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water play

  • Water Play Without The Fight

    A water fight is a fun and energetic way to cool down on a hot sunny day. But as it's a messy activity, wastes a lot of water, and can run up your water bill, it's not something you want to encourage your children to do every day.

    To kick-start your Summer holidays, we've come up with this list of calmer, less chaotic ways to cool down.

    Ice Blocks For this activity you will need some action figures or plastic animals, an empty margarine or ice cream tub, and plenty of room inside your freezer.

    To make the ice block, partially fill the tub with water, and leave in the freezer for 2-3 hours. Then add the toy, and top up with water, before returning the tub to the freezer.

    You could do the same thing with tiny toys, such as LEGO minifigures and an ice cube day.

    On a hot day, place the ice blocks onto a water play table, or another clean, smooth flat surface, and challenge your children to free the toys. Provide tools that will help, like spoons and salt to sprinkle on. Encourage older children to experiment with adding salt or sugar and noticing the effect that has on the speed the ice melts.

    Ice Boats Make tiny ice boats by pushing a tooth pick into an ice block, then adding a sail. Use tin foil or cling film to make a river down the garden slide, and around the garden, then sail the boats down stream. Bunch the foil or film together at the sides to make edges to the river and stop the boats straying onto the grass.

    Sponge Water Fight If you want to limit the amount of water used during a water fight, this is a great way to do it. Give each child a bucket of water, and a dozen cheap washing up sponges. Set the limit, stating that is the total amount of water they have to play with. Now they can get each other wet with less wastage as they throw the wet sponges.

    Water Balloon Boules Instead of throwing water balloons at each other, draw out an archery style target on the wall, or on the patio, with points allocated to each circle.

    Perfume Mixing Collect flower petals and lavender heads, and provide mixing bowls and spoons so your children can mix up their own tubs of homemade perfume.

    Water Pistol Skittles You will need some lightweight plastic skittles and a water pistol. If you don't have any skittles, you can decorate empty drinks bottles. Stand the skittles on a garden table, or line them up on the climbing frame ladder, basically they can go on any flat surface that you don't mind getting wet. Make the rules up to suit the age and stage of your children. You could give each person a maximum of three squirts to see how many skittles they can get down, or time how long it takes to knock the full set over. The rules don't matter so long as everyone is having fun.

    For more top tips take a look at our ideas for keeping cool and alternative ways to play with water.

  • Buyer's Guide To Choosing A Sand Pit

    There's no need to trek all the way to the beach to enjoy sandcastles. Bring the seaside to your own back garden with a new sand pit.

    Why Play With Sand?

    Playing in a sandpit offers a multi-sensory experience for your children.

    The sensation of the grains gliding over the skin is stimulating yet relaxing, providing a great way to relax through play.

    And as multiple senses are stimulated at the same time little brains learn to process information from diverse sources quickly and simultaneously in order to be able to make sense of the world around them.

    What To Look For

    Don't just grab the first sand pit you see on sale. Take a moment to plan what features will work out for you and your family.

    Sand Table Here are a few reasons why a sand play table might work better for your children: + Easier to keep pesky critters out and keep the sand clean. + Better if you would prefer your children not to get covered in sand. + Great for older children who can stand up and play at the table. + Portable so you can bring the sand pit indoors to stay out of the Sun or provide entertainment on a rainy day. + Often multi-purpose so you can use water or other play substances instead of sand, offering great value for money. + Can be stored, ideal if you have a small garden and need to free up space for play.

    Sand Pit + Great if your children would like to sit amongst the sand. + If you think your child might climb onto a table, and sand pit would be safer. + More permanent fixture so less setting up and preparation required each time the children want to play. + Blends in with surrounding garden better than a table.

    Other Considerations - You will need a good lid to keep creatures and critters out of the sand, and keep the sand dry. - If your children are likely to grow out of sand play anytime soon, a cheaper table will serve your family for a Summer. If however you are anticpating many years of sand play, a wooden sand pit would be a wiser investment.

    Convertible Picnic Tables

    A picnic table that converts to a sand pit makes a great alternative to a sand table. It's dual purpose justifies the space in the garden it takes up, and will provide many hours of play, making it great value for money.

    TP

    Little ones can sit up at the table to enjoy an outdoor arts and crafts activity, or their lunch, then open out the top to reveal the sand underneath.

