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  • Easter Egg Hunt Inspiration

    With Easter Sunday just a few days away, you have no doubt begun to scour your home and garden for appropriate Easter Egg hiding places.

    Every year as your children get older, and more experience at finding your hidey holes, you need to come up with new and ingenious ways to disguise the chocolate.

    We’re here to help with some suggestions you may not yet have deployed in your family’s history of Easter egg hunts.

    1. Hide Clues Not Eggs

    It’s looking like a rainy few days coming up so it’s not going to be a great idea to hide your Easter eggs out in the garden – unless your kids like them wet and soggy. But you may find successfully hiding them in the house a little too tricky. The solution? Don’t hide the eggs, take them hostage instead. Lock them up in a box (you can just use a cardboard box with a bike padlock), and plant a number of clues around the house and garden that will lead your children to the location of the key / passcode for the lock.

    2. Plastic Egg Treasure Hunt

    If you want to get them outside, scatter plastic eggs around the garden and tell the children they can only have their eggs once they’ve hunted them all down. Use different coloured eggs for each child so the game isn’t spoiled by one over-enthusiastic finder.

    3. Hiding places in the bedroom

    There are plenty of places to hide an Easter egg in a child’s bedroom. Here are a few suggestions: - Suspended over the back of the door – children will quickly look behind a door, but they’ll likely only look down at the carpet. If you can loop some string around the box and suspend it over the back of the door, with the other end of the string tied to the door handle it will be a while before they find it up there. - Buried in clothing drawers - Snuggled in with all the soft toys. - On the bookshelf – particularly effective on an orderly bookshelf where the box lines up neatly with the other books.

    4. Hiding Places Downstairs

    If your children share a bedroom, or perhaps you’d just prefer to spread them out around your house for the egg hunt, there are a good number of hiding places to be found downstairs. - In the washing machine and tumble dryer – just make sure nobody turns them on. - In the hoods of coats hanging up – nobody thinks to look up high. - On bookshelves. - Around the back of the TV, so long as it can be accessed easily without tripping over wires. - On the seats of chairs pushed under the dining table.

    5. Hiding Places In The Garden

    If you have sheltered, dry places like a playhouse, you could hide all the Easter Eggs in one spot and plant clues around the garden leading to them. Otherwise pop out early in the morning when the children are still sleeping (if it’s not raining) and hide them all around the garden. Make sure you stand each egg box on something waterproof or they will suck the moisture out of the ground and be ruined. On top of the climbing frame, on swing seats, at the top of the slide and on the trampoline are all places that can be dried off and used to hide Easter eggs.

    With the Easter Holidays under-way, you’ll be needing more inspriation for outdoor play (like the rhyme?), so check out the rest of the Wicken Toys blog.

  • Wicken Guide To Choosing A Go-Kart

    Choose wisely and your child's new go-kart will provide them with hours of entertainment and exercise over the next few years.

    Alas it's not as simple as buying the cheapest model available in your son or daughter's favourite colour, but with the help of our comprehensive guide, we can make the selection process pain-free.

    What Size?

    Tempting as it may be to buy a jumbo go-kart your child can grow into, this is likely to result in majot disappointment when they first try to ride it. For a go-kart to be safe and enjoyable, your child must be able to maintain contact with the pedals throughout each revolution. Stretching to reach the pedals may cause backache or result in feet slipping off the pedals and losing control.

    Each model has an age range as a guide, but pay more attention to the suggested height range, as that is what determines how comfortable the go-kart is to use.

    Adjustable Seat

    If getting the exact right size is sounding like a nightmare, you'll be pleased to hear that Kettler go-karts come with adjustable seats. This extends the number of years your child and their go-kart are a good match. The seats are easily moved by simply lifting a handle and pushing the seat forwards or backwards, then replacing the handle to its original position. Once the handle is down the seat is securely fixed into place so it won't move around while the go-kart is in use.

