Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fun Play Houses

Well we have had a long break with the summer holidays but we’re back now and by the looks of the weather much of the fun will have to be inside the house. Did you ever have a playhouse when you were a child? I can remember building a small tree house with my Dad when I was younger; my brother and I had hours of fun playing snakes and ladders and other games up in that tree.
Getting your child’s imagination going is great for teaching them to keep themselves entertained but with all this wet weather what good is a tree house? Well, how about a castle? First thing you need to do is get yourself off down the local supermarket and get some cardboard boxes and some strong parcel tape and a good pair of scissors. Now cut the boxes into sections and tape them together, you now need to draw out your castle shapes. All you need are three sections; a front and two sides. O the front you want to include your towers, you could even have an opening drawbridge if you are really handy.
You can make your castle as big or as small as you like, make sure you get your child involved with cutting out the shapes and taping it all up, you could even paint it all when you’re finished building it.
Now your child has somewhere fun to play and let their imagination run riot. For those of you who don’t have the time to build your own castle or are looking for other ideas for having fun with the kids check out this link to our play houses.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Summer holidays, ‘What do we do?’ Part 2

If you are lucky enough to be by a beach or out in the countryside take some time each day to take the kids out. Kids will get board quickly when stuck inside the house for long periods. Try to spilt the day up; in the morning spend an hour at the beach, park or in the countryside, come home and get the kids involved with making lunch. This can be great fun, let them make their own sandwiches of various concoctions. Always make sure you are present when kids are in the kitchen, don’t be tempted to leave them unsupervised.
After lunch have some fun in the garden. If you have a hose pipe get the kids to run around the garden trying to avoid getting squirted by the hose. A paddling pool is a great investment for the summer holidays as it brings hours of fun for the kids. You can benefit too on those hot summer days by getting your feet wet whist playing with the kids.
As we all know the summer can bring rain too so here are a few tips for keeping the kids busy inside too.
Get some fun videos for the kids to watch, try to make them educational. There are some really good DVDs teaching your kids about animals and geography.
Have lots and lots of paper and pencils so your kids can draw wonderful pictures. Keep resources like egg boxes and cereal boxes, all children love to cut and glue to make artistic creations from all sorts of rubbish.
Younger children enjoy repetition so have some songs and games that will keep them happy day in, day out if the wet weather sets in this summer.
Here are some cheap ideas to keep kids busy in the summer hols for under £3

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Summer holidays, ‘What do we do?’ Part 1

The summer holidays can be a nightmare particularly for those who can’t afford to take the family away for this reason we at the Smart Start blog have come up with inexpensive ways to keep the kids entertained over the summer.
For those of you who are far from the beach but still have a garden why not get the kids building dirt sand castles? All you need are some old margarine and yogurt pots to create whole heap of fun for the little ones. Sounds disgusting I know but imagine the fun your kids will have with a bit of dirt and water, it will keep them happy for hours.
Here is a great link for free art and craft ideas. Get free emails with suggestions on how to keep the kids busy throughout the summer hols.
Why not spend an hour a day playing games to help your child’s development. Fun games like ‘I spy’ can help with your child’s spelling or simply sit in the garden and get your children to count how many birds they can see. Spend time in the garden talking about the different things you can see. Get the kids to draw pictures of all the different things they see.
With all the good weather we are getting at the moment, don’t waste it indoors get the kids out walking or take them to the park. Kids love to play with other kids and what better way for them to meet other kids than at the park.
For some great ideas on inexpensive toys for the summer check out

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Puzzling Fun

What better way is there to connect with your kids and have fun at the same time and also learn than to play games. The games don’t have to be expensive; you can play noughts and crosses with a pencil and paper or Pictionary with a pencil and paper. Kids love to get involved and all that’s required is time and energy. One of the best things we can do for our children is to spend time playing with them not only does it help to cement good relationships with our children but after the initial effort it is fun. Try and take just half an hour or even an hour to play with your children each day and you will help to build their confidence and social skills too.
Puzzles and games are great for stimulating the brain cells from a very young age your children will be able to fit together small puzzles, if you don’t have much cash use cardboard and draw a picture on it then cut it into bits so your child can put the bits back together you could even use shapes, letters or numbers cut up into bits.
There are lots of traditional games out there like Monopoly a great game for older children helping them with mathematical problem solving and how we all have to pay our bills.
Here at Smart Start Toys we have a great selection of puzzles and games many for under a fiver so you don’t need to break the bank in order to get something fun and educational just click here

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Learning through water play.