    Check out our full range of sand and water play equipment here.

  • Top Tips For Staying Cool This Summer

    As the temperature rises, your family needs fun ways to cool off.

    The most obvious is to have an all out water fight, but many parents (myself included) find this a little too boisterous and a lot too messy.

    Here are some top tips for keeping cool, in a calm, and more orderly fashion.

    1. Water Beads In A Bucket Grow some water beads in a bucket of cold water, then let little ones enjoy some sensory play, or older children (and adults) can just sit back, and rest their bare feet in the cool, squishiness.

    2. Parasol Positioning Get a parasol with a bent, moveable arm which allows you to change the location of the shade, without having to move the heavy parasol base. Try and keep younger children entertained within the shaded area by putting their favourite toys or crafts out on a rug.

    3. Reading Den Create a beautifully cool reading den underneath your climbing frame or swing set, by draping some old bed sheets over the structure, and adding pillows and cushions inside.

    4. Homemade Slushies To do this you will need water-tight, freezer-safe food bags, which are usually used for soups or sauces. Make up a water-based or fruit juice drink of your choice, then half fill each bag. Seal the bags, and place them in the freezer. Depending on your freezer temperature, the bags should be ready after around 90 minutes to 3 hours. When the mixture is partially frozen, gently squeeze and massage the bag by hand, until you've turned the ice to mush. Then pour into a glass and enjoy.

    5. Magic Sponge Keep a magic sponge on stand-by at all times, for self-administered child cool-offs. Fill a plastic bucket with cool water, and add a few ice cubes to keep the temperature down. Then keep one sponge for each child in the bucket, a different colour per person is a good idea. For younger children you may need to demonstrate how they can squeeze the water out the sponge, then apply it to their foreheads, back of the neck and even tummy to help cool down.

    TP

    6. Water Play Tables Just having their hands in cool water can really help children feel more comfortable on a hot day. Add some ice cubes, and ask your children what they think will happen, for a quick and easy science lesson in changing states. And you can position a parasol or sheet to keep the Sun at bay.

    7. Swap Around Play Times During the school holidays consider changing around your daily timetable. Let kids stay up later in the evening to enjoy playing in the cooler air, and catch up on lost sleep by lying in the next day, or taking a midday nap.

    8. Splash Pool It may sound obvious but sitting in a splash pool is very cooling. Our large metal framed pools provide plenty of space to splash and play in, while the smaller inflatable pools are ideal to sit younger children in while they play with waterproof toys.

  • Choosing A Paddling Pool

    As the weather warms up, you may be considering buying a paddling pool, or even larger above ground swimming pool for your garden.

    At Wicken Toys we sell a range of pools, in a variety of sizes, and have the expertise needed to help you choose the right model for your family.

    What Do You Need?

    Before you begin to browse our selection, ask yourself a few questions to help scope out your requirements.

    1. What will your pool be used for? This question isn't as daft as it sounds. Deeper pools are suitable for climbing into, and enjoying being immersed in the water. Shallower pools can be used for paddling in, or as a container for water play while the child is positioned outside of the pool. Also consider who will be using the pool. Does it need to be big enough to accommodate multiple children and / or adults?

    2. Do you want a semi-permanent structure? Our large above ground pools are designed to be left up for a number of weeks. Once erected they require minimal maintenance, and do not need continuous refilling, provided the correct cleaning process have been put in place. On the other hand, if you have a small garden, then a temporary pool, which can be emptied and put away at the end of use, then refilled the next time you wish to use it, would be more appropriate.

    3. Budget Vs Convenience A cheaper inflatable paddling pool can be a false economy. Emptying it, deflaiting it, then getting it back out on the next sunny day, gets old fast. There will also be times when, for example after school, you could grab 20 minutes or so in the pool, but it's just too much effort getting it out to make it worth while. With an above ground pool the fun is set up and ready to go as soon as you want to play.

    Types Of Pool Explained

    We stock a range of pools, constructed in different ways.

    Plastic Hard Sided These are fixed shape pools made from injection molded plastic. They are usually small and easy to fill, and light weight so they can be moved around. They can often be used as sand pits too. AS the shape is fixed they do not reduce in size for storage.

