Play spaces provide a nice environment where families and friends can have fun, relax and bond together. It encourages children to be creative and explore playing and learning with freedom. Creating your own garden play space offers all those qualities in your own home whenever you want them, but designing an ideal play space and making it both engaging and safe needs some thought. Here are some key qualities of a good garden play area.


The equipment in your playscape should be able to cope with the four weather seasons. They must also be strong enough to carry you and your children without collapsing. Metal, plastic and certain woods are some of the best materials you can consider.


It will be wise if you utilize your yard by using equipment that does not occupy a lot of space. The equipment should also match some of the equipment you already own to make the place look attractive.


Injuries at the playscape should be avoided at all costs. You can improve your playscape’s safety by adding sand, mulch, rubber or gravel to the surface. Painting and sealing of woods is good to prevent splinters. Coating swing chains with a layer of plastic also prevents delicate fingers from getting pinched.


Designing the playscape in the simplest way possible is encouraged. This allows your children to be creative and design it further so as to make their play even more enjoyable. Children will be able to turn simple elements such as a blackboard or a sandbox into something fantastic.


Making the playscape simple will benefit the children and also help you cut a lot of costs. This can be done by utilising some of your old elements such as worn-out tires which are cheap and may also spur more creativity from your children.

Climbing Options

Many children love trying new things, with climbing a healthy exercise that helps their upper body to build grip and strength. You can encourage them to climb play equipment or even trees by having a ladder on a tree at a safe height. You can also have a rope net to guarantee them a safe climb and fall or better yet purchase play sets that have pre-built ladders and ropes. These sets also contain perches including other landing points which enable the children to stand or sit on them. Other climbing pieces you can buy include walls with nubby protrusions that can be used for rock climbing or you can size a hill nicely in your own design.


This is one thing you can never fail to include in your playscape. Almost all children love the idea of swinging, hanging and spinning. All you have to do is provide a soft landing area that will guarantee the safety of the children to prevent you from getting nervous as they play on the swing. There are a variety of swings you can use, from the old tire swings to the monkey bars. But you should always ensure that the grips on the monkey swing are smooth to prevent your kid from getting frustrated.

Parents who want to ensure that their kids turn out brighter and have a more successful life would want to turn to participation reading. Research has yielded many insights into the benefits of participation reading which is a simple, low cost way to boost cognitive development in children. The latest in the line of research was a study conducted by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Research has in particular looked at the link between reading and neuroscience.

Research Findings

The American Academy of Paediatrics has been informing parents about the benefits of reading to children, for a while now. You don’t have to wait until the child can form coherent sentences to read to them. Reading to them while they are still infants can offer a great time for the family, fulfilling the emotional needs of the child and helping them learn things about communication. Reading has been a time to bond with family, and participation reading only adds to the benefits of reading to children. Children who read tend to develop more empathy, particularly if they have been exposed to reading fiction. This has been the conclusion of another study.

Backing up the research is actual evidence. MRI scans of children whose parents read to them in an engaging tone showed that the children had higher brain activity in the regions related to brain development. Making reading more engaging is therefore key to attaining benefits for children. This means that parents don’t just read aloud to children. They would also need to participate in discussions with children, or have them interact with the reading process in other ways. Some children love to point to specific spots on the page when the parent is reading. Older children may have questions for their parents, on the role of the characters in the story and other elements of the story. If the child participates in the reading process, it makes the process more fun for the child.

Additional Benefits

It also boosts brain activity and this helps strengthen cognitive abilities. Older children may like to discuss the intricacies of the plot, muse about alternative plotlines, and thus gain a cognitive edge on how the world is shaped. The studies are not conclusive and there is scope for further research. There can be other reasons for greater brain activity in children engaged in interactive reading. However, the proof as it is very strong, and it won’t hurt in any way to start creating a fun reading routine with your children.

You would also need to ensure that the routine is followed diligently. This would mean lessening interruptions during reading time, and this would include interruptions from the digital world in the form of computers and phones. Reading to children has been a fun activity for children and parents for a long time. However, in the light of recent research, it might be a good idea to make the reading process more interactive. Children who interact with parents during the reading process acquire many cognitive skills and brain development benefits, as suggested by research.

The role of mothers in the cognitive development of children has been documented extensively; however, research has also started focusing on the contributions of fathers, grandfathers and other male influencers. Having a male input during the early stages of the child’s life can shape their future in many ways. Children as young as three months can show indications for male involvement. This is because the role of fathers or men was deemed more playful and stimulating, and this helped the child develop an approach toward exploration. The latest study was performed on fathers and three month old children.

