Brace yourselves. The children are coming.
The summer holidays are bearing down on us with alarming speed. As much as I enjoy this time with my girls it can at times feel like an ambush. My response? Be prepared. Only a fool (or absolute novice) would enter into these 6 weeks without a little forward planning or assembling an essential arsenal.
Who doesn't dread the words? "I'm bored". Especially on day two of the holidays. Here at After Alice Ltd we think a little bit of boredom can be a good thing. Children need to find ways to entertain themselves. If they are constantly removed from the boredom state they miss out on working out how to overcome it. Let them stick with it. Good things may come.
But we also like to have a Boredom Busting List in reserve. To be used when inspiration is low and nerves are frazzled. Place it somewhere prominent and try to include ideas that the child can do without too much adult help, or hard to find equipment. Get older children to add their own entries (and younger ones too, if possible). Below are a few suggestions but tailor each list to suit specific children:
- Practice perfecting that cartwheel / handstand / bridge
- Do the summer reading challenge from the library
- Roll down a hill
- Practise peeling an apple in one curly piece
- Alphabetise your bookshelf
- Build a nature scrapbook. Find interesting feathers and research what birds they came from. For more guidance we love The Nature Explorer's Scrapbook.
- Make your own bug hotel from materials you find in the garden / recycling
- Paint pebbles. Collect interesting shaped stones, wash & decorate. Funny faces, ladybirds, animals - be inspired by the shape of the stone. Googly eyes are fun for younger artists. Display in garden.
- Become a pavement patio artist. Use colourful chalks to create a gallery on flagstones or concrete. Until the next rainfall at least.
- Find out what childhood films your parents enjoyed. Watch one with them.
- Become mistress/master of the Rubix cube. Can you solve it by the end of the holidays?
- Hula hoop. Frequently. How many rotations can you do?
- Make your own marble run. Use books, kitchen roll tubes and other recycling to create your own marbellous route.
- Learn a knew yoga move. Perfect it. We enjoy Cosmic Kids Yoga.
- Go jam jar fishing.
- Write a letter to someone who won't expect it (not an email or text). Make their day.
- Devour a world map. Focus on an area you don't know well and learn the seas, oceans and cities.
- Climb a tree. Climb a higher tree.
- Improve your skipping. Make up a new rhyme to help you keep time.
- Go for a walk in the countryside. See if you can find some animal tracks. Make a drawing, take measurements and find out what animal made them. The truly prepared can make a cast (We like Animal Tracks Casting Kit).
- Expand your vocabulary. Grab a dictionary and let if fall open. Pick a word that appeals to you and find out what it means. Challenge your mum at dinner and see if she knows its definition.
- Use beads and string to make jewellery or a key ring for someone who is kind to you. We love Beads and Stars Jewellery Kit
- Make a water compass
- Learn how to say hello in 10 different languages. One day it will come in handy.
Hardcore parents can choose to make an 'I'm bored' Lucky Dip. Place activities into a large jar with a fair sprinkling of chores. Some children enjoy chores. Others may try a little harder to occupy themselves before complaining about boredom to you next time.
We do like a project at After Alice Ltd. Something that can span the holiday period. Providing entertainment as needed, every day and a growing sense of satisfaction as the goal comes into view. The interests of the child are key with this. However as some general favourites we would suggest:
A good sized jig-saw puzzle (with enough of a challenge), set up in the corner of the room where it won't be disturbed, maybe at the end of table (if you have a lovely big one). Keep the picture prominently on view to encourage participants and let everyone know it is a family project. We bet visitors won't be able to resist placing a piece. A relaxing and gently stimulating way to spend some time. We love this Harry Potter puzzle.
Create a Kindness Register (ask your child to build a simple chart, and invest in some star stickers or happy face stamps). Encourage and reward the behaviour you want to see in your child. Give some examples and then see what your Kindness Crusader comes up with on their own. If you have a neighbour who doesn't have much time, maybe they could offer to walk their dog. Or open doors for someone when out. Can they do something kind every day? Even more kudos / points if you don't get discovered.
Get stuck into a Science Project. Ideally one that can be enjoyed without too much need for specialist apparatus. There are lots of great chemistry sets now available with a series of fun experiments to work through. When learning is fun, it sticks and it is never too early to introduce children to the wonders of STEM. Our STEM collection can be found here.
Open up their world. We love products that teach but don't preach. This reusable Colour and Learn World Map Tablecloth (pens included) can also be used as a wall hanging if you can't bear to wash all the colour away. It will take a while to colour in, but is an enjoyable way to get to know the globe, its places and animals etc. A mini daily quiz to test new knowledge (talking about things we have learnt recently, helps us remember it long term). Doodle World Map Place mats are also available.
Going on Holiday?
Some entertainment travel essentials will come in handy. We love a good activity book. Perfect for keeping little hands and minds busy during waiting periods and whilst in transit. If you need inspiration our collection can be seen here.
Even the most active of holidays need some down time, where everyone can relax and enjoy each other's company. This is where packing the right game comes into play. A great holiday game is simple to pack, light to transport and can be played repeatedly. We find Dobble excellent, even around the pool and on the beach. Story Cubes are also very good travellers and survive water, sand and crabs. Gubs is perfect for 10 years + and tweens, whereas the deduction and cunning of Codenames will suit the teens.
So that's it from us. Have a great summer. Stay sane. September is closer than it may appear and we are in this with you too.
Lifestyle photography: A J Burrows Photography