50 ideas to entertain your kids this summer as lockdown eases
This year the school summer holidays might not be quite the same as they usually are.
But don’t panic…we’ve got 50 cheap and easy ideas to keep everyone entertained over the summer holidays, come rain or shine (hopefully there will be more of the shine!).
If you do want to get out and about locally for summer days out you can find those here. But if you are at home and to have some fun and create summer holiday memories then we’ve have got you covered. We’ve come up with 50 ideas using resources you will already have at home, or could easily get your hands on…keeping down the cost too.
The ideas are split into categories, just use the links below to jump to a section that interests you:
Spray Paint Silhouette Art – I’d suggest the garden for this one although we did manage to stay relatively paint free! You will need an empty spray bottle (we used an empty fabric freshener bottle) or a garden spray bottle. We then put some water and a squirt of paint inside and gave it a good shake. Cut out some card templates (shapes/letters/characters etc) and stick them onto paper (temporarily, so blue tack works well), then mount the paper on a surface you don’t mind getting messy. Aprons on then spray!! The result looks better with just a few squirts (less is more) but obviously that’s not as much fun so we had to have a few goes!! The kids were really excited when we peeled off the templates and they could see the result.
Paper Spinner – I remember making one of these when I was little. You cut out a circle of thick-ish card (we drew round a small bowl to get the shape). Then draw round 2 other circle on paper. Cut out the 3 circles and decorate the 2 paper ones. Glue the paper circles onto either side of the card. Make 2 holes (adult required, I used a kebab stick) then thread through some string in a loop and tie a knot (approx 80cm of string, but so the loop is a reasonable size to hold comfortably between hands). Then get spinning! Experiment with different patterns for different effects. (google paper spinner to see some in spinning action).
Bubble Painting – Who doesn’t love bubbles?! This is one for either outside, or you may want to put a tablecloth down if doing it inside! There’s a couple of ways to approach this. Either put some paint mixture into the bubble mix and blow the bubbles down towards the paper so they pop and leave patterns (see our photo). You could also put some bubble mixture & paint in a tray/dish and use a straw to create bubbles. Then lie on a piece of paper on top of the bubbles for a moment and you will have created a bubble print.
Edible Jewellery – We used strawberry laces and some colourful loop cereal (cheerio’s / chocolate hoops would work well too). A great activity for progressing fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination! I was needed to tie the knots but other than that the kids managed to do this activity independently and really enjoyed it. Be prepared for lots of eating as they make, mine just couldn’t resist…. Oh and also for finding cereal all over the house when they snap them later! Have fun!
ButterflySuncatcher – We made a butterfly but really there’s no limit on what you make. First, draw a butterfly shape and then cut out the centre of the wings. Cut strips (or different shapes) of tissue paper (we only had blue but multicoloured would look great) then glue them to the back of the butterfly. Once complete trim around the edges to neaten it up. The once dry display in a window and enjoy.
Spray Silhouette painting
5 Water Play Ideas
Bubble Bathin the Paddling Pool – Just a bit of bubble bath can make the paddling pool experience feel totally different, special and exciting! My girls used the opportunity to bath the dinosaurs, but i’m sure dolly or the barbies would have loved a foam party too. Expand the experience to a create a little car wash (just check first the cars are ok with having a bath – our happyland cars have been washed a few times and coped just fine).
Ice Play – Freeze some plastic animals in a block of ice (we used penguins, dolphins, crocodiles, polar bears and dinosaurs) and have the little ones use different tools/objects to try and rescue them! We used a silicone cake mould with the animals in to create the frozen block for them to chip away at, but you could also fill a balloon with water and an animal to freeze to make frozen eggs. Perfect for garden play on a hot day and if they are struggling to set the animals free then they can just put in in a sunny spot and watch the sun melt it away.
Water Balloon Fight / Water Pistols – We had water pistols at home, so we got them out and filled up on a sunny day. Building some areas to hide behind make the game more interesting. You could also create some targets for them to shot, if shooting each others ends in arguments! If you don’t have water pistols you could use water balloons or even sponges. Have a towel and spare changes of clothes at the ready. Ideal for a sunny day when the paddling pool is out and the kids are already in their swim gear.
