The school holidays are upon us, and as promised I’ve put together a list of fun, no to moderate cost activities for you and your children to enjoy together. Everyone can do with a little inspiration now and again after all…
NO TO VERY LOW COST
PP & D Breakfast Party
Stack them, roll them, fold them – savoury or sweet, berry or nut them – just eat them to the beat!!
What a fun way to start the day!
These holiday activities are all about creating memories.
This one comes from our childhood memory vault enjoying the delights of playing in the wind with our parents. It’s weather inspired too, as currently we are experiencing a lot of windy days!
Depending on your location and weather conditions the options for flight vary a great deal. Sharing the relative benefits of different paper plane designs, flying a commercial kite or a home made one – it’s up to you.
Taking the time to take flight with your children will create some great memories – no matter how high or far those kites or planes go!
In my family growing up, getting together with the cousins was a reason to put on a show – those dubious concerts are fondly remembered to this day.
Not everyone is into song and dance, but what about a family puppet show?
Puppets can be made out of anything you have in the house (or even in the car) – paper bags, socks, paper cups on a stick, balloons. Your kids can duck down behind the couch and put on a puppet show for you (or in the back seat of the car) – easy and great memories to create!
Last to Laugh!
There’s no doubt about it – laughter is wonderful for our overall well-being. Yet life seems to be getting more serious by the year. Children usually laugh long and often (sometimes to the annoyance of adults around them), but adults too often are absorbed by the seriousness of life. One writer on the subject years ago was quoted as saying that adults laugh as little as 6 minutes per day on average. Yikes!
Laughter stimulates the production of wonderful “happy hormones” not only lifting our moods but our ability to stay healthy.
For all these reasons, and simply the fact that it is loads of fun, we suggest that as a family you sit around together, everyone aiming to keep a straight face while you all take turns to make the others laugh.
Set a timer for each turn. The last to laugh is the winner (actually – everyone is!).
Buy a large jigsaw puzzle that you set in a central location. Start it up either alone or with your children, then put most of the remaining pieces in a bowl next to it so everyone in the family can go to it whenever they get the urge.
- Reserve about 1/4 of the pieces to distribute at your whim – at mealtimes, you can “mail” them in envelopes to your children, slip them inside a book they are reading. Give a few with snack unexpectedly, or you could do a “hot cold” search for pieces you hide around a room or the house or a treasure hunt (put the pieces in envelopes for ease of finding – for you! You can do this over a day, a week or the whole holidays.
- Alternatively you could do a series of smaller puzzles – doing them a different way every day, adding “I spy a piece with….” & for active children, spread the pieces around the room and play with Simon Says – “Simon Says you roll like a rock/ jump like a frog etc” to get the next piece.
There’s something here for almost everyone – even the most reluctant puzzle doer! Enjoy!
A cold winter’s day is a great time for a snowball fight! Since most of us living in Australia don’t get to experience the real thing, what about a non-icy alternative?
You can go a few ways:
- Newspaper Snowballs: Scrunch up individual sheets of newspaper (get the kids involved – it does wonders for hand strength, fine manipulation skills and bilateral co-ordination). When you have a nice big batch prepared, set up the battle field – indoors or out – that’s up to you, with barriers to hide behind, and gather a heap of kids together and let them at it! (Make sure children who don’t want to be hit have a safe zone that everyone respects). You can tape the balls if you want – if you think you’ll use them again. The great thing is that these balls don’t hurt and a lot of fun will be had, and energy spent!
- Fluffy Stuff Snowballs: Mix 1 can of shaving cream with 2 boxes of cornstarch (makes about a dozen snowballs). This one is messy and takes a while to wash away, but is heaps of fun and a great tactile experience to make!
- White Stocking Snowballs. Cuts legs off white pantyhose, use polyester fill (or newspaper) to make one ball at a time, tie off with 2 knots and cut off between knots.
Whichever one you go with – complete the experience with some hot chocolate or cocoa and marshmallows to complete the “no-snowy” experience.
Cardboard Box Construction Day
What can your children make with a heap of boxes, some tape, some imagination, the room and permission to build?
Supermarkets are often open to giving away their used boxes – what about gathering a heap and putting the kids to work creating a maze in the back yard joining them all together? Better yet if you have some furniture or refrigerator boxes to use…
If claustrophobia is an issue, cut windows out periodically so that light is let in. Let them loose with torches/flashlights and let them have an amazing time finding their way through their home made maze. A day can easily be filled with this kind of play.
Put A Pin In It!
Can’t decide on an idea? Why not put a pin in it?
Brainstorm lost of ideas together as a family, pull out pictures from local newspapers and magazines – affix them to a corkboard and have each member of the family stick a drawing pin (or use a marker to make a dot for little ones).
Whatever activity is the closest to the most pins or marks is the one you get to do. Surprise!! (make sure that everything on there is something you have the resources and time to do).
This one works in sandpits or at the beach (though be careful with the latter and mark out “the dig” – I’ve lost an item or two doing this one!
Bury different categories of items (while they aren’t looking) and then have your young archaeologists “discover them” categorize them according to origins, use or materials.
You’ll need small shovels, buckets and brushes for “realism”.
If you want to create some realism, you can encase some items in plaster of paris and then bury them in the sand, for a little extra fun.
Go fishing for the old paperclip fish in the cardboard pond, gather berries (lolly kind or real hidden around the house), go hill sliding (child sits on blanket and is pulled around the house on it). Play volleyball (balloon style), try out some archery with rubber bands & scrunched up newspaper and eat hot dogs on paper plates by the light of a roaring red cellophane fire (lit up with torch or glow sticks). Sing songs and telling stories – and if the mood strikes, sleep in the tent and wake up to a camp out breakfast the next morning of beans on toast (wasn’t that good I left that until AFTER you slept in the tent all together?
Ahhh – the great indoors!
It’s great to be outside enjoying the fresh air (especially after the last few wet days in our area) – and strawberry picking is a deliciously different activity, if you are handy to a strawberry farm. Why not pack a picnic and head out for a little strawberry-pickin’ fun?
A young client of mine is an avid ice skater, and I learned from her Mum that the local ice skating rink has classes for children as young as 3 years.
It’s not something I tend to think about, considering where we live, but ice skating certainly does a lot to build balance & co-ordination skills (in my case I practise protective reactions when I fall – and I do that with great frequency!!) and works the sensory systems and motor skills hard, while having a heap of fun!
Why not give it a try?
Indoor Rock Climbing
So many places these days have opportunities to do this for all ages. Some time ago we went to and indoor rock climbing place in Fortitude Valley that was great, with lots of variety and heaps of room to explore climbing – and very reasonably priced. It’s a great way to while away a few hours of school holiday time! (mind you for me that is the watching of it, not the doing).
Looking for somewhere out of the ordinary for an outing? We finally got to our local Planetarium and took in “Cosmic Collisions” – which is about as close as I’ll ever come to experiencing deep space.
It was quite a trip laid back in our comfy chairs as we explored our galaxy and the collisions that made and make it what it is today. Cool stuff indeed – enjoyed by parents and kids both from our point of view.
My son loved the moon-earth collision and his only complaint was that the movie was too short!
Well worth a visit if you are local – and if not – why not check out your local observatory or planetarium to see what they have on offer?
I hope you enjoy these few activities from “our vault”, or at the very least that they inspire you with fresh ideas of your own!
Have a wonderful break, and we’ll see you back here in third term!
– Julia & Lisa