It can be hard to think what to do with the kids in the Winter school holidays, of course the new toys and things they get at Christmas (assuming they are on the nice list) mean there is a lot of distraction, and there are usually lots of activities around for Christmas. However, these trips and toys all add up and it can be an extremely expensive few weeks. So, here are 5 FREE ideas to entertain children in the cold school break.
This post contains one affiliate link right at the bottom, so if you choose to use it we get a bit of money off our food shop – at no cost to you x
1. Winter Walks
In conjunction with our good friends at WikiPlacesforKids here are 5 free Winter Walks. Use the link to find all the details you need to know provided by real families that have actually been there xx
- Beckenham Palace Park, South London
- RSPB Rye Meads, Hertfordshire
- The Quarry, Shrewsbury
- Alyn Waters, Wrexham
- Arrow Valley Country Park, Worcestershire
- There are LOTS more ideas over at Wiki, covering the whole of the UK x
2. Hide The Horse
So, this is on the Elf on the Shelf theme, which may be a blessing or a curse depending how you feel about it, if it’s something you want to continue then we found Hide the Horse (it really could be ANYTHING) ours is a Happyland horse as it’s the first thing I stepped on that day… I hide it when I go to bed and it takes the kids a while to find each morning as it’s quite small; I even get to make a cup of tea most mornings.
There is no need to make the toy do amusing things, unless you feel the urge.
3. Earn It Ernie
I actually think electronic devices come into their own in Winter! Come up with a system that will work for your family that means the kids can earn extra TV/Console/Ipad time. Maybe create a chart that equals 30 minute blocks? Whatever works for you – it could be there is a film at 3pm every day if everyone ‘earns’ it.
Kids could colour in a block of the chart for…
Making their bed
Clearing their bedroom floor
Putting away their laundry
Helping a sibling
Reading a school book
Completing a worksheet – zillions on line or lost in their school bags
Helping to put the dishes away
Playing sock snap for 10mins
Entertaining a sibling
Taking all their toys back upstairs/putting away
Singing their times tables
Drawing a picture
Writing 2 thank you notes
Not whining for 5 minutes – you get the picture!
4. Virtual Party
If you can’t face having extra children in the house and it’s too cold to force them outside – see if any of their friends have access to Skype or Facetime – both are free and they could plan a little 10 minute ‘show’ and then call their friend to share it, and the next day maybe they could return the favour?
It might work better with family or friends overseas – let’s embrace modern technology for all its good bits. Ideas for the kids might be:
• Sing nursery rhymes
• Write their thank you for any gifts onto cards and hold them up in the right order (quite hard to coordinate for young children so good skill development!)
• Teach a pet a trick
• Dress up and do ‘famous film scenes’
• Make up their own play
• Tell jokes
• Review a book/film
• Play charades
• Play ‘name that tune’ – sometimes a real challenge with kids!
5. Snack Up
If the kids are largely indoors, and off school/nursery they will be eating A LOT. We always stock up on snacks and quick foods from Approved Foods before each school holiday, but in the Winter it always seems as if we all want to snack, especially as the cold hits. You could use the opportunity to let older children run a snack shop and use play or real money. They would need to make signs, price labels, special offers, opening times etc so make sure you have some scrap paper and sticky stuff to hand. You also need shopping bags and maybe a till/box, receipt book – see what you have around.
We have also run a café, newsagent, toy shop and cinema… if you do use the Approved Foods it will be delivered in large boxes and they are prefect to make cars; you could even have an indoor drive through – you see how my mind wanders!
You can see us opening up our latest delivery – which arrived just in time for the holidays, I’ve loaded it up to our YouTube Channel
Wishing you and your family a really wonderful, fun, peaceful Christmas… pop back next week to find out 5 FREE Ways You Can Get Ready for Christmas 2018 NOW!!
