Daily Archives: 28 August 2012

Family fun for the school holidays

Family fun for the school holidays

It’s National Family Week this week, which is very apt given that it’s the summer holidays and many of us will spend lots of time with our children.

As a mum of three under-fives, I now know what a rollercoaster ride it is being a parent! BC (before children), I imagined life to be a whirlwind of harmonious activities; from playing games to spotting wildlife to making crafts.

Yes, of course, you can do these things, but in reality you may have one child who just wants to play with his cars and another who wants to eat the paint!

So, here I have suggested some ideas for the summer holidays that you and your children MAY want to try. But if they don’t want to, stay chilled (if possible!) and enjoy watching them do their chosen activity instead (even if they have been pushing trains around a track for the past 4 weeks!)

Under 5s

  • Create a very simple treasure hunt at home with one word cards to follow, such as table, chair and toybox.
  • Food packets and tubes can be used for plenty of activities: your child can sort them into different shapes and sizes; the tubes and packaging can be used as building bricks, and painted in different colours.
  • Make a themed collage (by colour, season or transport, for example) with pictures cut from magazines. If the children are very young, cut the pictures out yourself and allow them to stick.
  • Make pasta necklaces by painting individual pasta shapes, such as penne. Allow to dry, thread on to string and tie.
  • Imprint rubbing can be intriguing for little ones. Place a piece of paper over a patterned object, such as a coin, leaf or shell, and then rub over the top with a crayon. Cut a potato in half and carve a simple pattern into the flesh. Make several of these for your child to cover in paint and print the shapes on a piece of paper.
  • Paint can be used in all sorts of ways. Cut a butterfly shape from a piece of paper. Ask your child to paint a pattern on one side then fold in half while still wet to see the pattern mirrored.
  • With paint, you can also create butterflies from two children’s hand prints with a blob of paint in the middle. Sponge painting is also great fun, or try drawing patterns with wax crayon and painting over the top.
  • Use the playdough recipe (below) to create models, make patterns and cut into shapes. Baking equipment is ideal for use with playdough.
  • Encourage an interest in food at an early age by making chocolate and rice crispy cakes together, or simple flapjacks with butter, oats and syrup.
  • Play some lively music and dance with your child. Get him/ her to mirror your movements, count or clap to the beat, or waltz with your child standing on your feet.
  • Let’s pretend – choose an animal and make the relevant noises and movements. Choose contrasting animals, such as a tiny mouse and huge elephant.
  • Ask your child to clap out the rhythm of his/her name and clap along, or clap to the beat of a song. Make a simple shaker by sealing dried rice or pasta in a tub to shake along to the music.
  • At the start of the day choose one letter from the alphabet and see how many things beginning with that letter your child can spot throughout the day. Paint a picture or create a picture collage of some of those things at the end of the day.
  • Go for a short walk and collect natural objects, such as pinecones, pebbles and feathers. With glue, paint and paper, make little creatures from your finds. You could also try a ‘colour walk’ and ask your child to point out all the yellow items he or she sees, for example.

