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The six weeks of the school holidays offer up mixed emotions. On the one hand, there's the promise of calmer mornings, better moods for all and the chance to relax in the garden or nearby park.
On the other hand - it's the school holidays. Which means juggling childcare, working from home and trying to meet the needs of children who are around a lot more and (rightly) looking for things to do in the school holidays. They want to be kept busy. They want to be entertained. They want a never ending supply of biscuits.
Suddenly, that cup of tea in the garden with a good book and a bit of peace for half an hour seems near impossible.
Or is it? Armed with some ideas, a bit of preparation a bit of creativity, you will get that cup of tea yet. Don't worry, we've got you this Summer. Our brilliant guide has over 63 ideas to keep your kids entertained during the school holidays and we promise, there's activities and ideas to suit all ages, interests, budgets and the amount of precious time available.
Beat boredom during the six weeks of school holidays
Holiday mode descends quickly on the house even before school has finished - whether you're at home for the full six weeks, or for a portion of that time. The evenings suddenly become longer - and wilder - as children big and small wrangle with their new found freedom.
Most of us can't afford to have long days out every day and expensive take-aways or trips to the cinema in the evening. So what can be done?
For sanity's sake - arm yourself with some handy activities and boredom busters to make things easier, whatever time of the day your kids (and you) need it.
#1 Boredom Sticks
Introducing...Boredom Sticks. Without fail, the best way we've found for beating the 'I'm Bored' blues. Write down ideas for activities, games, forfeits and treats on lollipop sticks and pop them in a glass or jar. The options are endless, but here's a few:
Be a pirate
Set up a mud pie baker
Have breakfast for tea
Find 12 things (of yours) to donate to charity
Find a box, turn it into a bus for your teddies
Invent a Superhero
Design a t-shirt
Invite a friend over
Empty the dishwasher, earn £1
Make up your own stick activity
Colour in competition
Go to the bookshelf, grab the 8th book from the left, turn to page 4 and draw whatever is on it
How many marshmallows can you fit into your mouth at once?
Wash all your toy cars / dolls / dinosaurs / clothes (depending on age)
Give granny a call
When the kids come to you claiming boredom they close their eyes and pick a stick - and when they pick a stick they must see it through, or no more Boredom Sticks.
Remember that you might have to set limits - some sticks might need supervision, or money to spend when these aren't available so set some ground rules before they pick the stick so they know what to expect.
#2 Kindness Rocks
Have you heard of this wonderful craze called Kindness Rocks that's sweeping the nation? The idea is to spread a cheer and creativity around your local area. You paint or colour some rocks and hide them in places people are likely to find them (don't make it too easy!).
When someone finds a rock, they either re-hide it or take a photo of it to 'log' on the local Kindness Rocks social media page and then re-hide it. Chances are there's already a Kindness Rocks group set up for your area or town on social media. Search #nameofyourtown on your favourite social media channel to find out, and if not - why not set one up?
Kids of all ages love to colour or draw on the rocks and really enjoy hiding them in unique places. But most of all, they love the thrill of suddenly finding one on their way to the swimming pool, or play park. It really does spread cheer and creativity. We've found the best way to colour Kindness Rocks is using Posca Pens
#3 Theme The Week Away!
Even meticulous planners feel daunted with the idea of finding activities for six weeks of school holidays, and for those of us who are less organised (hands up!) can feel frustrated and overwhelmed working on a day to day, hour by hour basis. The solution? Break down each week into themes. You can organise the themes with the whole family so that everybody gets something added they're interested in.
Set your own rules for each week. It's important to make everybody aware that the weeks are flexible. Sometimes the weather will require a change around, or a work / family situation can come up that we hadn't expected. If kids know it's not set in stone, it's easier to change things on them.
