As the weather is looking so good for May bank holiday weekend (I hope I am not in for a disappointment), we have been getting our new garden ready for summer. Our garden was our definite compromise when we moved at the end of last year. It is about a third of the size of our previous garden and we were all sad to loose the space. However, it is still a reasonable size and I am determined to make the most of it. We have decided not to do too many changes out there this year so that we can see what grows up when and where and (most importantly) where the sun is at different points of the day so that we know where is best for our table and chairs. We have pruned and weeded and planted some new bulbs in pots and that is all we will do except for getting the garden summer ready for J. I would love to have a climbing wall, trampoline, swing and play set but we simply don’t have the room. So what are my top garden toys for keeping J happy playing in our garden?
We were given J’s slide by my sister in law when she moved to Australia and it has been very well used by J who loves it. I was going to buy him a taller slide this summer, but then I remembered that it is a water slide and we haven’t used it as one yet, so I want to try and see if he likes it first. I have a feeling that after loving the Disney waterparks J will think that sliding down his very own water slide into the paddling pool as pretty awesome! The slide is one of J’s favourite things at the park and he loves to slide at home too. He also loves to use the slide as a track for his race cars which makes for a lot of fun too.
The Sand and Water Tray
We bought J a sand and water tray, but we only usually use it as a sand tray so that the sand lasts longer. J has buckets, rakes and spades, sand moulds, diggers, dump trucks, bottles, containers and pouring funnels that he can use to play. Sand is one of the only substances that J will handle directly so it is a great sensory experience for him too. The great thing about the tray is that it has the potential to be used for other things while allowing J to stand comfortably to play. When the sand needs changing we sometimes put some water in it and let him have a play, or some oats, or gravel, or mud etc. This gives J an alternative sensory play experience.
The Tuff Tray
Yes, I know… this does not look like a child’s garden toy. You are quite right. It is in fact a cement mixing tray, but whoever first saw the potential to use it with children is a genius. The tuff tray has so much flexibility and we love it in our house. In the winter it is used inside on the playroom floor to create small world play scenes but now that the weather is warming up it can go outside. Last year, we used it as a paddling pool because we had a puppy (this should tell all you need to know about what happened to our last pool). This year, I am hoping to use it for a wide range of activities from sensory play including jelly, ice cream and ice cubes (I can’t wait to freeze some cars and animals) to scientific observations to being a mud kitchen, to creating small worlds. The options really are endless. I do however, need to invest in some legs asap so that J can enjoy playing standing up too.
The Paddling Pool
Our puppy, Orion, is about to turn 18 months and he has calmed down a lot so we have bought a paddling pool this year. We certainly won’t be able to leave it outside without supervision but we are hoping that he won’t put a hole in it in the first 5 minutes… I may be feeling a little unsure at this point though to be honest! Hopefully, J will get to have lots of fun splashing in and out of the paddling pool on the many hot days that we get this summer (fingers crossed).
We bought J’s playhouse from Gumtree a couple of years ago and it has so much flexibility. Not only does it give J a place to spider spot (they seem to love the playhouse); it also provides him with a shady spot to sit on some cushions and blankets to read some books, have a snack or just chill out. Most of the time though J loves to use his playhouse to play. J loves to hide in it and then giggle really loudly before ‘surprising’ us as he pops his head out of the window. He also loves to have his playhouse as a safe zone from the monsters in a game of chase but I think that one of J’s favourite games with his playhouse is when it becomes an ice cream shop. The playhouse is such a great tool for a child’s imagination that it is definitely one of my favourite garden toys.
We have a very active 3 year old boy, so it is no surprise that we have a wealth of sports equipment for garden use. We have a football goal and several toddler footballs; tennis rackets and soft balls and even a toddler golf set. For our tennis mad J, I really want to buy him a swing ball (I don’t know if that is actually what they are called but basically a ball on a rope on a stick). I loved playing this for hours as a child as I found it really relaxing and would often play for a good hour after school. I hope that it will help J to improve his hand and eye coordination and maybe help him if he is over stimulating. I also want to buy some little hurdles as J loves to run and jump and he thought they were great fun when we played them with a friend.
J really enjoys digging in the garden, transferring soil, planting, weeding and watering so this year we bought him some garden gloves, a child’s trowel and a wheelbarrow. We saw one in a garden centre and he went on and on about it all weekend but it was a little pricey so we wouldn’t buy it. The following weekend we spotted the same one in Tesco’s for £5 less so we took it home much to J’s delight. He plays with it for hours and it gives him so much pleasure. J also has a toddler lawn mower so that he can help daddy cut the grass (this is a daddy job in our house due to my allergies).
Ride On Toys
A child’s garden without a toy with wheels just doesn’t seem right. Be it a pushchair to push around a doll/teddy (I keep meaning to pick one up for J second hand), a ride on toy such as a trike, train or car, a bike or a scooter a toy with wheels just seems to be an essential item in a child’s garden. J has a ride on train and his old balance bike to use in the garden. His scooter and bike are now more for adventuring out and about with speed and confidence.
What else do you see as a must have garden toy? Please let me know any recommendations so that we can investigate them.