Updated: Jan 8
With school holidays here again we all get to the point where we start looking on Google for the fasted way to sell our kids.... I mean, the fastest ways to tame our kids energy levels! With that plan in mind, I have created this quick guide for stopping the sibling fights, battling the boredom and setting your kids up for some fun. It may even give you a moment or two to yourself!
So without further chatting and procrastination, let's get to it!
1. Host a tower building competition. Grab as many of the same stackable item from around the house and get building. It could be cereal boxes, yoghurt containers, styrofoam cups or even lego. Make the game more fun by creating some limitations such as a time limit, only using one hand or doing it with your eyes shut (then film them while they don't know and have a good laugh later). Get the whole family involved and watch the time fly by!
2. Play "hide the toy". This is a version of hide n seek but it gives you more scope for hiding since its a toy and not a human. Basically everyone leaves the room and one person hides the chosen stuffed animal (or other smallish toy) then calls everyone back in. The first person to find the toy wins and gets to hide it next. My kids will play this for hours and love coming up with new ways to hide it. Have a back up game of hot and cold (say warmer if they are getting close and colder if they are getting further away from guessing) for if it ends up being too difficult. Kids get bored real fast when they can't do something.
3. Get out an old board game or even better, make your own! Just get a piece of cardboard and draw your own squares, a beginning and a finish. Make some game cards and get playing! This will fill in a lot of the day in both the making and the playing, especially if lots of people make their own boards.
4. Blind man's bluff (yeah that's probably really politically incorrect now but you get the idea). This game is fun with a blindfold or at night with the lights off. One person is "in" and they have to find the others without being able to see. The other players find a spot in the game area and must stay put where they choose. They can move their body slightly to avoid capture but must keep their feet or bottoms in the exact place they chose. You can make the game as easy or as hard as you like by limiting the game to one small room or allowing a larger area. The person who can't see can do what they want to find the people in the room, including pulling faces or saying things to make the participants laugh (great for giving up their locations).
5. Create a home obstacle course maze. Use chairs to climb over, tables to climb under, rolled up towels to balance on, pillows to jump to and lots more. Be as creative as you can and then challenge the other players to see who can get through the obstacle course in the best time.
6. Do some Lego challenges. No one is too old for a bit of Lego fun and having a Lego challenge will have the hours slipping away before your very eyes. I really like this one by Sunshine and Hurricanes with free printable cards so you can skip the prep work and get playing. And if it gets too loud just build yourself a bed and take a nap!
7. DIY bowling alley. This was one of my favourite pastimes when I was a kid. We used a hallway (bowling lane) and then used a bunch of large plastic cups as pins (you can also use empty soft drink bottles - fill them water to make them heavier). Grab yourself a large ball and start racking up the points. Don't forget to record your score so you can tally your points and savour the brag rights later on. I really love this glow in dark version by Growing a Jewelled Rose.
8. Scavenger hunt. Who doesn't love a good scavenger hunt? Write some clues and send everyone around the house to find the objects. You can even do it as a photo challenge where instead of collecting the items on the list they can just take photos of the items with a digital device such as phone or iPad (this also means not having to return the items later). You can get really creative by creating rhyming riddles for the hunt (It's big and red in a room that's neat, on something large and flat on which you sleep) or just keep it simple (rhymes with head and is comfy and flat). Another plan is to skip the brain workout and just print some free scavenger hunt cards like these ones from Sunny Day Family.
9. Write a family story. Get everyone together and write a story together. Get each person to do a line or two and then have the next family member add to the story, keep swapping people for parts of the story until you finish it. Write the story on various sheets of paper and then get out the coloured pencils and start illustrating. This will be a project that you will learn to treasure and maybe will become a family tradition every year. Each year you can read back on the past books you have made. You can make it even more fun by dressing up and acting out the story, then taking photos and making the book into a printable photo book.
10. Have a bake-a-thon! Get out the flour, sugar, milk, eggs and recipe books and get baking together. Make cookies, cupcakes or whatever you fancy. Once they are all ready set up a tasting plate or extend the game by setting up a home restaurant or move the snacks to the living area and turn the time into family movie and snack time!
11. Pillow Mountain. My sister and I created this game when we were kids. The whole premise of the game is to be creative and make a large soft mess in the middle of the living room. The goal is to get as many pillows, blankets, lounge cushions and anything else soft from around the house. My sister and I use to strip beds, steal pillows and even remove the cushions from the lounges. Then pile everything up into a huge "pillow mountain". The pillow mountain can then be used to jump on, roll over or pretend is a floating island and you are getting left behind! - Use your imagination. Maybe finish the game with a good pillow fight!
12. Host a family Olympics. What can be more fun than some good old fashioned competition? (Unless of course your kids have meltdowns when they lose in which case, may be less fun than I predicted). You need 5 things when hosting the perfect family Olympics - some awesome games, some family spirit (notice I said spirit not spirits - maybe after the kids go to bed), some awesome prizes, some snacks for the athletes and a camera to capture the fun. Games can be as simple as running races around the backyard (or through the house if you can handle it), who can build the tallest tower out of cups, bowling alley like I mentioned in number 7 or team games such as Pictionary or hangman. At the end hand out prizes, eat some snacks and laugh about the fun.
13. Plan a magic show. Almost everyone loves magic! I'm really good at the disappearing chocolate trick (I just can't bring it back once it has disappeared LOL). It is a great way to awaken kids' imagination, learn something new and even add a touch of learning with science. Spend some time researching and learning some fun new magic tricks then perform them for the family. Even better if everyone can learn their own tricks and make it a big production. You can kick it up a notch by serving popcorn and drinks while the show is on. Invite neighbours or extended family to really make the occasion fun! Check out Mum Junction for some fun ideas!
14. Do a research project. Okay, I know you think this is suddenly sounding like homework but bear with me. Researching something you don't know about can be a lot of fun! Find something the kids (and you, if you want to join in) have in common with interests and do some online researching together. Look up Youtube videos, find websites on the topic and even check out your local library. Learn the facts together and have fun expanding your knowledge. You can even turn it into a fun evening by making it part of a family trivia night..... see next point!
15. Family trivia night! Dial up the fun level by having your very own trivia night. Get a pre-made game such as Trivial Pursuit or make up your own by getting each member of the family to write a bunch of cards with trivia questions on them. Set yourselves up around the family dinner table and start earning points. You can play individually or in teams if you like and see how many questions stump you. Maybe give extra points to the person who write the question if no one can answer it. Use the research data that you gathered from the last idea to write questions too. If you need some help check out these 100 trivia questions by Hobby Lark.
16. Create an escape room. Escape rooms have recently become very popular. Setting up your own in-house escape room will add an element of excitement and allow the kids to have fun for hours. Lock Paper Scissors teaches you how to create your own escape room and give your kids' brains a workout while they are having fun.
17. Build your own puppet theatre and write your own puppet plays. Children love to be creative! This activity allows for many hours of play depending on how much you let them do. You could start with having them build their own puppet theater (use large boxes or hang a sheet with a torch behind it for shadow puppets), make their own puppets with craft supplies from around the house, write the scripts and then perform the plays for the family. Sure you may end up with a house full of craft supplies, paper cuttings, glue residue and perhaps a glitter explosion but I can guarantee plenty of fun! (You might want to weight up the pros and cons LOL).
Now that I have done my duty and supplied you with plenty of creative ideas to entertain the whole family, you can sit back and watch as your kids turn your house into a scene from Hoarders, I mean, Playschool! Enjoy!