Keep them busy

The long summer holiday is approaching and with it the prospect of children complaining that they have nothing to do. Here are a few ideas to help keep the fun and laughter going well beyond Christmas.

Stage struck
Kids can have hours of fun staging their own shows. Get them to write a short play or a revue featuring their favourite songs, and to perform it wearing costumes they've either made themselves or borrowed from the grown-ups' wardrobes. Invite a few friends and family to enjoy the performance.

Sounds like fun
Get your children to write a story and to create different voices and sound effects for it.

They can use anything from bubble wrap or glasses, to pebbles in a baking tray to create different effects. You can also record the story on a tape recorder.

Wrap it up
Your children can make their own wrapping paper for Christmas. Help them make potato stamps: Cut a few large potatoes in half, draw different shapes on them with a felt-tip pen, and cut out.

Pour a few drops of ink or paint on a paper towel and place it on an old saucer to create an ink pad. Dab the potato stamps in the ink or paint and then onto paper.

Camping out
Throw a blanket or tablecloth over the washing line and drape it over a few chairs to form a 'tent'. Provide the campers with snacks and board games or storybooks.

As easy as A, B, C
Let them search for objects in the house or backyard that start with the letters of the alphabet. For example, an apple for the letter A, and so on.

Get organised
Your children can make their own stationery holders, a rubbish bin for their room or a container for small toys.

Use empty tins (make sure there are no sharp edges), toilet paper rolls, shoe boxes, and so on. They can then decorate these items with paper, paint, fabric or feathers.

Fashion designer
Get the children to design and make clothes for paper dolls. Give them old magazines they can cut up to create their fashion ranges.

Treasure hunt
Make a treasure map, then send the children out into the garden to find the hidden loot. To make a map, write the clues and easy-to-follow directions on a sheet of white paper.

You can also tear the edges and wipe both sides with a wet tea bag to make the map look old. Crumple it into a ball and leave to dry. Open gently and lightly wipe both sides with cooking oil, then let the treasure hunt begin.

Provide them with hours of fun by letting them make their own toys out of recycled items.

For example, to make a space rocket, use a paper towel roll for the body and cut up an empty box for the wings, then use buttons and paint to decorate.

Junior chef
Encourage your children to express their creativity by decorating biscuits (ordinary shop-bought ones are perfect). Make a batch of icing, divide it among smaller bowls and colour it with food colouring.

Provide decorations such as vermicelli, silver balls, liquorice and small sweets.

In the car
Choose a letter of the alphabet and get the children to point out objects starting with that letter. Whoever identifies the most objects, wins. You could even reward them with small prizes.

Choose a theme, such as animals, and get a member of the family to think of a specific one. The other participants must guess which animal it is by asking questions such as "Is it a mammal?" and "Can it fly?".

Hand out fines every time someone asks, "Are we there yet?". The fine can be singing a song or telling a joke.
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