(Yep... affiliate links are included which means, if you buy through me, I get some coffee money ... though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
It’s something that, I know, some mothers and grandmas dread. The date is carefully marked on the calendar. The weeks are counted off. The gloom settles in … it’s school holiday time.
I’ve always loved them. I know, though, that its not easy when you have work commitments and other responsibilities to factor in. But still, I love being surrounded by the kids’ energy and excitement.
School holidays can become expensive seasons of the year, too, if you send children to holiday camps or programs. But you can spare the expense, build some family memories, and enjoy some wonderful family activities with these simple activities. I’ve included nine, simple, family, fun activities but there are more in my next book, available soon. What’s more… most of these ideas are inexpensive and use items from your home.
I’ve included a downloadable cheatsheet file, sort of a checklist, so that you can plan head.
1. Create an Obstacle Course
This just sounds like too much work.. I know, but it’s really not. First, you’ll need to plan whether you’ll hold this outdoors or inside. Then, check out what objects you have that can be used for this activity. For example, you might have little more than some paper streamers. Great! Tape the streamers down your hallway at different heights and angles. The kids will love to try and negotiate the maze of streamers stepping over or crawling under without breaking any, especially if you give them a time to best.
You can do an activity obstacle course. Everyone has to progress through stations of the course and do various quick tasks like.. jump 5 times, crawl under a chair, throw and catch a ball 5 times.
If you have boxes or hoops, kids love to crawl through things or jump into or over things. Pool noodles, cardboard boxes, even washing baskets are wonderful, too for this type of activity. You’ll be surprised just how many items you already have that can be included in an obstacle course.
Remember, it adds more excitement if you have some sort of prize or reward for anyone who manages to negotiate the course within a particular timeframe.
Check out this site for stacks of other Obstacle Course ideas.
2. Hold a ‘Minute to Win it’ Competition
First, the best thing about this type of competition is that anyone can win. You don’t need to have any particular skill or expertise for these competitions, not even dad.
8And again, there is a time factor so there’s no time to get bored. You don’t have to try and get someone ‘out’ or wait until everyone’s finished. Each person has only one minute to try and complete the task and that adds real pressure on whoever is attempting the task.
Second, the tasks aren’t daunting. Success is often more a surprise than skilful ability. For example, you might have to move an Oreo from your forehead to your mouth without using your hands; or perhaps, bounce a pingpong ball so that it sticks to a slice of bread and peanut butter.
There are plenty of suggested games to include in this competition readily available and even a printable party pack with ideas, scoresheets and decorations. Obviously, choose tasks that will appeal to the ages and abilities of your kids. And since this is such a wacky competition, it would be equally exciting to have an out-there type of prize for the winner- like a weird hat or special cup or mug like the example below:
3. Blow Bubbles
Now, although blowing any sort of bubbles is great fun for kids, there are many other ideas for bubbles that are just super-terrific.
First of all, bubbles can be the basis of a whole stack of party games. They may be simple but you’d be surprised how much fun they can be. Try keeping the bubbles in the air by blowing from beneath. See who can blow bubbles and stack them on top of each other. Pop a bubble without using your hands is fun to try and amusing to watch. Find even more ideas..
How about bubbles that glow in the dark? Or…. try your hand at making square bubbles. You can blow bubbles with a bunch of straws, a hula hoop, even a water bottle. Who knew bubbles could be so versatile?
Then, you can try to make the biggest bubble imaginable. All you need are some simple ingredients (water, dishwashing detergent, corn starch, baking powder and glycerine) and you can find the instructions here.
You can also use bubbles to create art. Find the instructions here. How about some bubble dough?
4. Make Paper Planes
I don’t know about you, but most people I know have their own tried and true paper plane design. How about testing your design against your kids’ paper plane designs? But maybe they haven’t made their own or experienced a paper plane competition.
There are plenty of ideas to get you and your kids started and it’s a lot of fun. Once you’ve made a few, hold a competition to see which plane design flies the farthest or, perhaps, can do a loop. You might try to determine which plane can go through a hoop or under the washing line.
