“I’m so bored! There is nothing to do!” Do you dread hearing those words from your kids this Winter? Instead of plugging them into the latest tv-game or DVD movie, remember there are alternatives to keep them occupied. Keep this activity list handy for those inevitable rainy days.
Have a bird cake tea party
Birds sometimes have a hard time finding a good source of nutrients during the colder Winter months when their food is scarce, so treat them to a delicious, easy to make seed cake bird feeder. Take a few empty yoghurt pots and make a small hole in the bottom of each. Thread a string through the holes, with a knot on the inside, so that it can be tied to a tree later. Now, into the kitchen for the fun part! Take turns squishing some birdseed, raisins, peanuts, grated cheese and lard or margerine into a mixing bowl. Once everyone has had a turn at mixing, fill the yoghurt pots with the bird cake mix and place into the fridge to set for about one hour. When the cakes have hardened, hang them outside and wait for all the feathery friends to arrive. Enjoy a pot of tea and a slice of human chocolate cake whilst watching the birds feast!
Funk up your junk
Instead of filling up a landmine with junk – funk it up with these nifty ideas. Make a day of it with other families and ask them to empty out their craft cupboards or recycling bins, and to bring containers, boxes, bottles and any other bits and pieces they have lying around. Provide glue, sticky tape, a stapler, kitchen foil, paint, scissors and a good sense of humour, as you encourage everyone to let their imaginations run wild! You could make anything from a junk Robocop superhero, plastic doll’s house, egg box boat or something completely modern. Even better, combine everyone’s masterpieces into one giant model and get in touch with an art gallery to view your piece! (or not!)
Go on a treasure hunt adventure
Kids love a good treasure hunt, and in rainy weather, it is a great boredom-buster! Buy a few small treats like chocolate or small toys and hide them in interesting places all over the house. Write down clues for each object, and depending on the explorer’s age, you can make the clues fairly simple or quite cryptic. Each clue should lead your little treasure hunter to the pot of gold. This game is also great when played after dark, where the kids can search with a torch. Let them take pictures of their monumentous discoveries with a digital camera, before eating or playing with it!
Have fun with play dough
Ready-made play dough is easily available in toy shops, but it’s just so easy to make – and mixing your own is half the fun you and your kids can have. All you need is a cup of plain flour, a quarter cup of salt, a sprinkle of cooking oil, food colouring, half a cup of water and some glitter to add some sparkle. Take turns with your children to knead this altogether, slowly adding the liquids to the flour and salt, until it’s spongy and feels like scone dough. Bring out some plastic cookie cutters to make interesting shapes and creative doughy objects. Voila! It’s play time!
Create an indoor fortress
Blankets, tablecloths, a few cushions and some torches are all you need to transform a dull evening into an evening spent in a magical fortress from a faraway land – or for the boys – the Batcave! Drape blankets and tablecloths over couches and chairs and create a soft landing with some cushions, or even a mattress. Now that your fort is ready, play some music to add to the mood and snuggle undercover with a book or your imagination, to tell some fantastical stories. Other options include colouring in or playing a fun board game to pass the time. Make sure you’ve got some yummy ‘midnight’ 10pm snacks and juice on the ready and camp out for the night.
Make your own homemade story tape
Being stuck indoors all day is the perfect time to make your own story tape. Get the kids together and ask them to choose their favourite story from off the bookshelf. Once they’ve chosen, sit them down with a tape recorder, a blank tape and some odds and ends to make sounds with, like beans in a box or water that can be poured from one glass to the other. Making a tape can become quite a production if a few kids are also invited over to participate. Each child can read for a while, or can take on the part of a character in the book and can also take turns to make the appropriate noises and sound effects. Make sure the kids sign the tape cover and make a copy for each of them to take home. A homemade tape makes for a great present for elderly members of the family to brighten their day!
Bake some cookies for the firemen
There’s nothing better than the smell of fresh cookies baking in the oven. Gather your children into the kitchen, making sure their hands are washed and they’re wearing old clothes for that inevitable spill or flour explosion. All you need is one and a half cups of sugar, one cup of flour, five teaspoons of butter, three teaspoons of honey and some oil for greasing the pan. Mixing all the ingredients together, get your hands sticky until you’ve formed a slightly stiff dough. Roll into small balls and place on a tray, baking for about 12 minutes until honey-brown. When the cookies have cooled, divide them between yourselves, making a pile for your local community fire station. Get the kids to each write a card to the firemen telling them how much they’re appreciated for all the hard work they do in putting out fires. Hand deliver this delightful package the next day.
Make your own music with kitchen cutlery and crockery
You have a whole orchestra in your kitchen – you just haven’t realised it yet! Pots and pans make excellent drums when beaten with a wooden spoon. And let’s not forget, glasses filled to varied levels with water and a teaspoon can make a truly magical, tinkling tune, reminiscent of a glockenspiel. If you’re a tenant in a high-rise flat, this activity might upset the neighbours, but just maybe you might be able to impress them with the melodic sounds coming from your kitchen. Add to this your own voice, fun songs, and you have a choir and an orchestra… home-grown!
Have an indoor picnic
Who says a picnic has to be in the great outdoors? It can be just as fun having it inside the house. Perfect for making mealtimes more exciting, kids can get involved moving the lounge furniture out of the way and laying a picnic blanket over the floor. Print out some sunny day pictures from the computer, like a beach or forest scene, and stick them up on the walls to create a picnic mood. Pack a basket with some of your kids favourite goodies – or even better – get them to help prepare the picnic basket, including some cheese sarmies, salads and of course some cake or chocolate for dessert. Eat out of paper-plates to save on washing up, while enjoying a good time with your family. Food just tastes better when eaten on a blanket!
Take a walk in the rain anyway!
Yes, some might argue it’s better to stay inside where it’s warm, but there is so much fun to be had outdoors, enjoying the rain – with a raincoat and wellies on, of course! If the rain is not too heavy and there’s no thunder and lightning, take the dog with you (if you have one) and go for a walk, looking for earthworms and splashing in mud-puddles. Watch the weather, paying close attention to the clouds and see what the little ones want to talk about. After you’ve had your fun, go back inside, dry yourselves off and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate, marshmallows and buttery rusks together.
Author: Charlene Yared-West, Fresh Living Magazine, July 2010, p66.