School holidays are fast approaching!

Inexpensive ways to have fun

Whether you are a working parent looking to make the most of your precious time with the children or a full-time mum filling the school holiday period, with a bit of planning and a few inspired ideas, you can make it a holiday to remember that won't break the bank. There are dozens of things to do that won't cost the earth, so here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • embrace what the weather throws at you: get those wellies on and go for a splash around in the puddles!
  • make mud pies together, dig for worms and explore the wildlife in your garden.
  • devise a nature trail where the children have to find certain items such as different coloured /shaped leaves etc.
  • make dens out of sheets or table cloths, use washing lines or clothes props for support.
  • encourage your kids to make a vegetable plot of their own or try growing some herbs from seed.
  • if you don't have much outdoor space, make a mini garden by filling a plant tray with earth and arranging small sprigs of leaves, daisies and grass over the soil. Try using pebbles to make paths and a piece of kitchen foil for a pond.
  • give them a bucket of water and various sized brushes and ask them to "paint" the fence or a picture on the paving stones. The Sun will soon destroy the evidence!
  • have a picnic; indoors if it's cold and wet but venture out to the park if fine and dry.
  • set up an obstacle course in the garden. Use anything to hand like buckets, brushes, chairs, baskets. How fast can they complete the course? Add an extra challenge if they begin to tire.
  • home camping; hang a table cloth over the furniture, add a sleeping bag and a torch and let their imagination do the rest.
  • have a treasure hunt; hide small toys or sweets around the house and give your kids simple clues on how to find them. Let them devise a hunt of their own for younger siblings to puzzle out.
  • set up a home cinema in your living room: close the curtains, rearrange the furniture, make tickets and popcorn before putting on a favourite DVD.
  • play pass the parcel. The kids can do the wrapping with old newspapers and magazines until the parcel reaches a decent size. Maybe they can think of a forfeit to put between each layer like "strut like a chicken" or howl at the moon". The prize could be something tiny like a pencil sharpener or an eraser.
  • the holidays are the perfect time to clear out the toy cupboard and swap items with friends or replace them with finds in the local charity shop. Reintroduce old games which have not been played with for a while.
  • visit your local library and set the kids a reading challenge for the holiday period. Reward them if they complete the challenge within the set time.
  • make pasta jewellery, painting the shapes in different colours or add glitter to the mix.
  • make salt dough with 3 cups of plain flour, 1 cup of salt and 1 cup of water. Add food colouring or glitter to the mixture for variety. Dry out the finished models in a cool oven and varnish.
  • decorate biscuits and buns by mixing icing sugar and water in a bowl. Add sweets and sprinkles.
  • hardboil some eggs and paint with food colouring or nail varnish. Make characters out of them, adding wool for hair and design clothes out of scraps of material. Cut up the egg box and restyle it as furniture for your egg people to sit in.
  • get out some face paints and a mirror and be creative. Add hair bands, clips and bobbles for a whole new look.
  • roll up a sheet of newspaper into a ball and play volleyball over the washing line.
  • go apple bobbing. Float an apple in a bowl of water and ask the kids to try and retrieve it without using their hands. If you don't mind the mess you could repeat the game using a grape in a bowl of flour!
  • children like to earn a bit of extra pocket money so get them to wash the car or weed the garden. Put some music on and get them to bop around as they tidy their rooms. Who has the tidiest room by the end of the song?

Keep the kids out of mischief this summer