    Free Wheeling

    When the go-kart is being pushed, or running downhill under its own momentum a free-wheeling feature will stop the pedals from rotating. Basically if the go-kart can freewheel it means that unless the rider is pushing the pedals themselves, the pedals aren't moving, so there's no danger of them hitting dangling legs. On some models this happens automatically, and on others, usually models for older children, there is a lever to activate the freewheel function.

    Dual Action Brake

    Dual

    Look for a go-kart that offers a dual action brake. This means that a brake is applied to both back wheels at the same time ensuring a controlled slow down or stop. If resistance is applied to just one wheel, especially when travelling at speed, the go-kart could spin, or veer off sideways.

    Tyres

    Typically go-karts for younger children have solid tyres, as these are more reliable (they can't get punctures). However, older children, who are naturally a little heavier benefit from air tyres which give them a smoother, more comfortable ride.

    Why Kettler?

    We pride ourselves on sourcing products from high quality manufacturers with reputations for reliability and value for money. All of our go-karts are made by Kettler, a company with more than 50 years experience making pedal go-karts. The range includes models suitable for children aged 3 to 12 years, with every kart built to last.

    Taking Care Of Your Go-Kart

    To help your go-kart stay looking good and functioning well, keep it stored in a sheltered location, especially over the winter months.

  • How To Make Your Own Play Catalogue

    Do you have a climbing frame standing unloved in your garden? Or a swing set roundly ignored by the children?

    Don't fret. You're investment hasn't been wasted. There are still hours of fun to be had from this play equipment, but your children need a little help reengaging with it.

    Your children have become accustomed to seeing this play equipment everyday in their garden and as a result they don't really see it.

    This happens to adults too. Perhaps you bought a cupcake maker, and when you first got it you enjoyed making batches and batches of cupcakes and decorating them in elaborate styles. And then one day, you put the cupcake makers away and forgot all about it. Even though you see it every time you open the kitchen cupboard you don't think to get it out and use it. And then something, a memory, a photograph, or a comment from a loved one, jogs your memory, and you remember how much you enjoyed using that cupcake maker, and you start using it all over again.

    Or chess. Do you like playing chess? But why has it been so long since you last played it? You sort of just forgot how much you enjoyed it didn't you?

    Are there times you have taken a neglected toy, that has been untouched for months, and hidden it away. Then the next time your child sees it, they are more eager than ever to play with it (this is usually right about the time you are trying to through it away).

    Sometimes obvious things get forgotten about, until they are put away and then rediscovered.

    This is why toy rotation systems work so well, as periodically toys are hidden from sight, and then rediscovered when it's their turn to be out.

    However, with big outdoor play equipment, it's not possible to hide it away for a while.

    Instead, you can inspire play ideas with your own catalogue of garden activities.

    Make a list of all the things your child has enjoyed doing in the garden, ideas you have seen that you would like to try out, like the soldier training ground acitivies, and toys and play equipment they enjoy using.

    Now photograph the equipment, or the game in progress, and use the images to create your own play catalogues, which you can use to inspire play ideas with your children. Before it's time to play outside, sit down together and flick through the photos to help you decide the games you want to play.

    You can use a simple ring binder to keep the images together. Storing the pictures in this way will help you adapt the catalogue to suit the situation. For example, if you want your child to play independently in the garden, show them only a selection of games and activities that are suitable to play without adult help. Or if the weather is cold, take out the images of unsuitable activities like water play.

    As your children grow out of the activities, or no longer need the system to inspire their play, you can keep the photographs as a reminder of the games they enjoyed when they were little.

  • Frighteningly Fun Food Ideas For Halloween

    OK, I'll admit it, this post doesn't have anything to do with outdoor play equipment. But once I'd written up some Halloween craft ideas, and Halloween games to play, I was really in the mood for some party food.

    In no particular order, here are my top ten terrifying treats the team at Wicken will be snacking on this week.

