So, we’re a week into the summer holidays. How are you doing? Tearing your hair out or enjoying every minute?
If, like me, you have been with your children night and day trying to keep them entertained whilst simultaneously trying to clean the house, do the laundry, work from home and do the food shopping online, you will be looking for some inspiration right about now.
You are already a broken husk of your former self and then they utter those fateful words that make your blood run cold: “I’m bored!”
How, how can this be? They have more toys than the local branch of Toys R Us and more gadgets than Inspector Gadget, they have been on days out that cost more than a small family car, and they’ve had friends over for a sleepover where no one actually slept. Now what?
Well, for those of you who have reached this point, here’s our top 10 tried and tested activities to entertain the kids this summer. I have tried to include some that require your supervision and some that don’t, as well as activities that will inspire and engage all ages. If you manage to work your way through all of these there are plenty more ideas on The Do Try This at Home School Facebook and Instagram pages. I update these every day.
Ice Balloons and Glitter Ice Cubes:
You will need:
Ice cube trays
Toys to go inside the balloons
A tray or similar for the children to play with the ice on.
Here is an activity that the kids can do all by themselves after a little preparation from you. The night before fill ice cube trays with water and glitter (add food colouring if you want.) Freeze.
Put small toys inside balloons before you fill them with water! Fill the balloons with water until they are just a bit bigger than a tennis ball. Freeze overnight.
The next day you can put your icy creations on a large tray of on individual plates with small world figures and let the children play. Alternatively you can give them a bowl of salt and let them drop salt onto the ice balloons. This melts the ice (like gritting icy roads) and they can excavate the toys from inside. If you are feeling really brave you can give them food colouring or paints mixed with water and use medicine syringes (the ones you get with Calpol etc.) to drop coloured water onto the ice. This helps them to see how the ice melts and also makes it look very pretty! I have also seen this done with latex gloves, so you have a tray of frozen hands!
***Note: Remove the ice balloons from the freezer around 40 minutes before you need them otherwise the children will stick to them! Ice cubes don’t need that. ***
This probably will require a bit of supervision, depending on the age of your children. There are millions of recipes online for tasty things to cook. The Cbeebies I can cook recipes are yummy. Or you can cheat, like me, and buy packets of fairy cake mix!
Louise loves a bit of cookery. Here she is with her children, making cheese scones in “Baking Bad”.
We all love a rainbow don’t we? This is a little experiment that the children can do with minimal supervision.
You will need:
A packet of Skittles sweets
A plate or dish
This is really simple. Place the Skittles on the plate, you can go around the edge or place them randomly.
Slowly pour on water to cover the skittles, then watch what happens.
Children can repeat this experiment trying different types of sweets. We tried Smarties and M&M’s as well.
We all made this together yesterday!
You will need:
A cup full of PVA glue
2 big squirts of shaving foam
1 Table Spoon of bicarbonate of soda dissolved in a little drop of water (not too much)
Spray starch (Like you use for ironing) added as you mix at the end.
Mix the ingredients in a bowl. Once combined, start adding spray starch and mix vigorously, the mixture will start to stiffen and come away from the edges of the bowl, eventually it will form a slime ball. If it sticks to fingers add more starch.
Our five children had so much fun playing with this from the littlest 2 year old to the biggest 9 year old.
Some people love painting some people hate it! If you don’t want children painting in the house, peg sheets of paper outside and let them paint in the garden!
We like bubble painting, butterfly prints and marble painting. Marble painting involves placing a sheet of paper in a high sided tray. Add a cardboard frame over the top (secure with masking tape),
Squirt small blobs of paint onto the paper, then roll marbles around on the tray spreading the paint as they go. It can make some fabulous effects.
Note: Don’t be tempted to colour coordinate your children’s paint choices, children have a much better eye for these activities than adults.
Make a Pop Corn machine:
ADULT SUPERVISION ABSOLUTELY REQUIRED!
My eldest son loved doing this as it involved both fire and explosions!
You will need:
An empty, clean drinks can
Something to suspend the can over the candles: You can make a tripod, or do what we did and hang the can on some string from the ceiling!
Adult: Cut a large rectangular hole in the side of the can
Place 3 tea lights on the plate
Add a little butter to the drinks can and some popping corn
Suspend the can about an inch or so above the tea lights
Adult: Light the candles and watch what happens!
Sprinkle a little sugar on your yummy popcorn.
Make a puppet:
You can make puppets with anything from paper bags to wooden spoons. Finger puppets, hand puppets, marionettes, the only limit is the children’s imagination. Cover the table with art and craft materials and leave the children to create little characters. Hours of fun!
This is an old favourite in our house. I used to make this when I was little and now my children love it.
You will need:
2 cups of plain flour
1 cup of salt
A table spoon of cooking oil
¾ of a cup of warm water
Mix the flour, salt and oil in a bowl and then slowly add the water. Mix it with your hands until it forms a ball of dough. If it’s too sticky add a bit more flour, if it’s too dry and crumbly add a little more water.
Knead the dough to make it pliable and then get creative! We have made all sorts of models with salt dough. To get it to stick together (e.g.: if you are adding hair or limbs) use a little bit of water.
When you have finished modelling add metal paper clips to make hanging hooks and then place on a lined baking tray. Cook on a very low heat in the oven. This can take a good couple of hours. When it’s cooked it should be hard and sound hollow when you tap it. In the winter I cook mine on trays on top of the wood burner.
Once it’s cooked the children can paint it and add glitter etc. and then varnish with clear varnish or PVA glue.
NOTE: A garlic press makes excellent hair!
You can store unused salt dough in an air tight container like play dough.
Den building and boxes:
Another one that the kids can do with minimal supervision, inside or out!
You will need:
Sheets, pegs, blankets, poles, sticks, string, boxes and imagination.
Let the children create dens and vehicles with these materials and play in them. Do not be tempted to clear them up immediately if they leave them, they will come back and carry on playing. Hours of fun for everyone.
There are lots of these available online to print. Every day of the holidays the children are set a challenge to build something out of Lego like building their own name, making a shop or creating a self-portrait.
Lego is a great toy for most primary aged children and beyond, and the possibilities are literally endless.
I hope you have found this post helpful. We’d love to see your creations if you do any of these activities. You can email them to us or share them on Facebok, Twitter and Instagram.
Lots of these activities are great for children to do with minimal supervision, and I am becoming quite a keen advocate of this. Children are experts in play, they know what they are doing. As an adult we know that there is nothing worse than doing something we enjoy and having someone standing next to us saying things like “Oh, you’re doing it like that? I would do this.” Or “have you tried this?” or worse still “let me do that for you.”
It’s the same for children in play. Stand back and let them play, it’s a skill that’s actually quite tricky to master as a parent, but you will learn so much about your children from observing rather than intervening (unless they are doing something dangerous!)
You might also get to drink a hot cup of tea and sit down for a minute! Enjoy.