    Inflatable

    Designed to be stored flat, then inflated as needed. We sell hand pumps and electric pumps to make inflation a lot easier.

    PVC Sided

    Intex 10ft x 30 Easy Set Swimming Pool

    Intex

    These have an inflatable ring at the top to hold the shape of the wall, then filling it with water is what makes it expand to full size.

    Metal Frame Used for larger above ground pools, metal tubes slot together, to support a large soft sided pool liner.

    ntex

    Pool Alternative For a fun, affordable way to cool off, consider getting a slip and slide. These are best suited to older children and young-hearted adults.

    TP

  • New Water Play Ideas For Summer Half Term Holidays

    Playing with water is a great way to cool off during the half term holidays. Give your water play some direction with these fun, but educational water based activities.

    #1 The Leak Proof Bag The experiment involves filling a clear plastic food bag with water, then suspending it underneath your climbing frame or swing set. You then use very sharp pencils, or wooden barbecue food sticks to pierce the bag, from one side straight through the other side.

    Before you begin the experiment, explain to your children what you are going to do, and ask them to make a prediction about what will happen once the bag has been run through with the pencils. Most likely they will expect the bag to start leaking in water. In fact what actually happens is that so long as all the pencils remain in place, no water will leak out. This is because the polymers that the bag is made up of are flexible and hug around the pencil creating a watertight seal. When you are finished with the experiment, remove the pencils and the children can cool off under the homemade shower.

    #2 Filtering Water In this experiment you will take really dirty water, and filter it using materials you have at home, to turn it into clean water.

    Start by getting mucky making a bucket of clean water really dirty, mucky by adding bits of grass, plant matter, soil, and whatever else your children want to mix in.

    Then ask them one question: Can we get this water clean again?

    To clean the water, you will need to create a homemade filter. For this you need to take a clean flower pot with drainage holes in the bottom. Line the bottom with blotting paper, multiple layers of kitchen paper, or a very clean muslin style cloth. On top of this shovel in some sand, then top off with a layer of gravel at least an inch or two thick. The filter needs to be suspended above another pot to catch the water as it drips through. Pour the dirty water into the top, and after a few seconds of patience, clean (or at least cleaner) water will drip through. You can experiment with improving the cleanliness of the water by passing the mix through the filter a number of times.

    #3 Walking Water This is a really simple experiment that you can adapt to try out a number of different hypotheses.

    You will need some plastic cups, water, and good quality kitchen towel.

    The idea is that you put water in one cup, then an empty cup just a little below it, for example one rung down on a ladder or one step below, and connect the two with kitchen towel (which you may want to cut long ways). The water will travel from one cup to the other.

    There are a whole range of ideas you can try out: Race two sets alongside each other, one with hot water and one with cold (the hot water moves faster); try out different food colourings in the water to see if that changes how fast the water moves or what it looks like in the end cup; dissolve some salt in the water first and see what happens.

    For more fun outdoor play ideas, including water play activities, visit the Wicken Toys blog.

  • Top Five Summer Water Play Ideas From Wicken Toys

    With the weather heating up, and the school Summer holidays underway, let’s cool things down with these ideas for water play (the poetry was deliberate).

    Each of these games has the potential to help your child discover something new, and requires only basic equipment and a little preparation.

    Ice Cube Pick N Mix

    Create some interesting (non-edible) ice cubes overnight then add them to the splash pool or water play table.

    Create a variety of colours and textures by adding food colouring, glitter, and even rice to your ice cubes.

    Younger children can play a guessing game to figure out what’s inside the cube before it melts.

    For older children, provide a few containers of water at different temperatures so they can explore the rate at which the ice melts.

    This is a great introduction to the concept of one substance transitioning through different states.

    Ice Prisoners

    This is an exercise in problem solving, and is a great way to keep school-aged children occupied on a warm day.

    Freeze some small toys into ice blocks overnight, then provide some tools for liberation, and watch your children turn into super heroes as they make a rescue attempt.

    To get the toys to freeze deep inside the ice, you will need to partially fill a bowl or ice cream tub with water, freeze it, then place the toy inside, fill up with water and return to the freezer.

    Provide a selection of tools that may be useful in removing the ice and freeing the toy, such as: a bottle of warm water; some salt; a spoon; a flannel; and anything else you think is safe, appropriate and helpful.

