12 FREE OR NEARLY-FREE ACTIVITIES FOR BORED KIDS
Some end-of-the-holiday sanity-savers by Liz Frazer...
As the last few days of the summer holidays approach us, you may be running out of energy, money and gin. So we asked Care.com’s parenting expert Liz Frazer for some sanity-saving activities for you and your family, and this is what she came up with...
4 indoor activities for the school holidays
1. Make your own tent or hidden den. Out of sofas, blankets, cardboard boxes and so on. Hours of free fun. Just make sure you build your own den too, so you can sit in there and read a magazine without anyone noticing…
2. Treasure hunt. Yes, it takes a little organisation, but if you make the clues hard enough you might even squeeze in a few minutes of peace while they’re desperately searching through the cutlery drawer for the next piece of treasure (which can be as simple as an apple or a ‘voucher’ for an extra ten minutes of playtime).
3. Home publishing. I used to LOVE making little magazines, secret clubs and so on when I was a child. Back then each edition was all hand made, cut out, stuck, and stapled together. These days kids can use the internet for photos and maps, and print things out – but cutting things out of old magazines and newspapers is still the cheapest! Whatever they’re into, there’s a magazine, collage or secret club they can create.
4. Summer reviews. Not sure if you’ve noticed, but children have opinions! Encouraging them to share these is really good for their confidence, and they love having a place to speak out and feel heard, so why not get them to sign up to an online review platform where children can review the latest food, toys, movies, etc., and have their say. Great practice for writing and typing, too!
3 outdoor activities for the school holidays
1. Garden art. Drawing on the patio or an outside wall with chalk is a great way to let them express their creative flair… with very little collateral damage to your house! If you’re really struggling, painting with water is great fun on a hot day. No, really. It evaporates fast, and they can do it all again.
2. Mini crazy golf circuit. Find pipes, trays, wood and anything in the garden to make your own mini golf circuit. If you don’t have clubs, any thick stick will do – it’s all about imagination after all. If not golf, then an assault course also provides hours of fun – not only doing it but setting it all up too, using tyres, skipping ropes, sticks, balls and so on.
3. Camp in the garden. Yes, it will probably rain. Yes, it will trash the grass. And yes, they will probably come back in at midnight. But they will love it, and never forget it. And while they’re out there, bug hunting is another garden favourite, as is ‘Making A Pot Of Really Disgusting Mess Out Of Earth, Leaves And Muck.’ Hey, they will only be children once. Might as well let them get dirty and have fun!
5 days out for the school holidays
1. Get active. Summer is the best time to get your kids active. Check out some of these places that offer free sports coaching, courses or activities - such as the Junior Parkrun sessions when kids can take part in weekly timed 2k runs in parks all over the UK – and see which ones tickle your little ones’ sporting pickles. The Tokyo Olympics are only a few years away, after all! And a lot of it is totally free!
2. Get some extra childcare help if you need it, or link up with other parents to share the care. Much as we’d like to be able to do it all, the fact is that most of us can’t. And if you can get a little help you’ll be able to spend much better time with your children, when you can. Services like Care.com offer a huge range of care from dog-walking to childcare, elderly care to cleaners – have a look and see if there’s a way you can ease the strain during this very busy family season. This will help create some fantastic quality time on days out, or even just hanging at home with your children, without being totally overloaded.
3. Fruit picking. A great activity for children – they learn about how fruit grows, they can taste fruit they perhaps wouldn’t normally eat, and they get to make something lovely out of it all when they get home. Just keep an eye out for over-stuffing as it can get expensive…
4. Garden centres. Always fun, and often have pet areas, fish tanks and more, which children love looking at. You might end up coming home with a hamster or three though. Just saying.
5. Exploring. Check out www.treasuretrails.co.uk – for about £7 you can download a map with clues to help you explore your town. Even though you might have lived there for years, you’ll almost certainly find loads of new places you’ve never been to. There are trails for towns and cities all over the UK.