Planting flowers is therapeutic and provide gardeners with an opportunity to enjoy the fresh air. Gardening provides kids with exceptional developmental benefits. Gardening together with your children provides them with an opportunity to play, learn and grow. Here at Garden Play, here are some key benefits we see:

Planning & Organising

Gardening is a time-consuming art that involves sound planning and organizing. The gardener must know the right time to plant the seeds, the duration and the time of the year that the flowers bloom. When kids are involved in the process, they sharpen their planning, as well as, problem-solving skills.

Learning Patience

Gardening requires patience and performing different tasks together with kids teaches them to embrace patience. Gardening is quite slow and helps to neutralize the immediate gratification associated with children. Children learn to wait for their vegetables and flowers to grow and are rewarded when the plants/flowers sprout.

Learning Responsibility

Kids become more responsible as they engage in different gardening activities. Children take care of their seedlings and ensure they become healthy plants each day. Parents and teachers can prepare a checklist for kids like watering, and mulch to ensure they take care of their plants each day.

Fostering Family Bonds

Many kids love to garden together with their parents. The tradition continues even in adulthood. Parents and their children work together and decide appropriate plants and vegetables to grow at different times of the year.

Introducing Science

Gardening introduces children to the world of science, particularly chemistry, biology, and botany. Kids become curious as they plant their first seeds, monitor how the seedlings are doing each day and develop.

Motor Skill Development

Motor control grows through pouring water, placing seeds in different pots, and scooping up dirt. Gardening with kids helps to develop critical motor skills that assist them to boost academic skills like typing, cutting, and writing.

Encouraging Healthy Eating

Healthy eating optimises body and brain development. Parents and educators can help kids eat different veggies and fruits, as children will love to eat the veggies and fruits they have grown, like lettuce, carrots, and beans.

Engaging the Senses

Children tend to learn better when they engage all their senses. Kids love gardening because they get an opportunity to see the different sizes of the plants and touch and feel the flowers, seeds, and dirt.

Gardening helps children in many ways. Gardening with your kids will equip them with valuable academic and personal development skills. Gardening offers children with the best opportunity to learn, play and grow.

Over the years, indoor play has become increasingly popular, to the point that it threatens to overtake outdoor play. However, as a parent you want the best for your kids and thus might be wondering which of the two is better. The truth is that you cannot completely do away with one over the other. According to various studies and researches, both indoor and outdoor plays have their pros and cons. The trick is therefore to maximise on the benefit of each while striving to minimise the disadvantages. There are times when one option may not be possible and thus the need to learn how to incorporate both kinds of play into children’s play routine.

Outdoor Play

According to Burdette and Whitaker, 2005, outdoor play encourages a child to learn on multiple levels and therefore causing their brain to develop at a fast rate. This in turn makes children become better learners at school and more sociable. A study shared in the American Journal of Public Health also shows that outdoor play helps increase attention span. It is though that more natural settings minimise the symptoms of ADHD in children and encourages more independent thinking. Stress levels in children that play outside are also significantly low.

Besides the psychological advantage, outdoor play offers long-term physical advantages as well. It has been observed that children who play outside and are more physically active will most often than not carry the skill on to their adulthood. Outdoor play therefore can help, not only reduce the risk of obesity in children but also adults of the future. In addition, playing outside is a free and natural way to get Vitamin D, an essential nutrient that helps build strong bones and prevent heart diseases among other health complications. Optometry and Vision Science also reports that spending time outside may help improve a child’s farsightedness, owing to the pupil restriction in brighter light.

Indoor Play

A number of toys and equipment, which have some positive impacts on a child’s development, today facilitates indoor play. Games such as Wii Fit and Dance-Dance Revolution offer some physical advantages similar to those obtained thorough outdoor play. This means that such games can be used as substitutes when outdoor play is not possible. Indoor games can also boost creativity through arts and crafts, playing puzzles, etc. Such games encourage kids to be thoughtful, imaginative and expressive in ways that outdoor games may not allow. The indoor space can also be a great avenue for children to self-regulate, improve their language skills, pay attention to instructions and boost their social skills.

Indoor space mostly allows for soft play, which often has a low risk of injury. Whilst it is important for children to experience risks in their development, supervision and caution are still necessary. Indoor play can be manipulated to reduce risks as you prepare a child for the outdoor structure. It is also allows for easy supervision, especially if your child has special needs, allowing you to regulate indoor play from the immediate area.

Wooden toys may seem fairly outdated to you, and perhaps more suited to your parents’ or even grandparents’ generation, but they are actually one of the best options for children when it comes to play. With a range of wooden instruments, jigsaws, toy cars, animal figures and play stands, it’s clear that wood offers a variety of interesting uses. All of these toys are also cheap, safe to use, free of chemicals and durable enough to last for years to come. Here are a few more reasons why you should think about adding to your children’s wooden toy collection.


