As the evenings draw in and there are fewer outdoor activities for children to keep busy with, we’ve found some fun ideas to keep them (and the whole family) occupied until spring!
Demand for people with science, technology, engineering and maths knowledge continues to grow, so spark their enthusiasm with some fun activities. The engineers at the James Dyson Foundation have come up with some great free challenge cards that encourage kids to get building. Choose to make a balloon car race, build a bridge using spaghetti, or construct a marble run. All using items you will find around the house. Ready, get set, build! www.jamesdysonfoundation.co.uk.
As we write, escape rooms are still open, but if you want something to do during a dark evening, some are offering virtual experiences. Or you could buy an escape room in a box. If you have older kids, you could even challenge them to come up with their own escape room puzzles. Make it as involved as you want – if you really want to go all out, sort out some fancy dress, and themed food and drink to make an evening of it.
Puzzle it out
Sales of jigsaw puzzles skyrocketed during lockdown earlier in the year. 3D puzzles are great fun, but for something really challenging look out for Wasgij puzzles. You have to work out what the puzzle picture might be by working out what the people in the picture on the box are looking at. It’s a real brain teaser! Fancy That in Tring sell a wide range of puzzles, if you need some new ideas.
Dance the night away
Active kids might still be full of beans, so get dancing! Depending on their ages, you can simply stick on some tunes and have a boogie, or get TikTok up on the TV and start learning a child-appropriate routine. If you have a games console, there are plenty of dance games, which combine exercise with competition – and are suitable for all ages.
Make a bucket list
The winter is a great time to plan. Start a scrapbook or journal and get everyone to add in their ideas for family holidays, activities and days out. They might write it out in coloured pens or draw a picture, depending on their age. Or perhaps you’d prefer a suggestions jar. Use multicoloured squares of paper and write down ideas for activities and days out – it could be anything from making paper planes to exploring a new town or going to a theme park. Next time you’re stuck for something to do, pull a piece of paper out of the jar.
Your turn to cook
Allocate a night each week for someone else to cook dinner. Find age-appropriate recipes – younger kids might make homemade pizza, while teenagers could rustle up a spag bol or curry. They may need some help, but do this every winter until they leave home and they should build up a decent repertoire of signature dishes to take with them to Uni!
Learn a new skill
Is there something you can do that your children can’t? Maybe you knit, play a musical instrument, or hula hoop. Perhaps you can whistle with your fingers, whittle wood or make a fire without using paper. Maybe there’s some DIY or homemaking skills they could learn. Then turn the tables and let them teach you a new skill – maybe handstands or skateboarding!? (Don’t forget to see our Tony Hawk skateboard competition).
Get out the photos
So many of us have digital photos but never put them in a photo album. Sort out some baby photos, and other photos through the years, get them printed and start filling some albums. The children can add fun stickers and captions to turn them into scrapbooks. As well as a family album, each child could create their own, which you can add to as they grow, so that when they leave home they have an album of photos documenting their childhood.
It may be chilly outside but it’s fun to camp out in the living room! Pop-up tents are good for this, or make a fort from chairs/tables and sheets. If you have a real fire you can toast marshmallows or toast. Have a camping dinner of baked potatoes, corn on the cob, ribs and sausages, or a carpet picnic – and then sing some campfire songs (www.scoutresources.org.uk has lots of examples if you don’t know any).