5-12 year olds

  • Family fun for the school holidaysMake a calendar or clock. For a clock, decorate a paper plate then paint on numbers and secure cardboard hands with a paper fastener. To create a calendar, choose month-appropriate pictures from a magazine and stick them on to 12 sheets of card or paper. Print out dates from the computer or write them down. Hole-punch each sheet and secure together with string. Both these craft projects will encourage your child to learn about time, days and months.
  • Use food packets to play shop. Your child can use scales to weigh items, stickers for pricing and change to learn about money and counting. Or your child could make a money box, and learn how to save. Create a model village by painting windows, doors and flowers onto packets.
  • To make an impressive mosaic picture, draw a large, simple design (such as flowers) on a piece of paper, cut small squares from coloured paper or magazines and use one colour to fill each section of the design.
  • Fingerprint characters are fun. Simply make lots of fingerprint marks with paint on a sheet of paper and allow to dry. Then make faces, monsters, animals and bugs by adding features/hair/legs/arms/tails with a black pen.
  • Create finger puppets – ask your child to draw animal or people characters on a piece of paper. Cut them out and glue a loop of paper to the back.
  • For paper weaving, cut long thin strips from coloured paper or magazines. Then take a larger piece of paper and cut strips almost but not quite to the top so it’s fringed. Weave each complete paper strip horizontally under and over the fringed strips. Trim the sides and secure at the back with tape.
  • Encourage your child to get involved in all (safe) food preparation to foster his/her interest in food. Choose a simple recipe (try Hot chocella on p155 or Yogurt cake on p141) and follow it together.
  • Throw a dice and draw a funny animal. Each number represents a body part (write these down first), take it in turns to throw and draw part of the beast. See what bizarre creatures you can create together.
  • Using either your clothes or jumble-sale finds, play dressing up and role play. You could pretend to be pop stars, play their music and sing with a hairbrush ‘microphone’ while dressed up. Face paints or make-up are good for this activity, too.
  • Hold a treasure hunt throughout the house and garden. Make around ten simple clues, such as ‘Your next clue is very cold’ (the clue’s hidden in the fridge) and hide them in appropriate places. The treasure can be a small toy or a home-made cake. The fun is in the hunt, not the prize. You could also encourage your child to write clues for you to hunt.
  • Make a family photo album. When you go out, take photos of teddy, or a favourite soft toy, in various places. Then put the photos in an album with other family members for your child to keep. You could also create a family tree together.
  • Children often get bored while out walking. Make a countryside stroll more fun with a ‘spotter’s list’. Write a list of plants, birds and creatures with tick boxes and a small reward. For example, blackbird 2p, kingfisher 50p. Your child will then have something for his/her moneybox at the end of the walk.
  • Poetic artwork – go for a walk and jot down things you do, see, smell, touch and hear. For example, bees buzzing, the scent of lavender, warm sunshine, green grass, a thrush singing, steep hill. When you get home, encourage your child to write them all down in different coloured pens/crayons on a piece of paper.


How to make play doughHow to make Playdough

Plain flour 1 cup
Water 1 cup
Vegetable oil 1tbsp
Cream of tartar 2tsp
Salt ½ cup
Food colouring a few drops

1 Place all ingredients in a pan on a low heat.

2 Stir continuously until mixture thickens to a firm dough texture.

3 Store in an airtight container and keep away from pets.



Banana and Cinnamon muffins recipeBanana & Cinnamon Muffins

Any why not bake these delicious
muffins with your little cooks too?

This recipe can be found in our
fabulous new cookbook
Take a Box of Eggs.


Banana and Cinnamon Muffins

Banana and Cinnamon Muffins recipe

Try these lovely moist muffins. Ready in just 30 minutes!

Makes 12 muffins
Time required
30 mins Per muffin: 274 Kcal
11g fat (6.4g saturated)
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing

Self-raising flour 300g (11oz)
Baking powder 1 tsp
Bicarbonate of soda ½ tsp
Ground cinnamon ½ tsp
Demerara sugar 200g (7oz)
Full fat milk 300ml (½ pint)
Butter 125g (4½oz), melted
Eggs 2
Peeled bananas 200g (7oz) (about 2), finely chopped

1 Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 and line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases. Sift together all the dry ingredients, except the sugar, into a bowl and lightly mix together. Then add the sugar and mix into the flour.

2 Whisk together the milk, melted butter and eggs in a jug. Stir in the chopped banana. Gently fold the liquid into the dry ingredients, taking care not to overmix.

3 Divide the batter between the muffin cases and bake for 15–20 minutes or until well risen and golden. Serve warm or cold.

Cook’s tip. If you don’t have a banana to hand, try this recipe with the same weight of frozen raspberries or blueberries or even a mixture – don’t let them thaw.

Recipe taken from Take a Box of Eggs, Dairy Cookbook.

%d bloggers like this: