Thursday, 3 June 2010

SPECIAL FEATURE Great Garden Toys for Summer

Now that the sun has finally got its hat on, The Tot Testers are eager to get out doors for some fun. But running around the garden gets boring after a day, so what products are out there to curb the boredom fresh hold? The Family Panel have been finding out....

The sun might be fun, but it can be a nightmare for health conscious parents to keep those UV rays at bay. Regardless of sunscreen, heat can cause illness, especially in youngsters.

Budget brand supermarket Aldi have an alternative to the traditional Wendy House which not just keeps the kids in the shade but also promotes imaginative play.

Their flat pack Play House and Sand Pit (£99.99) is a great item which will remain popular for many summers to come.

Made from pre-treated wood, it has a material roof which filters out UV rays, as well as a sandpit with safe rounded edges. The Sandpit is on runners, which allow it to slide comfortably under the playhouse to stop the sand being weather damaged.

Don't let the flat pack element put you off- we found it was easier to look at the picture guide to putting it together than the written instructions, but it only took an hour to put it up, and all the screws are included, and the holes for them ready drilled. Its also a good size, easily fitting 4 children on the deck area. 

Big Tot loved this and had lots of fun telling us it was her house, her stage and her bedroom out doors too!

The only negative is that the sandpit has no base- we had to purchase some pond material and staple it to the bottom, as if you are using it on grass, or want to move it, then the sand obviously wouldn't have moved with it or becomes muddy!

Next up was the Ozbozz My First Scooter (£17.99 at Amazon),

Big Tot has been moaning about her desire for a scooter for a while, but seeing her try out her cousins two wheeler put us off!

However, the Ozbozz scooter cleverly comes with four wheels and is very sturdy. Its also lightweight with soft grab handles and a wide foot board.

Aimed at the younger rider, it builds confidence via its removable wheels- yes, this is three scooters in one!
When first used, the four wheels help the toddler stay upright as it keeps it steady- even Little Tot (aged 22 months) managed to have a brief go and suffered no ill effects!

Once they grow in ability, the wheels can be changed to three, and finally two. Which, for a bike which costs under £20, means there's no need for trade ins as the child gets older!

Its brightly coloured, folds flat for storage, and came with the tools to put it together included, as well as detailed instructions. It also did rather well when Big Tot decided to ride it through the paddling pool!

She has literally wanted to ride this the minute she gets out of bed until the second before bedtime! If she could have taken it to bed she would have. 

 A well designed, inexpensive and well thought out item with safety and learning in mind.


We also tried an alternative to tennis and badminton, called TailBall (£12.99 at Amazon).

Made by the same people who brought us Swingball, they have redesigned the product to remove the danger of a swinging ball in the body (so You've Been Framed will be disappointed!).

The TailBall comprises two plastic hollow bats suitable for all hands, and a lightweight Puck shaped ball with a tail.

The tail, when the ball is hit, flies through the air and looks impressive to the children, and the lightness of it makes it easy to improve hand eye coordination.

When we tried it, we found it easy to use, and it could be played with without the worry of causing injury if our hits when a little awry.

However, I wouldn't recommend it for younger children- Big Tot managed to pull the foam to pieces after 5 minutes of being left alone with it. I think the design could benefit from the ball perhaps being coated in a thin rubber or similar to protect it.

Lastly, we tried The Splash About Float Jacket (£24.99 from SplashAbout.net).

Ideal for safety in either the paddling pool or the swimming pool, this is a must have item for youngsters, and for piece of mind.

The Float Jacket comes in a water proof, soft material and holds floats inside. It handily keeps out UV rays, and can be adjusted according to the level of buoyancy needed.

We loved this- even when Little Tot was just splashing in the garden, we felt safer, and he didn't find it uncomfortable, happily keeping it on all day. It didn't cause chafing or cut it either.

The colours are vibrant, and the pack comes with handy instructions for setting it up.

A must have.

So, whatever your budget, boredom needn't be a problem this summer!

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