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Cloud watching a winner with Kiwi Kids

Persil Top Ten Before UR 10 list revealed

Dorothy - 30/05/08

What activities do New Zealand parents believe it is important for their children to experience? What things do Kiwi children really want to do? How can parents and grandparents help them to have a fulfilling childhood?

The Persil Top Ten Before UR 10 poll asked questions to get the views of New Zealand parents and children and in just one month almost 30,000 votes were received online and by mail.

One incentive to vote was that by voting in the Persil Top Ten Before UR Ten survey between 1st March and 31st March 2008, voters could enter the draw to win a Playzone adventure playground for their own backyard worth up to $3,000 or one of twenty $100 vouchers redeemable at The Warehouse.

The topic of the best play activities for children is a matter of great interest to children and to caring parents and grandparents in New Zealand and elsewhere and I feel sure that children round the world would support the ideas favoured in the replies if they had the opportunity to enjoy the type of activities listed.

The results reveal a definitive list of what New Zealanders think should be the top ten activities every child should experience before they are ten years old.

The ten activities are simple and comparatively inexpensive and are the type that most New Zealand adults remember enjoying when they were children. The emphasis placed on them by the Persil campaign should be a reminder to parents of their own childhood and spur them to give their children the same opportunities. This may present problems as it was easier to enjoy the whole range of activities in the days when most children grew up in a home with a quarter acre section, some trees or shrubs, an area where it was permissible to do messy things, possibly a sandpit and an outside tap available for water play.

Here is the list of ten activities in the order of the voters' choice.

  1. Lie on your back and find shapes in the clouds.
  2. Camp out in the backyard.
  3. Build a secret hut.
  4. Catch a fish.
  5. Play in the rain.
  6. Build sandcastles at the beach.
  7. Learn to swim.
  8. Woosh down a mudslide.
  9. Grow your own garden.
  10. Make mud-pies.

The first choice– "Lie on your back and find shapes in the clouds" – was not on Persil's original list but was a suggestion sent in when Persil asked for the public to supply voting options.

My first thought on hearing the results was "How great that children are so imaginative!" It is evidence that their imaginations are not as cramped by watching television as some would suggest. This activity will be especially enjoyed by those whose imaginations are fed by having stories read to them or by reading books themselves.

How can parents and grandparents help children to have these enriching experiences?
Cloud watching is the most accessible of the activities on the list. The second, third and ninth options need a backyard and preferably a garden – a privilege not enjoyed by families living in a townhouse surrounded by concrete or in a high rise apartment.

If parents have no garden grandparents can often help.

It is important for the backyard not to be too tidy, but to have some undeveloped space. A collection of different sized boxes and pieces of wood can also help spur children's imagination. Our children had a sandpit which provided hours of play. Two packing cases with added smaller boxes in turn served as huts, houses, ships and forts.

Carers preferably need not to be concerned about dirt. Trying to keep clean and being scared to get dirty are inhibiting to children's play. This is where the link with Persil comes in, as it is one laundry detergent that can be used to get rid of the dirt from children's clothes.

Transport and supervision needed
Many of the experiences on the list could be enjoyed only by children whose parents, grandparents or carers would - or could - take time to provide transport and safe supervision. Grandparents often have time to investigate bus timetables and plan outings where a car is not available.

Clear air
A pre-requisite for cloud watching is a clear atmosphere through which to gaze – an advantage enjoyed by most Kiwis in fine weather. Children in many parts of the world would not be able to cloud-gaze through the pollution-filled skies.

Follow-up features in the Persil campaign
A colourful Persil Top Ten Before UR 10 checklist poster is available for download at and the website features tip and events organised or sponsored by Persil to provide opportunities for families to experience top ten activities, as well as photo challenges and contests.

The questionnaire has been followed by an invitation to send in photos of children involved in the listed activities. Viewers are invited to go to the Vote & Win page to upload photos of kids they know enjoying any of the Top 10 activities, and vote on their favourite picture to enter the competition in which they could win one of thirty $100 The Warehouse vouchers.

Visitors to the Persil site are invited to sign up for Persil's Top 10 Alerts to be notified of new upcoming kids' activities on the Persil's Top Ten website.

Persil can deal with the dirt.
The activities listed are all likely to leave the children's clothes in need of washing. Here is where Persil has relevance in the survey. With its power to clean clothes and produce stain-free washing it has been used in New Zealand family washing for several generations.

Valuable ideas given emphasis
The questionnaire may have originated as an advertising ploy, but any scheme which encourages parents to give their children the experience of healthy outdoor play and exercise is to be beneficial to children, especially those who spend too much time watching television or sitting in front of a computer screen.

Watch for developments on the Persil website -

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