Fun holiday activities

Turn off the TV. Get your hands dirty with your kidsand enjoy the kind of holiday fun - you ‘may' remember from your own childhood!

Eagerly awaited by all members of the family are summer holidays. They bring with them opportunities for reconnecting, putting up the feet and shaking off regular work routines. However, mixed with the joy and cheerful anticipation lurks the perennial question; How will we keep the kids entertained?

First thoughts go to the plethora of screen entertainment that has become part and parcel of 21st century living. Whether we look upon it as a lifesaver, or a necessary evil, the reality is our children are spending increasing amounts of time in front of screens; television screens, movie screens, computer screens and electronic games.

"With warmer weather and longer days beckoning there is no better time to shut down the computer, turn off the television, pack away the screen games and embrace some 'hands on' experiences."

Screens, being two-dimensional engage only two of the five senses, sight and hearing and are unable to provide opportunities to taste, touch and smell. Educational evidence suggests that young children, especially boys, respond to and learn best from a kinesthetic environment where they can touch, build, make and maneuver.

The kinesthetic sense isn't getting quite the workout it deserves, so with warmer weather and longer days beckoning there is no better time to shut down the computer, turn off the television, pack away the screen games and embrace some 'hands on' experiences.

Scrap booking

Give your kids a collection of magazines or even junk mail brochures and have them make an alphabet book using the pictures. Pasting pics that match each letter of the alphabet will keep them entertained for hours and hone those cutting and pasting skills at the same time. For a shorter version get kids to write their name and find pictures to go under each letter that begin with the same sound. Making a ME page by cutting out all their favourite things; colours, toys, pets, flowers and fashion is another alternative.

Paper Mache

Kids of all ages love paper mache. Collect a few newspapers, provide a watered down glue mix, add a selection of bowls, cups or interesting shaped objects for moulds and let the kids make their own 3 D objects. A few coats of mache, a coat of paint and perhaps a spray of clear lacquer and they have their own unique plate, pet bowl or ornament. Great for cubby house decorations.

Sand sculpture

A day at the beach will no doubt feature on every-one's holiday calendar, and provides the ultimate environment to indulge all the senses. While burying dad in sand and making a sandcastle are still favourites, try making a family sand portrait complete with shells or stones for eyes and nose, plus seaweed hair and jewellery. Searching for crabs and gathering a family shell collection all rate highly, as does rock pool hopping. Beach fashion with shell necklaces and seaweed skirts and anklets never fails to amuse and entertain the girls.

Garden gurus

Summer days are gardening days and kids can easily take charge of a small garden plot or planter box. Planting herbs and vegetables that they can tend and eat in following weeks is productive and educational. Pressing flowers or making daisy chains will wile away the hours when friends or neighbours visit.

Worm Farms

Starting a worm farm is an environmentally friendly, hands on project. Worms are efficient eaters of green food scraps. A worm can eat its own weight in food scraps every couple of days, which is a great alternative to sending them to landfill where they rot and contribute to greenhouse gases. Worm juice can be used to fertilise your garden. Hardware shops and local councils can give you the low down on how to make worm farms into child's play.

Card Making/Weaving

Decorating a card for a neighbour, a friend, a special relative or another family member can foster holiday activities that warm the heart. You may have to write the message for younger siblings, but after providing glue, scissors and coloured card plus flowers, buttons and scraps of material for decoration you can leave them to it for an afternoon. Guaranteed to put a smile on the face of the recipient.
Cutting strips of coloured paper and weaving them together to form brightly coloured holiday place mats or coasters is another way to fill in an afternoon.

Sewing

A variety of cloth material plus an interesting selection of thread equals an instant sewing lesson. Threading needles is good practice for manual dexterity, and experimenting with simple cross- stitch patterns adds a fine motor skill. Using interesting twigs or small branches from the garden to make mini wall hangings from their creations, will give them a worthwhile end result.

Printing

Cut a potato in half and carve out a design or grab a selection of leaves from the yard or nearby park. Using dye or paint let the kids loose to create patterns on paper.
Their best efforts may be useful as gift-wrap for a special, personal present for grandma or grandpa. Care with cutting implements with younger children is a good safety check but once several designs are in place, this activity is hassle free.

Whatever the activity you choose, sit back, relax and enjoy some well earned time to yourself. Once you engage the hands on approach, bored kids will become a thing of the past - it's child's play!


 
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