Another thing to consider is setting a budget for each week. Some can have more budget (the weeks around pay days for example) and try having one or two that have no budget allocated. You'll be surprised how much you can get fit into a theme that requires no spend at all (read on for loads of free summer holiday activity ideas)
Try these themes and come up with some of your own. Food & drink, arts & crafts, games & sports, monsters & aliens, music & dance.
For some inspiration on how to fill each week try these on for size:
#4 Food & Drink theme:
Story- for little ones, we love The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Green Eggs & Ham. Older children might enjoy writing a story about food, or creating their own recipe.
Game- Play the memory game with items from the kitchen. Place a number of items on a tray (make them easy or hard depending on the ages of the players) and set 2 minutes to memorise the items. Then turn away from the players, hiding a number of items and ask them to work out what's missing. They score 10 points for each one they get right. First to 100 wins.
Activity- Cooking! There are loads of brilliant recipes for kids online, but we always go back to this great kids pizza recipe If you don't have time to make the dough, you can still have fun decorating shop bought mini cheese and tomato pizzas in the same way.
Outing- Depending on your budget, you could go out to a restaurant (maybe one of the kids could get to pick where to go as a reward for something they did well that week). Just as easy, you could pack up some sandwiches and a flask and head out to a park for a picnic, or go and visit granny for tea.
#5 Arts & Craft theme:
Film- download a stop motion animation app onto your phone or tablet and turn the whole family and much loved teddies or toys into animation. Children of all ages will love to see their work at the end of all their efforts.
Story- younger kids will love Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beatty, and older kids will get loads of inspiration about artists in books like Bedtime Stories for Rebel Girls and Stories for Boys who Dare to be Different.
Games / Activity- Try this great game of ring toss using paper plates and cardboard tubes. Giving real prizes for older kids will help them find as much enthusiasm for it as the younger ones will.
Be an artist!-Gather together all of the arty bits and bobs in your house and sit down to sketch someone else in the family. It really doesn't matter how talented you are at art (or not, as the case may be). It's all about having fun. If the kids want to be silly with their painting, then encourage it. Get the messymats or newspaper out and the paints too for added fun. You'll have lots of new portraits to take pride of place on your walls when you've finished.
Ryman has a brilliant 57 piece artist kit for £11.99 and it comes in a handy carry case so you can easily take your kit with you for a day's sketching by a river, or on a busy shopping street
And there's loads of ideas to help get little ones drawing in this Crayola How to Draw book
Even the most reluctant artist can find ways to get round their fears. We think any drawing phobic tween will love this beautiful sticker by numbers book
Outing- Art galleries & museums usually have summer activities on for children and young people so check out what's available in your area. Libraries often have arts and crafts afternoons too - again, check out what's available in your local area.
#6 Games & Sports theme:
Film:There's so many great films out there about games & sport, from Jumanji, Cool Runnings, the Mighty Ducks, Karate Kid and even Cars and Kung-Fu Panda. You won't be stuck for ideas with this one!
Story: Why not sit down with some puzzles instead of reading a story? Puzzle books are available for all ages and interests and are a great way to get kids off screens and round the table for some time together. Or why not make a game out of stories? We are yet to find anybody who doesn't love Story Cubes From the youngest to the oldest, straight through to mum, dad and even granny and grandad - they are a great way to unite the family in storytelling. Older kids might want to use themes to find new books - might now be the time to introduce them to The Hunger Games trilogy?
Game:The reason sports & games is such a great theme is because there's so many options. You can enjoy a quick game of snakes and ladders, play a hand of cards, have a kick about in the garden, a game of swingball or you could invent a whole new game together (with rules that may, or may not, make sense!). The list is endless.
We love the idea of arranging a neighbourhood game of rounders. Decide on a day and a time. Text everybody you know in your local area who would enjoy a get together with their kids. Tell them you're organising a big game of rounders and a picnic. People have to bring a blanket, a packed lunch / picnic and let them know they can invite anybody they like. If people can come - they will, and before you know it you'll have a big game of rounders on the go. And yes, it really is as much fun as you remember it being.