Differing Styles

Of course, you can’t generalise across entire genders, but on the whole, fathers were found to interact with their children in a freewheeling and spontaneous manner, without the use of toys and tools. A study was also performed on the children when they were two years old and the father read a book to them. The interactions between the fathers and their children were rated by researchers with expertise in assessing infant cognitive development. Also, the children were tested in aspects such as colour and shape recognition. More than 120 sets of fathers and children were studied. There was some indication that fathers who are more involved with children at the age of three months, can help boost brain development for children by the time they are older.

The outcomes remain regardless of the child’s gender or income and age of the father. The quality of the interactions has a major impact on the outcomes. Fathers who showed less engagement with children could be a contributory factor towards children scoring lower in tests. Researchers were of the opinion that the distant behaviour of the father might be hampering the child’s learning development because the child was unable to receive cues that help support communication and build social skills. On the other hand, fathers who are more involved with the children, offer sensitive and calm interactions, are correlated with children who show better cognitive development in later life. The skills attained by these children include attention span, language, socialisation, and solving problems.

Psychological Impacts

A separate study has also delved into the issue of how fathers perceive their role as parents. Fathers who showed more confidence and positive approach toward their role as fathers were less likely to be correlated with children with behavioural problems in their teens. Children with fathers who were enthusiastic about fatherhood were less likely to be associated with behavioural problems in pre-teen years. These studies prove that the role of fathers is critical to shaping the child’s cognitive development. In addition to interacting with children, fathers also need to ensure that the quality of interactions is good.

This offers the best outcomes, ensuring that the child becomes bolder and more inquisitive. Fathers who feel positively about their parental role are likely to offer better outcomes for children, who are less likely to show behaviour problems in the pre-teen years. Since there is a lot of research on the role of mothers in shaping cognitive capabilities of children, the research on the role of fathers is expected to fill a gap and throw more light on how the type of interactions offered by the fathers can shape cognitive development of the child.

Summer, in as much as it exists on our shores, is right around the corner. With the right plans in place, it could allow you to go out and have a summer you’ll never forget, while at the same time staying fit and healthy. To start off, here are seven outdoor adventures to try out this summer:

  1. Have a Summer Walk

We’ll start off simple, and remind you that here is something inherently refreshing and self-fulfilling after spending a period of time in nature. Take a scenic trip gives you a fresh break from a stressful week from school or work. Aside from these, trekking provides many health benefits. One of this is cardiovascular strength due to long distances covered. It also strengthens bones due to jumping, dodging, and stretching to climb up and down a hill or mountain.

  1. Go Cycling

Cycling is a leisure activity that almost everyone surely enjoys. It also is one of the most convenient fit exercises you can include in your daily routine. You can allocate at least 150-minutes every week which can improve your cardiovascular fitness. Bike through your neighbourhood, through beaches or even use it as a means of transportation. Take out that old bicycle in the garage and start cycling.

  1. Swim with marine life!

Snorkelling is a recreational pastime which gives individuals access to discover the majestic beauty of swimming with the marine life. While exploring the beauty of the underwater, an individual’s oxygen uptake is improved. Snorkelling allows an individual to have a better breathing. It also improves an individual’s overall fitness. So while having fun, you are basically working out your quads, calves, ankles, core and even your shoulders. It is also good for your heart.

  1. Try caving

While not many may enjoy the luxury of caving, it is an adventure worth including in your seven outdoor adventures to try out this summer. According to sports psychologist Frank Young, caving helps an individual be mindful and focus in the present. It involves mobility, flexibility and strength as you navigate through, which benefits muscles and joints.

  1. Wakeboarding

For someone who likes water sports such as skiing or surfing, wakeboarding is a must try. Not only does it offer fun and excitement but it also allows you to have a great exercise. Wakeboarding requires holding onto the rope and performing air tricks which efficiently builds upper body strength. It also mindfulness as you constantly need to maintain balance while in the presence of surface water.

  1. Experience Water Rafting

Allow yourself to experience the thrill of having waves crashing around you and try out water rafting. Water rafting is truly is a one of a kind outdoor adventure that you should try out this summer. In addition to the fun and excitement, it offers numerous health benefits. Similar to trekking, water rafting allows you to get the fresh air you rarely inhale while in the city. It is also a great exercise for your muscles as it requires you to paddle and balance through the wave.

  1. Rock Climbing

If you loved trekking then you might as well enjoy rock climbing. Rock climbing is a fun leisure which demands physical and mental versatility. It offers a great workout for your cardio and strength which shapes your body as well as strengthening and toning your muscles.

