When it’s miserable and wet outside it’s so easy to reach for the remote, ipad or play station to entertain the kids. Frighteningly more and more our children are relying on devices to keep themselves entertained – not even necessarily just in winter, but all year around. So, let’s get kids looking up from their devices and starting to interact and use their imagination and brains again.
Here’s some tips to break the winter wet boredom and get them out of the device rut they are stuck in – just bear in mind that you’ll need to put neatness to one side and embrace mess for a few days:
- Build a fort. – If you’ve got a tent, pitch it inside and kit it out with mini camp chairs, blankets, books and jigsaws. If you don’t have a tent, even better – build your own using blankets and sheets and chairs to hold up the blankets. The children can make it into a mini house for the day and spend hours in there. They can take all their meals in there and even have a ‘sleep out’ in the lounge in the fort.
- Create your own art work – you can buy cheap canvas’s or large A2 pads from most stationery outlets. Get out the large paints or crayons or pencils and create a masterpiece. Use the glue and stick on feathers, glitter and whatever else you can find.
- Tie-die or decorate an old t-shirt – if you cannot tie-die it then paint it or draw on it, sew buttons, feathers and other bits on
(Tie-die basics: Mix fabric dye in a stainless-steel container (plastic will get stained). Add a cup of salt to the dye. Tie rubber bands tightly around a white T-shirt.Immerse T-shirt in hot water first, wring out the excess water, and then soak in dye bath. Stir frequently with a long-handled enamel or stainless-steel spoon. Remove T-shirt with tongs or a big stick. Rinse under warm, then gradually cooler water until it runs clear. (Wear rubber gloves so your hands don’t get dyed.) When you throw the shirt in the laundry for the first time, wash it alone in warm water, rinse in cool water, then line- or machine-dry.)
4. ‘Science experiments’ – do some simple science experiments with them eg
Baking old crisp packets in the oven – watch them shrink into miniature packs. (Cover the bottom of the baking tray with foil. Put the crisp packeton the foil and put the baking tray in the oven. Leave the crisp packet for two to three minutes.
- Create your own fireworks – fill a bowl with water, in another container mix oil with food colouring, pour the mixture into the bowl of water, place a white piece of paper behind it then droplets of oil and food colouring float to the surface of the water – like you see in a lava lamp. Once they reach the surface they explode and sink down like a fireworks display.
- Create an explosive volcano – Add baking soda to vinegar and watch it explode.
- Create Paper Mache mountain – mix up old newspaper with warm water and mould together. Puree it in a food processor until it becomes a pulp, Mix it with white craft glue and table salt until it is thick, wet and pasty, like the consistency of creamy oatmeal. Mould it into whatever shape you want eg if you want to make a mountain, make yourself a mound first using tin foil and ‘paint’ the paper mache over the mound. Leave it to dry and you can decorate and paint it when it is dry.
- Teach them Everyone should know cards. There’s tons of games depending on how old your children are and they are great for teaching number skills. There are basic card games for younger children now too – eg Thomas the Tank SNAP or UNO is another good card game for children.
- Baking …scour the recipe books and choose something yummy to bake – everyone needs to get their hands dirty then eat the baking afterwards. Have a bake-off or do a posh ‘high tea’ at home – set the tables nicely with proper tea cups, table cloths and napkins and eat home-made scones with jam and cream.
- Indoor game day – line up all the old board games. Snakes and ladders, Connect 4, Scrabble, Uno, Monopoli, jigsaws and have a family board game day.
- Put the kids in charge of dinner – get the kids to make something from whatever’s in the pantry – give them guidance and supervision but don’t take over. A great one is to do home made pizza – they can make the dough and knead it and let them put whatever they can find in the fridge on it or make their own burger patties.
- Make stuff out of empty cardboard boxes – create buildings and towns and all sort of things.
- Put the music on loud and have a dance-off
- Book day. Go to the library and pick loads of books and bring them all back. Put some rugs and blankets down and rug up together reading your new treasure trove of books.
- Have an Indoor picnic – set the place up properly like the garden or beach with towls and rugs and a basket full of goodies.
- Have a lego day – each of you make your own lego creations.
- Do absolutely nothing to entertain them. We live in such a busy society that it does children good to have a ‘do nothing’ day. To not be entertained by you. To work out their own way of entertaining themselves. Whether it’s coming up with some imagination game or writing a story or reading or playing with their toys – it’s good and healthy for children to not be entertained the whole time but to work out how to enjoy their own company.