Fun in the house and garden
Here are a few ideas on how to have fun in the garden and the home.
Go on a Mini Beast Safari
At this time of year, all kinds of mini beasts are out and about in our gardens and yards – such as bees, butterflies, spiders, worms and woodlice. So why not set up a mini-beast safari, where you find and identify (but not touch or capture) these fascinating creatures?
If you have a camera on your phone, you can take pictures to study later, or the more artistic of your children may like to get drawing. You can find great, downloadable ‘spotting sheets’ for UK wildlife here They are helpfully sorted by season and habitat. If you want to provide a place for your bugs to live in, see ‘Build a Bug Hotel’ below.
Make Modelling Dough
Young children can be entertained for hours if they have modelling dough, as they have amazing imaginations and the possibilities for their creations are endless. If you don’t have any, it’s easy to make your own. The following will make one coloured ball – just multiply to make as much as you need:
- 8 tbsp plain flour
- 2 tbsp table salt
- 60ml warm water
- Food colouring
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
You may want to get your kids involved for this stage:
Mix your dry ingredients (flour and salt) in a large bowl. In a separate bowl mix your wet ingredients (water, a few drops of food colouring and the oil).
Pour the water mix into the flour mix and stir with a spoon to combine.
Dust a work surface with a little flour and turn out the dough. Knead together for a few minutes to form a smooth, pliable dough. If you want a more intense colour you can work in a few extra drops of food colouring.
To stop your dough from drying out, keep it in a plastic bag (squeeze out the air) in the fridge.
Make a Bird Feeder
Spending more time at home has given us the time to really appreciate the nature around us. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has provided instructions to make your own bird feeder, so that you can not only spend fun time with the kids and help the local wildlife, but also recycle plastic containers. All you need to make one is:
- Plastic drinking bottle
- A yoghurt pot or milk carton.
- Wire or string.
- Bird seed.
For step by step instructions of what to do, please click here. If you need help to identify the birds you see, the RSPB’s bird identifier lists 408 species of birds found in the UK, including some rare overseas visitors.
Build a Bug Hotel
A bug hotel is the gift that keeps on giving. Not only can you have fun making it together, but your kids will be able to see if any new guests have checked in each day. We have provided instructions to make a very simple bug hotel that requires easily found materials and no cutting or drilling tools, but if you feel more ambitious, there are plenty of online tutorials you can watch for inspiration. All you need is:
- A large plastic bottle cut into half (so that the top and the bottom become two cylinders to make bug hotels).
- Pine cones.
- Anything else you can find in your garden, after all you’re looking to attract bugs from that environment.
All you have to do now is pack everything you’ve collected tightly into your two cylinders (snap twigs to make them fit snugly), making nooks and crannies for bugs and beetles to hide in. You can then lie it on the ground and wait for your first guests to arrive.
Make an Indoor den
Making an indoor den is an activity that requires no special equipment and can deliver hours of fun. You can make a basic tent by draping sheets, tablecloths, towels or blankets over the back of a sofa, armchairs, or a table. It can be secured with books, cans of food, etc. Your den can then be furnished with pillows, duvets, blankets and sleeping bags. Fun things to take in include a phone to take photos, a radio and books.
Garden Obstacle Course
If you have young kids bursting with energy, you may wish to put together an obstacle course. They’ll find it great fun. Use any play equipment you have and try to mix up different skills – balance, agility, speed etc to keep things interesting – and to give everyone the opportunity to be good at something. Good obstacles include:
- Ladder run (a ladder laid flat on the lawn): bunny hop or run through it.
- Hula Hoop: pick up the hula hoop and do a couple of full spins.
- Skipping rope: either complete a number of skips, or, if it’s placed flat on the floor, walk along it like a tightrope.
- Leopard crawl: crawl on your belly underneath a bedsheet stretched out on the grass (similar as how cargo nets are used in traditional assault courses).
- Throw a ball/s into a bucket (the balls can be different sizes and the bucket further away for different abilities).
- Egg and spoon challenge: Get from A to B without dropping the egg.
- If the weather is hot, include water, which is always a winner. From apple bobbing, to running through a paddling pool to making a water slide with water and tarpaulin (with a little washing up liquid to make it slippy).
Exercises that work well in small spaces include jumping jacks, sit ups, press ups and in larger spaces, you can do cartwheels and forward rolls.
- Make the first obstacle the easiest.
- Explain the rules and ideally give a demonstration so the kids know what’s expected
- Give the race a ‘proper’ start, either by shouting ready, steady, go! Or by a countdown and blowing a whistle.
- Be supportive: Make sure you shout encouragement and clap and get the early finishers to do the same (as well as any other spectators).
- Tidy up. When the game is over, get the kids to help you tidy everything away.
Don’t forget to give your garden a safety check for unintended obstacles, such as holes and sharp edges. Finally, don’t forget the all-important drinks station.
If you have any great ideas about entertaining your kids that you’d be happy to share with other parents, why not share them with us on Facebook? You can find us here.