Outdoor play - toys to keep the kids happy this summer

We've got our fingers firmly crossed for a hot summer this year and after the recent warm spell, many will have turned their attention to the garden. But while mum and dad might prefer to relax on a sun lounger, the warmer weather provides the kids with the ideal opportunity to put down the TV remote and the computer games console and get active outside.

Outdoor toys for kids
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Here are a few of the top outdoor toys to keep the children occupied in the garden this year.

If you've got the space, a trampoline in the garden means the kids can bounce away some of that boundless energy. Though they are not cheap, garden trampoline safety is improving and features such as enclosed springs and safe surrounds mean you won't have to worry. Trampolining is excellent exercise that won't put pressure on the joints... and you might even be tempted to enjoy a little bounce yourself!

These days there is no need to take the children to a park - garden swings are available from as little as £39.99 but for those of you with more than one little person to entertain, it might be worth splashing out on a double swing. Most sets can be assembled within an hour (by two adults) and, depending on your budget, come with one or two swings, or with added extras such as climbing frames or slides. There are also wooden framed ones that will blend into your garden. Be aware, however, that you will need at least a 2m safety perimeter.

Sports toys
If you are keen to keep your garden free of permanent play structures, there are a range of outdoor sports toys that will get the kids active. From portable football goals and football trainers for Beckham wannabes, to badminton nets and basketball hoops, garden games mean you don't have to fork out large sums of money or sacrifice space and have the added advantage of allowing the whole family to join in the fun.

While the adults probably remember using bin bags and soapy water, aquaslide technology has come on in leaps and bounds. For around £30, shop-bought aquaslides use heavy duty material that is silicone treated for extra slip with less water. It's ideal for cooling down in the hot sun and is guaranteed to give the whole family a few laughs.

No matter how small and simple the dwelling, youngsters always seem to enjoy playing house. Whatever your budget there is a playhouse to suit - whether you opt for an easily packed away, plastic wendy house or a wooden structure complete with slide and ladder, a playhouse will keep little ones (and their friends) occupied for hours - in fact, you'll probably have a job persuading them to come in for their tea!