    This activity can reveal a lot about your child’s temperament. While one child is furiously chipping away at the ice as quickly as possible, another will leave the block in a sunny spot and play something else.

    Laundry Day

    Doll or teddy clothes are perfect for this game.

    Wash them in a bucket of warm soapy water, and then peg the clothes out to dry. Look through the hanging clothes together and talk about the different fabrics and which ones your child thinks will dry first. You can also try hanging some clothes in the sun, and others in the shade to see how long they take to dry.

    Make Your Own Water Feature

    This is a great construction activity for older children.

    You will need:

    • A large bucket or trough of water
    • Some thick tape, like electrical tape
    • Sections of guttering
    • Plastic bottles
    • Something to mount this too, like a peg board, or you could tape it to your climbing frame.

    Set your children a challenge, to make a beautiful fountain, or a way to transport the water without spilling a drop.

    This should encourage team work and some creative thinking.

    Make Your Own Sail Boats

    A paddling pool is a summer essential, but it’s not just for sitting in: it could be a boating lake too.

    Make your own sail boats, and then set them out for a voyage in the pool. If your pool is big enough, your child can climb in and make some waves.

    You will need something small and buoyant, like the plastic lid from a glass jar, to make the body of the boat. Then use a straw (or two) and some paper to make the sail.

    Hopefully, those educational, watery play ideas will keep you busy over the first week of the holidays. Stay tuned to the blog where we will publish more play-inspiration over the summer.

  • Get messy with water and sand play

     

    Water and sand tables will often get overshadowed by their paddling pool and sandpit counterparts. We stock a number of children’s paddling pools and sandpits which are always a popular summer purchase, but people will often overlook the entertainment value that these simple toys have to offer.

    Water tables and sand tables can regularly be found tucked away inside of nurseries, playgroups, and young infant classes. This is because they are great pieces of play equipment for both the outdoors and indoors; not forgetting the host of physical and mental development they offer young children.

    Social skills

    Where there are water tables and sand tables, you will often find a number of children gathered around these. They present many opportunities for social interaction with other children of a similar age as they can all work together to build cities made of sand or seaside harbours with multiple waterways. Over time, as they work to build their mini empires they’ll develop leadership skills, teamwork, compromise, and learn to allocate different roles.

    Literacy skills

    Whilst they are developing social skills improved literacy skills are a high probability too. As a child explores the new play materials and interacts with other children, they’ll quickly pick up other words and particularly ones to describe the different ways of playing with sand and water.

    Understanding of materials and textures

    Water tables and sand tables offer many educational benefits like we have already mentioned, but to add to this list is also the understanding of different materials and textures.

    Children’s play involving sand and water helps young kids at an important young stage of development to observe in a fun way the different characteristics of these materials, and how you can control and move them around. Equally just as educational is that the combination of water and sand which creates a whole new world for them to play with. For instance, they’ll quickly be able to predict what happens to the texture of sand when certain volumes of water are added to it.

    See for yourself!

    With all of the different areas of learning development that can be found in sand and water stands, they are a brilliant piece of play equipment to add to a nursery, school, or even just at home in the garden.

    We have a couple of wonderful water tables here at Wicken Toys to accompany our range of sandpits and paddling pools. Take a look at our TP Rockface Sand and Water Table. This is a very durable design which is ideal for lots of use in a playgroup or infant class.

    We also have the TP Cascade Water Table and Stand. This is a large design which has entertaining little features like a canal and water wheel as well as lock gates.

    Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information about any product from our vast ranges of outdoor trampolines, climbing frames, Kettler go karts, garden swings, and more.

  • 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.

  • Keep afloat this summer!

     

    Believe it or not, summer is actually fast approaching!  In spite of all the rain and bad weather we’ve all had of late, the warmest season of the year is well on its way, and we at Wicken Toys definitely believe in planning ahead...

     

    With this blog entry, we thought we’d introduce you to just a few of the amazing aquatic toys we have on offer.  Whether in your back garden or a public pool, these colourful and inspired floats are guaranteed to provide hours of fun and enjoyment – they would make an ideal addition to holiday preparations too.

    We’re proud to stock a range of products manufactured by the industry leading Intex.  With over 40 years in the business, Intex dedicate themselves to designing and producing the highest quality of products possible – this applies to both their pools and pool toys.

