12 articles Tag play

What Was Your Favourite Part of the Playground Growing Up?

Remember running out to the playground at break time after lessons, or a walk down the park, as a youngster and getting all excited because your favourite spot was free? For some, it is the slide, while others immediately run over to the bars.

Not all playgrounds are created equally, with some encouraging more play than others. Yes, you may have loved playing hopscotch, but did anything really capture the imagination like an all-singing-all-dancing structure filled with endless possibilities?

It probably depends on what type of child you were. Here, we take a look at some of our favourite parts of any playground.

Slide

What young child didn’t love the slide? Of course, some slides were better than others – there was nothing worse than getting stuck halfway down the slide, only for the next child to dislodge you on their way down. The best slides were, of course, the slides that had a spiralled design, rather than a straight slope down.

You might also remember the unfortunate discovery of a landing pad that wasn’t quite padded enough in parks that hadn’t been maintained as well as they should be. It was all good fun, though, wasn’t it?

Seesaw

The seesaw could be a lot of fun, as long as you had someone to actually go on it with. If you were something of a loner, the seesaw only served to compound your loneliness. But it was okay, because you could make friends on the playground and jump on the seesaw with them – after all, you are in a social setting.

This was a very simple piece of equipment that would keep us entertained for a long time. Of course, if you would get a little overzealous, your parents would get a little twitchy, but that was what the rubber matting was for.

Field

Is the surrounding field technically part of the playground? At school, everyone would be excited when they could play football on the grass, so for that reason we are saying yes. When we were at school, the grass field was used almost exclusively for sport, especially football.

Do you remember sliding around in your new school trousers and seeing your mum’s face drop when you returned home? Now we know how mum felt because, as any parent will tell you, grass stains aren’t fun to get out of clothes. Especially whites…

Rocker

Going back to those that loved to play on the seesaw, anyone that couldn’t find a friend to participate with them could jump on the rocker. This is a one-man seesaw, if you will, where the child can swing backwards and forwards or side to side to their heart’s content.

The best part of the rocker was that you were not reliant on another’s momentum (or lack thereof) and could go as fast or as slow as you wanted. The simple things always made for the best park equipment when we were young.

Swing

A staple of the playground, the swing was the reason for many a bump and graze when you fell off. You would always hear fables of how one kid managed to swing all the way over the bar (almost always when no one else was present, funnily enough) and foolishly try to replicate the feat yourself. It would never end well, or you would chicken out at the point your body would become inverted.

Looking back with an adult’s perspective, playground’s seem such a simple concept but, through the eyes of a child, they really do represent a world of opportunity.

Sudocrem – Getting Kids to Play Outdoors

Hands up who’s relieved to have seen a little bit of nice weather this week? In a week full of terrible news and nasty political tactics, sometimes something as simple as feeling the sun on your face is enough to bolster your mood a little. It’s really nice that a little less rain means that we’re able to spend more time outside, taking advantage of our lovely surroundings and blowing away some of the cobwebs of what felt like the longest winter in living memory.

Now that Chuck isn’t as able to go on long walks, we limit his walking time by allowing him to take us on shorter walks and let him dictate the length and pace, and this newly relaxed attitude from him makes it a lot easier for me to take both girls along with me while I walk him. Spending time walking with all three of them (and even better when Husband is with us, too) is one of my simplest, happiest pleasures in life.

Getting Outside with Sudocrem

Last year, I teamed up with Sudocrem to tell you all about the Play More campaign they’d launched which was intended to get our kids outside more, by donating funds to schools and nurseries for updating their outdoor play areas. The project was such a huge success that they’re doing it all again this year and they’ve asked me to tell my readers about it.

“With stories of childhood obesity never far from the headlines, it’s easy to believe that each generation of children is lazier than the last. But a new survey of 6 – 11 year olds suggests that British children believe they’re wrapped in cotton wool by their parents and would like more freedom to play outside.

