“ Brand: ELC / Type: Outdoor Play Equipment „
One of the most important things about being a mum is ensuring that your children remain healthy and active, I might be a bit old fashioned in this but I think far too many kids spend all their free time playing computer games - leading to a generation of lazy teenagers who have never developed proper social skills. Having four children I'm actually quite impressed that they all seem to enjoy exercise and have a passion for fresh air (weather permitting), I put this down to the fact that they have been encouraged to spend time in the garden throughout the year and we regularly make trips to the park for important active play time.
One item I bought fairly recently was this My First Tag game, mine came from a tabletop sale at school but it's ELC branded and available in the stores and online for around the £10 mark (I paid £1.50).
This is a very simple idea; a fabric belt which is worn around the waist, the belt has a strip of Velcro running along its length to which you attach four colour co-ordinated 'flaps' of the same fabric using the Velcro that is attached to the back of them. The idea is that up to four children can play tag using this set, to play they simply run around the garden or park and a child is 'tagged' when their friend/opponent manages to snatch one of their 'flaps' and pull it off the belt.
I originally bought it for Hollie to play with when her cousins were visiting, but for such a basic game I'm surprised at how much enjoyment she's had from it - even devising her own solo game of tag (which to the untrained eye just looks like a little girl running around the garden, but there ARE rules) for those times when she's playing alone. The belts aren't amazingly long; Hollie is a daintily skinny child so there's plenty of room for her to grow (although the belt isn't so loose that it slips down) but her little porker of a cousin, his mum's description, always looks a bit 'dented' when he's wearing one.
The strength of the Velcro is perfect; the flaps stick securely to the belt but are fairly easily pulled away when a kiddie is 'caught', they don't fall off while they're running though and require a bit more effort than fingertip grabs when playing which tells me that some thought was put into the development of the game. When a child pulls the flap off their little friend's belt they attach it to their own - a kind of record of conquest I suppose, only using fabric pieces instead of shruken heads. This aspect can make the kids really competitive, I've seen tantrums over a 'stolen' flap and all sorts - the most memorable being <red face> Hollie as she failed to grasp the concept of other people trying to catch her while she's chasing someone else, when she had all her flaps taken during an ambush of four year olds she had the most spectacular fit of anger I've ever seen!
The belt and flaps are well made with decent material; they feel strong and I have no doubts that they'll cope for ages of game play despite Tag being a rough and tumble game, they're machine washable (although run like crazy so watch out!) and after washing mine a few times can say they go through the machine fine. I dry them outside or over the radiator as it's that felt-type fabric and I'm not sure how well it'd cope in the tumble dryer, they take hardly any time to dry anyway so not worth switching the dryer on for!
Do I recommend the Tag set? Well, yes I do - but not for a tenner. It's well played with while it's here and for what I paid I'm completely happy with it, but when you think of it in relation to the full price you realise it's kinda solving a problem that doesn't exist. Hollie and most other children will still play Tag without it, the belt system is adding an extra dimension I suppose but I personally don't think it really provides that much more fun once the initial novelty has worn off. My mum said she used to play a similar game when she was a child (she's 65), then the children would stick hankies down the waistband of their skirts and trousers for their friends to pull out - methinks ELC are not as forward thinking as they imagine they are!
It's a nice idea though and might be novelty enough to coax your X-Box loving child into the garden, sometimes children need encouraging rather than telling - and surprisingly in my experience it's these simple little ideas that make the impact. The minimum recommended age is two years, which is probably about right, although children of that age aren't going to really enjoy it as much as a game as older kids - I'd say the ideal age to play with the set would be around 3 - 4 years for maximum enjoyment.
Chase around to collect coloured tags from the other players. With two different games, offering fun and energetic active play for up to 4 players / Age range: From 2 years.