I keep singing Elton John songs today ‘Don’t wish it away’ is the line I keep repeating… As most schools in England break up for Summer tomorrow (we are going on until Tuesday!), and I can feel myself start to ‘brace’ for it – I’m also conscious that I don’t want to wish it away, I’m making a real effort to practice parenting mindfulness – in between yelling ‘I’ve asked you to get your shoes on’ obviously – and it seems to be working. Having said that I have the flu and am quite dosed up on medicines so it could also be that that’s working…
My Thursday Thought links with our tip of the day, no. 16, to think about how you will preserve the memories of this Summer? We like to make a scrapbook of each year as a family, I’m running quite a few years behind schedule as the kids are so time consuming, but I do take a lot of photos, and now so do they to capture the moments of their lives and our family adventures. How to arrange them for posterity is a tricky subject as our walls and cupboards are already full and the digital photo frame is already one child out of date! I’ve enjoyed using Instagram (we have a daily pic and spend if you’re interested x) to keep track of what we’re getting up to but that is all digital again. Keeping items that are made is also hard as there is so much, so we have started to wallpaper our loft with the kids artwork, and it should be a while before we run out of space.
Saving for the Summer isn’t all about money, it’s also about saving those memories and experiences. You may remember a precious moment from your childhood, and it will be a unique memory to you – we are trying to find ways to cherish those. Let me know how you save all those wonderful moments in your family x
Welcome to our new series Staying Sane in the Summer – every day in July I will share an idea, task, download or suggestion to get things going for the Summer Break.
Today is a download of a calendar to help plan for July and August. Whatever you do planning is really essential to make sure you take advantage of all the free fun to be had, and also to make sure you have a good mix of activity and downtime. It’s also nice to tick the days off!
Remember EVERY DAY there will be a useful item here on the website – so stay in touch.
How can there not be an app for all the repeated phrases a parent needs? I could put them on a timer to just be randomly called out from a tannoy…
“please don’t jump on the sofa”
“is that safe?”
“sit down to eat”
I could go on and on and on – I bore myself sometimes…
watching my 5 year old singing Status Quo in the worlds smallest school choir… go girl!
We came to a family agreement that if we did a bit of school work to cover the 28 days of school we were going to miss over the Summer holidays, then a great treat would happen on 2nd Sept – the last day of freedom.
After only a few seconds of debate the kids (in a rare moment of solidarity) decided they would like to have a day at a waterpark. And so a sticker chart was hastily created, named and stuck to the wall.
I was completely amazed that this worked! We are all very motivated by stickers in our family, but even so, this lasted for the entire six weeks. We slowly managed to fill each of the 28 boxes – the rules were you had to do reading, writing, maths or science… there were occasions when this was followed in the most creative sense, but it worked well and good fun was had by all.
So – the day dawned, and the charts were completed – so, as promised we booked a family ticket to Water World in Stoke. We are luckyl to be near to Splash Landings at Alton Towers too, but as we have been there before we thought we’d try somewhere new…
Compared to Splash Landings, and the pool at Centre Parcs (also local) Water World is smaller, and older. However, with very small children this isn’t really a problem, as it is much easier to keep an eye on them, and the facilities were well adapted for small ones. We loved the small flumes just for under 8’s, and the ‘bumpy’ slide. We also really enjoyed being in the outside pool with the bubbles, which we only discovered by accident. The pool is a bit tired, and showing signs of needing more investment, there are cracked tiles and the changing area can only be described as smelly – but of course the kids couldn’t have cared less about such things.
The only real disappointment of they day was the food – it was pretty awful from all angles; quality, quantity, choice and location. You are not supposed to bring your own food, so you are really held at ransom, the veggie options required a longer wait but as the queue was long already and you start to get cold quickly I just went for a quicker, but less filling option. The staff were under pressure and uninterested in great customer service.
You are guaranteed at least 3 hours in the pool, and we were there for longer, it became extremely busy and about 4 hours was our limit. I would recommend getting there as it opens to have a time when you can enjoy the facilities fully and without long queues. We would go there again, but as the kids get older I suspect they would enjoy other waterparks more, and the costs were similar.