The research by family skincare brand Sudocrem found that almost 3 in 5 children (57%) said their parents worried too much about their safety and almost two-thirds of those aged 8 – 11 (64%) thought they should be able to go to the park with their friends, unaccompanied by an adult.Sudocrem Play More for schools and nurseries

 Encouragingly, the study also revealed a generation of children who recognise they don’t play out in the fresh air often enough, with 52% of those questioned admitting they spend too much time on games consoles and a further 60% saying there should be more games to encourage kids to play outside, like Pokemon Go.”

Sudocrem’s Brand Manager, Georgina Fotopoulou said, “Children love outdoor play but they’re bound to scrape their knees. This is all part of the learning process. A cuddle and a tub of Sudocrem Antiseptic Healing Cream can make a lot of things better. We’ve been healing skin for generations and we’re proud to promote the spirit of adventure with Play More.”

If you think your child’s nursery* could do with improving their outdoor facilities, go to www.sudocrem.co.uk/social-hub and nominate.

Getting Our Kids Outdoors

One of the main reasons that we moved to the countryside back in September of last year was that we wanted the kids to be able to spend more time outdoors, surrounded by nature. Our house, as well as having big front and back gardens, is completely surrounded by farmland and footpaths which are perfect for exploring or going on an evening ramble after tea. Here’s a shot taken by Husband just this evening whilst taking Chuck out for his evening constitutional (isn’t it absolutely stunning?!):

outdoors

The thing is, Husband and I were raised during a time when it was completely normal for kids to play outside; we both remember leaving the house in the morning and only ever popping back for lunch and dinner, and we often comment about how sad it makes us that our girls will never experience the same sort of freedom. That’s why when I heard about the new campaign being spearheaded by Sudocrem and PlayMore, I knew I had to write about it.

Their research has shown that, on average, the modern child spends less than five hours a week playing outside, compared to over 11 hours for their parents’ generation.

Child psychologist Dr. Lindsay Ip explains, “Children today are more used to immediate gratification from technology and digital games than active, creative play in the outdoors and connection to humans and nature. That’s why we have a responsibility as a society to encourage our children to get outside and play. It’s important for their health and educational development.”

Based on this research, Sudocrem has teamed up with PlayMore to offer 10 nurseries across the country the chance to win £500 towards improving their outdoor play facilities, in an effort to get pre-school aged kids outside more.

Sudocrem’s Brand Manager, Nick Lang said, “Children love outdoor play but they’re bound to get stung by stinging nettles and scrape their knees. This is all part of the learning process for parents as well as children. A cuddle and a tub of Sudocrem Antiseptic Healing Cream can make a lot of things better. We’ve been healing skin for generations and we’re proud to promote the spirit of adventure with Play More.”

The reception classes at Sausage’s school have recently upgraded their outdoor facilities, including an astro-turfed area to allow year-round ball sports, mud kitchens to let kids enjoy messy play and a canopy-covered area so that they can still get fresh air during wet weather. It’s really refreshing to see the outdoor space being incorporated into the classroom in this way and I can’t wait to see how BB enjoys it when she starts school in a couple of years.

If you think your child’s nursery could do with improving their outdoor facilities, go to www.sudocrem.co.uk/social-hub and nominate.

Bringing the Outdoors In: Indoor Picnic Ideas

Post provided by Fisher Price

Spending hours outdoors is an activity that most children will love to do; heading to the park, riding their bikes, playing in the garden – whatever it is, they love being outside. When the summer approaches, the opportunity for fabulous picnics on the green become an instant possibility, giving you and your family a perfect chance to enjoy eachother’s company. But what do we do in the meantime?

With the weather like it is during the winter and early spring in the UK, the possibility of spending plenty of time outdoors dwindles and the chance for a picnic disappears completely because of the risk of rain or a strong gust of wind blowing your sandwiches away. Instead, why not bring the picnic idea to the living room?