Paint the Fence with Water – use a paint brush or roller – Kids love doing the things they aren’t allowed to do right?! Painting the fence is normally an adult job and whilst it seems boring to us, it’s apparently an enviable task! Fill up a bucket of water and get the kids painting the fence using brushes and rollers. It keeps them busy and happy and when the sun comes out it looks just as it did before they started, no cleaning up necessary, bonus!
Outdoor Kitchen Play – Get lots of water to fill cups/bottles and pans. Lots of pouring practice. We added some cereal and pasta to mix up a gooey mess! Don’t forget to have them do the alfresco washing up afterwards!
Bubble bath in the paddling pool
Fence water painting
Outdoor kitchen play
5 Nature activities
Nature Art – Get gathering on those walks out (take a little bag) so you can bring home some sticks, stones, leaves etc to do some nature art. We made a stock dinosaur and a nature fairy (see photos below dinosaur and hungry caterpillar)
Make a Nature Mandala – A mandala is a circular geometric pattern. The designs are found on wallpaper, in colouring books, all over! A little twist is, instead of drawing one, make one out of natural objects you can find. Ours was made using sticks and stones but you could use petals/leaves, anything you can find really!
Seed Starter – Collect up some tins and egg cartons and get the kids planting some seeds. They will need to remember to water each day and can enjoy watching them grow. It’s a great way to teach them the gardening basics and a chance to venture into the ever-popular world of growing your own food.
Make a Nature Crown – First cut out the crown shape ideally with some thick paper (lining/wallpaper is perfect) then attach the flowers/leaves. There are various ways to do this depending on the sorts of items collected, but in our photo, they were glued on then secured with a ribbon. It’s easier to decorate on a flat piece of paper then once all secured use a stapler to fasten the crown into shape.
Fairy Den – A lovely little project using bits found in the garden (or after a walk through the park/woods). It has to be cosy to tempt a fairy to want to move in!
Hungry Caterpillar leaf picture
5 Things to Make or Do with a Cardboard Box
We’ve had 3 lockdown birthdays in our house which resulted in a few Amazon deliveries, so a fair few cardboard boxes! With children to entertain they simply couldn’t go out in the recycling! Here are a few of our cardboard creations:
Mini /Crazy Golf – Go as ‘crazy’ as you like with your creations, we even had a little windmill! You will need little markers for your course (flags) but you can have as few or as many as you wish (until you run out of toilet rolls and boxes!).
A Car – One for the bigger boxes. We used a paper plate for a steering wheel. Don’t forget you will need a registration plate to be roadworthy and some bright colours for the sides.
An Aquarium – When the kids next ask for a pet, treat them to this low maintenance one. Use a box for the main frame, then use ribbon or string to hang different fish or other sea creatures. You could use playdoh or pipe cleaners to create seaweed and other items you might find at the bottom of the sea.
A Dolls House – If they are in lockdown, at least make them a nice house to enjoy it in! Collect or order some carpet and wallpaper samples to make your dolls house the envy of all her friends!
A Pizza Oven – Perfect for the budding chef. Cut a fold-down door shape in the side of the box. Save that piece of cardboard to make a pizza peel/shovel to get the pizza in/out of the oven. Decorate a couple of pieces of paper with fire (use pens/crayons or paint) and then stick these at the back of the oven. Draw a few bricks around the edge of the opening. We had a wooden pizza ready to cook, but if not you could make one out of paper plates and some felt pens.
Other ideas (for when we find another cardboard box!) include a castle, a boat, a rocket, a puppet theatre, a marble run or flatten it and make a car road map.
Mini Golf – complete with little flags
Mini Golf – complete with little flags
5 Garden Games & Activities
Beach Ball Challenges – Write on challenges depending on where your hands land when you catch the ball eg bark like a dog, do some starjumps, sing a song, count to 50 etc we got a ball for under £2 and just used felt tip which rubs off when you are finished playing.