    1. Eyeball Biscuits Cover a digestive biscuit with white icing, then add a coloured Smartie onto the centre. Stick on a tiny piece of black liquorice, or use a black food colouring pen to make the pupil. Then add strawberry shoe laces as bloody veins radiating out to the edge of the biscuit.

    2. Mummified Hotdogs Cut white bread into strips approximately 1cm wide and spread sparingly with tomato ketchup. Use the strips as bandages to wrap up the sausages. Don't be too neat and tidy about it as the effect is better when ketchup splurges out, and you can see the fleshy coloured sausage between rows of bandages.

    3. Dead Fly Biscuits The easiest Halloween food of them all. Simply arrange a packet of Garibaldi biscuits on a plate and tell the children that they're made with dead flies. Delicious.

    4. Oreo Spiders A perfect excuse to eat Oreo cookies. Push sticks of liquorice in either side to make the legs, and drop on a little icing for the eyes.

    5. Gingerbread Patients Attack a box of gingerbread men with tubes of writing icing and adorn them with injuries and stitches of all different colours.

    6. Marshmallow Ghosts Use a food colouring pen to draw eyes and a screaming mouth onto an upside down white marshmallow. For added gruesomeness, partially melt it onto a biscuit.

    7. Candy Apple Slices Coating apples in toffee or chocolate is not easy, as often the sugary goodness slips right off before it's had time to set. It's much easier to slice the apple into chunks, then dip it into melted chocolate / toffee, and let it dry on a piece of wax paper. If you want to make it really pretty, sprinkle on hundreds and thousands while the covering is still wet.

    8. Pancake Ghosts Instead of pouring your batter into a neat circle, make it into an irregular tear drop shape. Once cooked, decorate with chocolate buttons for eyes, as the heat from the pancake will melt the chocolate a little so the buttons stick on.

    9. Zombie Cake Make a normal cake batter, but add a drop of yellow and blue food colourings to get a green sponge. Bake as one large cake, or smaller cup cakes and decorate with whatever facial features you like.

    10. Haunted Bananas Dip half a banana into melted white chocolate, then use chocolate buttons to make eyes and a mouth. This looks more effective if a lollipop stick is pushed into the bottom of the banana and it is eaten as a variation on the toffee apple.

    Most of these ideas came from Pinterest, where you will find loads more fantastical food. If in doubt, simply add two white chocolate buttons for eyes, and top with chocolate drops for the pupils, and just about any food will look scary.

  • Horrifying Halloween Decorations

    While researching my Halloween games, crafts and foods posts, I found lots of ideas for Halloween decorations, so I couldn't resist writing a post about that too.

    If you're hosting a Halloween party, or simply want to make your back garden look ghoulish, try out these simple decoration ideas you can make yourself, or with the help of your children.

    1. Floating Faces Buy a selection of orange and white balloons, and blow them up with normal air (not helium). Use a black marker pen to draw on scary faces, then hang the balloons from your climbing frame or slide, tree branches or wherever else you like.

    2. Mummified Trampoline Use toilet roll or kitchen paper to mummify the trampoline, by wrapping around the safety net. Make sure you leave a gap big enough for children to get on and off it. Make it look especially fearesome by cutting out cardboard facial features and have them peeking out from underneath the 'bandages'.

    3. Spying Eyes Gather up your empty cardboard tubes, and cut out pairs of eyes from each one. Then add a glow stick, tape up each end, and hide under the slide, on in the bushes. When it gets dark it will look like glowing eyes are peering into your garden.

    4. Glowing Ghosts Semi-transparent plastic milk bottles make excellent ghosts. Use a marker pen or black paper to create a face, then add a glow stick, and put the lid back on. These are very effective if you make six or more, and line them up along the path, or scatter them throughout the garden.

    5. Uninvited Guest This is not for the faint-hearted, or young children. Fill up your paddling pool with plastic balls or leaves (not water as this will be too much of a hazard in the dark, with lots of children around). Then half submerge a plastic skeleton decoration. Try to prop the top half up so he looks like he is taking a bath. If you really want to scare people, you could tie a piece of string to his head or finger, and pull it while you stand out of site to make him move around.

