Things to do at home with your kiddos during the holidays…

School holidays is primarily a time for us to relax and unwind and personally i don’t always feel like we need to go away to a resort or the seaside. Yes, without a doubt our seaside holidays are always a heap of fun in the sun and the breakfast buffet is always more than welcome. But being at home and in your comfort zone can give you pretty much the same after effects of a holiday away. Provided that you have at least made some plan on how you are going to spend your days. We follow almost the same plan every holiday. Its not at all rigid though and we go with how we are all feeling on a particular day. Basically to enter the holiday with excitement we usually draw up a list of things everyone wants to do. And that list usually comes from another list that i drew up a few years ago (plus of course some new additions). Below i am going to give you some ideas of activities you can do at home.
This is a layout of our day routine during the holidays (again i must mention that its not at all rigid but its nice to have some sort of time allocation). Our meals, bathtime and bedtime are usually fixed so that it doesn’t stray too much from their usual routine. I like the kids to continue sleeping on time during the holidays so it does not disrupt their usual sleep patterns. I have come to notice that if they sleep late or eat late it tends to affect their mood and i end up with less than happy kids.

Wherever you see arrows is usually when we are actively (or passively) involved in some or other activity. I dont expect all 4 kids to conform to each activity i have planned for them. So if one is feeling like reading instead of building puzzles then that is absolutely OK. I really want them to enjoy their time off from school. Although at the very same time i do like to have all 4 of them joining in on our activities so that it enhances our bonding time and is of course a lot more fun-usually that does happen 80% of the time.

Here is a list of things to do at home:

  1. Puzzle Day This used to be a day we dedicated to building ALL the puzzles we have. Right down from 2piece puzzles up to 250piece puzzles. More recently my 6 & 8 year old prefer to race and see who can build a puzzle the fastest. I suppose that makes it all the more exciting. My toddler builds the smallers puzzles and often also enjoys helping place the pieces of her older siblings puzzles.
  2. Lego Day We love Lego here and have a beautiful collection of favourites that we continually adding to. Our favourite themes so far are Lego Friends and Ninjago. Often we break up the set and rebuild them or sometimes just build new sets. The Lego Creative boxes have been a more recent favourite because of the multitude of little creations you can make.
  3. Games Day We tend to dedicate an entire day to our board games. Sometimes we end up playing a particular game over and over without actually realising that 3 hours have passed. Some of our favourites are Chess, Pictionary, 30Seconds Jnr, Disney Cupcake party, Disney Spuzzle, Disney Who Shook Hook?, Cluedo Jnr, Snap, Uno, Memory, Zingo by Thinkfun etc.
  4. Baking My little ones always enjoy a good bake-off. Icing, decorating and licking the bowl (hehe).
  5. CampOut this seems to be a favourite right now. All the blankets and duvets from all the rooms down on the sitting room floor, pillows galore, a mini tent, popcorn and snacks and lots of movies.
  6. Dressup and Video Lots of memory making here. I set up my camera on a tripod while the kids dress up in their favourites and come and do a show for me. Often we include fun things like face painting, makeup, masks and wigs too.
  7. Picnic either inside or outside when the weather is warm.
  8. Swimming my kids can swim for hours so for us that pretty much means the whole day in the garden.
  9. Hire a jumping castle or water slide. Most places would hire them out for 2-3 days mid week so we make the most of the outdoors when we do this.
  10. DIY Science activities
  11. Arts and crafts (have a look through categories and see some fun things to do)
  12. Scavenger Hunt
  13. Obstacle Course draw up an obstacle course with visual/verbal instructions with jumbo chalk. Add in some chairs to go ‘under’, some bean bags to ‘throw into’ a bin, a mini trampoline if you have one and any other creative ideas. Keep treats at the end for when they complete.
  14. Minute to Win it Draw up a few “fast-paced” activities and time them as you go.
  15. Memory Box we enjoy spending a day looking through each ones memory boxes at all the art, certificates etc
  16. Photo Day looking through photos saved on my computer, i usually try to connect it to our tv so it shows up bigger and turn it into a slideshow. We also watch and have a good laugh at our home videos.
  17. Movie Day Either at home or at the cinema
  18. Orphanage we try to spend a day each holiday at the end of the season taking out clothes and toys. And then plan a day to visit an orphanage to distribute the items. Sometimes, if we know the ages and gender of the kids we visiting we pack little hampers into gift bags so that we can gift them individually.
  19. Spa Day this has got to be one of my favourites. We whip up homemade masks, light up candles, take out all the yummiest smelling lotions, nail polish, nail files, colourful headbands and give each other facials, manis and pedis and massages. My son usually ducks out in front of the tv when we do this.
  20. Treasure Hunt this is more like a rewards day. I usually hide little clues for each child that lead them to a present (usually something i know they like or asked for) and i usually have this in the last quarter of the holiday