Toddlers love toys, but they don’t necessarily need expensive or hi-tech toys to best support their cognitive and motor development, or for acquiring other types of skills. Here are some of the best tools and toys for ensuring a fun time for the toddler, while assuring development of critical skills.

Picture books and storytelling

Toddlers love picture books for many reasons, not the least because the pictures are so eye catching. If you want to ensure better toddler brain and social development, picture books can help with expanding the world view of toddlers. It is a good idea for parents to discuss the pictures with the toddlers, dive into details about the story, and thus ensure that the toddler gets to learn new things and form their opinion. Puppets are another fun way to keep the creative juices flowing. Puppets can be made easily with scraps of cloth and paper. Toddlers are endlessly fascinated with the stories that puppets can tell and this can help them learn more about the world and share their opinion.

Outdoor fun

Many toys can be used outdoors and they are great fun to use as well. For example, bubbles offer hours of fun to toddlers, who are always amused by the way large bubbles can develop from almost nothing. Bubble kits are cheap and many can be made at home, so they are safe as well. The hula hoop is another option if you are looking for fun activities for children. The hula hoop should be preferably used in open spaces, so outdoors is a good option for this game. Hula hoop offers better motor skills and if your toddler uses it with other kids, it can become a time for social interaction as well.

Puzzles and sorting

Sorting toys come in different shapes and sizes. They are simple toys that can help your toddler quickly develop their motor skills. It is very important that you use the right type of puzzles and sorting toys, as complicated toys will make the child lose interest. Sorting toys should have no more than three to five colours or shapes. Puzzles also include different types of pieces and these must be sorted or stacked following some principle. These can be a great way to help the child learn properties of different things. Playing blocks are endlessly fascinating for children, and they offer plenty of flexibility. Most playing blocks do not have a fixed goal, that is, your child can create anything out of the blocks. This gives them the chance to exercise creativity, and helps their motor development.

Arty Items

Crayons, paints, pens and paper are not exactly toys, but they have played a vital role in nurturing creativity in children. You need to choose crayons that are large enough and offer a tight grip to children who may not be accustomed yet to holding things tightly with their fingers. Crayons will help children learn more about colours, how they interact, and how colours shape the world. It also provides children with an outlet for their creativity. The simplest of things lying around your home can be shaped into toys for kids, if you plan to create toys on a budget.

There has been much research into the numerous benefits of outdoor play. Taking part in regular activities outside in the natural environment has been shown to greatly aid children’s development, as well as lowering stress levels, reducing obesity, and even improving the symptoms of ADHD.

With the increasing appeal of smartphones, tablets and televisions among our children, it can sometimes be hard to lure them outside to enjoy the surroundings of the natural world. Here are some helpful tips to help you to encourage your children to enjoy their time spent outdoors.

  • Make a danger-free zone playground

Spending money on expensive outdoor playground equipment could spark your children’s interest in playing garden, but it’s not necessary. Instead, you could create a safe garden play-zone, in a place where you can be sure is free from objects that they shouldn’t touch, taste or damage. You could even fence the area off to make sure that the spatial boundaries are clear for your children. Children will love the idea of having their own special area for play.

  • Let their imaginations roam free

Create games using your children’s favourite toys and invite elements of magic into the stories that you tell them. You could use logs, bushes and grass as your props to construct houses for fairies. Trim an inviting opening in a nearby hedge or bush, clearing out just enough undergrowth to create tunnels or rooms.

  • Show them how to enjoy nature

It’s a widely-known fact that small children like to mimic their parents’ behaviour. This is the time to practice what you have been preaching to your children. If you happen to love outdoor activities such as cycling, gardening and hiking, try to include your children in them whenever you are doing it. Let them see your passion and they’ll hopefully continue to love it just as much as you do.

  • A splash of dirt and sand

Sandboxes provide a great form of sensory play for children. Instead of buying one, you can improvise and make your own version of sandbox from scratch. Any container that can hold about a 50L of water can do the trick. On top of that, you can add items such as spoons or trowels laying around the house and garage. You could also include some empty yoghurt cartons for the complete sandbox experience.

  • Living in their own universe

Children love to role-play with their friends and spend time in their own imaginative world. Every child picks up a role and together, they form an imaginative play. As adults, we can encourage them in this creative play by providing a playing space and inviting their friends over to play. It’s also great to interact with the other parents while watching them engaging in a play.

  • No more fear of mud

Let your children explore the nature with their hands. Dress them in old clothes, so that it doesn’t matter if they get stains on their clothes. Before encouraging a muddy adventure, make sure that your children have their wellies handy!

