Often finding ways to keep your children busy over the holidays is a mammoth task. Family outings can be very expensive, even a simple trip to the cinema can cost hundreds after spending on tickets, popcorn and drinks. Entertaining your children during the holidays SHOULD and CAN be easier and cheaper. All it takes is a little guidance and a lot of imagination.
- Sort through the toy cupboard: Kids accumulate so many toys over the years that going back and clearing toy boxes and toy shelves can be quite suprising. The kids will be able to rediscover old treasures, while you will be happy to see that clutter you were so desperate to be rid of finally be cleared. Have your children come together and make a goal of clearing one shelve or toy box at a time. Make piles of old treasures, odd pieces that need to be thrown away and toys that can be sold or donated to charity. If your kids have trouble letting go of bits and pieces, create a maybe box, to be stored and hidden away for a while. If when the box is pulled out again, all the pieces are still untouched, then parting with them will be much easier.
- Have a pillow fight: Be spontaneous. Something as simple as a pillow fight can lift your children’s spirit and get them moving around.
- Make a story tape: Does your child have a favourite book? Sometimes recording your treasured stories can be a fun way to improve reading and develop expression. Each of your children can have a go reading and recording their voices. Encourage them to change the tone of voice to suit the expression of the characters. Also use the descriptions in the book to make the appropriate noises- gushing water/blowing wind/ howling dog etc. Kids love the sound of their own recorded voices. This activity is sure to cause lots of giggles.
- Record your surrounding environments: This is another fun way to entertain the kids with a tape recorder. Pets make very entertaining sounds. If you don’t have pets, something as simple as the sound of running water can make for a very cool sound effect. Once you have recorded all the sounds you can make a guessing game. Have someone who was not involved in the recording, guess all the different sounds recorded.
- Have a jigsaw puzzle marathon: Jigsaw puzzles come in all shapes and sizes, provide hours of entertainment and are very inexpensive. You may have dozens of jigsaw puzzles laying around. Pull them all out and get together with your friend to try to finish as many as possible.
- Junk jewellery and craft activities: Toilet paper rolls, paper clips, random boxes of varying sizes, loose ribbons and strings can be perfect for creating the ultimate craft project. Have friends and family bring their craft box bits and pieces and combine them with things you have lying around at home. Whether it is a funky bracelet or a giant craft project, working with scrap material can be a lot of fun and promote a good sense of ingenuity and imagination.
- Play card games: With the intrduction of technology such as computers, portable gaming consoles and smart phones, kids have become less interested in some of games children grew up playing in the past. Card games were a great way to develop problem solving skills, improve math abilities and promote healthy competition. Games like “snap” are perfect for improving reflexes and reaction times, where as games like “memory” and “go fish” help with pattern visualisation and visual memory. There are literally hundreds of different card games that your kids would benefit from playing. Get the whole family together and see who is the best at what games. Your kids will be learning new and important skills all in the name of good fun.
- Make a fishing game: Use bits of cardboard or craft foam to cut out a fish. Attach a paper clip to the fish’s mouth. Now get your children to make fishing rods. Sticks from the backyard can make perfect rods. Attach a length of yarn to the stick and then tie a magnet to the end of the string. Your children can try to catch as many fish as they can. To make the game even more interesting write a score on the underside of each fish. The person who catches the fish with the highest scores win the game.
- Play Sardines or Hide and seek: Hide and seek is one of the great games that goes down a treat with kids of all age groups. Sardines is just as fun. One child has to hide while the rest of the group seeks. Everytime a person seeking finds the child who is hiding, they have to try to hide with them in the same spot. This game is loads of fun and is a definite giggle starter.
- Play Dice: Dice games, like cards, are fun and can help improve math and counting skills. It is also quite cheap to play, all you need is dice, a pencil and paper for scoring.
- Play alphabetical order games: This fun game can be turned into a game show. All you need is a presenter/quizmaster and a group of contestants. Get your presenter to call out a list of words. The contestants have to put the words in alphabetical order as quickly as they can. The first person to finish and complete all the words correctly is the winner.
- Play Bowling: Bowling at home is easy to do- just collect 10 empty soda bottles and get your hand on a tennis ball. Line the bottles up in a triangle shape at the end of a long corridor. Step up with your tennis ball and try to knock down all the bottles with one roll.
- Blow football: This game is an interesting take on an old favourite. Try to get an old table tennis ball. Two people should sit on opposite sides of a table, with the ball in the middle. Each person now starts blowing the ball and trying to get it over to the opposite player’s side. The person who is able to blow the ball to the opposite side first is declared the winner.
KITCHEN TABLE IDEAS
- Make pasta necklaces: Pasta comes in all different shapes and sizes and is easy to thread. To make your pasta necklaces interesting, try colouring the pasta. Take a bunch of pasta and put it into a zip lock bag. To the bag add a few drops of food colouring with a few drops of methylated spirit- have mum or dad help with this. Pour the contents of the bag onto a sheet of baking paper and lay it out to dry. Make as many colour combinations as you like. When dry, thread the pasta onto a length of string. This is where you can let your creativity run wild.
- Make balloon people: Blow up a few balloons. Use felt-tip pens to draw faces on the balloons. Draw happy, sad and silly faces. Tie the balloons to a length of string to make a display for friends and family.
- Sports: Basket ball, baseball, soccer, foot ball and netball are all great ways to get the heart pumping and your kids moving.
- Chalk on the pavement: Drawing with chalk on the ground can be exciting because of the sheer space available to play. Have the kids design an artwork, sign their names or draw pictures of members in the family. The best part is that chalk is easily hosed down, with little mess for loads of fun.
Fun during the holidays doesn’t have to cost a lot of money and coming from an optometrist, involving a child in an interactive game completely trumps over playing electronic games! Obviously, if you notice your child squinting, straining their eyes, holding things close and complaining about blurry vision whilst playing with near objects, make sure you book in for a comprehensive eye exam with your nearest Eyecare Kids Optometrist.