Floor Chalk Games – Chalk can be used to design all sorts of games to play. Draw a wiggly line and play follow the line, design a chalk maze, write instructions eg spin / tiptoes, do a hopscotch and more.
Balloon Tennis – Replace bats with pool noodles or fly swatters and balls with balloons. A fun games for all ages, involving lots of jumping around and giggles.
Fly a Kite – If you don’t already have a kite, there’s no excuse (sorry) you can make one!!! Follow the Cbeebies instruction video HERE.
Camp in the Garden – Whether you had plans to go camping this summer or not. Whether you are expert campers or complete beginners, why not give camping in the garden a go?! It’s a great way to test out the tent, whilst having all the amenities close by. If the kids change their mind, or it gets too cold, you can just abort and sleep inside instead! We are not fully equipped for a camping expedition just get, so we put up our beach tent in the garden and the kids spent most of the day in there, reading, playing and eating lunch. They did ask to sleep in it too (I’ve put them off for now!).
Beach Ball Challenges
Fly a kite (or 2!)
5 Themed Days
Ok, so we’ve given you 17 to choose from!!! There will hopefully be at least 5 that the kids fancy doing and that you have the necessary equipment for.
Fairground Fun – Play some DIY fairground games e.g. Tin can alley, hook a duck in the paddling pool, higher or lower card guessing game, pin the tail on the donkey/horn on the unicorn, Bucket Ball Game, Ring Toss, How many sweets in a jar and a penny toss. Take a virtual rollercoster ride HERE. Make doughnuts if you are feeling adventurous!
Sports Day – So the school sports day didn’t happen this year, but you could run your own. You could do an egg & spoon race, running, jumping, skipping, a sack race (use a pillow case), trampolining, star jumps or an obstacle course. Don’t forget to do some certificates or medals for taking part!
Spa Day – Fancy a pamper day? Put on some calming music or a nice film. Do some face masks with cucumber on those eyes. How about a foot soak while you read a magazine? Then there’s hand/foot massage followed by nail painting! Sounds like a lovely day!
Have a Bake Off – Cakes, buns, brownies, bread, flapjacks, biscuits or tarts! Get baking! Check out the BBC website for lots of different recipes, ranging from nice and simple to the more complex. It’s a great life skill for the whole family to develop at this time.
Memory Maker / Memento Day – Take some time to capture the families memories of the strange times we’ve had recently. Ideas include: Handprint/Footprint Art, timeline books, photo albums, salt dough handprints or make a time capsule (click HERE for the Mumbler template).
Or pick a topic from the Mumbler topic timetable with lots of fun activities and resources to use alongside. The topics include:
Dinosaurs, Pizza & Pasta, Elephants, Space, Mexico, Theatre, Butterflies, London, The Human Body, Under the Sea, Vikings, Transport
Spa Day – cucumber required!
5 Picnic Ideas
Who doesn’t love a picnic?! It turns lunch into an adventure and all the crumbs stay outside which is a bonus! With lots of sunny weather coming (fingers crossed!) picnics could be a regular occurrence, so it’s nice to have some ways to shake it up a bit with some different themes.
Fancy Dress – A picnic fit for a prince or princess or Darth Vader or Peppa Pig, whoever they fancy dressing up as really!
Teddy Bears picnic – Gather all the teddies and sit alongside them to enjoy lunch. Read a story together (it has to be ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ surely).
Colour Themed Picnic – Pick a colour and theme your clothes and the picnic food (as much as you can!) in that colour. We went for red, so had: Jam sandwiches, red apples, strawberries, red pepper, raspberry yoghurt and hula hoops (the packet is red!!).
Breakfast Picnic – Why not have a lazy morning and do breakfast picnic style in your pjs! This could be indoors if it isn’t quite warm enough outside yet. Get the blanket out and have a few options for breakfast: toast, pancakes, cereals, eggy bread. Yum!
