A little bit of parental input equals a lot of happy kids
There are two types of school holiday raining day activities for kids: the type you need to supervise or prepare, and those you can just let the kids run loose. Usually, the latter leads to death and destruction, so here are some fun and easy indoor kids activities that require *a bit* of parental involvement.
Collect forms and surveys for your box-ticking kids
Post Master General I love filling out forms, all those neat little boxes. Census time is my favourite time of year and as a kid nothing made me happier than spending hours creating lots of neat little forms with boxes, and then ticking all the boxes and starting again. Make it easy on your kids and the next time you are at the bank, post office or standing at the checkout, looks for forms and surveys and grab a handful.
Then set your child up with some pens, an official looking hat, a stamp or two and let them go nuts ticking boxes and being important. Throw in some envelopes and a home-made post box and with any luck they will be busy for hours.
Robot Outfit The next time you get a large and sturdy paper bag (or box) keep it aside and use it to make into a robot top. This obviously only works on kids small enough to fit inside the bag, but if you cut a hole for the head and arms, the kids can decorate it to make it look like a robot. Slice open some paper tubes from inside the Clingwrap and use them as 'sleeves' and watch the kids jerk around the house, talking in their best robot voice.
Not everyone has one of those great carpets printed with roads and parks and rivers, but you can make even better ones yourself. Start by taping together pieces of computer paper (or the large Ikea rolls) into a large rectangle or square (as big as space allows), then using a dark textas help the kids draw roads, rivers and parks.
They can then add to their city by drawing or constructing buildings, bridges, farms or airports. They can use small empty boxes, Lego or building blocks, or even doll house furniture. Let them decorate with stickers and anything else that captures their attention.
Most people have a box like this, full of craft, junk and broken crayons
Stained Glass Crayons This definitely requires some adult supervision when it comes to using the oven, but you need to start by scouting through all the backpacks and pencil cases and finding all the broken bits of crayon that seem to breed in the bottom of drawers. Take all the paper off and then find some small tins (passionfruit tins are perfect) or line some muffin trays with alfoil.
Let the kids place the broken crayons into the tin – they can either keep similar colours together, or mix them to create a rainbow effect crayon. Place the tin in a hot (200 degree) oven for around five minutes or until the crayons have all melted together. Take the tins out and allow to cool completely before removing the new crayons.
Kiddie Cookie Dough
I found a great recipe that kids of all ages can make by themselves, even the youngest ones. Start them off my placing the following ingredients in a big bowl: 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup flow, 2 cups instant rolled oats, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 250g margarine or soft butter.
Then it's up to the kids to mix it – with their hands. Get them to punch it and knead it. They can roll it in their hands or on the bench, the longer they work it, the better it will taste (or tell them this anyway). When it is ready, roll into small balls and bake in a preheated moderate oven for 10-12 minutes.
Bubblemania If you know you will be busy preparing dinner or working in the kitchen and want to keep a close eye on the kids and don't mind a bit of mess, then half fill the sink with some water and add a few drops of detergent. Give them an egg beater and let them make as many bubbles as they can.
With any luck it will also tire them out and make them sleep well that night. This also works well in the bathtub or even using buckets of water outside. If you're really brave, throw in a few dishes and see if the kids will clean them for you.
Collect old brochures, magazines and junk mail for the kids to cut up
Make Your Own ABC Book
This requires a bit of preparation in advance by a parent, but once it is done kids can spend hours making their own book. Start by cutting out pictures from old books and magazines, or print them from the computer. Print, draw or trace the letters of the alphabet onto 26 pieces of paper (A4 or A5 is manageable) and then the kids can draw and stick pictures that start with the letter. For slightly older kids, choose an alphabet theme such as foods or animals.
Beautiful but messy paint art
Some parents shudder when their kids ask to do painting, but if you're not one of those here are some different ways for your kids to make masterpieces using poster or acrylic paints. These make great cards or wrapping paper.
Add plenty of paint to a shallow tub of water which has about one quarter of a cup of dishwashing detergent in it. The colour needs to be quite bright – you're not going for a subtle effect here. Using a straw (or egg beater) get the kids to blow bubbles until the tub is full of bright paint bubbles, then lay sheets of paper or card on top and allow the bubbles to pop. If you use a few tubs you can make different colours and layer them on top of each other.
Alternatively mix a small bit of water into some paint and drip it onto the paper. Get the kids to blow on the paint using a straw to make some crazy shapes. If you use black paint, you can make some great creepy tree shapes, which the kids can later decorate.