Since wood is a natural resource, it is a readily available raw material for the manufacture of toys. This makes wooden toys budget friendly when compared to plastic toys. Even more importantly, these toys don’t usually need batteries, which makes them more convenient for use. Save money and get your child a wooden classic toy.


Wooden toys have no lead paint and they’re usually quite lightweight, meaning that there’s no risk of them causing any harm to children. Plastic toys, on the other hand, can break very easily and the sharp edges that remain may seriously cut the tender skin of the child. Metal toys are even more harmful since they are bulkier. The safety of your child is only guaranteed with a fascinating wooden toy.


If you’re feeling productive, you can always make a wooden toy from a piece of wood without necessarily having to buy any accessories. Though time-consuming, this will save you a lot of money in the long run. Handmade wooden toys make great and thoughtful gifts as a lot of time and effort goes into making them special for the child.

Chemical Free

Unlike plastic toys or metal toys, wooden toys have no added chemicals. Quite often, children and toddlers may put their toys in their mouths and you may not be around all the time to check up on them. Getting wooden toys for them will therefore reduce the possibility of being exposed to harmful chemicals such as polyvinyl chloride.


With proper care and use, wooden toys can last for years. This is unlike plastic toys which are very subject to breakage and damage and are comparatively expensive. It is up to you to select the toys that will not keep breaking during the more enthusiastic play sessions. It is impossible for wooden toys to get damaged regardless of the number of users or the nature of your child. If you want to invest in toys and be sure that they will last for generations to come, then wood is the best option.


Wood is a natural resource that has the capability to biodegrade and can also be easily recycled for a sustainable environment. Plastics, however, are carcinogenic and can trigger allergic reactions if they make contact with the skin. In addition, during the manufacture of plastics, toxic materials are released into the atmosphere, initiating pollution. The overall result is a compromised environment.

Added Skills

Most of the wooden toys available have no sound or light features, thereby helping your children create their own sound during play sessions. In due time, this will help to build their imaginative thinking and creativity. Wooden stools also come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colours. This will allow your child to acquire the unique ability to differentiate between colours and shapes.

For lots of children, there’s nothing more exciting than having their own garden den or playhouse. Playhouses are the best place for children to engage in unstructured and unsupervised play; something that’s vital if children are to develop into self-reliant and emotionally sound adults.

Children learn how to become adults by playing imaginatively without the involvement of their parents. This is the time when children are free to dream up their own rules and feel as though they are in charge of their own lives. There are many inexpensive playhouses available, and you could even construct your own. Here a few more reasons why every child should experience the delight of having their own playhouse.

  • Group play and social development

An outdoor playhouse is the best place for children to learn how to work and communicate with each other in a group play activity. Children can foster their social skills and language abilities whilst developing important co-operation and leadership skills.

When using the playhouse with friends, children can enjoy taking different roles as they play and use their imaginations to play out elements of a real society. This builds a foundation for developing the skills that children will need to perform in the real adult world.

  • Encouraging independence

Playhouses allow children to be on their own and bond with their friends, away from the inhibiting watch of their parents. With younger children, you should, however, stay within close range to ensure safety through minimal supervision.

Pretend games encourage children to make decisions on their own without depending on their parents. Children will also learn how to face their fears and deal with possible conflicts and differences. Children will be more inclined to solve issues that might arise while playing. These skills allow children to become a lot more responsible at an early age.

  • Promoting physical exercise

An outdoor playhouse provides children with the chance to move about and be active. This reduces the amount of time that children will want to spend in front of televisions and computer screens. Having regular exercise to an outdoor playhouse will naturally increase the amount of physical exercise that your children undertake and the amount of time spent outdoors. In turn, this will lead to stronger, healthier bodies and a better immune system.

  • Stimulating creativity

Playhouses provide children with a space of their own and open the door to a variety of activities. Children can use their imaginations to turn the playhouse into anything from a home or school to a fire station or doctor’s surgery. Children may choose to furnish and decorate their playhouses based on their own tastes and creativity.

A recent study conducted in the UK revealed that there has been a remarkable increase in the mental health problems among the children. Today in the UK, it’s estimated that 1 in 10 school aged children suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder – that’s around three children in every school class. One of the major factors that seems to be contributing to these results is the lack of frequent connection with the natural world outdoors. Here is how regular outdoor play can improve children’s mental health.

  1. Emotional Wellbeing

There’s something about running free and breathing in the fresh air that helps both children and adults to clear their minds. For children, spending some time away from the classroom environment and being able to play outdoors ensures that they get time to rewind and relax. It’s the best way for children to clear their heads and give their brains a breather.