Creating a picnic in the comfort of your own home is great fun, not just for the children but for you as well. Why shouldn’t you fetch the hamper from the attic and pack it with loads of yummy goodies? Just because you’re not going anywhere doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the experience. Kids enjoy their own little tea parties and picnics all the time; laying out place settings for their teddies and using their say please tea set to pour pretend cups of tea for their favourite doll. Why not turn it into a full on indoor picnic? Here are some ideas that you can incorporate.

  • Lay a picnic blanket on the living room floor and pile high with various plates and bowls ready for the food
  • Alternatively, make a den! Having a picnic inside a homemade den adds to the experience.
  • Use the picnic hamper for an authentic picnic experience. Cover the floor with scatter cushions and cosy throws so that you can really relax and have fun.
  • Make some traditional picnic sandwiches and stock the hamper with savoury and sweet treats.
  • Ask your children to help to prepare for the picnic so that they can feel involved
  • Let their imaginations run wild! Encourage them to dress up and let their creativity flow.
  • If they do decide to dress up, theme the picnic food to coincide.
  • Introduce a couple of games to play as part of the afternoon. Perhaps an indoor treasure hunt that you have been able to plan in advance, or some board games that can be enjoyed by all.
  • Invite some of their friends for a tea party to remember.

Picnics don’t just have to be outdoors – make a rainy day special using what you have at home, instead.

Shrink It and Pink It

Being a child of the 80’s and 90’s, I was around when Meccano was going through a period of popularity and I vividly remember thinking how awesome it looked, and how I wished I was a boy so that I could play with it. The marketing was entirely masculine and I’m pretty sure that I was discouraged from asking Father Christmas to bring me some because it was ‘a boys toy’. Girls didn’t play with Meccano and I thought I must have been really weird for wanting to play with it, when all of my female friends wanted to play with Barbies.

Just recently, Husband and I toyed with the idea of getting a NERF Blaster for Sausage (I’m not going to get into a debate about kids playing with guns here, it’s personal choice, mmmkay?) and although we opted for something else (mostly because they’re pretty expensive and we’d already spent an arm and a leg on presents!), it never occurred to us to not buy her one because they’re marketed at boys.

Just recently, we noticed a new range of NERF products available, their ‘Rebelle’ range. Husband astutely commented that they’d probably been made off the back of The Hunger Games, as they’re kind of ‘bow and arrow’ style NERF guns, but I was actually pretty annoyed at the whole thing. NERF has obviously decided it wants to expand its appeal to girls, so this is what they’ve done:

Nerf Rebelle

I’m more than a little bit sick of the ‘shrink it and pink it’ attitude that toy companies and marketers apply to anything that’s aimed at girls – not only is it massively patronising, it’s perpetuating the myth that some toys are for girls and some toys are for boys. Surely a toy is a toy and if a child wants to play with it, gender is inconsequential? Also, by making the Rebelle range, are NERF saying that boys should reject anything pink? Just as there will be girly girls who love pink and overtly masculine boys who’d reject anything that isn’t boyish enough, there will be girls who don’t give a toss about pretty pink things and boys who gravitate towards them.

If Sausage happens to ask for something for Christmas, I certainly wouldn’t stop her from having it if it’s something that’s been deemed ‘boys only’ by the adverts, nor will I stop the new baby, should it be a boy, from playing of any of Sausage’s pink things. Male/female stereotypes are wildly outdated now – when my grandparents were little, it was fair to say that the majority of women stayed at home and did the cooking while the men worked, tinkered with cars, etc, so in those days toys for girls would have been dolls, ironing boards, toy food, so that little girls could emulate their Mums and boys would get cars and fire engines, to be like their Dads. These days, I know many men who consider themselves ‘foodies’ and the best mechanic I know is Husband’s Aunt.

