Games for the Holidays

Games to Play in the Holidays

A treasure hunt is good fun and can be adapted for outdoors or inside depending on the weather. Older children can be given a list of things to find: a five petalled flower, a brown leaf, a skeleton leaf, a dead wasp, a stone as round as a marble; younger children are sent off to find one thing at a time: a feather, a piece of bark etc.

You can have a picnic in the park or your garden even if it’s raining, and, if you are outside, play at races – who can be the first to do twenty hops and twenty backward.

Put a large sheet of paper on the wall. Shine a light at your child so his silhouette falls on the paper and draw round it.

Organise races in the garden or park, like they used to do [maybe still do] in Junior School. Each child has to hop so many times, bounce a ball so many times, run backwards to the next point, spin round six times etc. If friends are visiting, you can have teams. The activities can be altered to suit the skills of your children.

Go for a record number of hula hoop spins before it falls [mine was 1959, sad!] Or bounces of a ball, or catches between two

Creativity appeals to most children, as does mess! a roll of lining paper provides the perfect medium for printing. Finger, palm and foot prints are easily arranged, older children can carve potatoes or carrots, make crumpled bits of material into shapes, use poster paints and print wrapping paper for Granny at Christmas.

If you start saving glass bottles now, you can collect 8. The children then pour water into them until each bottle gives a different note. If you use food colourings in the water, you can make a rainbow instrument. By tapping the tops with chop-sticks, the children can play tunes they know and invent new ones. Record the tunes and then they can sing along to the tune they saved.

Imaginative play can be stimulated by a dressing-up box [any charity shop will provide clothes if your family can’t] and a stage. Re-arrange the furniture to provide a clear space and room for an audience. If there is too little room, give a puppet show. Make puppets out of socks [sew buttons onto spare socks as eyes, or draw on them with felt-tips] or out of vegetables – hollow out the bottom of, say, a carrot and give him a face with colours or bottle tops etc., turn a table on its side and use that as the puppet stage.

Most children enjoy being involved in cooking and baking. Make pastry into letter and number shapes, ice a round shape into a face or design a gingerbread house. Make peppermint creams or make/use marzipan to make fruit and animal shapes. Try making blue buns or green mashed potato for fun and seeing if it’s harder to eat food when the colour is wrong. Even quite young children can make edible – and hygienic – buns and be proud of the production.

Other days offer the chance for Kim’s game – you need a good memory to recall the twenty objects seen on the tray for two minutes before it was covered up. Or perhaps take three things away and see who can spot which three are missing.

And then, of course, you could always go bark rubbing, where you put the lining paper onto a tree trunk and rub gently with the side of a crayon, or rub coins in the same way and make a record of money you have.

Or blow eggs and decorate them, go on a bike or roller-boot safari, make a commando course or obstacle course in the garden or around the house – appropriate to the age of the children involved, walking along the straight line of chalk drawn on the ground is challenging at six, but less difficult at eight.

Use nail varnish to make amazing toe nails for boys and girls, or allow them to do their own, or to give you a manicure.

Make a miniature garden with a small plate, tin or bowl, some soil, a mirror for a ‘lake’ and tiny plants or flowers.

Grow mustard cress in an eggshell or as a pattern on a damp flannel; cut the stem of a white flower in two for the first five centimetres of its length and put each half into different coloured water.

Go round the local cemetery and look for the oldest, youngest and fullest graves. Or the most curious names.

Find a local bus route which takes in the sights and sit on the front top seats, or seats with the best view, with a big bag of sweets and see what you can see over the walls.

Go for a picnic – wet or dry – with small children take teddies etc, Sit under a shelter if you need. Or have a picnic at home around a tablecloth on the floor…

Go on a train or a bus.

Make a show or a performance with music and costumes.

Learn poems to perform, or limericks, or jokes to tell.

Make a map of your house for visitors.

Take a camera and make a photo diary of a day, or to make a current family tree.

Use the internet and see if there are others with the same name as the child [or anyone in the family]

Use a catalogue and furnish a room with the pictures – older children should also cost it

Write a menu for a week together with the children

Have a back-to-front meal starting with dessert.

Use a favourite DVD and ask some unexpected questions – who is wearing a hat? How many children accept a sweet? What is the word most used to start a scene? How many different camera angles are there in three minutes?

Make the longest sentence you can where all the words start with the same letter

So many children have after-school activities, Games Consoles, friends to visit and homework to do that many traditional activities have been almost forgotten. Long summer holidays are the perfect time to resurrect family activities so that children can spend some time doing stuff together before going off to play in another garden or fight with their friends.  All these activities can be adapted for children of different ages, not only are brothers and sisters often at very different stages of development, but individual children often like to play at being older or younger for a while. There are no Right Ages for playing.