Entertaining children in winter

The school holidays are coming up and keeping the kids amused can be a challenge, especially if the weather is wet. Depending on your budget, you may be able to organise one or two expensive outings - such as to the movies - along with cheaper days out to museums and galleries. But if you need to keep them occupied without breaking the bank, here are some ideas.

Make a scrapbook

This needs some preparation in advance, but could keep your children happy and busy for a good few hours. Basics you will need include a cheap scrapbook, glue, scissors, stickers, coloured paper and glitter. You can also buy lots of fancy extras to stick on in stationery shops.

Get them to choose a theme and assemble all the items they’ll want to include. You could use your own photos from a holiday or a particular event, or pictures cut from magazines of places they’d like to go to or of sports teams, movies or pop stars they like.

Hold a high tea

Girls love this one. Use a proper set of china with dainty cups and saucers, and serve the food on cake tiers with lace doilies. Get your children to help you make finger food – delicate sandwiches with the crusts cut off, cupcakes, slices, and scones with cream and jam. Set the table with a lace cloths and pretty napkins, and then get them to dress up in their best clothes. Inviting a friend or two can turn it into a real occasion.

If tea isn’t popular, serve hot chocolate or oilo.**

organise board game olympics**

Dig out a selection of your children’s favourite games and organise a tournament. Invite friends over to spice up the competition, and if there are enough players, have several games going on at once.

Have cheap prizes on offer for winners, along with a prize- giving ceremony. If you have younger children, you may need to find a way to fix the results so that everyone gets a prize.**

Hold a treasure hunt**

Arrange this in advance while the children aren’t around. Start by writing clues suitable for their ages. For younger children, draw simple pictures of the place they need to look for the next clue.

Make it a bit tougher for older ones by getting them to solve a puzzle to find the answer to the clue. For example, if the next clue is hidden in a wardrobe, mix up all the letters and tell them to look in a “brodrawe”.

or else develop a code in which letters are substituted for numbers or symbols. Don’t forget to give them the key so they can work out the answer.

Then hide all the clues, with the final one leading to a prize – lollies or small items for each of them from a $2 shop usually go down well.

Put together a time capsule

This is fun for kids of all ages, and adults too. Gather a variety of items that represent your family and the year 2011, such as photographs and magazines or newspapers. Make sure they’re things you can do without and aren’t valuable.

Get each child to write about themselves – their hobbies and interests, sports, favourite books, music, videos and TV shows, their friends, what they do at school, their favourite holiday memory, and their aspirations for the future.

You could put it in a weather-proof container like a metal box and bury it in the garden, or else put it away in the attic or the back of the garage, where it isn’t likely to be found for many years.**

organise art projects**

Yes, it can be messy, but art is also lots of fun. Try papier-mâché or mosaics using squares cut from pieces of coloured paper.

Chop pictures out of magazines to use in collages – animal themes are always popular, or do crayon and dye paintings.

Canvases are fairly cheap to buy these days – get them to paint a masterpiece with acrylic paint or else glue things like pipe cleaners, glitter and even dried pasta to one for a fun and interesting 3D effect.**


Play tenpin bowling

Make your own set using a tennis ball and some old plastic bottles. Make it harder to knock them over by putting some water in the bottles. Don’t forget to make sure the lids are tightly screwed on, to avoid a mess.

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