It’s a real chicken and egg situation – Sausage loves pink thinks, but is that because she actually loves pink things, or that those are the things which are marketed directly at her? Surely, the only way we’re going to get around this gender stereotyping and division is if we start showing girls playing with Meccano (and NOT the pink sets of Meccano that they’ve made, either…) and boys pushing prams. Perhaps if kids were to see these things, there would be more acceptance of the interchangeable nature of gender and roles in the 21st century – perhaps then, girls who wanted to play with cars wouldn’t automatically be branded ‘tom boys’ and little boys who wanted to play with a dolly wouldn’t be automatically assumed to be girly, or gay, or any other ridiculous label.

The best way to make change in society is to normalise things to children – it wouldn’t occur to children to question which toys they should be playing with if they see play with all kinds of toys as normal or gender neutral. It could give children the freedom to be themselves and express themselves through play however they damn well want to, and I genuinely believe this could help them grow into well-rounded adults in the process. I’m not, for one second, saying that we should take Barbie away from girls and give them to boys, and vice versa, but I think there should be a choice, and not a choice that’s influenced or dictated by what kids are told that they’re supposed to like.

What do you think? Do your kids play with only gender-specific toys and if so, why? Do you think it’s a positive thing to market girls versions of things in pink, or should toys be accessible to all? Most of all, do you think that it’s important to define gender and set boundaries accordingly? Let me know.

Zelfs Venus Flytrap Spin Salon Playset Review

If you’re roughly the same age as me, I’d bet actual money that you had a Troll doll, with brightly coloured hair and cute features – or possibly even a whole collection of them. I had one when I was about 7 and I remember being taken on holiday to Hastings, where I proceeded to use the whole roll of film that had been bought for my camera to take photos of my troll, sitting on a fence. Anyway, I digress!

Zelfs Venus Fly Trap Spin Salon

The reason I mentioned Trolls is because we were recently sent a Zelfs Venus Flytrap Spin Salon Playset and the Zelfs themselves remind me of trolls, if a little more colourful and definitely better quality! They have a huge peak of brightly coloured hair and adorable faces, and the Spin Salon Playset allows you to do their hair and give your Zelfs a good old fashioned primping. The set we received comes with an exclusive Zelf, ‘Tressa’, but it can all be used with any Zelfs you already own, which means your whole Zelf family can be beautified!

Sausage really liked this set – it’s great for fulfilling the ‘makeover’ urge that 5 year-olds seem to all posses, without being overly girlie. It’s easy to use and comes with a brush and a couple of hair accessories, giving you different options of how to preen your Zelf.

This would be a great present to add to Christmas lists, as well as an Halloween treat for little ones, and I’m confident that most kids of around Sausage’s age would love it too. We’re planning to add to Sausage’s Zelf collection at Christmas and already have a few of the medium-sized dolls stashed to give to her. You can even get the miniature ones which also act as a pencil topper and I’m seriously close to treating myself to a couple as a throwback to my childhood! Children of the 80’s and 90’s, I defy you to not feel nostalgic when you see them in the flesh! 

(post contains an affiliate link)

Why Are Electronic Devices for Kids Still Frowned Upon?

Child playing on an iPadI was at the hospital yesterday, waiting for an appointment and whilst in the busy waiting room, I overheard a conversation. There were several mums with their kids and one child was happily playing on an iPad whilst his mum waited for her appointment, whilst another boy of about 8 was looking on with interest. At this point, I got called into a sub-waiting area, but about five minutes later the mum and child without the iPad got called through to where I was sitting (bear with me, this is going somewhere…)

As they walked through, the boy was asking his Mum if he could play on her phone, seeing as he didn’t have an iPad to play with, and she turned to him and said “Don’t be ridiculous, stop asking for my phone, YOU don’t need to stare at an electronic device to keep you entertained, I raised you better than that!”.

I was quite shocked by her reaction (shocked enough to put the phone that I’d been contentedly engrossed in, whiling away the wait with a few games of ‘Where’s my Water’), but her words really got me thinking; is a child’s need for entertainment really about their upbringing? And why are electronic devices frowned upon?