    Remember though that kids need to also learn to keep thenselves busy with activities other than TV. Often i present the idea to them, enjoy playing with them and also allow them to explore and play on their own. This gives them an opportunity to be creative and you will be pleasently surprised. I tend to sit down, have a cup of coffee and watch from a distance, and im always amazed….

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    Indoor Hopscotch

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    Our indoor hopscoth grid has become like a winter tradition in our home.❄⛄ For the past 5-6 years i have being laying out this grid using painters tape. The days are just too short and the nights are just too cold to play outside. And the gross motor activities cant come to a halt can they? ;););)

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    So we play this game in a variety of ways.
    1. The standard way 😆 we use bean bags as our counters or these little broad flat plastic sea animals (i like them to use different counters because they learn to handle objects of different weight and shape accordingly)
    2. Using our homemade dice 😅(and some small stickers too – different color for each player)
    This method focusses on math skills and logic. Throw both dice and add the numbers. Hop on one foot to that number, balance on that foot while bending down to put a sticker of your colour in that block and then hop back. First one to fill all the blocks with their sticker wins (fall, or hop onto a line and lose that sticker) – our grid goes only up to 10 so when they throw a 11 or 12 then they count the total number of hops e.g throw a 12 then they need to hop to 10 and then back down to 8 = 12 hops)

    Mixed Sensory I-Spy Bottle

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    Mixed Sensory i-spy Bottle
    I made this one a while ago, but emptied it today to change a few of the objects. I included a letter “A” this time around for my toddler as her name begins with “A”. When my 6 year old was still learning her letters i put all 26 letters of the alphabet into a bottle to look for. The possibilities are endless. Other items are just general vocabulary builders. Also included were few of @safariltd miniature creatures (sold individually) great for sensory bottles.

    Sensory I-Spy Bottles

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    I love sensory i-spy bottles. They provide the much needed interest and entertainment for a bored toddler and are especially helpful on the go.
    Many times they proved to spark my older kids into a game of i-spy.

    You will need:
    PVC clear bottle
    Fill 3/4 full with rice
    Add in 8-10 miniatures (try different colors to reinforce colour recognition)

    We have tried different types of sensory bottles. Ones filled with coloured water, some glitter and stars. Another filled with green tea leaves and little lizard figurines. Another filler with colourful waterbeads. They provide lots of fun for littlies

    Beginners Chess for Kids

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    Beginners Chess for Kids – when my kids first learned to play Chess we used this set by Creatives. I loved the simple instructions and the way both ends of the board had a guidline on the allowed movements of each piece.

    Benefits of Chess:
    1. Chess is a game of strategy
    2. Improves concentration
    3. Improves planning capabilities and enhances foresight
    4. Increases ones problem solving abilities
    5. Exercises both the left & right hemispheres of the brain
    🎓👓👔💼📚📑💬✏📉🔧🏆⏳⏰💯✔:idea: We then upgraded our set to a numbered mat and some colorful pieces pinks, blues and purples available at Chess Connections.

    Math Dice – Thinkfun

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    Another super game by Thinkfun is Math Dice
    Throw the dice including th one with the numbered face. Try to use as many of the dice as possible in finding equations to match the numbered dice. The more you use the higher your points score 😍😍😍 We started this game doing only addition and then addition and subtraction. As the kids started moving onto multiplication we started including multiplication and division as a challenge.

    The younger ones would sit with us though and just shout out the number represented on each dice which improved their counting skills.
    What i also discovered is removing a dice from the gameplay actually increased the challenge.

    Math Dice – Thinkfun

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    I love this game Clever Castle by Thinkfun and whats nice is it can be adapted to suit the age of your child.
    Comes with a booklet that has 40 challenges ranging from easy to super hard. Solutions available at the back of each challenge. Most Thinkfun games are focussed on logic and reasoning and are for single players.

    My toddler started by placing the pieces in the correct castle window just following the solutions and not doing the actual challenge. But for me that was already a good way to enhance her visual perception. And a great guide to spatial orientation (above, below, left, right and middle)