Once everyone has flown their plane and you’ve awarded the best and greatest awards for the various plane designs, why not relax with a big bowl of popcorn and watch the movie ‘Paper Planes’. It’s a wonderful family movie and will probably inspire your kids to try some more paper plane designs. Here are some to get you started.
Flying Fox Paper Plane. Basic Dart Paper Plane. World’s Best Paper Plane. Chinook (easy design) Clipper
5. Go on a Scavenger Hunt
Whether you plan to hold your scavenger hunt in your backyard, indoors, at the beach or at a park, it can be a lot of fun for everyone. You won’t need to take the whole day for this activity but it’s surprising just how much time this activity will occupy.
You need to plan a few things beforehand (printed list of items to find, a bag each to carry everything they find, marker, water and snacks are a good idea, too) but it doesn’t need to be too involved. And… there are plenty of resources already available to help with this fun activity.
Think beyond the box for your scavenger hunt. How about a colour scavenger hunt or maybe a texture hunt? A photo scavenger hunt is a lot of fun, too. The kids will need to take a photo of the found item, which adds a lot of interest especially if they’re required to do something special for the photo: find a brown leaf and take a photo of it balanced on your nose etc
If your kids are a little older, add a level of difficulty with cryptic or magic clues. A treasure hunt is another option, too.
You might decide to have an evening scavenger hunt. After all, kids love to use a torch/flashlight. Remember, little ones will need someone to hold their hand for this one.
And… if you’re rained in, you can still have a scavenger hunt… how about a movie scavenger hunt?
You’ll find even more ideas and resources to get you started here.
6. Enjoy a Tea Party
This probably sounds like the sort of thing that would only appeal to the girls… and you’d be mistaken.
The art of tea drinking is experiencing a revival and many people are enjoying it. And your kids will, too. After all, they’re usually happy for anything that relates to food. And there are so many different tea accessories, brewing tools and tea flavours that the boys spend as much enjoyment mixing and trying flavours and recipes as the girls.
If you’re not sure what you could serve for your tea party, there are plenty of food options and some fruity tea ideas, too. Check out the Ultimate Guide to a Memorable Tea Party for more ideas.
7. Devise a Secret Family Handshake
Devising a secret family handshake isn’t just a fun activity, though it’s certainly that. It’s also great for developing memory and coordination. You can choose and learn some handshakes or you can come up with your own family handshake– even more fun.
It’s probably a good idea to start with some handshakes that others have come up with and then take it from there. And you don’t need to stick to just using your hands. Include other body parts as well- head, shoulders, elbow, knee.
Try it… the kids will love it. And… there’s no prep required for this one.
8. Go Star-Gazing
Naturally, this is one activity that you’ll have to do at night.. exciting! Yes, by all means, the kids can bring their torches/flashlights. But they really need to switch them off once they lie down to view the night sky. Bring along something to lie down on comfortably. And yes, you can do it in your own backyard. But remember, you’ll see the stars more clearly when you’re away from the city lights and if you’re in an elevated area. Winter is best. And check the cycle of the moon. A beautiful moon-lit night is not best for star-gazing.
It’s great if you have a telescope but kids will be just as happy with a cheap set of binoculars. You can buy star charts to help you locate constellations but you can also download an app like Star Chart. Just aim your smartphone at the stars and the app will tell you what you’re looking at. It takes some extra planning, but you could also play some star theme related music while you’re watching to set the mood.
There are more ideas to add to the fun.. printable constellation guides, star gazing crafts, cardboard constellation viewers and more… and don’t forget to include some snacks.
If you’re star-gazing at home, you could also set up your fire-pit and toast marshmallows to conclude the evening.
9. Create a Backyard Waterpark
You only need to say the words ‘waterpark’ and the kids will be clamouring to help you. But again, this can be as simple or elaborate as you’d like to make it. (Let’s face it… if you can involve dad, it will become increasingly complex, but loads of fun… so try and involve his help.) Of course, my grandsons are happy if I just fill a couple of buckets with water!