    6. Just Add Eyes The quickest and easiest way to add a Halloween atmosphere to your back garden is to add eyes to everything. Make pairs of scary eyes of different shapes and colours, on card, then go round the garden adding them to fence panels and play equipment.

    7. Bring Your Own If you're hosting a Halloween party, ask each of your guests to bring a carved pumpkin. These decorations look great when amassed together but they can be time consuming to make. Light them all up, and arrange them on the lawn like a little army of Jack O' Lanterns ready to attack.

    8. Silhouette In The Window Use black craft paper or cardboard, and cut out spooky shapes like witches, spiders, or even the outline of a person. Stick them to the window, and leave the light on, then from the outside it will look like these creatures are in your house.

    For more Halloween inspiration, check out my posts on spooky foods, eerily educational crafts and freakishly fun games.

  • The Christmas Rush – some advice from Wicken Toys

     

    For the past two months we have been blogging about toys and of course the odd Christmas blog hasn't gone amiss.  It’s been a long build-up to the biggest day of the year, particularly for children. But now Christmas is literally a few days away and the question is; are you ready? Continue reading

  • A castle to call my own - Children's playhouses for Christmas

     

    A castle to call my own – Christmas playhouses for children

     

    It’s hard to believe that Christmas 2011 is two months away. From September or October time, children start to get the red and green mist of Christmas; they begin to see the new toys and games filtering through on the TV and their little minds work overtime with lists for Father Christmas.

    Christmas is such a special time for little ones. The magic is an almost tangible thing and they get so excited about Christmas Day that they can’t sleep. Christmas gifts are difficult things to get right, but Wicken Toys can guide you on buying your children a perfect Christmas gift.

     

    My home is my castle

    Playhouses can give children endless fun and games as they tumble through childhood. It’s a private little kingdom for them to call their own, where their minds can conjure up all sorts of weird and wonderful adventures.

    As proud owners of the UK’s largest outdoor toy display, Wicken Toys in Milton Keynes gives you the unique opportunity to come down and see the toys in real life before you decide on your purchase.

     

    All Out Play Tower

    Does your son or daughter fancy themselves an elven warrior fighting on the plains of Middle Earth? Does your daughter imagine herself as a shield maiden fighting legions of gruesome warriors? The All Out Play Tower playhouse gives your children a refuge away from the house and their own little castle tower to play in.

    Shaped like a turret and made from strong, sturdy wood, the All Out Play Tower would make a perfect Christmas gift for children looking for real adventures at playtime. They can imagine themselves holding the fort of a castle, preparing to do battle against an army or they can make a comfortable den in there.

    It’s the adventurer’s choice.

     

    The All Out Play Castle playhouse

    Their home will be their castle this Christmas if you choose the All Out Play Castle from Wicken Toys. This wooden castle can become a fairy palace, the castle of valiant princes or princesses, a fort for cowboys from the wild west or the fort of a brave warrior.

    The All Out Play Castle is decked out with arched doorways like a real castle; it has arrow slit windows for an authentic castle feel and internal hanging bars for children to play on inside the castle.

    Castle playhouse for children This playhouse even comes with a flagpole, so you and your children can sit and create a flag for the play castle together for some quality family bonding time together. This is the ultimate Christmas gift for brave and adventurous children.

    Wicken Toys is like a dreamland for children, where they can shop with their families and see an amazingly rich world of outdoor toys and games. Children deserve as many magical Christmases as possible and these playhouses are a fun little piece of adventure in a world of pure imagination.

    If you have any questions about any of our toys or you’d like to see them in the real world, come down and visit us. Our address details are here.

  • Bouncing towards Christmas with Wicken Toys

    Bouncing towards Christmas with Wicken Toys

    As we go bouncing towards the festive season, Wicken Toys is giving you a whole host of gift ideas for energetic children of all ages. (And even adults...) The Wicken family can provide the very best of outdoor toys at very competitive prices, whatever your needs might be.