I’m well aware that there’s an obesity epidemic in children that people claim to have been directly related to time spent playing computer games, but with children able to play outside less and less, is it really that much of a surprise that they look for entertainment elsewhere? And surely it’s not about the devices themselves, but the parental moderation involved?

Sausage owns a Nexus 7, a Chromebook, a Nintendo DS and Wii, an Xbox, an iPod Touch…but despite that, she doesn’t spend all of her time glued to a device because we simply wouldn’t allow it. I can’t stand the implication that once we give our kids consoles or gadgets, we relinquish all control over how they spend their time, or their wellbeing. Nor can I abide the assumption from a small amount of parents who feel like giving kids something with a screen is a substitute for parenting.

The other thing that bothered me about what the mum said was that if you need entertainment during down-time, you must’ve been raised badly. Surely the need for entertainment is a trait that’s shared by all humans? Of course, the type of entertainment varies from person to person…I love to read and blog, others watch TV, others play an instrument, others play games. There’s no right way to be entertained, but surely training a child to sit quietly with their hands in their laps instead of stimulating their brain in some way is limiting them? There’s a lot to be said for quiet contemplation, but I can’t get my head around the thought that a bored kid is a bad kid. It just doesn’t compute.

The real irony of the situation is that after that comment, the mum in question checked her phone no less than a dozen times in the period that we were sitting in that area, completely negating her own argument. Obviously, her comments got my back up on a personal level, seeing as I was sitting there on my phone at the exact moment she said it, but the urge to ask her if she’d also been raised badly after the 10th time of staring at her screen did get rather overwhelming!

The flipside of this is that, in my humble opinion, limiting a child’s access to computing is setting them back, in this day and age. We live in a world where computers are everything, and kids who aren’t highly computer literate are simply going to fall behind. Given that we now teach elementary coding in Primary Schools, we should be giving our kids more screen time in the hope that computer literacy is second nature, not something that’s like pulling teeth, which is how it seems to be for older generations for whom computers simply didn’t exist when they were young enough to soak things up like a sponge.

Aside from all of that, gaming needn’t be mindless – there are myriad apps and games out there which encourage literacy, numeracy, fine motor skills, languages and so much more. We’re happy for these things to be taught in schools, so surely we should embrace anything that broadens our children’s minds?

What do you think? Do your kids have electronic devices? Do you think that a child’s need for entertainment means that they haven’t been raised correctly? Leave me a comment below.

Are Our Kids Lonelier Than We Were?

kids playing in streetWhen I was a child, playing in the street was a normal occurrence. My Nan lived in a ‘walk’, which was a pedestrian-only road with no cars anywhere near where we played, and she happened to live next door to a family with a daughter of the same age as me, so I spent countless summers playing Barbies and cartwheeling on my Grandparents lawn with Sara, who was my best friend. Eventually, my parents moved nearer to my Nan and we lived in a cul-de-sac with a huge green in the middle, on which all of the kids who lived in the cul-de-sac played. We were a mixed bunch but we got on well and there was always someone to hang around with.

As I got older, I was allowed to go to the park with my friends. I grew up on an estate in Basildon, a new town that was built to accommodate the overspill from London in the late 1950’s, which meant that my grandparents were, and still are in fact, the only people to ever live in their house. The entire estate was populated by first and second generation Basildonians and us third generationers were blessed with a level of freedom because of the perceived sense of safety that comes from living in an area where everyone knew everyone else. In those days, it meant that misbehaviour was also fairly low, because no sooner had you thought about doing something naughty than a well-meaning onlooker had told your parents!

With Sausage at the beginning of her first ever summer holiday from school, I’ve been thinking a lot about things we can do to keep her occupied. She’s an only child, like I was until the age of almost 9, which means that she doesn’t have any ready-made playmates in the form of siblings. As much as I’d love for her have a playdate every day, that’s simply not possible, so it’s down to us to arrange other things for her to do, like the weekly pony lessons that she’ll be starting on Wednesday. But, I can’t help but wonder; are our kids lonelier than we were?

