I thought I’d do a round up of my favourite children’s garden toys, following on from my last post about childhood memories of playing outside. We have a few garden toys that the kids have absolutely loved and that they continue to play with year after year. You’ll notice that I haven’t included a trampoline. I know they’re popular and my two do love playing on them at friends’ houses. I have nothing against them per se, except that they take up such a lot of space. So we haven’t got one (yet). Anyway, there are plenty of other fun things for them to do in our garden. Here are our tried and tested, top five garden toys:
We have one with a built-in lid that opens up and converts into two little benches, like the one below from John Lewis. You can see ours in the photo at the top of this post. It’s a great size and my 4 and 6 year olds still fit in it comfortably. The lid means we never have to worry about finding cat poo in the sandpit, and it helps to keep the sand nice and clean. Ours was untreated, so I painted it with wood stain to protect it from the weather. A sheet of membrane fabric underneath keeps out weeds and worms.
We have a cool geodesic climbing frame, which you can buy here. It was a gift for the kids from my parents. It’s great for little ones and I think we’ll get a good few more years’ play out of it, depending on how tall the kids get. (If they take after me, they’ll probably never grow out of it.) It started out an awful, lurid green but has faded nicely in the sun. We built it ourselves without too much trouble, drawing on copious experience building Ikea flatpacks. It’s lightweight so you can easily move it when you want to mow or whatever. The kids love clambering all over it with friends, and singing “I’m the King/Queen of the castle!” And you can make a cosy den inside with a picnic blanket, cushions, and big sheet over the top.
I love these tubs! They’re cheap and cheerful, and come in lots of different sizes and colours. The one pictured below can be bought here but I tend to buy them in big DIY shops. I have them all over the house and garden. We use them as toy tubs, laundry hampers, garden waste trugs, and for sand and water play. I find most sand and water play tables to be far too small and fiddly, or just ridiculously expensive if you want the kind they use in early years settings. I just pop one of these on an old cable reel and, voila, you have a water play table. When the kids were really little, the shallow version was a perfect little paddling pool.
This was new for us this summer and we had loads of fun with it during the heatwave in June. We bought it from Amazon. It’s basically a water sprinkler that you spike into the lawn and connect to your hosepipe. When you turn the water on, the daisy head waves about like crazy, spraying water in all directions. My two spent the whole time running around it screaming, or grabbing hold of it to direct the spray at one another, and generally having a fabulous time. Sadly the weather has been pants this month, so we’ve not used it much during the school holidays. (I have my fingers crossed for an Indian summer.)
The ‘Critter Carnival’ (below) by Insect Lore is another a new toy, acquired in the shop at Pensthorpe earlier this summer. It has joined our collection of other bug hunting toys that include: magnifying glasses, nets, bug viewing jar, and minibeast information books. You have to catch your bugs first (ladybirds, woodlice, beetles, etc) and then drop them in through the hole at the top. You can then watch your little critters moving around the carnival rides. We’ve had mixed results, probably because the kids keep shaking it, and the woodlice mainly roll up into little balls and hide. But we’ll persist because frankly I find the concept hilarious and I think it merits further tries.
Disclaimer: The links that I’ve included above may or may not be to the same shops where we bought our toys. To be honest, I can’t remember where we bought some of them. I have noticed that the prices seem have gone up considerably, but I guess that’s because of the sucky recession we’re in. You might find them cheaper if you shop around.
I’ll leave you with a cute photo of my son, aged 14 months. It was a really hot day so he just decided to get in the tub, fully clothed, nappy and all. Love that boy! xxx