  1. Helps in Releasing Serotonin

Outdoor play never fails to bring happiness to children. Serotonin, the neurotransmitter that facilitates regulation of mood and emotions, is closely tied to happiness. When children are having fun, serotonin is released.

Another factor attributed to the release of serotonin is vitamin D, which is acquired from the sun. It is evident that outdoor play allows children to enjoy higher levels of vitamin D. About 80% to 90% of the vitamin D that we get is from the sun. Playing in the natural settings allows children to get the best source of this vitamin. If you are concerned about the risks of too much exposure to the sun, you can use sunscreen or limit the time spent directly under the sun.

Vitamin D helps in the release of serotonin to the brain and lack of it has been associated with the development of mental problems such as low moods, depression, and schizophrenia. High levels of serotonin are important to children’s mental health and development. A 2008 study showed that adolescents who experience more positive emotions had higher levels of serotonin. Lower levels of serotonin in adolescents led to a higher response to negative emotions as well as self-destructive behaviour.

  1. Reduces Stress Levels

Playing outdoors, especially in the natural environment, is believed to reduce cortisol levels, or in other words, the stress hormone in the brain. Many children are constantly exposed to stressful surroundings ranging from increasingly busy and noisy urban settings, pressure-laden classrooms, and bright, flashing screens. Classrooms have been known to bring about symptoms of depression and anxiety for children who are made to sit down all day. Outdoor play offers the best escape from all of this, and in turn, reduces the stress levels.

  1. Helps To Build Confidence

According to a recent study, just five minutes of ‘green exercise’ every day is enough to rapidly enhance mental well-being as well as self-esteem, mostly in young children. A first-hand experience of the outdoors and engaging of the children with nature promotes healthier and happy minds as well as improving cognitive development.

An extensive study by the Forest School revealed clear findings that being outdoors contributes to higher levels of well-being. Self-confidence is improved in children when they get the freedom, space and time to learn, grow and demonstrate their independence.

Encouraging outdoor play will certainly bring about huge differences to the mental, emotional and physical wellbeing of children. It’s time to switch off and go outside.

When dedicated playgrounds first started appearing in the late 19th century, they were a fresh, new and exciting addition to the urban landscape. Through the course of the early 20th century, public playgrounds became more and more commonplace. Parents and city authorities had come to realise the great benefits that playgrounds presented. For one thing, they were safer than playing in the busy streets of rapidly growing cities. Furthermore, it soon became apparent that playgrounds provide a stimulating environment for children to learn through play and develop many skills that will benefit them through the course of their lives.

20th Century Divide

Through the course of the 20th-century playgrounds became more imaginative and challenging for children. This made them even more fun and provided for better learning experiences for the children. Then in 1980’s things began to change. Starting in the US, new safety regulations changed the rules around playground design and many play activities that were once allowed were now considered unsafe. This notion soon spread to Europe and the UK. This has resulted in playgrounds becoming more uniform and perhaps, a little boring, with a focus on safety diminishing imaginative design. However the tide has started to turn and many are questioning the over-emphasis on safety to the detriment of the positive learning, with the aim now on raising the creative standards while maintaining that safety.

The concept of adventure playgrounds began in Europe in the early 20th century, with the idea of giving children constructive tasks with a little less adult supervision. After World War II, the idea became very popular in the UK. After a few decades of this, the prevailing forms turned again, with highly supervised “helicopter parenting” growing in popularity, beginning in the US in the 1980’s. The term is used to describe parents who hover over their children, watching their every move, to make sure they keep out of harm’s way. This form of parental supervision has gradually found its way to Europe and the UK. The effect of helicopter parenting can be that children no longer use their own initiative as much as they did in earlier generations. They are also prevented from taking risks that would allow them to learn many skills naturally.

A Healthy Balance

There is now a new school of thought that is encouraging the development more challenging playground equipment that will encourage children to push boundaries and explore more. This comes with the notion that children should be allowed more freedom to explore, with supervision taking place from a bit of a distance. This will give playground designers more freedom to explore imaginative ideas and in the end develop the imagination and problem-solving skills of children.

The challenge now lies to combine the need for safety with the benefits of risk taking and adventure when it comes to fun and education. This is something we are highly passionate about, bringing that combination to the home, where children feel as if they are exploring on their own adventure, growing in confidence and independence, while the parent or carer gets to supervise from a comfortable position. They can get on with household tasks, or sit and enjoy the outdoors, knowing the child is safe in their own garden setting with equipment designed to foster both excitement and safe use.

The parents among you may or may not be aware of the re-emergence of barefoot play; a resurgent phenomenon on these shores, one that has led more and more families to ditch their shoes and socks in order to fully experience the natural sensations and textures of the outdoors during play time.

