Depending on where you are the country, you're either on the home stretch of the school holidays - or just a few days in. Either way, you're most likely feeling the effects of kids and their "I'm BORED" statements every few minutes - despite the highly likely chance they're not actually bored (besides which, being "bored" is good for kids - it makes them creative!). "I'm bored" is the holiday equivalent of "I'm hungry" which kids wheel out whenever they finish an activity, return home from a five minute bike ride or are asked to turn off a device.
So, we thought we'd round up a bunch of ideas, projects and activities the kids can do with - or without you - for next to nothing. These are some of the ideas from the free ebook 101 free(ish) things to make & do with your children by The Happy Home. Because given the chance, kids are easily amused and you don't need to spend a small fortune on materials or outside entertainment to make the holidays or weekends meaningful. Some will require your help (and patience); others won't. Some are for little ones; some are for older ones. But all are ways to keep them busy for a little while and hopefully create a memorable moment or two.
All that's needed for this is paper party streamers. And while it's tempting to wrap them in real bandages and, well, just leave them, it's probably best you do it with something they can easily burst out of! Let them wrap each other up with the streamer until it's all gone. Tie the end in a knot or use tape to hold in place. Then have them race from one end of the yard to the other. Once done, cut up the scraps into confetti.
Make your next neighbourhood walk a little more colourful with these nature bracelets. All you have to do is wrap a piece of packaging tape around your wrist until it sticks to itself - make sure the sticky side is facing outwards. As you walk, collect small flowers and leaves and stick them all around your bracelet!
Let your littlest monsters show their true colours with these cute masks! Have your child paint the front of the plate with watercolours. Use a scalpel to cut the mouth out and cut some different shaped teeth from the offcut. Glue the teeth to the back of the plate. Use another paper plate to cut out some eyes - your child can colour in the circles or make their own crazy eyes with textas. Cut out some horns from coloured paper (or have your child paint some other leftover paper plate offcuts) and stick in place. Use masking tape to fix a large paddle pop stick to the back of the base. Let them be real monsters for a while.
Give the kids a basket and send them around the neighbourhood looking for every colour of the rainbow - the council strip and flowers hanging through the front fence are fair game (but maybe ask if anyone is out and about if it's ok!). Then have them make a rainbow from their finds, ensuring the colours flow in true ombre style.
Are these the prettiest fairy wings ever? The contact paper suspending flowers in the airlooks so delicate - as a fairy should be! You could also try using glitter, gold stars, paperflowers or confetti. Find out how to make them here.
Press leaves, tiny flowers, stamps or other 3D patterns into air-dry clay. Poke a hole in the top before drying to add a keyring once dry. Or stick a small magnet to the back and use as fridge magnets.
7. STORY STONES Find flat stones in different shapes and sizes and paint them a solid colour with an acrylic paint. Use a thin Sharpie marker to draw different pictures on each of the stones - front and back. Make it a similar theme (i.e., castles, knights, princesses and horses) or make them completely random (a cat, bridge, car, witch and waterfall). To play, simply roll the stones out as you would roll a bunch of dice and tell a story using the images that are facing upwards.
8. Use washi tape to make a HOPSCOTCH on the floor of your hallway. Use a rice-filled balloon as a marker and get jumping! Washi tape also makes great roads on floors and walls for tiny cars.
9. Have a NEWSPAPER DRESS competition. Everyone gets one newspaper, scissors and tape. Set the timer for half an hour and see what they come up with!
10. Simple, but effective: take a bus, train or ferry trip to a nearby suburb, find a playground, eat hot chips for lunch and finish off with an ice cream. For little kids who aren't accustomed to public transport, it will be a dream come true!
11. Get the kids to make an OBSTACLE COURSE in your backyard - their creativity will surprise you.
12. Make a stranger's day by writing positive, INSPIRING MESSAGES like "you look great today" with coloured chalk on a public pathway or bike track.
13. Hit the beach with a handful of spare silver coins. While the kids are running around, dig into the wet sand and hide a coin in the hole, covering it up and marking X over the spot. Tell them it's is TREASURE ISLAND and X marks the spot - they get to keep whatever treasure they find (or divvy it up equally!).
14. Throw an IMPROMPTU PARTY for absolutely no reason complete with cake, handmade party decorations, fun games and even a piñata. Secretly invite some of their friends around and they'll crown you Best. Parent. Ever.
15. Have a CAN'T SAY NO DAY. You'll need to set limits (distance or $), but let them choose what they want to eat, do, try for the day - and you won't say no. iPad/pet purchases are not included in the deal!
16. Hold a LEGO BUILDING COMPETITION. Assign each kid a different colour and they can only use that colour to build something cool.
17. Give little kids a bucket of water and paintbrush each and tell them to PAINT YOUR FENCE.
18. Create a TREASURE HUNT with wool or string. Hide a prize (or special treat) and tie a piece fo string around it. Uncurl the string as you walk around the tard and house letting it fall behind you as you go. The idea is the kids have to wind their way around your property following the string to find their prize.
19. Let them WRITE A PLAY, come up with their own costumes and stage props, rehearse and perform it for you and some friends or family. Give them some $$$ for admission!
20. Make a TIME CAPSULE with pictures and mementos from this era and bury it in your backyard.