But you can do so much more. Set up special water activity stations so that the kids can rotate round.
Spongy stepping stones: Fill small rectangular containers with water and big sponges. The ones you use for washing the car work well. You can add some food colouring, if you like, for added interest. Line up the containers so that the kids can easily step from one to the next. They’ll love the squishy feel as they splash through these stepping stones.
Water tightrope: Position a plank of wood on a couple of bricks. (If you have little ones, just leave it flat on the ground.) Fill a small pail with water. Ask the kids to try and walk across the plank with the container of water held above their heads.
Water balloon Piñata: Fill a oversized container with water balloons. (You’re going to need quite a few- kids love them.) Fortunately, the Bunch of Balloons Instant Water Fill works so well! Suspend the water balloons from an elevated structure or from trees. Your kids can try to jump up and break the water balloon.. which, of course, will splash all over them- what fun!
Water balloon dodgeball: Yep, you’re going to need more of those water balloons. This version is so much more fun that normal dodgeball and won’t hurt. If fact, your kids will hope that you can hit them with these water balloons.
Water slide: Sure, you can buy one of these and set it up. But it’s just as easy to lay out a long piece of heavy duty plastic and set up the hose so that the water runs down the length of the plastic. Strangely, kids don’t need much instruction about how to use this.
Now, if you’re really adventurous or creative (or if dad is happy to help out) you might like to consider these more elaborate waterpark features.
I think, if you present any or all of these fun activities for your kids, you’ll have no trouble enticing them away from their devices. And there’ll be no complaints that ‘they’re bored!’ Instead you’ll find that they’ll be clamouring for more. I think, too, that you’ll look forward to weekends or holidays with the whole family enjoying these simple fun, and memorable ‘moments that matter’.
Find and download it here or below: Kids activities cheatsheet
Previously published on My Grandma's Place May 13, 2017
“Guess what, Nan? We’re coming to stay at your place..It’s so exciting !”
“I know, I know. I can hardly wait.”
Following hard on the heels of the pleasure and excitement I felt at my granddaughter’s words was the thought, ‘How am I going to make this visit special?’ ‘What can I do that will create lasting memories?’
(Yep… affiliate links are included which means that, at no additional cost to you, if you buy through me I get some coffee money …though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
If, like me, you’ve gone with the whole down-sizing your home you might not have too much space for full-on, energetic kids. Don’t panic! Regardless of the size of your home, or whether it sits on acres of land or has a postage-sized patio, you can still plan non-stop adventures and fun for your pint-sized visitors.
Choose any of the suggestions below to create a shared time with your grandkids that everyone will long remember. Simple activities shared together can become real ‘moments that matter’ in the memories of your grandkids.
When do your grandkids plan to arrive?
Are they going to stay for just one night or more?
Will they arrive morning or afternoon?
No matter how long they plan to stay, you'll find plenty of fun ideas to keep them busy and happy.
So, let's begin with some morning activities.
After dinner fun
The fun doesn’t have to stop just because it’s getting dark and almost time for bed. Check out these ideas:
Where are they going to sleep?
If you have a spare bedroom with sufficient beds, that’s great. If not, inflatable mattresses on the floor can be lots of fun. Add plenty of soft pillows and covers.
A small tent is another option and you can position it inside or on your patio or decking. I’ve found that most kids creep back inside after about an hour of outdoor camping so be prepared.
Don’t feel that you have to attempt everything on the list. Choose those suggestions that appeal to you or your grandkids.
Although these are simple ideas that don’t take too much preparation or planning, you’ll find that they are ‘moments that matter.’ Your grandkids will talk about this time with you often and with enjoyment. And I hope you’ll enjoy their visit, too.
Oh.. and don't forget to take photos!
A free checklist is available to download below…
Your checklist to preparing a wonderful sleepover. Just click on the image to download,.