Going shoeless is a subject that everyone is bound to have a personal opinion on. Yet despite the common-held risks associated with such a controversial practice, it has been endorsed by paediatricians, parenting gurus and podiatrists. There is increasing evidence to suggest that the confinement of shoes is actually damaging to the gait and structure of feet. The constant presence of shoes can in some cases actually hinder proper movement and development, making the feet and lower legs more susceptible to injury.

The advantages of going barefoot, on the other hand, are plentiful. Kicking off your shoes and socks outdoors is a great way to teach children about the world around them and allow them to experience the natural environment first-hand. Just imagine their reactions to soft, warm sand at the beach, cool dewy grass on a summer morning, the rough bark of a climbing tree and the splash of a puddle underfoot. Whether you’re at the park or in the garden, there’s no delight quite like splashing and squelching through muddy puddles.

At the playground, children will be able to appreciate the soft rubberised surfaces and use their feet as they were intended, to bounce and run around. They’ll be enabled to quickly scale climbing frames and demonstrate their agility, balancing on ropes and slacklines with the unobstructed grip provided by their toes. Lauren Knight of the Washington Post is a firm advocate of barefoot play. During playtimes she and her husband will regularly enjoy some shoe-free time with their children. Knight speaks of the judgement and bewilderment that has been expressed by many other parents, but remains enthusiastic about her fully-informed choice to go barefoot.

Two of the most common reasons that parents gave for forbidding their children to take off their shoes and socks outside was the fear of injury and the fear of disease. In response to these worries, Knight points out that children and adults who regularly go barefoot develop a heightened sense of their surroundings and can easily spot a sharp object that they need to avoid. As well as this, children’s feet toughen up with a measured amount of barefoot play, leading to natural protection.

In regards to picking up disease from going barefoot, she explains that the skin is designed to keep pathogens out and that its far more likely to spread and contract illness through the hands, which regularly come in to contact with public doorknobs, sinks, keyboards and handrails, where germs are most plentiful. To the contrary, shoes can actually create an opportunity for illness as they trap bacteria and fungus in an environment that’s warm and moist, creating the perfect conditions for issues like athletes foot and toe fungus.

Cleanliness is another issue. Parents, who are already often strapped for time, do not want the burden of cleaning up dirt and mud that barefooted children have run through the house. But with some towels at hand and a warm bath, this mess can consciously be avoided. It’s not a huge price to pay for the potential health benefits and the simple joy to the senses that playing barefoot brings. Both children and their parents would really benefit from a little more shoe-free time, so why not try it?

One of the world’s top toy producers, Lego, have recently gained attention after their £4 million investment into funding a new post at the University of Cambridge – the Professor of Play. As fanciful as the title may sound, the programme will be undertaking important investigations into play-based learning, a development on which there exists very little official research at present.

The chosen candidate will enter Cambridge’s Faculty of Education thanks to funding from the Lego Foundation, the company’s educational arm who are also shareholders in the business. They will work with the newly established PEDAL centre (Play in Education Development and Learning) in the attempt to measure the exact links between learning and playfulness.

The hope is to produce further pro-play evidence that can support the company’s campaigning. The research will involve some of the most prestigious universities on the planet since PEDAL has links with organisations such as Harvard and MIT. Campaigners believe that the findings could have the power to affect educational policy around the world by demonstrating the value of play to parents and politicians.

Hanne Rasmussen, who heads the Lego Foundation, is of the firm opinion that teachers’ and parents’ preoccupation with external testing can actually hinder children’s development in their formative early years. She argues that it is not fair to drill children under the age of eight in literacy and numeracy for competitive nationwide tests such as SATs, which can cause unnecessary angst for children and their parents.

Instead, she explains, young children ought to be spending their time participating in fun activities with their peers. Play-based learning not only improves children’s social skills, but also fosters creativity and encourages independent thought. Rasmussen points to a New-Zealand based study that shows how early formal literacy lessons did not make children’s reading noticeably better by the age of 11. To the contrary, early schooling can put children off reading as they see it as a chore.

Children in Britain begin school three years earlier than our Scandinavian neighbours, and Rasmussen worries that this is encouraging our teachers to overlook the importance of whole-child development. By limiting children’s learning to what she calls “just sitting at a desk” at an increasingly earlier age, children are missing out on valuable formative experiences.

Rasmussen recalls her own childhood in Denmark during the 1970s where she spent her time playing imaginative games with her sister for entertainment. She was part of the Sea Scouts and speaks of her sheer joy during weekends when she got the chance to gain independence, sailing between the Danish coastal islands with her sister and their friends.

From mounting research, it would seem that the UK and other governments around the world have a lot to consider with regards to their formal schooling systems. The Lego Foundation’s proposed research has so far gained attention some of the leading educational institutions, but the question that persists is whether this will be finally be enough to persuade parents and governments to trust in learning through play.