The Summer holidays have finally arrived, which means that it is likely the kids are going to be at home a lot more than usual.
Now whilst we all love our kids, the thought of keeping young minds engaged through the long summer holidays can seem like a daunting task. The trick is not to overthink it. Here’s seven simple ways to ensure they stay busy and you stay sane!
Stick to what they like
Keeping activities simple and linked to their favourite type of play are often the most effective activities and will keep them busy the longest. Take cars for example, other than driving them up and down the hallway, what else can we do with them? Wash them, paint them, paint with them, tape pens to them, freeze plastic ones in ice, add to sand tray, add to water etc.
As we all know kids love playing with other children’s toys as it’s a novelty, despite them having the same ones at home. Novelty is great with young children, you can make a big deal out of something so simple. So besides organising a play date at their friend’s house, why not try playing somewhere at home they’ve not played before? For example, in an empty bath, under the dining table, behind the sofa. Take indoor toys out and bring outdoor toys in! Same toys different location!
Get them to choose their play
The most effective types of play are those chosen by the children themselves. Why not ask them to put together a summer bucket list? Or allow them to seek inspiration from TV or books – both can be great for sparking the imagination. Peppa Pig making paper aeroplanes springs to mind or the bear in Whatever Next who uses a cardboard box to make a rocket and fly off on amazing adventures!
It’s ok to be bored
Research shows that it can actually be beneficial for children to feel bored. So often children are turning to TV and iPads to entertain themselves or relax. When in fact, letting children be bored encourages them to play with toys in a more imaginative way and be creative with what they do have i.e. making up their own games.
Having lots of tricks up your sleeve
I often hear from parents and carers that their children cannot concentrate for long when actually they can, it’s just that young children have short attention spans. The average child should be able to concentrate on an activity for approximately two to five minutes for every year of their life.
Bearing that in mind, it’s always worth having a few ideas up your sleeve for when they’ve finished one activity and ready to move to another. Try making a list which you can quickly refer to when needed or take a look at my playPROMPT activity cards which are full of quick and easy ideas for keeping little ones busy using everyday items from around the house.
No new activities
Do not feel under any pressure to produce Pinterest worthy activities every day of the holidays. Setting up something like a shop or a doctor’s surgery are great because they can be left out for a child to return to over the course of a week when they are in different moods and ready to play. And remember the simple pleasures, like reading, creating art or going for a walk outside, are often the best.
The thought of travelling with kids isn’t always appealing but there are plenty of simple and fun ways to ward of the dreaded phrase, ‘are we there yet?’. Sing songs; take it in turns to make up stories; try word games such as I-Spy or 20 questions; or spotting games like how many red cars can you see, what can you see that begins with S, how many red buses can you spot. I find pencils and paper are always handy too!
Here’s five quick and easy ideas to keep children busy over the summer holidays:
- Hang water balloons from a tree for little hands to pop or bigger hands to try and burst using a ball.
- Draw or paint simple pictures on to stones. Keep them in a bag and use them to create and tell your own stories using the pictures as prompts.
- Get your child to cut out words and letters from old newspapers and magazines and stick them together on a piece of paper to make a sentence or spell their name.
- Create a tunnel or den using furniture and blankets for the kids to move through in different ways or if the weather is good, build an obstacle course outside.
- Go on a nature walk and collect interesting pieces to make pictures or faces on paper plates.
Claire Russell is an early years specialist and the founder of playHOORAY! playPROMPTS, fun and educational activity cards designed to empower and inspire parents with realistic play ideas for young children. The colourful packs feature messy, sensory, creative and imaginary ideas for keeping little ones entertained whilst helping them learn, boosting speech and language development, encouraging physical development and stimulating imaginations. All doable using everyday resources from around the house or those which can be picked up cheaply from a pound shop the activities are quick and easy to set up giving parents five minutes peace because as lovely as days at home with the kids are, they can also be long!
Claire is offering Mumfidential readers an exclusive 10% off of their first order. Simply use the code PLAY10 at the checkout. Code expires 31st August 2018.
Claire hosts live play demonstrations on Instagram stories, YouTube and Facebook Live weekdays at 10am.