     

    All of their inflatable toys and airbeds are inflated in the factory before being packed for delivery to ensure the product is of their usual exceptional quality and to make sure there are no punctures.  The majority of their products come equipped with a double valve system for ease and extra effectiveness during inflation and most come with a repair patch just in case tragedy strikes.

     

    With designs ranging from crocodiles to dragonflies, our ride-ons are sure to keep kids of all ages entertained.  The Dragon Ride-On is perfect, for example for the smaller of swimmers or virtuoso dragon tamers, while the Large Dragon Ride-On is ideal as the little ones grow up – with the ability to hold more than one child at a time.  These shaped and colourful floating toys can fuel imagination, add an extra element to creative play or simply serve as a brief rest from swimming!

    The standout Sea Turtle Boat offers all the features of the aforementioned ride-ons with the addition of oar features, which not only reinforce physical coordination but can aid the development of upper arm strength.  We can only imagine the piratey adventures that would entail if a group of friends were to get together with two of these fine turtle galleons!

     

    Of course, you’re allowed to join in the fun too!  Intex supply a selection of inflatable pool lounges as well, all made to the same immaculate specification as their other products.  We at Wicken are liking the Pool Lounge Large – just picture yourself floating on by in that, basking in the sun’s warm rays as the kids splash away in the background... And even if they splash into your pool lounge, it comes equipped with a drain plug in the base – problem solved!

     

     

    So this summer, why not break out the inflatables and hit the pool?  ...And if you don’t have one of your own, don’t forget to look at our selection of Intex pools too!  Now we just have to wait for the sun...  It’s coming!

  • Summer is landing with a splash

     

    Finally, after fighting through an arctic winter and getting through a rather erratic spring, we are arriving on the cusp of summer. This is the time of year that all Britons anticipate as we know that we will get at least a couple months worth of strong weather between the May-August period.

     

    For kids that break-up for the school holidays they will need to find activities to keep their attention spans engaged so you can get on with other things around the home. We recommend, providing the weather holds out and things heat up, water play outdoor toys. The benefits here are that the kids get to play outdoors, enjoy the nice weather and stay cool all at the same time.

     

    We are in no short supply of these pools and water play toys. Our range includes Intex above ground swimming pools, baby pools, splasher pools, fun floats, pool lounges and accessories. We also have a selection of sandpits and water trays to suit gardens large and small.

     

    The trick to finding the ideal swimming pool is to know your garden and know your kids. You need adequate space for anything large like an Intex above ground pool, and you also need to know what is most suitable for your children (depending on their ages). All of our products come with age range requirements so you know if they are appropriate for your tykes.

     

    Let’s start small and work our way up...

     

    The Intex Beachball Fun Pool - this is a great paddling pool for the smaller child and garden.  See thru rings with fun beachball print. Intex are one of the world’s largest inflatable manufacturers, Intex products are sold all over the world.  They inflate all their toys at the factory before they are packed. This can be used in the back garden or even taken down to the beach for those of the young ones who are too young to go in the sea.

     

    Going up a size and going in terms of age suitability – the Intex 10ft x 30 Easy Set Swimming Pool is quick and easy to install suitable for the whole family from 6+ years. It’s so simple to put up and within ten minutes you'll be ready to fill it. The Intex Easy Set pool provides a convenient and easy alternative to steel-walled pools with a durable, heavy-guage PVC construction. They are also easy to drain after use.Another step up from this is the Intex 16ft x 48in Ultra Metal Frame Swimming Pool Set which includes all the following accessories; filter pump, ladder, ground sheet, debris cover, maintenance kit and surface skimmer. The ultra pools feature a stronger frame than a traditional metal frame pool and the pool liner is finished in a light grey more up market colour.

     

     

    Another step up from this is the Intex 16ft x 48in Ultra Metal Frame Swimming Pool Set which includes all the following accessories; filter pump, ladder, ground sheet, debris cover, maintenance kit and surface skimmer. The ultra pools feature a stronger frame than a traditional metal frame pool and the pool liner is finished in a light grey more up market colour.

     

     

    There are many choices at Wicken Toys that you can select from but you can also contact us for some swimming pool advice. Treat your family to a really great summer that they can enjoy from the safety of your own back garden.

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