- 1 20 Free Fun Things to Do With Family during the last weeks of school holidays!
- 2 Stop the Boredom AND the Non-Stop Sibling Rivalry Spats!
- 4 1. Climb SUPER DOOPER FUN trees of all shapes and sizes.
- 6 2. Make your own pair of knitting needles
- 8 3. Host your OWN art gallery, just like the ones they see when travelling.
- 10 4. On a fine sunny day, take the beloved teddies outside for a Teddy Bear’s Picnic.
- 13 5. Host a fun afternoon of recycling old fashion jewellery.
- 15 6. Pick a posy.
- 17 7. Put on your Wizard’s hat and brew up a concoction of natural finds to dye fabric and wool!
- 19 8. Make a leaf or flower mandala.
- 21 9. Give children a bucket of coloured chalk
- 23 10. Scoot the race track!
- 25 11. Host a ‘sandwich style-off’ in a similar vein to a “Bake-off”.
- 27 12. Become a master illustrator and cookbook designer
- 29 13. Find (or make!) MUD and make mud pies.
- 31 14. Host a Homemade Restaurant
- 33 15. Go fishing off a river bank with the most basic of supplies.
- 35 16. Sing to your heart’s delight
- 35.0.1 “In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions: “When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop being comforted by the sweet territory of silence?”
- 37 17. Eat breakfast in bed.
- 38 18. Host a dance concert.
- 39 19. Moonlight Gazing
- 41 20. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
- 42 These are my boredom busters. Add yours too!
- 43 Leave a comment below and share your SUPER DOOPER FUN!
20 Free Fun Things to Do With Family during the last weeks of school holidays!
Stop the Boredom AND the Non-Stop Sibling Rivalry Spats!
Christmas is over. New Year’s has come and gone. The school holiday buzz is wearing off. To be honest, I’m a little worn down by daily outings and visiting playgrounds and parks, the boy’s constant requests for food and snacks, and their regular quarrels. (I’ve secretly started wondering ‘how much longer?’). We’ve also hit that time of the year where we have more ‘time’ than money and we just want to stay home for a bit. So I made a list of 20 fun free things we might do to keep my boys happy, engaged and entertained at home OR when you need a lull day when you are on the road, without us having to rely too heavily on the TV or the (dreaded) ipad.
I thought you might like to have a look at this list of free fun things to do with family and friends, just in case you too need a back up. You’ll need to kick start a few of these for the kids as they need a bit of adult help but be sure to step back and leave the kids to their own thoughts and creativity, so you don’t end up playing the role of ‘Entertainment Director’. (My most disliked holiday job of all.) But really, join in as much as you like. Playing with your kids can be plenty of fun.
1. Climb SUPER DOOPER FUN trees of all shapes and sizes.
Scope your local area and neighbourhood for a procession of climbing trees – a la ‘Sound of Music’. Dress your kids in long comfortable trousers and tees to ward off ant bites, bee stings and ticks, pack a picnic, and head off for a morning of tree exploration and time in nature. Walk there if you can. Leave the car idle for the day and go by foot for a change.
2. Make your own pair of knitting needles
For this, each child will need two wooden craft sticks or pieces of dowel (at least 25cm long) to make a pair of knitting needles. You need to show the children how to gently sand one end of both sticks or dowel into a fairly sharp point, using medium grade sandpaper or by scratching the sticks against a piece of old outdoor concrete. Glue on a funky bead, a gumnut, or a cute trinket onto the flat end for personalised decoration, then show the kids how to cast on for knitting adventures. A10 cm square of knitting can be sewn up into a little handbag, a pencil case, or be used for the body of a simple tube doll instead of felt. Older children can sew simple patterns, like this pig. Check out Educator 101 for plenty more easy, fun ideas for simple knitting.
3. Host your OWN art gallery, just like the ones they see when travelling.
Invite the children to make glorious pieces of art on A4 sheets of paper or cardboard, using whatever you have on hand- pencils, markers, paint, collage materials. To make a frame, cut a piece of cardboard that will fit over the piece, adding a border of at least 3 – 4 cm. Use a stanley knife to carefully cut out the centre rectangle of the cardboard to leave an art window for the child’s work. Tape their art piece to the underside of the frame. Hang prepared artworks across a blank wall by suspending a length of fishing line from a hook or thumbtacks and pegging them on with mini wooden pegs. Invite guests for a gala gallery opening one afternoon, providing peppermint tea, and sweet nibblies for all.
