Whether it’s a rainy day or a lazy day we all find it hard to occupy our children without it costing the earth. Over the last 18 months I have found numerous activities that my children love that are relatively cheap or even free! Here are the top 24 (two per month at least):
Rock painting – pretty self explanatory. It kept my children occupied for over thirty minutes. You can varnish the rocks after they’re dry and keep them on your garden.
Gluing & Sticking – My boys love to use glue. I usually cut out a random animal or mode of transport shape and give them lots of different things to decorate the shape with (dried pasta, foil, lollipop sticks, buttons, sequins etc).
Making a stick man – My children love these. You literally pick some sticks and fasten them together with pipe cleaners or string.
Treasure Hunt – My children love treasure hunts. I draw them a map each and then plant treasure around the house or garden. I use gold coins, or chocolate eggs, but anything will do.
Shaving Foam – My boys love getting messy, so shaving foam is one of their favourite activities. I hide plastic dinosaurs and figures in the foam and make snow mountains. They love it!
They also love clapping their hands together in the foam to create a snow blizzard!
Fruit fondue – Melted chocolate, cubes of fruit, and a blunt skewer. My kids love this!
Decorating eggs – You can use foam eggs or real eggs. My children love painting eggs and hiding them around the garden for each other to find.
Floor doodles – I use a roll of old wallpaper for this, just turn it over. I give my children a tub of markers and chalks and let them draw away. They usually end up drawing a volcano and river and then put their small world figures on there.
Pancake creations – My children love pancakes, and they love making them. I usually lay all the syrups, creams, sauces, marshmallows, sprinkles and fruit out for them to create their own pancake dessert once we’ve made them.
Fun in the tub – My children love waterplay especially bubbles in the bath. Add some funnels and you’ve got an hour of fun!
Make your own popsicles – You can buy these popiscle moulds from discount stores everywhere and they cost next to nothing. We add milk, yoghurt, jelly, candy, and fruit to ours.
Sink waterplay – My two year old loves nothing more than pretending to wash the dishes. He’d stay in there all day if I let him. Plastic dishes and cutlery of course!
Paper plate decorating – Totally self explanatory and so quick and easy too!
Salt dough handprints – My kids love salt dough creations. They love mixing the dough, sculpting with the dough, cooking the dough, and then painting the dough. This activity passes a couple of hours. The recipe I use is literally one cup of plain flour, half a cup of salt, and half a cup of cold water all mixed together then kneaded to a smooth dough. I then cook mine in the microwave once it’s scuplted for around seven minutes but it depends on your microwave. Just check it at three minute intervals until hard and dry. Then cool and decorate.
Printing – My kids love to dip things in paint and print them. You can use anything aswell as real stamps; fruit, toys, sponges.
Tape track – This is so easy and provides hours of fun! I turned my whole lounge into a race track using tape! Laughter and fun galore!
Sock puppets – All you need is a sock, googly eyes and other pieces of fabric or paper to cut into ear shapes etc.
Pizza creations – My children love making pizza for dinner! It gets them involved with their meals too. Just give them a few ingredients to choose from.
Cornflour play – Cornflour mixed with cold water is such a bizarre combination. Have you tried it? It solidifies as you collect it up then turns back into a liquid and runs through your fingers. My children love it. I’m not gonna lie though it is very messy, but worthwhile!
Spoon animals – Old wooden spoons and cut outs of animal ears and noses etc. It keeps my children occupied for ages as they use them for puppet shows after too!
Clothes peg trees – I did this at Christmas time with my kids, but again, you can change the layout and colour to be season appropriate. My children loved making these trees and were so proud we displayed them on the kitchen door.
Salt dough gift tags and hanging ornaments – See salt dough recipe above. We made stars, cars, and gingerbread men here. Don’t forget to punch a hole through each one before cooking so that you can thread ribbon through.
Teddy bears picnic – This idea is such fun. My children constantly ask if we can have a teddy bears picnic. Sometimes we have it in the lounge in our beach shelter!
I hope some of these ideas have inspired you to get creative with your children. You don’t need to be Van Gough or Master Chef! Have a try. Your kids will love them!
