Many children these days spend a huge amount of time online, whether that’s for homework, play or social media. Not only does this mean negative effects for physical and mental health, but makes them more at risk of online bullying, self-harm and dodgy people surfing the net to groom younger people. You can report anything suspect at Internet Watch Foundation.
Build Your Own Personalised Binoculars with this fun kit, made from cardboard. Perfect for bird-watching, nature walks and observing wildlife, they have incredible 6x magnification, a central focus slider and eyepiece for finer adjustments, for clean sharp images. And with a bold green colour and zingy pops of lime, they look super cool too. Don’t let children observe wildlife with magnifying glasses, as the sun’s rays can burn innocent creatures like insects.
Nature writer Richard Louv says one of the saddest moments of his research was when he asked a boy where his favourite place was. His reply? ‘Inside – because that’s where all the sockets are’. He notes that when he was a child, ‘nature was my Ritalin’, and talks with doctors say that the emergency room diagnosis has changed – not so much broken bones from falling from trees – but repetitive strain injury and depression, from too much time on computers.
Read Reset Your Child’s Brain, a no-cost 4-week program by a child psychiatrist to treat Electronic Screen Syndrome. This book gradually gets children away from over-ruse of computers, video games, smartphones and tablets, which can overstimulate a child’s nervous system.
Go Back to Traditional Board Games!
Growing up, did you and your family play board games like Ludo, Cluedo and Snakes & Ladders? These games were fun and got all the family together, even if some bad-tempered children had tantrums if they lost! Ellie Dix who wrote the book The Board Game Family says that having a family game night is far better to get back traditional conversation skills and improve health and social norms. You can find board games to save the planet and endangered creatures (Pandemic is where specialists work to control an infection across the world). Her book includes instructions on 100 board games. Keep small board game parts away from pets and children.
Board games also teach creative and cognitive skills, rather than just pressing a button to do everything for you. This Handcrafted Snakes & Ladders Game is maple wood. CE tested and approved. Instead of plastic, even the counters and dice are made from biodegradable wood, all handcrafted in the beautiful New Forest. The game is also personalised with the family’s name, and sits on a cork base (no trees are chopped down to make cork). Includes full instructions, and cute illustrations in a beautiful colour palette. Not for children under 6 due to small parts. Remove all packaging and assemble correctly.
Play a Different Kind of Monopoly
Monopoly is one of the world’s favourite board games, where you go around the board collecting property, play Chance and Community Chest cards, go to jail – and occasionally get out with a free card! But did you know that there are other versions, not just one for London?
Inspired by a real tycoon, the game was invented by a woman (her idea stolen 30 years later). The game is banned in some countries due to its capitalist nature (Cuba, China). It’s also banned in half US households (too many sore losers) and caused so many disputes in the royal household, that the Queen banned it too!
- The Lakes has its own Herdy pewter sheep to lead you around!
- Also up north, there is a version for Manchester.
- English Heritage has its own version which swaps Old Kent Road to Stonehenge, and Park Lane for Dover Castle. This unique version champions 400 sites, buildings and monuments. Chance and Community Chest cards are replaced by volunteering and train stations by annual events like St George’s Day.
- London Underground recreates all the colours of the lines on the map. Navigate your way around the city, building your property empire as you collect tube stations!
Learn How to Play Chess
Chess is one of the world’s most popular board games, and ideal to avoid watching junk on TV that destroys your brain cells. Instead, increase your brain cells by learning how to play this popular form of entertainment, either with someone else, or you can even play chess with yourself! It’s also one of the best Columbo episodes (if it ever comes on TV!) Keep small parts away from pets and children.
This wooden chess set is made from wood in a sturdy cardboard packaging, and also can be used to play chequers. Ideal for older children age 6 and over, this conforms to European safety standards, and includes full game rules. Beautifully illustrated.
Scientifically proven to raise your IQ, a chess board has 64 pieces arranged on a grid. One person has white pieces, the other has black pieces. There are the main players (one king and queen, two rooks, two knights, two bishops and 8 pawns), then you try to ‘checkmate’ your opponent, by ensuring the king cannot escape.
Chess is traced back to the Indian empire, and means ‘Shah’ or ‘king’ in Persian. Unfortunately the first pieces were made from ivory, although today you can find more eco-friendly and animal-friendly versions. Played extensively in Europe, computer chess became popular after a computer beat the world chess champion Garry Kasparov, although it rather defeats the fun of the game.
Chess doesn’t drive people mad. It keeps mad people sane. Bill Hartston