The time: the school hols The essentials The place: the garden

It's the middle of the school summer holidays, and like most parents you're probably running out of ideas of how to keep your little darlings occupied for yet another day. It's too late to pack them off to summer camp, so here are some ideas to keep them playing happily for hours in your own back garden:

You can't go wrong with this pop-up tent, which has just been voted the best toy in Britain by 2,000 youngsters. Forget awkward poles and nonsensical instructions, as this design springs up in seconds. It beat 300 other contenders in the 1997 Good Toy Awards. Price pounds 29.95 from TP Activity Toys (call 01 299 827728 for stockists)

No child can resist the lure of a paddling pool, and it's a great way of keeping them entertained while you relax with a good book in the sun. This one, from TP Activity Toys, costs pounds 37.50

Children can help you weed the garden with a bucket and tools set, price pounds 14.95 from The Catalogue at Presents Direct (mail order, 0171-371 7017)

A Challenger climbing frame costs pounds l15, pounds 39.95 for the tent, pounds 39.95 for the basketball game set, pounds 89.98 for the slide and pounds l9.95 for the twizzler

Exhausted by all the activity, they can catch their breath in a brightly coloured striped mini-deckchair, price pounds 19.95 from The Catalogue at Presents Direct

No child is capable of sitting still for long, but a radio/recorder may help. It costs pounds 30 from Boots

If it starts to rain, then a children's cooking set, including saucepans, colanders, ladies, jugs, and more, and costs pounds 22.50 from the Conran Shop, should keep them busy in the kitchen

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