Previously holiday breaks during the school term were never a big thing, because I worked from home and had my mornings free, it meant that I was on hand to entertain the kids. We would adventure, we would play, we would explore. Fast-forward a few years and now I’m not at home, I’m in an office, (like 80% of South African mothers), and my “mom guilt” is going into overdrive that my kids are sitting watching TV all day. I now fully understand “holiday clubs” at school.
So, I’ve been thinking…. thinking of activities to set up for the boys that they can play with limited supervision. I’m lucky enough to have a fantastic nanny to take care of them so they can enjoy a bit of a break from school, but, she has other work to do and is not on hand every single second to supervise activities. Enter good old “google”, and I am shocked. Almost all the “holiday activities” designed for children require mom to be around or set up… Scrap that plan. So, I do what I do best and get to thinking of crafts to keep them busy. That’s why I enjoy crafts so much, they stimulate kids but they also don’t require much supervision. So, they can get on with sticking, creating and crafting and everyone else can get on with their work too.
So here is my top 10 list of crafts (Ok there are 11 but I couldnt choose) to keep your kids entertained these school holidays. These do require some forward-thinking mums and dads. Setting up the night before and putting the crafts out, it shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes and are ideally suited to children up to the age of about 7.
Paint and Play Day
Set up some paint and a variety of materials for the kids to paint on and play with. Sponges, brushes, flowers and stamps make great tools for the kids to explore with and play with different texture canvases such as foil, cardboard and bubble wrap. Make sure you place a suitable ground cover down to stop the paint from getting all over your floors.
Create a Collage
Cut up a big piece of cardboard from a leftover box to use as a nice big canvas for little hands. Gather up a variety of items, ribbons, stickers, magazine cut outs, paper doilies, muffin cases, pomp oms, anything your heart desires. Better still I normally do a craft cupboard stock up at CNA before the holidays start. You could get creative and chose specific colours. Kids love nothing more than gluing and sticking. Trust me, it’s a winner every time! Lay out all the materials on a tray for them with the glue and canvas and let them stick to their hearts content.
Create a Scavenger Hunt around the house
Hide a few objects around the house (choose distinctive things or specific pictures). Draw up a list of all the things hidden and tell the kids to go on a treasure hunt! Once they tick everything off their list tell your caregiver he/she can give them a small treat.
Get some good old fashioned air dry clay OR modelling clay. I prefer air dry clay as I can keep their creations forever. You can find this at any stationery store like CNA or your plastic-land/ Westpack stores. Make up a bowl yourself the night before, I often find if I am not there it is easier for my kids to see what to do when they have an example to follow. Ask your caregiver (if you aren’t home) to place down a floor protector and give each child a nice fist sized amount of clay. Let them create to their hearts content and let the final product dry in the sun. Once dry (probably by the time you are home), let them paint it.
I’m pretty sure this is one we have all done before. Surprise them by renting their favourite movie, or download it on Netflix. Layout some blankets and pillows (or a tent if you have one) in the lounge and pre- make some popcorn before you go to work. Let them stay in their PJ’s for the morning and watch their favourite Netflix while snuggling up with some popcorn and hot chocolate.
Create a mini activity centre
This could be done in or outside the house dependent on your situation. Create a “bean bag” toss – put a strip of tape down as the standing line and some “Hoola-Hoops”. The aim is to try and get the bag into the target area. Bowling – If you done have tenpin pins at home grab some paper cups and stack them together in a triangle shape. Using a ball or a bean bag, let your child try to knock down the cups. Golf putting – Simply take a plastic cup to use as your “hole”, the kids must try and put their ball into the cup to sink it. The possibilities are endless here.
Have a baking day
Yes, this is possible, even If you aren’t home. If your caregiver knows how to cook buy some pre- mixes from snowflake or Pillsbury. Easy ones like muffins or brownies. Lay out the ingredients the night before and the kids can mix away and then whoever is home can pop it into the oven. OR if you aren’t comfortable with the “baking” aspect they could ice some Marie Biscuits (Just make up the icing the evening before), or make some Jelly.
Montessori inspired Activities
Have a look at my blog post on my favourite Montessori activities for toddlers around the house. Most of these are independent and allow for easy clean up. Another great “keep busy” one is a good old peg board! Developing those fine motor skills while keeping them focused.
Buy a pack of good old sidewalk chalk from your local stationery store or plastic land. Let them draw their masterpieces wherever they feel free (outside of course). It’s the only time my boys are allowed to draw all over the walls, and the pavement outside. A quick rinse with the hose, or a rain shower will leave absolutely no trace of Picasso’s masterpiece.
Playdough invitation to play trays
My only disclaimer here would be, if your kids are younger and they will be playing partially unsupervised, maybe make your own playdough. I have a super quick recipe here. That way you can have peace of mind that it is non-toxic and “safe” if they decide to swallow a mouthful. Set out the playdough on a tray and put individual items of interest in separate containers around it. You could theme it, for example; construction you could make a brown dough, add in a few toy diggers and some “stones” (fake or real), some sticks and tools. Let them create their own little universe. Alternatively, pre- order some carefully thought out themed packs from party play dough.
Limited supervision required depending on the route you take. I often post up our sensory tray adventures on Instagram and then forget to post them on the blog, so if you are looking for ideas make sure you follow my Instagram account here. Ideas to do could include a winter wonderland (with snow made from Bicarbonate of Soda and white conditioner), an undersea adventure, either made with jelly, cornflour and water or sludge, or an outer space galaxy made with some painted black rice, marbles, stars and figurines.
So there are some activities to get you going, now that I’ve started I have a couple more up my sleeve. Sometimes you just have to write things out a little to get your mind going! I hope I’ve inspired you in some way. The “Mom Guilt” will never subside but we can make ourselves feel a little better.