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Tops tips to keep the kids happy during the long holidays.
15:23 12 August 2009
The summer holidays can seem to go on forever, which can be great if you're young, but not so great if you are the parent. Hearing the dreaded "I'm bored" is a parent's worst nightmare when the kids are off school. But holidays don't have to mean humdrum.
Keeping your child's mind stimulated with various activities, whatever their age, is the key to keeping them occupied during the holidays, and will help them when they go back to school too.
Recent research has shown that if children spend their holidays merely idling through, they suffer "brain drain", which means they may find it harder to adjust when they return to class taking up to a month in some cases.
A child's imagination is a wonderful thing, so stretch it by turning off the TV and amuse them with a variety of games and activities to enjoy. Whether your little ones are older or younger, here are some top tips to keep them, and you, happy!
- Make a magical land with their own den in the garden. All you need is
some bed covers, blankets, chairs and umbrellas and the washing line and a touch of imagination.
They'll love taking in all their favourite toys and snacks you'll be
lucky if they find room for you too.
- Water play is great for their development, and is lots of fun too! You can use the washing up bowl, or think big with a specific sand/water pit or table. Get them to take in their toys to "wash" them too for hours of enjoyment as well as making them sparkle.
- Buy some coloured chalks and let their imaginations go wild as they draw pictures on your flags or patio outside. It's loads more fun than a regular drawing book and they'll enjoy being creative. You can always hose the sketches down when they go to bed.
- Buy some cheap fishing nets and go trawling through the paddling pool for pennies.
Hold a scooter Grand Prix in the park with their friends. It's wonderful exercise and they'll love showing off their abilities. Have a first-aid kit on hand in case of cuts and scrapes though.
- Go on a day trip - whether it's the zoo or a theme park, you'll all appreciate some fun time away from home.
- Visit a farm. It's usually free and the kids will love looking at all the different animals. They may even be allowed to feed and pet them.
- Put their creative minds to good use and save some money while you're at it. Cut up old cards, use stickers or draw pictures to make homemade birthday cards. The grandparents will love them.
- Go on a "park hunt". Armed with a map, picnic, bikes and scooters, get in the car and go wherever the wind takes you. Get the kids to choose north, south, east or west, ready to explore the first park you come to that you haven't been to before. It's dead cheap and the kids will love the sense of adventure.
- Buy a cheap roll of white wallpaper for "extreme drawing". Give them paint and brushes then let them loose to create their masterpiece. If they're any good, you could hang them up or decorate their room with them.
- Make the most of the good weather and buy some water bomb balloons for a good old-fashioned water fight. You should get involved too, but be sure they use the outside tap or your kitchen floor will become an unintentional skating rink hazard!
Contact your local fire stations as they usually run open days during the summer. These are always a great hit with kids of most ages.
- Rekindle the popularity of board games. Dust off your collection, or buy the latest titles, for hours of enjoyment and family fun. They are far more social than modern computer games, will stimulate their brains and the kids will love doing something different. Card games are terrific too.
- If they're animal lovers, call your local stables and ask if they would be able to help out. Pet rescue centres and kennels may also let them join in too.
- Suggest they write to their favourite pop group or celebrity asking for a signed photograph. It could even get them to jump out of bed when the postman arrives.
- At the end of summer they can sample nature's delights by going strawberry picking. Then they can make their own jams, tarts and ice cream. They'll love the sense of achievement using the fruit that they picked.
- Go wild, go to Go Ape!. Swing from trees, climb rope ladders, run across bridges and prepare to get muddy at one of these fantastic adventure courses. A full body workout and a huge amount of fun, Go Ape! centres are the ultimate in forest obstacle and adventure courses for kids over 10 years. Visit www.goape.co.uk for your nearest centre.
- Embrace Mother Earth by visiting a squirrel sanctuary. Kids will love looking out for them scamper from branch to branch and they're generally free to visit. You can often take the dog and there are some great woodland walks to get back to nature. Many sites sell nuts for you to feed them too.
Group activity games such as rounders and cricket will not only keep them happy for hours, but is a great form of exercise as well. Invite their friends round for matches in the park or at the beach. You loved them when you were a kid and they will too.
- Encourage them to get involved in the kitchen. They can simply help you measure out the ingredients or get stuck in making things themselves. Helping them to understand food and enjoy working with it will encourage a healthy attitude to nutrition for the future.