Entertaining children at home over the summer (and beyond)
Whether you are planning ahead and looking for inspiration, or at your wits end on how to entertain kids at home, whether your kids are school age, younger or a mix of both there should be activities here that can work. Some take some thinking about, some you can magic out of things lying around your home!
Got more ideas for things to do – please add them in the comments!
Theme days – my kids love this! They pick a theme and we find fact sheets, quizzes, books, maybe a film, do a craft, baking, make meals all on theme…and yeah my “bear themed meals” are rubbish but they don’t care (something involving salmon, or honey or marmalade sandwiches for lunch- they lap it up!)
Follow your kids’ interests– if they are mad about planes then download an app to your phone that tells you what plane is flying over right now, where it came from and where it is going. Jacob had an amazing day with an uncle at the airport viewing gallery and now wants to know where every plane is going, and uncle Neil can always tell him! Love rabbits, find out about rabbits!
Baking and Cooking – you can full on bake with kids, you can whip up biscuit dough when they are busy and they can help with cutting and rolling, you can bake (or buy) biscuits and decorate them, you can make cheese scones to go with soup, get them to help make the soup! Kids often love to be involved in whatever you are doing, so let them! If you want easy peasy then pizza on pitta or bought bases and your little ones can choose their toppings from little bowls. My kids will also eat stuff they would not eat if I put in front of them if they have put it on their own pizza, so it may get them trying new foods! Win-win
Craft – I could write so much on this that I wrote a whole other blog! You can read it here
Films – ok, screen time might not be the best thing ever, but sometimes we all need some downtime and there are worse things than curling up and watching a film together.
Lego/Duplo – build a town! This was my favourite thing as a child or check out these easy to build instructions from LEGO
Collaborate – got kids of different ages? Got really competitive kids? See if you can get them working together- what is the tallest tower they can build together, or how fast can they build before they baby knocks it down?!
Dress Up – my boys love dressing up. They combine costumes, hats and bits and pieces in all manner of wild and wonderful ways and then act in character for hours – it is noisy and I rarely have any idea what is going on, but they seem to have a great time and that is what matters!
Pavement Chalks– get outside and decorate you paving slabs and doorstep!
Put on a show – whenever I am told that my boys are going to put on a show they set to build or craft a stage and have usually forgotten before they get to any kind of performance, but sometimes they will come and sing for me, and dance and cavort wildly for my entertainment!
Act out Favourite Stories!– this can be great fun, whether you have a tiny toddler pretending to munch their way through foods from the hungry caterpillar, or a swashbuckling highway rat we love to take on our favourite character and save the day!
Bubble Fun – bubble machines, bubble wands, watching bubbles is entrancing for babies and popping bubbles is great for burning off some energy with older kids, and babies love watching their older siblings pop bubbles too.
Sardines – hide and seek, but one person hides and everyone else seeks, when someone finds the hider they get in with them and the last person to find them hides next
Nature Detectives– some of the woodland trust Nature Detective activities can be done from home, and others are great for walks and days out.
Play cooking– with dried food like lentils/pasta- stirring and pouring from bowls to pans and getting you to “taste” kids love the sensation and copying you!
Picnics– grab a blanket and eat lunch outside
Wandmaking – (decorating sticks!) with wool or glitter or stickers or paper- let them get creative and make magic
Science Experiments– find some simple ones online – I like The Dad Lab. Our favourites are making volcanoes (vinegar and bicarb), dissolving an egg shell in vinegar and experimenting with soap and oil! You can do these outside if mess is a factor!
Yoga– if you haven’t come across Cosmis Kids Yoga yet, check it out today! Story based yoga available for free on YouTube
Relaxation – set aside some time each day for quiet chilling. I read about a mum who got her kids special mugs and they only got to use them in chill out time, and that enticed them to try the meditation, relaxation, reading and quiet time for a short period each day. Getting a habit of time to reflect on how they feel and what they need to feel good and healthy is a great way to start self care young!
Bath time– a great way to reset when people get grouchy, does it matter if it is the middle of the day? You get in too, or let them splash out their grumps
Garden play – get outside, run around, use whatever outdoor toys you have, bring a blanket and some indoor toys outside. Take the play tent out, or make a den out of blankets propped on garden chairs. The toys they play with everyday indoors take on a new lease outdoors.
Bug hunt – see what nature you can spot in the garden- pigeons? Lift stones for slugs, snails, woodlice, go out when it starts to rain and see if you spot worms poking their heads out of the lawn.
Grow something – strawberries in borders or pots, sunflowers and more- if you are starting in the summer holidays, buy established plants as most seeds won’t grow fast enough if sown in summer to fruit/flower. You can still enjoy planting up a hanging basket or two though.
Water play– water pistols, or washing up bottles with water in, a paddling pool or a washing up bowl to splash feet in, you don’t need the biggest, the best or the most expensive items to have a LOT of fun getting wet! Giving kids a bucket of water and a paint brush to “paint” a fence keeps them entertained for ages some days.
Sensory play – check out Pinterest, make you own sensory basket with found objects or inexpensive household items. Be aware that if you are giving your child things to explore that are not strictly toys you do so at your own risk…this is true with everything, there is nobody to sue if your child has an accident with a wooden spoon! Play with play doh, homemade salt dough. Mix paint with sand and make textured drawings, make slime.
Scavenger Hunts – make a list of things to find. If your kids can’t read then ask them to come back to you to be told the next item on the list each time or use pictures, if they can read write them a list. If you plan ahead do pictures of what you want them to find.
Sticker and Activity Books– when all else fails a sticker book/colouring book or paper and some stickers can get you enough time to make a cup of tea, if you’re lucky, maybe drink it too!
Have more ideas? Post them below!