    Christmas is a time when children come alive with even more energy in anticipation of the visit from Old Saint Nick on Christmas Eve. They need Christmas toys that can keep up with them; they need toys that they can pour their energy into and use for years to come. Trampolines might seem like a strange toy for Christmastime, but they are fun, enduring and great for children.

    Start small with the TP 8ft Star Trampoline

    We thought we’d start small with this popular trampoline for little stars aged 3 years and up. The octagonal frame of this trampoline guarantees a perfect vertical that will keep them entertained as they wear out their batteries in the back garden.

    The TP 8ft Star Trampoline comes with a soft surround, a cover net and an anchor kit for extra safety and comfort.

    TP 10ft Capital Trampoline

    Designed to TP's specification, the 10ft Capital trampoline is huge fun for children over the age of 6. The quality of the trampoline at a highly affordable price. At 10ft and a seemingly expansive circular shape that draws the bouncer – or bouncers – into the centre to avoid any mishaps around the edges of the trampoline. This is a fun trampoline to get for your kids; one that will have them reaching for the stars with every bounce.

    Buying the TP 10ft? Don’t forget the TP 10ft trampoline mat cover to keep autumn and winter’s debris off your child’s trampoline.  Caring for your trampoline like this will help to keep it in the best possible shape for a long time. 

    If your children are too small to reach the trampoline by themselves, you can also purchase a TP Trampoline ladder to fit any trampoline. It means that they can get on and off without Mum and Dad's help

    The Super Tramp Wallaby

    Super Tramp Wallaby trampoline is a serious trampoline. Heavy duty and tough, this trampoline suits everyone age 6 and up – including adults. It’s the trampoline choice for avid bouncing and even acrobatics.

    This would be a perfect Christmas gift for your son or daughter if they are serious gymnasts and wanting to hone their skills. It offers serious athletic performance at an unbeatable quality and value for a home trampoline.

    The Super Tramp Wallaby is quiet, extremely bouncy and durable. It can withstand tough punishment from your child or teenager as they practice their skill sets for competitions.

    Trampolines are fantastic outdoor toys because they are fun, healthy and durable. They encourage children to have fun being active outside and they are great for burning off energy. (Much healthier than a games console!)

    Whatever your child’s needs for Christmas presents, Wicken Toys is at hand with exceptional gifts at great prices. Wicken Toys are fun toys for the whole family – from children all the way to parents.

  • Anyone for table tennis? Wicken Toys talks Ping Pong!

    We all remember as children having those toys that could be played indoors or outdoors. Table tennis was one of those games that was not only great fun but it was always ideal for when the rains came.

    So in today’s blog we thought we would do a small feature on table tennis and of course the tables we currently stock.

    Table tennis is a great addition to any playroom, large garage or indoor space and just like a lot of other sport related games it’s great for keeping fit and is absolutely ideal as a family activity.

    Here at Wicken Toys we stock a number of tennis tables – all very popular for different reasons.

    Table tennis is also known as ping-pong usually has two or four players.  The game is simple.  You have table tennis rackets and simply have to hit a very lightweight ball back and forth.  There are obviously some game rules here but it is just as fun trying to keep the ball going as it is to play a match right?

    Table Tennis actually originates from England (somewhere in the 1880s) and was played as a parlour game. This could be the reason why it is often played indoors as opposed to outside and over time has become a firm favourite – culminating in it being recognised as an Olympic sport in 1988!

    Continue reading
  • Here comes the sun - cooling off in summer with outdoor pools

     

    With the weather being as cold as it has been, summer may not be at the forefront of your mind – but here at Wicken Toys we like to plan ahead a little! Although it may not seem it quite yet, spring and summer are on their way.  There have already been warnings for an upcoming drought in Eastern England, the Midlands and the Southeast! Continue reading

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