  • Assign them special roles

Teaching the value of responsibility to your children from a young age is highly beneficial. Give your children jobs to make outdoor activities exciting. Raking leaves, watering the garden or even planting seeds are some of the simple tasks that children can take part in. Aside from spending a quality time with you, your children will also get to practice their gardening skills.

  • Invite their friends over

Children find it a lot more engaging when playing with friends, in comparison to playing on their own. Ask another parent if you could invite their child for a play together. You should stay close enough to monitor them, but also give them adequate space to express themselves without any self-consciousness.

One of the best things about summer for children is that they get to spend so much time outdoors. As parents, it’s the perfect opportunity to try out some DIY and craft ideas in order to turn your garden into a fun playground. There are so many fun ideas that you could try out if you want to transform your garden. Children love getting involved in these projects too. Here are our top picks of activities to try out with the family this year.


  1. A Treehouse

A treehouse is a garden must-have. It doesn’t have to be a complex structure either. Kids just love having a sheltered spot where they can play together and entertain themselves for hours on end. If you already have a treehouse, then why not give it a quick makeover? If not, then it’s time to get building!


  1. A Climbing Wall

A climbing wall is easy to construct in both yards and gardens. Both children and adults can get their daily dose of exercise and have fun at the same time. Ensure that you place some safety mats or even old mattress on the ground to avoid accidents.


  1. Fun with Bubbles

Kids will always find bubbles entertaining. To create gigantic bubbles, simply put some washing up liquid or soap into a small plastic paddling pool and then use a hula hoop to make huge bubbles. Your children will never tire of this game.


  1. A Life-Size Angry Birds Game

This is an amusing game for both children and adults, and a life-size version makes it all the more exciting. You can make your own version of the game by using cardboard boxes as bricks, and several painted water balloons as birds.


  1. DIY Plastic Bottle Water Wall

Playing with water is an exciting form of sensory play for young children. Help your kids to gather some empty containers or bottles which you will attach to a fence wall. This will form a cool circuit of water cascading down forming a waterfall. This project is cheap and easy from start to finish.


  1. Lawn Twister

Lawn twister is a great game to involve your guests at a summer party or BBQ. Create your board on the grass by using different colour spray paints and a circular cardboard stencil. Afterwards, the paint can be washed away by a hose or the rain.


  1. Music Fence

Why not try out some DIY musical instruments this summer? All you need is an empty fence panel to attach objects to. Collect objects that you think could make interesting sounds. Children will be happy to assist you in picking these objects and it will be a lot of fun to let them gather them. Old pots, pans, and wooden spoons are great to use. Checking the garage could also provide a good source of the objects for this project.


  1. Zip Line

One of the best summertime projects your kids will go crazy for is a zip line. Your children will have fun using it and they’ll want to invite their friends round to see it too. Ensure the zip line is safe to avoid any accidents.


  1. Tents in the Backyard

Children who love to build dens will no doubt have fun with a tent pitched in the garden too. This will appeal to their sense of adventure and keep them endlessly amused as they hide away with some snacks and their favourite book in their own secret space.


  1. Swings

Swings are a delightful garden addition for both adults and children. Why not make things interesting for your children by using an old chair (minus the legs) as a seat. All you have to do is attach is to some sturdy rope. You can paint the swing in a bold colour to make it more attractive. Alternatively, old tyres are also a great option. Hang them from trees using some chain. Just ensure it is safe for the kids before they use it.

Farms are magical places for children. With their large vehicles, freshly grown fruits and vegetables and animals of all sizes, there’s a host of things to see and do there. Every season of the year, there will be something to keep the entire family entertained, and the opportunity to pick a different fruit or vegetable. Most farms have a petting zoo, which children find absolutely fascinating. After all, there’s no experience quite as novel as feeding the cows, sheep and ducks.

Many farms are now expanding the activities that they have to offer, and often, there’s enough variety to keep the whole family occupied for a day-long visit. From pony rides to sandboxes and hay pyramids, there’s plenty of things that children wouldn’t get to do on a day-to-day basis. This article will look at eight educational benefits of visiting a farm with your children.


  • Promotes the development of a language

By being exposed to different kind of animals or crops in the farm, children are able to improve their vocabulary. This is because they will be curious to know the names and maybe even touch the animals. This will make it even easier for them to comprehend the names of different breeds of animals and plants while reading at school.


  • Important academic information

These kinds of visit will offer a unique kind of academic information. Children are able to learn and exciting information through listening as well as through observing and feeling.