DISCLOSURE: I may be an affiliate for products that I recommend or link to. If you purchase those items through my links I will earn a commission. You will not pay more when buying a product through my link. In fact, ofttimes, I'm able to negotiate a lower rate (or bonuses) not available elsewhere.
Plus, when you order through my links, it helps me to continue to offer you lots of free stuff.
Thank you, in advance, for your support.
Help your family discover the Light of Christmas in a new way!
(Yep... affiliate links are included which means, if you buy through me, I get some coffee money ...
though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
Every year, Christmas seems to arrive in the stores earlier than you expect. Beautiful Christmas displays appear mid-October, Christmas gift ideas fill store catalogues, and glittering ornaments are hung in the specially created Christmas-theme areas.
And that's fine... although I never seem ready for Christmas despite the early reminders and displays. But the Christmas proclaimed in the department stores and shopping centres is not the Christmas that's important to me. And it's not the legacy of Christmas that, by and large, I want for my family. It doesn't reflect the humble stable of the Saviour's birth or the gift of that first Christmas.
The store-bought Christmas is filled with music and joy and fun and feasting and unwrapping endless gifts. I want to help my family unwrap the real joy of Christmas. And I believe that families, like mine, can hear the Christmas story in a new way using creative family-focused devotions.
So I looked at just five such devotional resources and you can check them out, too, below:
So.. first up..
1. All the Colours of Christmas Advent Calendar
Focus on th Family has produced a beautiful Advent colouring and devotional book. It will help you focus on the anticipation, preparation and celebration of Jesus' birth.
The ongoing enthusiasm for colouring by all ages means the your whole family can be involved.
You'll find beautifully detailed colouring pages with peel-and-stick ornaments, 28 days of faith-filled activities, Scripture readings and an Advent calendar Christmas tree. (You can find a free Advent calendar, too.)
All the Colours of Christmas Advent Calendar.
2. All is Bright: A Devotional Journey to Colour your Way to Christmas
Yes... this is another colouring devotional for Christmas. This publication is by Nancy Guthrie. It includes bonus activities, discussion starters, and kid-friendly colouring pages- Christmas ornaments and decorations.
All Is Bright: A Devotional Journey to Color Your Way to Christmas
3. Made by Me Nativity
This kit starts by making a great nativity keepsake set. It's included in the kit. But there's so much more...
There are gifts to make and give to friends, family and neighbours. Other faith-building activity suggestions are included: field trips, a Christmas movie makeover and other fun!
And yes, there's more...
Simple kitchen-based mission ideas (cookies, nut baskets, Christmas morning mix) will get your kids up and serving others and discovering Jesus.
Made by Me Nativity
4. Christmas Movie Night Kit for Families
Host a kid-friendly Christmas family night with the Christmas Movie Night Kit.
You'll find a read aloud picture book, activities, puzzles and games. The animated Story of Christmas dvd includes sing-along videos of Christmas carols and behind-the-scenes production footage.
Celebrate the real meaning of Christmas with this creative Christmas kit.
Christmas Movie Night Kit for Families
5. Advent Journey Colouring Posters
The birth of the Saviour on that first Christmas was news that was shared. This is a big part of the Advent Journey Colouring Posters, too, sharing the Christmas story with friends, family and the community through colouring.
The posters are big.. supersize. Four of the posters measure 3' x 2' and the other two are even bigger- 6' x 2'. So they are wonderful to colour together in groups. It also offers plenty of opportunities to talk and share together while colouring.
Using these posters requires some out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to using them. Sure, you can use them for children's ministry groups or teen groups. You can take them to nursing homes to colour in together. Use them following your Sunday services for your church family to colour and enjoy while having morning tea. Schools may wish to use them. Your family might invite friends over for a colouring evening. There is also an accompanying Advent Journey Devotional Guide. So start thinking now... how will you use these wonderful resources for sharing the Christmas story?
Oh.. and the finished posters make beautiful display posters, perfect decorations for large walls, hallways and even stage areas.