She’ll probably never be in a position where we’d let her play in the street, not least of all because people drive down our road like utter twonks, but mostly because the world is not the shiny, happy place it once was. I wrote this post a year ago about how shocked I was to see someone leave their child in the car while they went into the shop and had many comments suggesting that I was over-reacting and judgmental. I revisited the post after April Jones disappeared and wasn’t at all surprised to know that many people now agreed with me about how much freedom children are able to have in modern times.

Sausage will never have the level of freedom that Husband and I did and as such will never know what it’s like to ‘knock for’ someone, play in the street, ride her bike up and down until she’s called in for dinner, do cartwheels on a front lawn, knock on the door and ask for a pound when the ice cream man turns up, or be best friends with the kids next door. And I have to admit, that makes me really sad.

However, as sad as it makes me, it’s not something on which I’d ever compromise as her safety is the most important thing. So, what do you think? Are your kids lonelier than you were as a child? Should we do more to make sure they have someone to play with everyday? Or is that just not possible in modern times?

Leave me a comment below.

Nexus 7 Kids Apps – Our Recommendations

We’re big fans of Android in this house – Husband loves being able to root his phone and use custom software and I love being able to customise my device to my requirements and the Open ethos of Android lets us tinker to our hearts content. Last Christmas, we decided to buy Sausage a tablet PC and the Nexus 7 was the obvious choice.

She uses it for so many different things, surfing the web, sending emails, using Plex Media Server to connect to the family PC and watch films. Obviously, a big part of tablet use is the apps that are available, so we thought we’d put together a guide to our favourite Nexus 7 apps for kids, to show you what’s available. There are free versions available of some of the paid apps, but I’ve added the paid ones here as I don’t really like Sausage being exposed to adverts all the time.

Toy Story Smash It – £0.65

This is a physics-based game featuring all of your favourite Toy Story characters and is not entirely unlike Angry Birds, in that the aim of the game is to throw balls at the aliens and knock them off of their perch. It’s great for practicing aim and timing and is immersive for adults and kids alike.

Disney Fairies: Lost and Found – £0.65

This app is based on the newest Tinkerbell film, Secret of the Wings and features beautiful graphics and music from the movie. As you move through the levels, you travel around the different areas of Pixie Hollow and the aim is to find as many ‘Lost’ items as you can in as little time as possible, which in turn unlocks new chapters of the story book. The game is great for reflexes and observation and really is beautifully made.

Dr. Seuss Read-Alongs – £1.33 to £3.34

The Dr. Seuss read-along books are a brilliant aid to learning as you have the option to read the book to yourself or have it read aloud, and the read-aloud option highlights each word as it’s spoken, so your child knows what the words look and sound like all at once. There are also interactive parts of each page, so you can tap pictures and the name of the object is read aloud and will appear on-screen. The Lorax is a particular favourite of ours although we’d happily recommend anything by Dr. Seuss.

Wreck it Ralph – £0.65

If you have a child who’s a fan of the Wreck-It Ralph film, they’ll LOVE this game as it’s really close to the content of the movie. You get to choose from three games, Wreck-It Ralph, which is an exact replica of the game in the film and requires you to help Fix-It Felix Jnr fix the building before Ralph wrecks it entirely. Hero’s Duty is a top-down shooter in the vein of Smash TV (if you’re old enough to remember it!), where you have to shoot as many Cybugs as you can whilst moving around the map and Sugar Rush: Sweet Climber is set in Candy Land and requires you to get Ralph as high up in the Candy Tree forest as he can, whilst collecting candy along the way. The whole game is beautifully animated and contains some of the great music from the movie too.

