When the lovely team over at Little Tikes UK contacted me to write a post highlighting the importance of outdoor play as well as promote their fantastic range of interactive outdoor toys, I jumped at the chance! My little girl, Penny (nearly 2), loves to explore outside and, as a creche worker, I appreciate the huge health, social and cognitive benefits of getting active, messy and creative outside, no matter what the weather.
Psychologist and spokesperson for Little Tikes Emma Kenny says: “Outdoor play is a great way to bond with your child while allowing them to experience the fresh air and freedom outdoor activities can provide.” Little Tikes have also provided me with a list of Emma’s top tips for getting kids outdoors –
1. Have fun with them! Kids absolutely love to spend time with their parents. Whether you create an obstacle course in the garden up and over the slide and around the sandpit, or a simple game of hide and seek, playing together is fantastic for bonding and ensures lots of healthy activity.
2. Get kids growing! Connecting children with nature is a sure fire way to spark their interest in and connection with the outdoors. Planting sunflower seeds and having a ‘whose grows tallest’ competition is a simple way to get things growing!
3. Get creative with the outdoors, messy play becomes a lot more fun when it doesn’t matter how messy you get. The sandpit and water table are great places to start making memories, and why not take the paints, paper and brushes outdoors and help your kids with their messy masterpieces.
4. Go on a nature treasure trail. Grab some bags and go out on a nature walk, take their scooter or trike making sure you gather interesting pebbles, and leaves along the way. When you get home you can make creative collages that you can keep as souvenirs.
5. Get them den building! You’re never too old or too young for den building. Aside from building imagination, dexterity and divergent play skills, there is nothing more exciting than having a secret den to play in
6. Go moon watching as a family. From counting stars, to learning all the shapes of the moon. Getting outside at night can help relax children before bed and help with a restful sleep
7. Play bug detectives! Get muddy looking under rocks and digging in the soil to see how many bugs and worms you can spot. This activity brings nature to life and helps kids feel a sense of excitement in the outside world
I (Penny) was kindly sent two wonderful outside toys: the Fountain Factory Water Tray (RRP £59.99) and the Turtle Sandbox (£49.99). We had a glimmer of sunshine this weekend so we wasted no time putting the sun cream on, getting the barbeque lit and building our new interactive toys.
The Little Tikes Fountain Factory Water Table is perfect for sensory and group play. It includes interchangeable pipes, fittings and accessories that bring science and engineering learning to children from 24 months all the way up to 5 years. It was easy to build and comes with an easy-drain plug for a quick cleanup. The children can control the water pump which fills the tower that then flows to three fountains were a peek-a-boo character rises with the water and multiple taps can be adjusted to manipulate the flow of water. Penny loves her water table and wasted no time stripping down to her vest and chucking all her teddies in! Obviously, her favourite thing to do is to splash mummy.
We were also sent the classic garden toy: the Turtle Sandbox. Our sand hasn’t arrived yet but that wouldn’t stop Penny from having fun. She got inside to play hide and seek! It didn’t even occur to me that I could have made it into a ball pool too. It’s also perfect for messy play activities. I’m thinking water balloons, rainbow spaghetti and gloop! I think I’m more excited than Penny. I love how multifunctional this little guy is and, not to mention, super cute.
This summer Little Tikes are on a mission to promote and encourage children and parents to get out into the garden and the great outdoors. Visit LittleTikes.co.uk to explore their new range of fun and immersive products and heaps of activities if you’re struggling for inspiration.