Advent Journey Colouring Posters
Take time to explore the real meaning of Christmas with your family with these creative resources. Explore the events surrounding the first Christmas and learn how this season can bring us hope, love, joy and peace.
Disclosure: At Grandma's Place is committed to high standards of integrity and quality. I do not promote any brand I do not believe meets these standards, and I only promote brands I would purchase myself. If I don't love it, and don't think you'll love it, it won't appear on my blog.
When you look back on your childhood, your birthdays are sure to be some of your fondest memories. As a kid, there’s nothing better than your own special day: presents, friends, games and plenty of sweet treats! When you become a parent or grandparent, you get to enjoy the magic of birthdays all over again with the little ones in your life, and naturally, you’ll want to make these days as special as possible for them. So if you’re looking to throw an incredible birthday party, here are some ideas to consider!
Invite Their Friends
Having lots of friends to play with and enjoy the day with them will make the day extra memorable. As well as the children in your family, you could send invites to the children in their class at school or preschool. If it’s the first birthday party you’ve thrown, you might want to consider limiting the number of children to make it a little less stressful. So this is something to work out in the planning stages.
Set a Theme
Themed parties are so much fun. It could be based on the child’s favourite book, superhero, tv show or something else. From there your little guests have the option of dressing up, and you can match the decor and even the food to the theme! There are lots of ideas online for different themes if you’re stuck for ideas, or you could have a chat with the child ahead of time and discuss the things they’re currently loving.
Hire Some Inflatables
There are few things that are more fun to a child than giant inflatables! There are companies online that make hiring a jumping castle easy, you can also get interactive inflatable games, slides and inflatable carnival games! It’s certainly a way to make the party memorable- there will be no hint of boredom with something like this to occupy them.
Hire an Entertainer
Depending on the age of the child it could be a character meet (perfect for tying in with the theme of the party!) a magician, balloon modeling or just someone offering face painting throughout the day. Have a think about what the children would most enjoy based on their age and interests.
Play Party Games
Pass the parcel, musical chairs and pin the tail on the donkey are all favourites we remember from our own childhood. You could dedicate an hour of the party to fun party games, where exciting prizes can be won.
Think About Food
It’s no secret that kids are fussy eaters, so catering for a child’s birthday party can be stressful. Buffet style lunches are an easy option, as you can put out lots of different things and they can choose what they want. Go with firm favourites- sandwiches, chips, sausage rolls, mini pizzas and cupcakes. You could even consider hiring an ice cream machine or a chocolate fountain! You may also want to consider some healthier options too, pots of hummus with cut up veggies and fruit skewers work well. Pinterest has tons of great ideas on how you can display different food items so you can make the buffet table look really impressive.
How HappyCalc Puzzles can help teach maths skills
Are you searching for quality games, toys and activities for your next grandkids' visit? Are you and the kids tired of the same old board games and puzzles?
I have grandkids whose ages range from babies to 14 years and finding quality resources for them all is not easy. Sure, there are plenty to outdoor activities and fun for everyone and the older ones tend to entertain themselves.
But I was happy to discover HappyCalc, an attractive puzzle game/activity from an Australian company, and it's great for anyone 3 years and over.
We've heard it before: 'Play is the beginning of knowledge.'
In fact, for children, play is essential for learning. So I was interested in the HappyCalc maths puzzle. It promised to provide an exciting space themed challenge for multiple ages that would encourage understanding and learning.
Bright colours and exciting illustrations create interest
So... I watched closely to see the response of the kids when I placed the puzzle box on the table.
I didn't initially give them any instructions or guidance. But the bright colours and exciting illustrations on the puzzle pieces immediately caught their interest. They laughed at the characters and space creatures. "It looks cool!"
"How do I play?"
The next question was, "What do I do?" I avoided a direct response and soon the younger ones were sorting the pieces into colours and numbers and then joining pieces together to create space craft.