We love the story about The Very Hungry Caterpillar in our house we always have, and most likely always will. Over the years we have based so many activities on this story from paintings to taste testing, and this time story stones and play dough.
My six year is becoming an amazing reader, he is fascinated by books, and really gets lost in the story, I love watching him whilst he is reading.
I decided to make some story stones to use alongside The Very Hungry Caterpillar as a way to extend the story further, and to also help my little boy who fidgets quite a lot. I added in some coloured play dough, a piece of bark, and a laminated leaf.
I took a few stones away to aid imagination. I then invited my six year old to come over and read the story with me if he wanted to, he excitedly obliged but told me he would be reading it to me. When he reached a part in the story he thought there should be a stone for, without prompting, he placed the stone in a timeline order.
When he came to a part and there was no stone he decided to use the play dough to make his own interpretation i.e: the little caterpillar, and the leaf he nibbled through.
By the end of the book we had the whole story lined up with story stones and play dough and a beautiful stone butterfly on a piece of bark at the end. He was so proud. It really bought the story alive for him.
This activity is so simple, yet so effective, and my six year old really enjoyed it. This was one of our favorite story themed activities so far, along with our Gingerbread Man activity we did a while ago.
Here’s our ‘stone how-to’:
Or stones were so easy to make, we simply painted on flat grey pebbles with acrylic paint and then once dry we outlined them with a permanent black marker pen. After a few hours to ensure the pen was dry we gave them a coating of matte Modge Podge. We then left them overnight to dry thoroughly. The possibilities are endless with story stones.
This activity is part of the National Reading Month Book Inspired Blog Hop hosted by a wonderful lady called Amy over at Learning and Exploring Through Play. Go take a look at all of the other wonderful ideas to bring books to life.
When your children are under the weather you look for ways to keep them occupied that require a minimal set up and that use the least energy possible for them.
My two boys love cars, and trucks, and trains, and tracks, and roads. They also love making a mess. Today they were both under the weather so I began thinking about what activity we could do to brighten the afternoon that involved some of their favourite things.
After a quick look through my Facebook newsfeed I had a few ideas. I decided to upon a transport themed sensory activity.
I decided on using our puzzle track, 4 different modes of transport, and 4 different items that were very different in appearance and texture. I chose water beads, cotton wool balls, dried animal shaped pasta, and small plastic bottle tops.
The aim of the activity was to fill up your mode of transport with your chosen items and then transport them along the track to the empty plates, and then carefully drop off your load. Along the way we placed stars, and if you managed to get all of your load to it’s destination carefully you were able to claim the star as a reward.
This transport themed sensory activity was a big hit with my two boys, they had so much fun!
I love watching them play, and engage in activities that strengthen their skills without them even realising it.
This activity was so good for their fine motor skills for various reasons; the track was a puzzle and they had to keep rebuilding it, they used scoops of various sizes to manipulate the objects into their chosen mode of transport, and they had to use precise movements in order to get their star reward.
This transport themed sensory activity was also great for their hand-eye co-ordination. They had to plan their route along the track to drop off their objects. They even started counting the objects they had, bringing maths into the activity voluntarily.
They had so much fun, and it is such a versatile activity – you could use anything around your home to recreate this transport themed sensory activity. We will definitely be making this a regular activity in our home!
Why not have a go at creating your own transport themed sensory activity?
We love messy activities in this house.
Here’s a quick photo blog post of our jelly play today.
We went on a bug and sea creature hunt! My two boys really enjoyed themselves! We used a mini beast hunting set, and some measuring scoops too.
We filled some cups and jugs with jelly mix and added our bugs and sea creatures. We set them overnight in the refrigerator. Once they were set we rinsed the outer cup with hot water and poured the contents into a large storage box.
My two boys loved rescuing the bugs and discovering sea creatures. We used scoops, magnifying glasses, tweezers, and bug catchers.
This jelly play activity is great for exploring textures and smells, and is also great for strengthening fine motor skills too. It’s a fun activity, and doesn’t cost very much at all. Why not give it a go?
