Friday, 3 January 2014

Outdoor Play Party - Bikes

Happy New Year & here's to a whole year filled with plenty of great Outdoor Play ideas.

A few weeks ago I asked on my Facebook page if there were any topics people would like addressed in future posts. Amongst the great ideas I got (and wrote about here & here) was one on bikes - as in how to stop children just riding round & round on them.
The tyres create a barrier  & define 'the road' for the bikes to follow.
Honestly I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with bikes, they are brilliant in the first term as they are usually a great way for even the most reluctant child to make an initial parting from a parent/carer. Every year there are some children who you know are just dying to get a turn on a bike but aren't ready to leave their parents side. Over a couple of days as they settle in the bikes become invaluable in this subtle independence dance & it is often as a child whizzes round the playground that a parent can make that first tentative step away from their 3 year old. But the bikes are also such a source of conflict as obviously we can't have a bike for every child so there has to be lots of turn taking & patience. The egg timer comes into its own when bikes are out, usually starting out with the 3 minute one & building up to the 10 minute one as the term progresses.

We have created a kind of bike track using tyres & whilst it allows the children to go both ways they do have to follow a certain route & negotiate around tyres & the slides etc. our playground is not really that big & therefore to have most of it 'blocked' off for bikes is quite restrictive. However on really wet days bikes are what can entice even the most reluctant child to get on their wet gear & head off into the rain. This year I have managed to create a good bike track while still allowing for either a seating area for the fire on Fridays or a climbing area the other 4 days. 
A climbing or seating area with a bike track behind it.
Bikes that are made for multiple use in schools are also very heavy & lugging them in & out everyday is a killer on the back. Luckily we can leave them under the covered area at night when they are out for a couple of days in a row but some days they do have to be lifted back into the store. They also take up a lot of room in the store too.
Without being too critical, one of the saddest sights I hate to see in any setting is a painted circle/oblong set aside for bikes where children can only go round & round in 1 direction. It's much more useful for children to have to learn how to stop suddenly on a bike with no breaks or how to swerve to avoid crashing into someone else! 

We used to have 3 sets of bikes - one for each term (basically they gradually got bigger each term) but last year we took the decision to get rid of the set for the 3rd & final term - by passing them up to the next class in the main school. As I said our playground isn't the largest & we found that in the final term when we had the large hollow blocks out & with the better weather, we preferred to have the space set aside for more spread out play & that the bikes weren't get any use. Also most children now have bikes at home & don't need one in school to learn how to pedal & even those who don't pedal naturally in 1st term are all able to do so by the end of the 2nd term.

So bikes are a necessary evil in my opinion but not one that we miss in the last 8 weeks of term!

The final OPP from 2013 had some great posts linked up but I chose this one from The Boy and Me for many reasons, this fellow blogger has been so supportive of my own blog all year, always linking up & taking the time to leave comments on my post but also because I have really enjoyed her own outdoor play journey this year. This post on how The Boy entertained himself outside in the garden in the lead up to Christmas was my favourite, just seeing him pushing himself to the limit on every day play equipment made my day. 

  • Any kind of children's outdoor play-related posts are welcome!

We'd appreciate it if you included a link back to this post (either in your post or sidebar) to help us spread the word about the importance (and fun!) of outdoor play! In return, we'll gladly further share your post on FacebookTwitterPinterestPlease feel free to grab the Outdoor Play Party button from the sidebar and/or include a text link back.

Please note that by contributing you are giving permission for an image and link to your post to be republished if featured.(If you have been featured, please feel free to grab the 'featured' button from the sidebar.) Share your ideas for outdoor play activities with us every other week!


  1. Thank you so much for featuring me, I feel very honoured! I love your blog and everything it stands for, thanks for helping me to push the boundaries with The Boy.

    1. Thanks for all your support & kind comments thought out last year & I think by now you are leading the way on outdoor play in your own right.

  2. We make bike tracks too - you can use anything from chalked out roads to tyre and log paths #CountryKids

    1. Oh yes chalk is great too, thanks for coming over from #countrykids

  3. Having a track is such a simple but inspired idea to challenge the children in using their gross motor skills, and I also love the idea of the timer to limit upset. Happy New Year to you all and here's to more outdoor fun in 2014, thanks for linking up and sharing with Country Kids.

    1. Thanks Fiona & yes here's to lots of outdoor adventures in 2014.

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  5. That's funny and amazing, my kids must love the party.
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