Looking for interesting ways to fill idle days? These simple activities can help.
These simple activities can help to stimulate your child’s creativity, build her self-esteem and grow the bond between you. Some of these can be tackled by the kids alone but most you can do together.
Pen a poem
Make up a family poem. One person starts and each participant adds a line. Each new line must make sense and the last word in every two lines must rhyme.
Transform plain white flowers into beautiful works of art.
Materials: white flowers (carnations are best), food colouring in three colours, three glass jars (empty mayo bottles are great), water, scissors.
Fill each jar 2/3 full of water. Add food colouring to the water, a different colour in each jar. Trim off about 10 to 12cm from each stem and place flowers in the jars. Leave overnight. In the morning the white flower petals will be tinged with the colour of the water.
Make a colourful ornament with sand.
Materials: glass jar with a lid, clean sandpit sand, 6 mixing bowls, food colouring in 6
colours, fabric, elastic band.
Divide the sand into 6 equal parts and add a few drops of food colouring to each bowl. Mix well and allow to dry overnight. Select one colour and cover the bottom of the jar. Continue layering different colours until you reach the very top of the jar. This is important to prevent sand from mixing. Seal with the lid. Cut a fabric square and secure to the lid with an elastic band.
Materials: a treasure, written clues, object clues.
Hide the treasure indoors or out and write up the clues. If your children are older, make them
more difficult to decipher, use a secret code, cryptic pictures or objects that refer to something – like an apple to indicate the apple tree. One clue should lead to another, then another and finally to the treasure.
Host a mini Olympics
Get in on the Beijing action and see what it takes to be a champion.
Materials: skipping ropes, balls, beanbags, frisbees, hoops, snacks and treats, juice and water, sunscreen and caps.
Invite several of your child’s friends over. Set up sprint races in the garden. If you have a pool, measure the perimeter and use it as a “long distance” track. Use your sandpit for long jump, beanbags for shot-put, frisbees for discus and darts for archery. Instead of high jump, play the limbo. Include an obstacle course and stage a skipping contest.
Make your own chocolates. Do this activity before the “mini Olympics” and make chocolate
medals for the winners.
Materials: plastic chocolate moulds, brown and white cooking chocolate, chocolate flavouring (all available at specialist cake decorating stores).
Melt the cooking chocolate in the microwave. Add the flavouring and mix well. Spoon melted
chocolate into moulds and place in the freezer until set.
Get your children to help clean up the autumn leaves. Keep a bag aside and create pictures with leaves on paper. Paint them with water paints or use them as templates and sponge around them.
Create your own fun creatures and turn them into greeting cards or party invites.
Materials: coloured board, paper, glue, scissors, pipe-cleaners, stick-on eyes, felt, pencils, kokis.
Make a puppy using a square piece of paper. Fold down the top corners to form ears. Then fold the bottom corners to the back to form a snout. The same figure can be turned into an elephant. Fold a strip of paper into a concertina and glue on as the trunk. Anything goes!
Give kids Bostik Clear Gel, Bostik Glue Stick, scissors, paper or fabric scraps, feathers, felt and ribbon and let them design their own placemats on an A4 sized piece of coloured cardboard.
Have fun decorating with Bostik Art & Craft Glitter Glue Pens and the Funky Bitz Wheel. Have
the placemats laminated for easy cleaning.
Turn a cake of soap into a work of art. Children can use the soap in the bath or give to friends and family as gifts. This project is suitable for older children under adult supervision.
Materials: a few cakes of soap, a spoon or butter knife. Plan your object or animal before you start carving. Save the shavings, add a little water, squish into ball and allow to dry.
Recycle socks with lost mates!
Materials: old sock, felt, fabric glue, decorations, scissors.
Use the sock as the body. Cut felt or use buttons to make features and use wool for hair. Create a few characters and host a puppet show.
Prepare some “fairytale” foods together - like gingerbread men, a witch’s candy house, ratatouille, sticky toffee apples, blueberry pie or pancakes with honey. For more ideas see the books: Fairy-tale Feast: A Literary Cookbook for Young Readers and Eaters by Jane Yolen or A Fairytale Cookbook by Sandre Moore.
New life for an old tennis ball and a treat for kitty!
Materials: old tennis ball, marker, craft knife, cat treats or biscuits.
First measure the treats and mark out a suitable size hole on one side of the tennis ball. An adult can use the craft knife to cut out the hole. Fill the ball with the cat treats and offer it to your pet.
Materials: Golf club, ball, buckets, other obstacles.
Create a putt-putt course using bits and pieces from home to create obstacles.
Make a mobile to remember your summer holiday.
Materials: seashells, 7 lengths of fishing gut (40cm long), dowel stick, thick nail, hammer.
Knock a small hole in the top of each shell using the nail and hammer - an adult should do this. Thread gut through the first shell, make a knot, leave a space and thread another above the first. Continue until each of the seven lengths has about 7 shells on each. Tie each length to the dowel stick, leaving a suitable space between each. Hang the mobile where it will catch the breeze.
Peanut butter treat
Attract birds to your garden with this birdfeeder.
Materials: pinecone, peanut butter, bird seed, string.
Smear peanut butter over the pine cone and roll it in bird seed. Tie to a tree branch and watch from the window as your feathered guests arrive
One player thinks of a person or character and states two facts about him/her. Each player then gets to ask a question. The answer must be “yes” or “no”.
Question ideas: Is this a relative? Is it a grown up? Does he drive a white car?
Materials: Video/DVD camera, table, chair.
Have your child write a news bulletin. Events don’t have to be real and they can include personal or family news.
Dress the “set” against a curtain or painted wall. Have him practice a few times, then film your child reading his “news”. A great keepsake for the family archives!
Materials: bubbles, food colouring, straws, paper cups.
Pour a little bubble mixture into each cup and add food colouring. Blow bubbles and catch them on white paper. Allow to dry. Use kokis or pencil crayons to create interesting pictures from the bubble splotches.
Harness the power of citrus in a simple science experiment.
Materials: fresh lemon, small piece of copper tubing, galvanised nail (zinc-coated), 2 pieces of copper wire with both ends stripped.
Roll the lemon to release some juice. Cut two slits in the side of the lemon, about 3cm apart. Place tubing in one slit and the nail in the other. Slip one stripped end of each wire next to each item. Place the exposed ends of both wires on your tongue. You’ll feel a gentle electrical current flowing through the wires – it’s enough current to light a small torch bulb.