This beautiful picture of sepia children playing with a Diablo arrived through the letterbox this week and got me thinking about outdoor toys. I would give anything to be knee-high again, so that I could enjoy the many fabulously clever and exciting gizmos around at the moment – scooters with 700 gears, bug hunting kits suitable for professional Amazonian explorations, and water trays with more mechanical parts than a family car.
But these Diablo cherubs seem to be having so much fun, and this simple toy has stood the test of time.
Here are our favourite outdoor toys – they’ve all been around for many many years and I’ll wager will be around for many more too!
- The skipping rope can be used for so many games: for skipping, of course, but also for tugs of war, pulley inventions, trolley towing and, most importantly, for the tying-up of annoying siblings.
- Balls are just brilliant for children of any age – babies pat them, toddlers chase them, nippers throw them, and teens compete with them. Plus, is there any better tool with which to bridge the gap between grumpy uncles and adoring nephews?
- “Q: Where would we be without wheels? A: Life would certainly be more pedestrian!” (Shocking joke … apologies.) There is so much play potential in wheeled vehicles and they don’t need to be fancy. Deluxe bikes and scooters are luverly, but there are hours of fun in customising half-broken skateboards (and much less theft-anxiety!), just as children used to put together their own go-carts.
- For all their moaning and groaning, children love to be useful. Give them a job and they’ll rise to the challenge. A tool is the portal to responsibility, meaningful activity, and mini-me role play. Obviously we all adore those gorgeous mini gardening kits crafted from steel and wood, but an old bucket or half broken sandpit spade can do just as well. What jobs are we thinking of? Leaf disposal, pot filling, plant watering, gravel tidying, deck scrubbing… the To Do list is endless!
- Last but not least, the best toy of all that money simply can’t buy … the humble stick! There’s fun to be had in finding one and in adapting it, and then unlimited delight in its invaluable uses for anthill disturbing, muddy line scraping, den building, back-of-neck tickling, flag-making and cat poking (not condoned by Hahahopscotch, obviously).
A sad note on which to finish though … whatever happened to hoop rolling, so beloved of the Victorians? A post on ‘lost toys’ will surely have to follow.