbeatable prices, you will not find any other trampoline to the same specification at the same low prices. The Sovereign trampolines are being sold with a tp bounce surround and a tp ladder in 10ft, 12ft and 14ft sizes.

     

    For more information on our trampolines, outdoor toys and play equipment please contact us and we can help you to find the right toys for your children this summer.

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