4. On a fine sunny day, take the beloved teddies outside for a Teddy Bear’s Picnic.
Spread out a comfy rug, and help your teddy and doll guests to feel comfortable by propping them up with cushions and pillows. You might like to share a snack: think honey and banana muffins, sweet iced tea, ‘beary’-good sandwiches or wraps, and fruit skewers and honey-yoghurt dipping pots. Endow awards (gold cardboard stars on finger-knitted ropes ) to the Best Dressed Bear, Most Unusual Named Bear, No. 1 Adventurer Bear, and Bear with the Biggest Heart. Sing bear-inspired songs: ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’, ‘Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, turn around’ or my favourite, ‘If you go down to the woods today’ (The Teddy Bears Picnic song). Why not make a Photo Booth and provide props (wigs, moustaches, groovy glasses…) for the children and bears to wear for fun snaps? And of course, finish with a giant beary-good hug-a-thon! (Tip: This is why we always carry a small ball of coloured 100% knitting wool and a pair of scissors with us. You just never know if a crafty moment might arise when you are out and about!)
5. Host a fun afternoon of recycling old fashion jewellery.
Gather unwanted supplies from your favourite grandma, aunty or friend (those with a cupboard overflowing with fashion faux pas especially!) and set up a bunch of empty bowls on a big table. Use scissors or pliers to snap old strings and chains and save the beads, the ornamental pieces, the jewels, and the buttons, sorting them into the bowls as you go. When this work is done, invite children to scavenge through the loose parts to make brand new necklaces and bracelets of their own, threading them onto thin elastic strands or linen thread using blunt tapestry needles, or fill chocolate moulds with your favourite bits and pieces, top them up with resin and leave them to set. (The making and pouring resin bit is an adult’s job.) At afternoon’s end, host a fashion parade and view all the exotic creations.
6. Pick a posy.
Take a walk through the local neighbourhood with your children to find pockets of blooming glory. Pick a bunch of your favourite blossoms and arrange them in a sweet display. (Be sure to ask before you remove flowers from private gardens. Knock on the door and meet a potential new friend too.) Wrap the stems together with string twine and place in a see-through vase, cup or whatever you vessel you have on hand.
7. Put on your Wizard’s hat and brew up a concoction of natural finds to dye fabric and wool!
I love that you can do this anywhere you go! All you need is to forage through the forest or bushland for some fallen leaves, seedpods, flowers, or bark; and have access to a bottle of vinegar and a stove top. To begin, you need to prepare a piece of cotton or silk fabric (an old white cotton tshirt will also suffice) or a plain un-dyed 100% knitting wool ball or skein with a ‘fixative’ that will help the to hold the colour. For plant dyes, place 4 parts cold water to 1 part vinegar in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add material and simmer for an hour, then rinse fabric or wool gently in cold water. Chop up 2 cups of your chosen material (onion skins, eucalyptus leaves, pomegranate peel, madder root, roses, lavender, or dried hibiscus leaves, spinach leaves) into tiny pieces and cover with 4 cups of water. Bring to boil and allow it to simmer for an hour. Strain the dye, then add your wet fabric or wool skein. Leave for 2 hours, or for a more intense colour, overnight. Rinse gently in clean water and hang out to dry. There is alchemy in this process and once you have a go, everyone will be on the hunt to see what other colour combinations you can create with natural finds from your backyard or nature walks.
8. Make a leaf or flower mandala.
Give each child a basket and invite them to collect a stash of green or dried material on a nature walk. Upon your return home, demonstrate how they can artistically organise their nature finds into ‘mandala’-like repetitive patterns. For inspiration, type ‘flower (or ‘leaf’) mandalas’ into google images. Just imagine what you can do with nature materials too!