Black Tie Picnic – We’ve had a fair few events cancelled recently so haven’t had the chance to wear our party dresses for a while! The kids grow quickly so it’s nice to let them wear their pretty things before they are outgrown. Why not prepare an afternoon tea style picnic/party tea for this one and get some party music playing.
Fancy Dress Picnic
Teddy Bear Picnic
Colour Themed Picnic
5 Indoor Games & Activities
Memory Game – An oldie but a goodie. Gather 15 (or more or less!) smallish items and put them on a tray. Allow the players 1 minute to look at the tray to remember the items. Ask the players to turn away while you remove an item and the players have to guess what is missing. After a while to make it harder, remove an item and then rearrange all the other items on the tray too.
Scavenger hunt – Hide items to find inside on a theme e.g. toy cars or send the kids into the garden with a list of bugs and plants to find.
Origami – Easy to do, only a pen and paper required (oh and some patience). Click HERE for some BBC instructions for how to make a frog, dog and butterfly (see photo for our dog attempt).
Hair braiding/plaiting – Youtube is your friend here. There’s thousands of tutorial videos for hair braiding, hairstyles and plaiting. We used some threads to create some hair braids (see photo). We cut the thread (4 strands) about 3 times the hair length, then tied in a knot at the top, then wrap, wrap, wrap! There’s a couple of little techniques to create the patterns but they are easy to learn and the kids were really pleased with the result. If you don’t have any threads at home then why not try learning to plait, french plait or to do a dutch braid? Once you’ve cracked it, it’s a skill you will have forevermore!
Guess the Drawing – Player A should sit with a pen and paper, player B sits behind them with their paper leaning on player A’s back. Player B should then slowly start to draw a picture and player A needs to try to feel what is being drawn and draw it onto their piece of paper. This creates some comedy results!
5 Summer Food Ideas to prepare with the kids
Yoghurt Ice lollies – A quick easy one. We did this recently when I realised we had run out of actual ice lollies and it was going to be a really hot day. Get a yoghurt (the small kids fromage fraise work well), pierce a small slit in the top and slot in a “stick”. We used the middle of a calpol syringe as we have lots and that worked well. Reusable too. Pop in the freezer and a few hours later you have your lollipop!
Rainbow Fruit Lollies – Choose whichever fruit you would like to use. We used green – Kiwi, purple – blackberries, orange – orange, red – strawberries. Other good options are banana, mango, blueberries, raspberries, orange juice. You could add some honey to some of the fruits if needed. Then simply blend the first fruit with a tablespoon of water, pour a small layer in the lolly mould and put it in the freezer. Leave for 30-45mins to start to set then carefully pour in the next blended fruit and so on. Don’t forget to pop your lolly stick in before the layers set too hard! When complete freeze for 4 hours or overnight. Good luck 🙂
Fruit smoothies – A sneaky way to get lots of fruit into the kiddies. Our recipe consists of oats, bananas, peanut butter, milk and ice. You can just use what you have in the house though. Frozen berries work well and are lovely on a hot day, or have some ice cubes to hand to throw in. A nice refreshing treat and an ice lolly alternative to cool down.
Fun fruit – We made a strawberry and bananas lizard. Simple but effective, just slice the fruit in half and place in position. We used satsuma peeling for his legs and arms. A simple satsuma snail went down well too. If you are feeling adventurous google ‘animal-shaped fruit platters’ and you can have hours of fun! Be warned, my daughter fell in love with her lizard “he’s too cute to eat”, she took a lot of persuading to gobble him up.
Chocolate BBQ Bananas – Cut the banana down the middle lengthways, stuff with chocolate buttons or a broken up flake, wrap in foil and sit in bbq coals. Yummy!!!!
Rainbow fruit lollies
Strawberry & banana lizard
Slice the banana lengthways
And if you do want to head out this Summer you an find lists of attractions that are open, days out and places to visit on the School Summer Holidays section.Have a fabulous Summer!!
Thanks to my good friend at York Mumbler for putting a lot of these ideas together!