With the end of the school year here and 6 weeks ahead of free time for the kids, we thought we’d put together a few ideas that you might like to try to keep your little ones occupied (and off the screens!). And let’s be honest these entertainment ideas will work anytime really to keep them occupied and busy, even on a weekend when your trying to get the house cleaned.
Make DIY Playdough
2 cups plain flour
1 cup salt
2 tablespoons cream of tartar (in the baking aisle of the supermarket)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups boiling water
Mix all ingredients together adding the boiling water last. Stir to combine, and knead when dough is cool enough to handle.
- To make a variety of different colours, leave out the food colouring and make as above. Divide the cooled mix into separate balls adding a different colour to each one. Knead until colour is evenly disbursed.
- Add some chunky glitter to the cooled playdough and knead through for a sparkly alternative.
- Add some flavoured essence to the cooled playdough such as strawberry essence, peppermint or vanilla.
Make a house or shop
- Use a cardboard box and line the inside with paper.
- For a house, kids can draw on windows, stick on curtains made from streamers, make furniture out of paper or thin card (ie cereal boxes). Draw on paper towel with textas and cut into shape for a rug, use cotton balls as cushions. Get them to use their imagination.
- For a shop, they can cut out images from a magazine and stick on the walls for advertising, make a fruit stall from thin card (ie cereal boxes) and make different fruits and vegetables by rolling small pieces of paper in different shapes and colours.
Dress up Entertainment
Kmart has a variety of different dress up clothes for boys and girls reasonably priced, but you can also go to your local op shop and get your kids to pick out some interesting clothes. I remember wearing my mother’s maternity top as a child and cinching it in with a belt, I felt like someone out of the olden days wearing a period dress. If you can, pick out a few different styles so the kids can mix and match and use their imagination.
YouTube has some great tutorials.
My little ones love bossing each other around, especially Mr10 to his younger siblings. So why not get them to role play being a shop owner and customers. They can set out toys on a table, use money they’ve made from paper and cut out. Or pretend to be a teacher and students using an easel as the teacher’s blackboard. Just no exams, it’s supposed to be fun.
Make a find-a-word
Super easy and lots of fun. Write a list of names on any topic that you like ie names of different lollies, favourite tv characters, friends from school, different flowers, things in nature, the ocean etc, then draw a grid of any size on a piece of paper. Write the names on your list in the grid, going horizontal, vertical or diagonal. Then fill in the blank squares with random letters. Swap with a friend or sibling.
Write a letter
Yes, a letter, not an email. Children love to receive something in the mail, and most kids usually don’t receive anything addressed to them. Ask your child to write a letter, or draw a picture to a family member or friend. It doesn’t have to be 5 pages long, just a note on what they did today, how school went, what they’d like for Christmas, or hope to do in the holidays. Get them to put the stamp on, and walk to your local post box and mail it. Hopefully, they’ll get a letter back. My mother lives a 3 hour drive away and loves receiving a picture from her grandkids, even if it’s just a bunch of squiggles. It only costs us $1 to send it, and the kids love to check the letterbox for a response. It’s a good idea to keep a book of stamps (10 x $1 stamps which you can buy from the post office) handy so that you can post your letters straight away.
This is my all-time favourite school holiday go-to entertainment. Fill a box with a variety of different craft items such as: pipe cleaners, beads, string/wool to plait/make necklaces, paint, paper, card, paddle pop sticks, glue (pvc or hot glue sticks), chalk, streamers, balloons, googly eyes, glitter, fabric strips, feathers, wrapping paper, paper bags, paper clips, ribbons, sequins, rocks, mdf etc. You can also add things from around the house such as toothpicks, bamboo skewers, cotton balls and cotton tips, dried pasta etc.
A lot of these items can be picked from the cheapie shop, and you can also pick things up throughout the year and keep adding them to the box.
Kids are so super-creative and can come up with dozens of different ways to use these. Paint the rocks, plait a bracelet, glue paddlepop sticks together and make a bird house, paint birthday cards, stick a length of ribbon or a streamer onto a pencil as a gymnasts ribbon. My Mr10 is the crafty one and loves ninjas and knights. He usually makes swords, shields and axes using nothing but cardboard and hot glue, grappling hooks and throwing stars using paper and sticky tape, and bows and arrows using paddle pop sticks, bamboo skewers, feathers and hot glue.
Write a comic book
Super easy to make using nothing but a piece of paper and some pencils.
Make a code to write a letter to a friend
Bel and I did this when we were kids at school. We wrote out the alphabet and used a symbol, shape or squiggle to represent each letter. You then write a letter using the code. We would then swap at recess or lunch and spend the rest of the day deciphering the letter.
Cooking (without cooking)
Think weetbix slice, rice bubble squares or something similar. You can measure out the ingredients, and then let them mix, add and spread into a tin. It will probably take them half a day, and you’ll wonder why all the saucepans are on the floor and your colander is missing, but they’ll build confidence in the kitchen and then get to eat their creations.
Act out your favourite movie
Hilarious seeing Miss3 singing “Let it Go” from Frozen in her blue Elsa costume. Those are the only words she knows.
Entertainment at its best, nothing like a kids imagination coming to life. Make it a competition to get all the kids involved.
Make a nature picture
On their travels outside, either in the garden, at a park or walking the dog, get your kids to collect an assortment of different things like bark, leaves, flowers, seeds or nuts. They can then glue them onto a piece of paper/card for a beautiful nature landscape.
Make an obstacle course
Make an obstacle course to ride/skate/scooter around. Why not include a small jump, or place a broom handle over the back of a couple of chairs that you have to go under. You can use chalk to map out the route on the ground.
Make a mini garden
Use small twigs, leaves, rocks etc for fairies or dinosaurs.
Use an assortment of different pasta shapes and thread onto string to make jewellery. Kids can colour the pasta in with textas or paint. Or why not glue the pasta onto MDF frame/boards which you can pick up from the cheapie shop. Either leave it plain or give is a quick spray with spray paint.
Make a dream catcher
This gives me a chuckle every time I see it. Mr5 asked his Dad to make him a dream catcher to catch his bad dreams. Dad forgot until it was time for bed. Thinking super-fast, THIS is what Dad came up with……
I was doubled-over in fits of laughter, Mr5 absolutely loved it, and Dad still maintains there’s nothing wrong with it. I think it’s awesome!
Kids can obviously use this simple method if they like, although the pipe cleaners do bend out of shape a bit. They can also use any type of hoop (or a metal coat hanger bent into a circle), add some string through the middle (check out the internet for fancier patterns) and hang on some feathers, leaves, streamers, beads or whatever else takes their fancy.
Make a picnic and explore your neighbourhood
Simple and free. Pack a homemade lunch, take a drink bottle and wander around your neighbourhood. I did this with Mr5 a couple of weeks ago and found a beautiful park tucked away at the end of a street. Literally a 5 minute stroll away, and not on Google Maps. We also found a paddock with 2 horses in it about 3 streets over, right in the middle of the suburbs. We then came home, drew a map, and wrote down some landmarks on the map ie house with the flags, big house, house with pretty tree, house with noisy dog. It was a lovely morning. I really wished we had done it 5 years earlier when we moved into this house, but I’m glad we found it.
We hope some of these ideas help keep your little ones entertained these school holiday. Happy creating!