Over the last 12 months I’ve noticed that Fairy Gardens have become increasingly popular, from tiny fairy doors on trees, to extravagant forests dedicated to our fairy friends.
We’ve visited several places that have had some sort of fairy garden, and it’s always proved a magical experience for my boys.
With all of this in mind I decided to make our own Fairy Garden with them.
Here’s how we made our own Fairy Garden.
We used a large black flower pot for the base, and filled it with heavy stones, and the soil. We visited several cheap, local shops and chose items we thought would look ‘fairy’. We brought wooden border roll, a stone mushroom, a stone mini-log burner, a wooden bird house (which we didn’t end up using), artificial flowers, large stones, small flat pebbles, glitter, scattering gems, a solar light, mini windmills, blue gravel, stone gravel, decorative pegs, a mini gnome, and a tiny wooden flower.
We filled the black flower pot with heavy stones to about halfway and then filled the rest with soil. I used the wooden border roll to create a sloped pathway by filling it in with soil on a gradient. We added artificial flowers at the back and used some blue grass samples to create a ‘magical gem filled pond’. We used blue gravel, blue plastic ice cubes, and scatter gems for our pond. We used some wooden sticks to create a dam at one end of the pond, as requested by my four year old! We also used a green grass sample to place at the bottom of the pathway. I used permanent markers to draw doors and windows onto our mini burner and our mushroom, and added spots for a toadstool effect. We put these at the top of our sloped pathway. We also purchased a fantastic plant marker that we wrote ‘Fairy Garden’ on.
We used our smaller flat pebbles to mark the pathway to the fairy houses, and we placed our solar light in the centre of the houses. We decorated the area with flower pegs, windmills, and a mini wooden flower. We added a gnome and a pot of scattering gems too which my four year old called ‘the fairy treasure’. We filled in the blank pieces of soil with gravel, and then we sprinkled fairy dust over it all (glitter).
Here is our finished Fairy Garden below. My boys absolutely love it, and they keep checking for fairy friends! It was a great addition to our garden, and was a lot of fun making it. You can use anything to make your Fairy Garden, thats the great thing about DIY projects! The only limit is your imagination.
Have a go at your own Fairy Garden and share your pictures with me on Facebook or Twitter, I’d love to see them!
Happy Fairy Garden making!
This post was due to go live on 21st March 2015, but I postponed it after a family emergency. My nan sadly passed away the next day. I’ve decided to dedicate this project to her, and keep this Fairy Garden in her memory. RIP Nanny B xx
My two boys love playing with dinosaurs, and they love making dinosaur lands with volcanoes, and hidden dinosaur bones. They have fantastic imaginations, so I thought I’d make their dinosaur adventures even more exciting today by making their very own dinosaur fossils. This dinosaur activity was a huge hit with them!
We made our fossils by using a basic salt dough recipe that we always use; 1 cup of salt, 1 cup of plain flour, and 3 quarters of a cup of cold water mixed in gradually.
We divided the dough into golf ball size pieces and flattened them out to around 0.5cms in thickness.
My boys then used their plastic dinosaurs to imprint onto the flattened pieces of salt dough. They used the dinosaur tails, feet, bodies, and heads. They also used plastic forks to give the fossils a bone texture too.
We popped the salt dough into the microwave for 4 minutes, and then checked them, they were still a little bit wet so we popped them back in for 30 second bursts until they hardened. We let them cool and then we dabbed a little white and brown paint on them to give them an authentic look.
My boys were so excited to bury the fossils and rediscover them in their self-made dinosaur land in my lounge.
This dinosaur activity is so easy, and very cheap, give it a go!
Here’s our homemade sensory stepping stones activity…
My 4yo is all about textures, he adores soft textures, but cannot stand rough textures, so an activity based around textures is highly beneficial for him. My 2yo just loves making a mess and standing on things he thinks he shouldn’t, so a sensory stepping stones activity sounded right up his street.
I carefully thought about all of the possibilities for the stepping stones, and they were endless. I wanted to use both everyday items, and items that were readily available. I collected together various items and made sure they were safe to step on with bare feet. I wanted my boys to get the most they could out of this experience, and bare footedness would most definitely accomplish this.