  • Encourages a healthy living

For young minds, farms act as educational playgrounds. By visiting the farm, the children will be very active and this will lead to a healthy lifestyle. Through walking around the corn mazes and climbing the hay pyramids, an endless fun is guaranteed. It’s also a valuable experience for children to see how fresh fruit and vegetables are grown.


  • Improves their problem-solving skills

Apart from getting plenty of physical exercise, activities such as corn mazes also engage children’s brains. Some of the corn mazes have trivia questions at different stops which also add excitement and learning to the play. All of these factors will go a long way in boosting their cognitive development.


  • Initiation to scientific concepts

Almost everything found in a farm can be explained scientifically. Children will be exposed and introduced to botany (the study of plants) and zoology (the study of animals).Other concepts include how fruits and vegetables are grown, which kind of animals thrive on a farm, what they eat and also how the animals interact.


  • Heightened use of the senses

This happens when children feel an animal’s texture such as its fur and its hay. They will also be able to feel how smooth or rough some of the fruits and vegetables are. By doing this they can enjoy themselves and also improve their senses as their minds are also put to task. They can also smell things like the grass, the fruit, the animals and the vegetables.


  • Perfect time for a story

Almost all the children love listening to stories. A farm with its many living things offers a pleasant opportunity and an adventurous place to tell one. The children will definitely love it as they can relate to what the storyteller will be saying because the plant or animal will be within their vicinity.


  • Nature will be appreciated even more

Most children do not really know where food comes from, a visit to the farm will expose them and make them understand the origin of what they eat. They will learn how crops are grown and where meat comes from. The explanation may differ depending on the age of the children, this is because they will need to explain the scientific concepts to the older ones.

Britain is in the midst of an obesity crisis, and worryingly, this includes our children too. An NHS report in 2016 found that nearly 10% of children in their first year of school in England are overweight. This figure is set to continue rising if schools and parents do not come up with a swift solution to reduce obesity among children.

When children are young, parents have more control over what they’re being fed and how their time is spent, but with the increased independence that comes with being a teenager, it’s harder to control their lifestyle. For parents with children who are approaching their teens, these are the years when it’s vital to reinforce the value of exercise and healthy eating.

When these healthy values are instilled in children, it increases the likelihood that they will adhere to them during puberty and even later on in life. Here are some easy ways to promote a healthy lifestyle for your pre-teens and keep them active.


  • Find activities that are fun

Parents should endeavour to find an exercise that can keep their children active but not necessarily feeling like a sport. Exercises such as bowling and ice-skating are fun to take part in and they’ll get your kids moving at the same time.

  • Incorporate the activity in your weekend plans

Family weekends should be planned in such a way that they enable all the family members to be active and fully participate. Activities such as walking, swimming sessions, treasure hunts, which all burn calories, should be encouraged more than activities such as cinema outings.

  • Vary the activities

This will go a long way in encouraging the children to find a sport or activity that they love. Parents should take advantage of sports club offers and encourage your children to give fitness sessions a try with their friends before deciding whether to sign up or not.

  • Ask and know their friends

Knowing more about their friends will help you learn a lot. The information will help you know which kind of classes and active clubs the friends participate. Eventually, this will add more fun to their activities.

  • Avoid becoming paranoid

You can’t control the choices that your child makes when they’re away from home. Instead of getting angry that they may have chosen a burger over a salad for their school dinner, try to balance out what they’re eating and cook the right foods at home instead.

  • Take a walk in the garden

Watching television and spending time gaming at home should be limited. Playing games in the garden provides a better alternative since children will be able to be active and have fun at the same time. Even a second-hand trampoline will be a great investment towards getting healthy.

  • Consider changing the school-run

The idea of driving to school daily should be stopped. Children should be encouraged to be independent and to walk at all times with their friends. This means that exercise is done even if the journey to school is very short.

  • Have an idea of gym options

Take advantage of what different gyms offer, such as the pay as you go’ passes. This encourages your children to get into the habit of exercising as they will be observing the older teens.

  • Suggest a team

Being part of a bigger team with some kind of responsibility gives a person a sense of belonging. Many hockey and football teams across the UK accept children without necessarily focusing on their ability, rather, their main goal is to encourage the children to turn up and have fun. Parents should take advantage of this to make their children more active.

  • Keep food healthy at home

Suggesting reasons why their food should always be balanced will go a long way in ensuring that your children grow up in a healthy way. This should be done in such a way that allows room for discussion and you should always listen to your child’s opinion. This will lead to a win-win situation for the children as well as the parent.