Blackboard – FREE

This one does exactly what it says on the tin – it’s simply a blackboard. It allows you to use your finger as chalk and has been absolutely brilliant for Sausage as she perfects her reading, writing and arithmetic. We use it to write words for her to read to us, giving her words to try and spell, writing sums for her to do and all manner of other things. If you have younger children, it’s also a mess-free way to start mark-making with them. For a free app, it really does have a lot of uses and you’ve got nothing at all to lose by giving it a try!

Nemo’s Reef – FREE

The aim of Nemo’s Reef is to build and maintain the best underwater reef, collecting new species of coral and fish along the way. It’s educational as it teaches kids about marine life and also gives a concept of responsibility as it requires a certain level of attention to maintain what you’ve built. Even aside from the education factor, it’s a lovely little game, very relaxing as the music is ambient and calm and the graphics are really attractive.

Club Penguin Puffle Launch – £0.65

This fast-paced game is amazing for the reflexes as you shoot the Puffles from canon to canon, collecting gold rings long the way and trying to make sure your timing is exactly right, otherwise you’ll end up in the water and out of the game. It’s great for the whole family and totally draws you in. Addictive!

Pou – FREE

I have to admit, I ummed and ahhed about including this game as it’s a bit like Candy Crush in the respect that there are several areas of the game that encourage you to spend money and use paid-for add-ons, which can really pile the pressure onto parents, something that I don’t encourage. And that’s not even factoring in the fact that you’re caring for, well, a POO.

Having said all of that, I actually really like this game. It’s kind of like a modern day Tamagotchi in that the point of the game is to care for Pou with food, entertainment, exercise and sleep and she becomes ill and dirty if you forget about her. There are also some in-app mini games which are really fun and some are even developmentally positive too, so as long as your child’s Google Wallet is password-protected I’d still recommend this app. I must admit, I even sneak a go when Sausage isn’t looking..!

The Croods Movie Storybook – £1.96

We discovered this after going to the cinema to see The Croods and it’s pretty similar to the Dr. Seuss read-alongs. Another great aid to learning to read and some lovely graphics too.

 Were’s My Perry? – £0.65

This is another physics-based puzzle game where you have to use water in its different forms (water, ice, steam etc.) to help you solve the puzzle and save Perry the Platypus. It’s a seriously fun game and manages to be educational without the kids even realising it!

Schleich Farm Life

When Sausage got to a certain age, she started to really get into animals and was keen to learn everything she could about them. My little sister is 8 1/2 years younger than me and I remembered that when she was about Sausage’s age, she too was mad about animals and collected miniature rubbery plastic models of them from a particular childrens toy shop. She’d go in there once a week and get a new species for her collection and it was the highlight of her week.

This shop is still around so I went to see if I could find the same toys, and the toys were still there but the range was hugely diminished and seemed poor quality.

A few weeks ago, I was asked if Sausage would be interested in receiving some toy animals from Schleich, a German company who specialise in animal toys and action figures, so of course we agreed.

We were sent a selection of farm animals including a couple of horses, a cow, some bunnies, a puppy, a sheepdog and a giraffe. I’m not sure how the last one works on a farm, but nevertheless we were happy to receive it! We also received a water trough.

One thing that struck us about every single one of these toys is that the attention to detail is superb. The animals look almost lifelike, the painting is beautifully done and the toys have a certain heavy quality to them that makes you think that these toys will last for many lifetimes. I certainly intend to save them and give them to Sausage’s children, in a couple of decades time!

One thing that I didn’t realise until I started looking for pictures to go with this post is just how  extensive the range of toys really is. There are no less than 34 breeds of horses available, with several models within each breed, and that’s not to mention the dozens of different dogs, humans, vehicles, buildings and hundreds of animals available. I’m impressed and overwhelmed by the amount of choice available and recommend these toys to just about anyone.

Go over to the Schleich site and have a butchers at wants on offer, I can guarantee you’ll be as impressed as I am. Sausage, of course, loves the toys and has set up a farm on her bedroom floor that no one is allowed to move! I think we can safely say that these toys are a hit with us.