There's no wrong way to play
The pieces, 138 of them, all connect so there's no right or wrong way. In fact, that was one of the comments by my older grandson. "I actually like this. What I like about this is that you can use any of the pieces. I like this a lot."
Kids can create their own maths stories
After they had played alone with the puzzle for a while, I started linking together some pieces and adding to their creations. The puzzle number pieces are different sizes so I linked a '5' and '1' next to the '4' + '4' and '8' that Dakotah had already created. Then we tried adding some other puzzle pieces to fit in her '8' story. She tried another '4' but found that she need a '2' puzzle piece to fit the space.
Once she could see how to make the number pieces in different ways, she worked on her own addition creations.
"This is such fun. I love it," she said.
My observations and review of HappyCalc?
The people at Fun Comet have worked hard to create this new and exciting resource for kids that encourages them to explore maths concepts through play. It's fun and holds their attention and interest while encouraging learning. I really like the space theme, characters, bright colours and illustrations.
And... there's no boring rote learning involved, no rules to fight over while playing, and no one to tell them they're doing it wrong.
It would be a wonderful resource for home-schooling families.
As the people from Fun Comet state: "We are passionate about teaching kids critical skills that will help them master maths in an engaging way.'
Check it out and keep a box handy for the next time your grandkids visit. They'll enjoy it. In the words of one of my grandsons, "It's a thing. Yeah, it's a thing!" Apparently, that's pretty good. :)
You can find out more and order HappyCalc online and it's currently being sold at a discounted price, so be quick!
This resource was provided for my honest review.
We all know that kids are far too sedentary these days. It’s a big concern for parents and public health alike.
Today, kids are immersed in things that don’t require them to move all that much. They seem more interested in exploring the world through their tablet computers than their bodies. And that often means that their bodies suffer.
Some kids aren’t naturally attracted to sport. So here is some sage advice for parents struggling to get their children to be more active.
Don’t Push Too Hard
As parents, we get used to fighting our kids. But it’s an unhealthy habit to get into. As hard as we might push, they’re willing to push back even harder. The trick is to be a little more clever about it. Rather than ordering kids to play sport, create the conditions that will draw them towards it. The best way to do this is to lead by example. If you can show your kids that you can have fun playing sport, they’ll be more likely to want to try it. As soon as they have a desire to play sports themselves, they won’t be able to get enough.
Make It A Competition
Some kids are by nature competitive. And so a great way to get them involved in sport is to hold a competition. It can be something as simple as a five-a-side tournament or as complicated as polo. Whatever it is, make sure there’s a reward at the end. Sites like www.trophiesplusmedals.co.uk sell all sorts of medals for different sporting occasions.
Don’t Assume All Sport Is Team Sport
A lot of kids don’t enjoy team sports. And that’s okay for parents. Why? Mainly because there are so many other options out there. Kids who don’t like football, for example, can choose cycling, swimming, even yoga.
All these options are great for their fitness and for keeping them healthy. And so all these options should be kept on the table. Jumpbunch.com lists more than seventy different sports kid can enjoy if you’re struggling for ideas.
Take Advantage Of Free Taster Sessions
Local sports centres often offer free taster days for kids. It’s all part of their marketing efforts, obviously. Still, it can prove very useful for getting kids interested in trying something different. For kids, the sports centre is a kind of showcase. And an impressive one at that. It’s a great way of capturing their imagination and getting them to really think about sports. Plus, if they don’t like it, you’re not committed to a whole term’s worth of fees.
Make Exercise Fun
Exercise doesn’t have to be for exercise’s sake. It doesn’t even have to be all about winning. It can also be about just having fun. After all, having fun is one of the only things kids do for its own sake. And so introducing fun is a great way to ease them into new sporting habits. For instance, you could make exercise fun by doing a fun run and raising money for charity. Or you could get your kids to design their own games to spice things up a bit.
Life as a grandma.. it's no 'quiet, restful days in the rocking-chair'. It's filled with activity, excitement and lots of family fun. Please share it with me.