Don’t just let your kids stare at screens during half-term - try Dawn Isaac’s indoor entertainment ideas
When it’s pouring down outside, it can be tough for parents to stop their kids playing on tablets or mobile phones, or vegging out in front of the TV.
But during school holidays and at weekends, there has to be more for them to do inside than simply stare at a screen. And if parents need a little inspiration, Dawn Isaac is here to help.
The mother-of-three has just written 101 Things For Kids To Do On A Rainy Day, as a natural follow-up to her 101 Things For Kids To Do Outside guide.
She says: “When the weather’s gorgeous, life’s OK, but sadly you can’t always rely on the British climate.
“Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to keep kids entertained inside - and what’s more, you shouldn’t need to switch on a screen, buy expensive supplies or micromanage the children while they’re doing them.”
Isaac thinks there’s nothing wrong with playing the odd computer game or watching a bit of TV, but she points out: “There’s always a danger of getting to bedtime and realising no-one’s moved off the sofa all day. And a houseful of children with energy left to burn doesn’t make for an easy night’s sleep for anyone.
“Children are at their most imaginative and creative when they’re helping to make their own entertainment. And let’s face it, who looks back on their childhood and gets nostalgic for that perfect day spent in front of the telly?”
So instead of relying on technology, Isaac, who’s usually a garden designer, recommends parents encourage their kids to get creative and/or active inside, perhaps by trying a few of these ideas:
Play balloon stomp
Tie a balloon around the ankle of each player and on ‘go’, try to burst everyone’s balloon - while keeping yours intact. This should be a no-contact game - except for the balloons.
Need to know who’s been pinching those cakes? You can lift fingerprints by sprinkling a little chalk dust onto the tin with a fine paintbrush. Lift any subsequent prints off with a piece of tape, before sticking this to a dark piece of card. You can fingerprint suspects with a homemade ink pad (scribble some felt-tip pen on to a plastic lid) and compare the two. Cake thieves beware!
Indoor obstacle course
Let off some steam by creating and racing through your own obstacle course. Chairs are great for climbing over or crawling through, and a blanket on the floor weighted down at the edges makes a perfect homemade tunnel. Place cushions some distance apart and leap between them, and if you have a narrow corridor you can even use wool and masking tape to create your own spy web to negotiate.
Wrap the mummy
Each team has a toilet roll and must wrap one player head-to-toe as their ‘mummy’ , leaving eyes, and mouth showing, and wrapping arms separately to the body.
Balance care with speed, because, if you rip the paper, you must start again. The first to complete their mummy wins or, for added amusement, why not get the mummies to race each other at the end?
Give everyone a pile of lollipop sticks, elastic bands and a few plastic spoons and allow them 20 minutes to construct a catapult. Each player can then launch three separate marshmallows - and the one whose goes furthest wins, and gets to eat their missiles.
Hold a junk fashion show
Bin liners and newspaper might not sound glamorous, but they make the perfect materials to create fashion masterpieces. You can employ masking tape to join everything together, and why not raid the recycling bin for some avant-garde accessories?
Booby trap your bedroom
This is a great deterrent for sneaky siblings who go into brothers’ and sisters’ rooms without permission. Push a drawing pin through a piece of sticky tape and fasten this to the inside of your door about 15-20cm from the hinge so the sharp end points outwards. Blow up a balloon and fasten it with tape to your bedroom wall, just behind the door and in line with the pin. Carefully slip out of the room without letting the pin touch the balloon and wait for intruders to get a shock.
Build a shoe box house
Stick shoe boxes together with masking tape to create a multi-storey house to decorate. You can use cereal packets cut on an angle and toilet rolls to add roofs and chimneys, and cover walls and floors with old wrapping paper.
See how low you can go
Each player must lift a cereal packet up using only their mouths and with nothing but their feet on the floor. Cut off a strip of card from the packet after each successful attempt to make it harder and harder.
Play hands-free ping-pong
Put a line of masking tape across the middle of the table, place your hands behind your back and attempt to blow the ball off the opposing team’s side. For added mess and hilarity, make every player eat a dry cracker first. The losers get to sweep up the crumbs!
• 101 Things For Kids To Do On A Rainy Day is published by Kyle Books, £14.99