Activity:Take the kids to see some live sport being played - search for something happening in your local area, or in the wider town / city. Keep in mind there may not be much at this time of year, so find out what's on first before making any promises. If sporting activities fail, you could take them swimming, go-carting, clay pigeon shooting or bowling. Maybe run your own silly sports day in the garden, or get them to create their own obstacle course. There could be a giant maze waiting for you in a country house garden, or a fruit picking farm - easy to find when you search local listings for more information.
It could even be as simple as a game of Jenga in the local beer garden....although we didn't suggest that one, okay?
#7 Monsters & Aliens theme:
Film:Another classic theme here with lots to choose from - and loads for different ages. ET, Monsters Inc, Pete's Dragon, Jurassic Park, The Iron Giant, King Kong, Shrek, Star Wars, The Lego Ninjago Movie are some of our absolute favourites.
Story:We love the You Choose book series and they have recently launched a Space version. Aliens and monsters abound in this amazing book that the whole family can get stuck into together. Kids with vivid imaginations love stories about monstrous beasts of myths and legends. Research some stories about local myths and stories for where you live and you can re-tell the tales together. Older kids love to hear about Norse, Greek and Roman mythology. Try Neil Gaiman's Odd and the Frost Giants for any kid curious about ancient beliefs.
Game:Build-a-monster. Based on the old Beetle Drive game - this fun game is easy to make with some felt sheets, some scissors and a dice. Roll the dice to build a monster, it's as easy as that!
#8 Music & Dance theme:
Film:There's only one musical film we can recommend at the moment and we recommend it over and over and over again. That's right - The Greatest Showman. All together now...."This is the Greatest Show, oh!"....
Activity:check out this music podcast for families. Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl.https://saturdaycerealbowl.podbean.com/
And for older kids who enjoy music that's not chart oriented try Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child podcast-http://sparetherock.com/wordpress/
Story:Stories, music and dance go hand in hand. So instead of reading a story about this theme, why not find the words and lyrics to some of your favourite rhymes, poems and songs and learn them instead. After all, songs are just stories set to music, right?
Game:A favourite car journey game since cars were invented (probably) - name that tune. Such a fun game, that everybody forgets about and then loves when they play it again! For dancing games, don't forget that a good old impromptu game of musical statues or bumps gets the energy levels up and smiles on faces. Why should they be left to kids birthday parties? Older kids love Just Dance on games consoles. It's not enough to sit on the sofa and watch them dance themselves silly. You have to get up and do it too. It's the rules!
Outing:It's festival, gala and fete season so find somewhere nearby and easy to get to that's putting on a kids disco and get down for a boogie. There's usually kids theatre shows on at this time of year so search for dance and music shows that are suitable for your children's ages and take them along to something new and exciting. And most libraries run rhyme time groups for preschoolers so head along to one of those for a timeless round of heads, shoulders, knees and toes! Concerts, festivals and live performances are a great way to bond with older kids and if you're going on holiday, and ask around for people's favourite buskers. At this time of year there are some brilliant acts out and about with their guitars and ready supply of cover tunes.
Fun and simple activities for the school holidays will make cherished memories for the year ahead
Remember - keeping the kids entertained throughout the six weeks of the school holidays doesn't need to be complicated and it doesn't have to cost you a small fortune. Spending time together is what's important - and often, the more simple the activity, the more fun you all have.
Dipping in and out of our guide to keeping the kids busy in the school holiday will help with the daunting task of a whole summer stretched out before you. The most important thing is spending some time with your kids so you get to the end of the holidays feeling connected, contented and excited about the new school year.
Looking for a Ryman store for all your crafty bits and pieces? Check out our store finder guide to find a Ryman Store near you.
Needing to find even more ideas for keeping the kids entertained this summer?
Download some great activities for the school holidays from our activity club. There's tons of outdoor activity ideas for getting the kids outside this summer.