Beating school holiday boredom on a budget

Beating school holiday boredom on a budget

If you want to beat the boredom, but the idea of going to a theme park or zoo in the rain or with queues a mile long as everyone else does the same, why not have some bargain fun at home for free?

Games and activities can often lose their appeal after a few weeks on holiday for a lot of kids, so coming up with some new ideas is always a good way of getting them off the sofa and doing something productive. Although most of these are aimed at younger children, the older siblings may be able to join in the teaching aspect as the big brother or sister they of course know so much more than their younger siblings.

Bug hunt

What you will need

  • A nice day
  • Clean yoghurt pot or other container
  • Magnifying glass (optional)
  • Paper
  • Pictures of common garden insects like lady birds, butterflies, ants
  • Pencils

How to get started

Put the picture on a sheet with a tick or tally box next to them and head into the garden, the challenge is to try and find one of each of the insects on the list, and one that’s not, that they can then draw using the pencils and magnifying glass. They can either find one of each or you can see how many of them you can find to make it a competition. When you have located said beastie you can pop it in the pot to have a closer look at before returning it to the wild.

Treasure hunt

What you will need

  • A treasure map. Depending on your artistic ability you can either keep this simple or go to town on it but it will have to reflect some local places or landmarks. You can either do it just for your street, or around your house of go large and make a full day of it. The map should have the final location of the treasure marked with an x of course and then torn in to several pieces. (I know, all that effort!).
  • Clues written to take them to the next piece of the map and the next clue, you can make as many or as little as you like of these. Depending on the age of the child you can make them cryptic or simple “underneath the thorny tree that is where the next clue be ahhhr”
  • A prize, I always get extra gold coins when they go down to 10p after Christmas with this in mind, but any sweets or treats will do.
  • A treasure chest – we have painted egg boxes, burger boxes and even cat food boxes in the past to look like pirate treasure chests, an afternoon of fun in itself.
  • Some time to plant them all. I usually enlist a couple of mums in the street who the kids play with for this one, and have already had the knock on the door from a neighbour asking when the next one will be (for the kids of course!)

What to do

The first clue is given to your swash bucklers and they must follow it or solve it to get the 1st piece of the puzzle and the next clue, they must solve all the clues to get the last piece of the map with the x on it (make sure this piece is in the last location or it all goes horribly wrong) they then have to find the spot marked x and dig up/ find the treasure.

This does take a bit of prep but can go on for as long or as little as you like and you can re-use some of the bits again next time. It does come with a warning as you will find yourself speaking like a pirate and constantly looking for the next great hiding spot every time you go out.

Arts and crafts

Start saving up all those loo rolls, cereal boxes, egg cartons and use them to create an amazing world of fun, from egg box crocodiles to cardboard trains they can have hours of fun making these. If you need a little help you can get a free Toucan taster craft box, they send you a different box each month for £3.95 but you can always cancel after the free one arrives go to and enter A1014 at the till to get yours.

So however you cope with the holidays you can do it without spending a fortune.

Farmer time

What you will need

  • Seeds
  • Dirt (you could get compost but if not soil form the garden might do)
  • Empty egg box

What to do

It’s never too late to plant a few interesting things in the garden and kids usually love growing things especially if it means they can eat them later. Cress is great as you can grow it inside or out and it germinates quite quickly. The egg box will absorb water, lessening the “it died “ effect that so often happens as well as when it’s time to plant outside you can simply cut the whole egg cup off the box and plant it, the cardboard will disintegrate but protect the roots long enough for the plant to establish itself.

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