Five Awesome Activities (With Minimal Parental Involvement)
Whether you are staring down the barrel of school holidays, or stuck inside due to a long, cold winter, sometimes you run out of ideas to entertain the kids. Sure you could sit on the floor all day and play Barbie-marries-the-GI-Joe. Again. Or Lego-killing-Ninja-dinosaurs. Again.
Or you could try these five, super easy activities, which after minimal initial parental input, requires little more than putting your feet up, and watching those re-runs of Coronation Street.
Think of the most obscure items possible to keep the kids busy as long as possible
Write down a list of some obscure objects that you have in the house. Doesn't matter if you haven't seen them in months, the harder to find the better. Good suggestions are a pair of size 7 Wellington Boots, exactly 57cm of red wool, a wooden ruler, a green Barbie doll dress/Lego man, a picture of a giraffe and book with a blue cover with white writing. Obviously, the longer the list the better.
Then hand your kids a washing basket and tell them to find everything on the list.
The good thing about this game is that you can use it to get the kids to find some things that have gone missing (where is your Duran Duran CD?) and with any luck they will stop along the way to play with what they have found.
The bad thing is that they can turn the house upside looking for everything. Not to worry, you can make them clean it up again afterwards while singing 'A Spoonful of Sugar' from Mary Poppins.
Cleaning Things Don't scoff, kids won't realise cleaning isn't fun unless you tell them. This works best if you still have some old 1 and 2 cent coins lying around the house. Plan ahead and ask the grandparents, they're sure to have some down the back of the couch. If you can't find copper coins, then any new ones will work fine.
Simply fill a bowl with some warm soapy water, get some old toothbrushes and get the kids to start scrubbing. For older kids a mixture of vinegar and salt will really get the coins nice and shiny. Get them to clean the entire contents of their piggy bank.
Once they're done with that, and while the vinegar is still out, ask them to clean the windows. Using a mixture of ¼ white vinegar to ¾ water, mix it in a spray bottle then hand them some soft cloths, Chux, old cloth nappies or newspaper.
With any luck the kids will get carried away and offer to do all the windows and mirrors in the house. The problem is that depending on how tall they are, chances are only the bottom half will be clean at the end of the day.
Once the nails are in it can be used over and over again
Nail Board This is a really quick thing to put together – but only if you have the required goodies: a block of wood, some nails and a hammer.
Bang the nails into the wood leaving at least half a centimetre of nail (don't let them go through to the other side). You can place the nails randomly or in a pattern. Then cut a long length of wool, tie it to one of the nails and let the kids wind it around the nails to make various patterns. You can get them to use the nail board to make the letters of the alphabet or attempt to make various pictures.
Make a recording
Do you remember sitting in your room with your old cassette player, pressing the play/record buttons and then singing and talking aimlessly for hours, only to rewind it and listen to yourself like it was the Best. Thing. Ever?
Surely that can't have been just me.
If you still have an old cassette player and blank tapes then share the love with your kids, and let them make a recording of themselves – singing, playing music, talking, reading a book – anything. If you're a bit too modern to even know what a cassette is, but trust your kids sufficiently, then let them video themselves on your iPad or video recorder.
Be warned: they may want to share their masterpiece with you afterwards.
Growing up, a FrootLoop necklace became synonymous with school holidays, but this works equally well with any holey cereal such as Cheerios. If you're not too fussed about sugar, then Lifesavers make great necklaces, but if you don't want them to eat their masterpieces, then dried pasta such as macaroni is always a success.
Simply cut a length of wool that is long enough to loop around their necks, plus a bit to spare, then tightly wrap a small piece of sticky tape on one end to make a pointy 'needle'. Then they can thread the FrootLoops into their designer jewels, wear them, then eat them.
Just hope they don't want to 'share' them with you after wearing them all day.
These days, there are no artificial colours. Pity.