I set up two strips of blue coloured material. On one strip I placed A4 squares of fake green grass, two coloured acrylic tiles, two pieces of wood, two ceramic tiles with a 3D patterned metallic finish, porridge oats, and two A6 pieces of brightly coloured fake grass.
On the second strip of blue material I placed two ceramic tiles finished with different 3D metallic patterns, A5 brightly coloured fake grass, A4 green fake grass, A5 piece of oak, several sticks we collected at the park the previous day, an orange acrylic tile, a mirror, cotton wool balls, a silicone Lego mould, silver plastic wrapping, clear plastic packaging, and a large present bow.
I told my boys the blue strip of material was a river and they had to make their way safely across using all of the items as stepping stones. They loved this idea, and took their socks off straight away! It was such a good way to incorporate imaginative play into our activity.
We spoke about the textures of the sensory stepping stones along the way, and asked my boys what each one felt like. They walked along, ran along, tiptoed along, and crawled along. They used their feet and their hands to explore the textures.
The porridge oats stepping stone was a big hit. Both of my boys loved stepping into this, and wriggling their toes around. It soon turned to a game of ‘lets see how far we can kick these oats’! Boys will be boys!
After walking down the first strip several times my 4yo decided to rearrange the sensory stepping stones himself, and they both then walked up and down the arrangement several times, and then they crawled up and down it! This let them both practise their balancing skills too – they didn’t want to fall into the ‘water’!
My boys then moved onto the next strip of blue material. They loved stepping into the sticks, and they were even more delighted about them being the sticks they had collected at the park the day before. My 2yo loved standing on the plastic packaging and hearing it crunch under his feet – he loves anything that seems mischievous, and this certainly sounded it!
The present bow sensory stepping stone was also very popular with my 2yo. He loved the feel of it on his feet and the crunching noise it made.
As they made their way through the sensory stepping stones they then went back to explore each one. The cotton wool turned into ‘snow’, and then we had a snowball fight – initiated by my 4yo of course! A huge plastic T-Rex was placed onto the sticks sensory stepping stone, the pieces of wood were piled high, and the mirror was used to pull faces into!
We loved this activity, and would recommend sensory stepping stones to everybody with children. It is such a versatile activity in terms of setup too. It is also good for their senses, their balance, their agility, and their imaginative play – the possibilities are endless. And the best thing about this activity is that you can use anything you want for your sensory stepping stones – next time we are going to try an edible sensory stepping stones activity!
Give it a go!
Welcome to our Christmas activity based on some of the lyrics from the Christmas song The Twelve Days of Christmas.
Today’s activity is for the sixth day of Christmas; Six Geese A-Laying. We decided on a treasure hunt activity. My boys love treasure hunts, even at Christmas.
‘Six Geese A-Laying’ Treasure Hunt!
I wanted to keep the hunt simple, yet educational and fun. I decided to concentrate on the number six and emphasise it throughout the activity. I chose four items that related to the lyrics of the song for day six, and collected six of each item: 6 feathers, 6 egg shapes, 6 number sixes, and 6 geese.
I quickly made a treasure hunt tick list for my boys and a fake map. I also provided them with pirate fancy dress, which I knew they’d love; hats, cutlasses, and eye patches. I then hid all of the above items around the downstairs of our home.
I sat down with my boys and asked them if they’d like to go on a very special treasure hunt. They squealed with excitement. I explained to them the theme and introduced them to a wonderful book on The Twelve Days of Christmas. We counted each gift for each day, and then we read Day Six again. I told them our treasure hunt was for things related to day six.
I asked them if they could name each item on their tick chart, and I explained they had to find six of each item and tick or cross a box on their charts. They were so excited, and loved finding the “treasure”. I made them work as a team too; we are trying to teach them the importance of considering each other at the moment.
My boys absolutely loved this activity. I thought it was a great twist on the Christmas Activity ideas we see every year. I’d recommend it to everyone! It cost very little too, yet kept them entertained for a long time, it even included mathematics! Give it a try, you’re kids will love it!