It’s officially school holidays!
I know just how tricky (and expensive) it can be to keep everyone pleased during the break. Rather than let it fill you with dread, get excited about the holidays this season. Look forward to long mornings, no school lunches and the flexibility to do things with your children when you want.
The trick to a fun filled school holidays is activities that will keep their little bods and brains entertained without breaking the bank, or you!
No matter what age your mini humans are, we have you covered with fun filled play time for none school age and school age children.
Activities for Ages 3-12 Months
Babies are fascinated with touch and sound. To really take advantage of this, spend an entire afternoon focusing on your bub and introducing them to new sounds and new feels:
- Run your little ones hand over your face, start at your chin and move all the way up to your hairline. Say the name of the parts as you do, i.e. “this is mummys/daddys chin”, “this is mummys nose” etc. then do the same thing but you touch bubs face. It can be quite a mesmerising and rewarding activity.
- Spend the afternoon playing different types of music to see how your bub responds to each – rap, jazz, hip-hop. We guarantee it will be fascinating to watch their reactions and it’s a fun activity for you too as you get to pull out some of your fave tunes. Add in a little dance and you have an afternoon of fun and giggles for everyone right there!
- Take your baby to the beach, a park, an indoor activity centre and play with the different textures that are around. Stroke their little hand through the sand, rub a pebble softly along their arm / place it in their hands for them to play with (just watch out for those hungry mouths that want to eat everything). Touch their hand to the grass etc. it’s really nice to watch your bubs response and it gets you out of the house.
12 – 36 months
This is when your mini me gets more mobile and more ‘hands on’. It has been proven that if your bub is given the freedom to play during this stage their gross motor development will flourish. And because we love to play, we totally embrace this. Here’s how:
- Spend the afternoon building blocks and knocking them down, it’s always a winner! At first, let your child watch you build the blocks and then have them mirror you. This may not go to plan and it may result in an afternoon of block throwing rather than block building. But don’t be disheartened; this is still doing great things for their hand eye coordination.
- Get hammering – this is a great activity to improve concentration and coordination. All you need is some florist foam, golf tees and a toy hammer. Firstly, show your mini me how to hammer the golf tees into the foam and then let them give it a go. Spend the afternoon creating shapes letters, numbers by hammering them in to the foam with the golf tee nails. This is also a win; win if you have projects to do around the house. Kill two birds with one stone by letting your child “help” around the house with their toy hammer as you complete the grown up tasks—kids love to mimic what their parents are doing.
- We apologise in advance for this one but we promise it is a great way for your little one to explore new sensations and they will love it! Playing in the mud is not only fun but is also classed as sensory play, which is vital for coordination and cognitive development. Research has also shown that mud can be good. Some exposure to the bacteria is actually beneficial in building your little ones immune system. This can be done indoors or out, if you are playing indoors we recommend you cover everything including you and your bub in old sheets. Grab some soil, water, a bucket, an old cake tin and wooden spoon. Mix the soil and water in the bucket, and then play at making cake. Get little (and big) hands in there to mix and create, use toys, paper, leaves etc. to decorate your mud cake – see how creative you can get. When you are done, have everyone get involved in the cleaning up, this teaches great skills for the future – you will have a child who can make you a cake and clean up after themselves, an afternoon well spent we say.
2yrs – 5yrs
When it comes to toddlers and pre-schoolers it’s all about movement. These are our fave ways to get those little bods moving:
- Twister paint play. This is another messy one but trust us it’s worth it and if the weather permits, do it outdoors. Get some skin friendly paint, a huge piece of paper or card and some old clothes for all involved. Lay out the huge piece of paper / card and cover your little humans feet and hands in paint. It is best to have a chat before hand to ensure they know exactly what the plan is and that those hands and feet are allowed nowhere near walls / carpets etc. Get them to be creative on the paper / card. It is great to see their reaction as they move around placing their little coloured feet on to different spots and then their hands, the shapes they manage to get themselves in to will make you both giggle.
- Hide and seek is an oldie but a goodie. We are not saying that you have to be the hider here, unless of course you want a few quiet minutes. This is an easy, inexpensive activity that will keep those toddlers and pre-schoolers entertained for hours while getting them moving enough that they are exhausted come bed time. Leaving you the opportunity for a quieter night. Choose some household items such as plastic bowls and wooden spoons and hide them around the house / garden. Give an allocated amount of time in which each item must be found and send them on their way, with a watchful eye of course.
- Create an indoor activity course. Depending on age, you can go as creative or none creative as you have energy and time for. All you need to do is set up several stations, it can be as simple as drawing some varying chalk lines on the floor (you can do this using old popsicle sticks or straws if you are indoors) that the children have to walk along at one station, followed by a music station where they just need to get their jig on followed by a ‘pick up’ station where they have to pick their toys up (how clever is this one)?? Or you could go all out with a full hopscotch station, a musical chairs station and an obstacle climbing station, the amount of stations is up to you and you can control the activity level, either way this will doubtlessly lead to another quiet evening for you a very exhausted little person.
5 – 10 years
Older children love getting involved in new adventures; cleverly create these adventures with movement, play, practical and science to help them develop in to amazing adolescents.
- Similar to the activity course but a little more grow up and on a larger scale, create an activity day. Again, you can go as creative or none creative as you have energy and time for. Set up several stations, on this occasion make them fit with your child’s personality. If you have a little arty lady/man, make the stations about craft – 1 station of felt, glue and scissors, another of paints and another of play doh, they have to create something at every station. If you have a sporty little human on your hands, create a sporty experience – one station with a skipping rope, another with a hula-hoop etc. Really tailor this to your little person and you will have a whole afternoon of one very entertained child.
- Bake and make with them. Although this activity is fun for most age groups, we love cooking with our children when they are at this precious stage of development. They can really take in the information you are telling them about the food you are creating, you have more options – both sweet and savoury is intruding to a child at this stage and watching their enthusiasm is priceless.
Science experiments. What child at this stage doesn’t want to get involved in and try to understand absolutely EVERYTHING?? It may be a little frustrating sometimes in day-to-day life but it is actually a wonderful thing. Set up some science experiments and let them knock themselves out (not literally). Depending on if you are indoors or outdoors you can choose to do things, such as:
- Blowing Bubbles – all you need is 4 cups hot water (just boiled), 3-5 tablespoons of glycerine and 3 tablespoons of dishwashing detergent mixed together. Make this fun by measuring out each ingredient before hand in to separate bowls and making a real process of it. If you want your bubbles to bounce – add 2 packages unflavored gelatin.
- Mentos fireworks – all you need is 1 packet of mentos, a 2-litre bottle of diet cola, sticky tape, and a piece of paper. Roll the paper as tight as you can around the mentos packet and tape it to make a paper tube (it needs to be small enough to fit inside the top of the cola bottle). Unwrap the mentos and place them in the tube (you will need to hold your hand underneath until you use them to ensure the mentos don’t just fall out). Place the cola bottle in the middle of your garden or in another secure outdoor area. Have your little people stand well away from the cola bottle. Take the tube of mentos over to the cola bottle, place the tube just in the top of the bottle and RUN back to where your little people are and watch the fireworks explode. This is a far better use for these sugar and artificial sweetener laden products than actually eating them.
- Roll a can with electricity – all you need is a good head of hair, a balloon and a soft drink can (throw the soft drink down the sink, DON’T DRINK IT ;)). Blow up the balloon and rub it back and forth through your / your little ones hair really, really fast. Now hold the balloon close to the can without actually touching the can. The can will roll towards the balloon without you actually touching it – magic!