There is much for your child to learn when playing with water, from an early age you can use water for your child’s development. What could be more fun than splashing around in the bath filling bottles and containers and emptying them over Mum’s lovely new floor, another good reason not to have carpet in the bathroom when kids are around? But seriously bath time can be fun and educational at the same time and it doesn’t require fancy or expensive toys.
Getting your child to fill and empty containers of water helps their mathematical skills learning how many cups it takes to fill 1 container or 2. The great thing is that your child has great fun while they are learning and you can have great fun with them too.
If it’s a nice sunny day why not get all your old pots and pans out in the garden and get your child to race across the garden filling the pots at one end and emptying them into a large container at the other, time how long it takes them or if you have 2 or more kids have them race each other. When they finish ask if any of them can remember how many pots it took to fill the container.
If you are lucky enough to have a paddling pool why not get the kids to time how long it takes to fill you can also teach your children what floats and what doesn’t, explain to them why a boat floats and why a stone sinks to the bottom. Kids are naturally curious and will thoroughly enjoy testing different items to see the results.
If you are looking for some bath fun for older kids take a look at this bath bomb science kit.

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Pretend Play

Well after my previous, somewhat premature assessment of the great British weather we should consider moving back inside the house for playtime. In true British style the weather dictates where our children can play, unless your fortunate enough to have a spare, large garage for the swing to go and a ball to be kicked it looks like we are confined to indoor activities.
I remember I was very fortunate to have a large house with five bedrooms when I was a child and my brother and I often use to play hide and seek, this could take some time to play given the size of the house. When the rain is drizzling outside you often hear the moans of young children who are bored and can’t think of anything to do. Why not set them a challenge to come up with a really good activity that keeps them happy for 30 minutes and if they mange this give them a small prize this is a great way of getting your kids to use their imagination. After having rewarded this behaviour 2-3 times your child should be skilled in keeping themselves entertained and the moaning should stop (ok, maybe not all together).
Here’s an idea that you could get the kids to do once a week. Give them a load of old clothes that you are not too concerned about and get them to act out a play. If Dad’s a builder let your son use his old jeans and work boots to become his Dad on stage or your daughter could pretend to me Mum if Mum’s a teacher, doesn’t matter who they pretend to be it’s great fun and all the family can have fun together. If you find your children really enjoying themselves you may want to consider spending a bit of cash on some masks or outfits, who knows they may become the next Leonardo Dicaprio. Check out this link if you want some more ideas on pretend play

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Play Safe Kids in the Garden

Ok we all know that safety regulations in the UK can sometimes spoil our fun, whether it’s because children aren’t able to go on various school trips anymore or as someone laying a carpet needs to wear a hard hat. However, I for one feel that a lot of good comes from playing and working safe! We have all heard some horror stories about how children left unattended in the garden have suffered severe even fatal injuries. Not to get morbid or fanatical I would like to offer a good link which covers safe and secure ways of letting our children enjoy the great outdoors in the safety of their gardens.
What are the fundamentals or guidelines one should follow to keep your children safe when playing in the garden? Here is a great link to give you some details on safe play a great resource for all safety tips for our kids.
One of the most important things to remember when purchasing a toy for the garden is to read the instructions the manufacture has given. Many accidents result from simple neglect of carrying out this basic rule.
Gardens are a great source of entertainment and healthy exercise for kids, whether they are digging up your lawn (I say this as I remember one summer when I was 6-7 years old I decided I would attempt to dig to Australia and believe it or not my Mum just let me get on with it, I guess she figured it would tire me out or just keep me from under her feet) or swinging from a tree or kicking a ball they can be kept busy for hours. Healthy exercise is essential for our children and our gardens can be a great place for this, maybe you yourself could spend 10-15 minutes kicking a ball with your children.
If you are looking for fun and safe activities for your kids in the garden why not consider a leaf swing this can be easily fastened to a tree or even a rope ladder for climbing up into the tree.
Here are some other great ideas for outside toys
Play safe and keep safe always keep a watchful eye on young children and do not let them play unsupervised in the garden.

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