9. Give children a bucket of coloured chalk
No matter where you go, you can just about always find a cheap tub of coloured chalk in a discount variety store or as we call them around here, a ‘cheap shop’. Then it’s just a matter of inviting the kids to ‘make art’ on your concrete driveway or road, or a pathway. Draw ‘picture frames’ or shape outlines they can fill. Or draw a ‘hopscotch’ pattern and show them how to play using a few small rocks as your tokens. If you are lucky enough to have access to white chalk rocks or white ‘mud’ in your local neighbourhood, pre-empt your chalk adventures with a “nature forest kindergarten” bush walk to explore and make stuff, including homemade chalk sticks, with the white mud clay. We did this as kids growing up, wiling away hours on the bush-covered empty building blocks in our cul-de-sac making chalk-mud tea-sets and painting chalk-art figures on the enormous boulders, and I still remember how much I loved it!
10. Scoot the race track!
While you have the chalk handy, draw some ‘race track’ pathways on the ground and invite the kids to ‘race’ their bikes, scooters, or trikes around the course. Give them a stopwatch so they can time their efforts and try hard to beat their own personal best!
11. Host a ‘sandwich style-off’ in a similar vein to a “Bake-off”.
Challenge children to come up with the most inventive, yet edible, fillings for lunchtime sandwiches. Go beyond the boring ‘vegemite and cheese’ or ‘cheese and pickle’ or ‘salad’ and see what extraordinary layered concoctions you can create. Invite friends to share in a yummy lunchtime feed.
12. Become a master illustrator and cookbook designer
Gather a basketful of seasonal fruit. Give the kids small knives and show them how to cut the fruit into small pieces, ready for healthy smoothies, flavour-filled juices, and icy block treats. Write your original recipes into your “family favourites recipe book” and ask the kids to illustrate the pages. Don’t have a special family recipe book yet? Well, then, it’s time to start one!
13. Find (or make!) MUD and make mud pies.
Dress your children in their oldest clothes, and give them access to water and a pile of dirt somewhere. Throw in a few unwanted kitchen tools such as old whisks, salad servers, bowls, rolling pins, and spoons, then watch them concoct all kinds of experiments. A long plank perched upon some bricks, branches or river stones can act as a shop front for all their weird and wonderful creations.
14. Host a Homemade Restaurant
Ask the kids to pick their three favourite dinner recipe items- one for a starter, one for a main, and one for dessert. Together, write up a list of ingredients and prices, then go food shopping together to gather supplies. Invite an older sibling, or teenage friend to help the children to follow a recipe and prepare dinner for the family. Let them decorate the table, and prepare the meal presentation, ‘Masterchef’ style. Enjoy a night off, and be sure to celebrate your chefs!
15. Go fishing off a river bank with the most basic of supplies.
Daydream together and share your innermost feelings. Or perhaps, go for a foot-only paddle in the shallows.
16. Sing to your heart’s delight
Harness the children’s inner divas by setting up a microphone and inviting them to sing along to their favourite tracks. Remember the wise words of Gabrielle Roth to help you overcome any cringe-worthy moments and let them sing to their hearts content.
“In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person
complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed,
they would ask one of four questions:
“When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing?
When did you stop being enchanted by stories?
When did you stop being comforted by the sweet territory of silence?”
17. Eat breakfast in bed.
Prepare a tray of yummy goodies: vegemite on toast, cheese slices, a glass of fresh juice, a dish of yoghurt with a squashed berry mix and oat crumble, homemade crepes or pancakes with magnificent chocolate sauce, or lemon and honey, a european-inspired selection of savoury delicacies such as ham, salami, feta and ricotta cheese, and perhaps a warm mug of peppermint tea. Bring a selection of books (some of theirs, and at least one of your own) and spend a lazy hour or two, nibbling and reading the time away.
18. Host a dance concert.
Help children create a ‘mix-tape’ of their favourite tunes then invite children to dance and show off their funky moves.
19. Moonlight Gazing
Wake the children at midnight on a clear night and lay on your backyard trampoline or on a rug on the grass for a star-gazing adventure.
20. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Pull the Christmas twinkle lights back out from your Christmas storage and repurpose them for a front-door welcome. I love twinkle lights as they remind me of magic and travel, and Christmas celebrations, Christmas markets, and all those divine Christmas decoration montages and displays we’ve seen around the world, and I believe they should be in use all year round. When I’m staying at home for a time, I love to see twinkle lights every single day. They remind me that soon, we’ll be back on the road for more adventures!
These are my boredom busters. Add yours too!