1. Cutting and sticking – items needed = glue, catalogue book, scissors, paper. We all have those free magazines or catalogues lying around the house, get them cutting out pictures and making a collage onto some paper.
2. Learning numbers and letters – items needed = milk bottle lids, permanent pen, card, ruler. We have been saving the lids from milk cartons for a while now and almost have a set for the alphabet and plenty for counting numbers too. Mark out a grid on a piece of paper or card and write the letters or numbers in the boxes, the children then have to put the matching counter with the number or letter written on it onto the matching square, a great way for them to learn.
3. Go to the local park! – a perfect way to get some fresh air, children will never tire of the swings and slides.
4. Pots and pans musical instruments – we all know that any child loves to make lots of noise, why not make it fun and kind of instrumental by getting some pots and pans and some wooden spoons, but remember to wear your ear plugs!
5. Make a den – Use sheets and blankets draped over chairs, tables or even the clothes horse to make indoor dens. Your children could make their own signs for the entrance and gather cushions, books and snacks to take into their dens too. Brilliant fun!
6. Reading time – Ask your children to pick out a selection of their favourite books and arrange them in rows like a mini library. Gather comfy beanbags or floor cushions and curl up together sharing books. Of coursea trip to your local library is also fab on a rainy day and best of all – it’s free.
7. Dressing up – whether your child already has their own dressing up clothes or maybe you would let them wear some of your dresses, they will love this and in encourages them to use their imaginations.
8. Helping with chores – now this sounds like a lame idea but my daughter loves it if she feels she is helping me, whether its helping me load clothes into the washing machine or ‘helping’ with the washing up. It helps develop their co-ordination whilst spending quality time with Mummy or Daddy. Or you could if you’ve got a lot of washing up to do get out her plastic tea-set, a bowl of soapy water and a tea-towel to put it all on. Then let her wash up on the kitchen floor whilst you do yours. Or let them help you bake some fairy cakes, and the best part for them is they get to eat them when they are done.
9. Use a packet of coloured sweets such as Smarties to play a sorting game. Sift the different colours into separate bowls.
10. Have an indoor picnic or tea party – instead of having lunch sitting at the table, lay out a blanket on the floor, bring some soft toys along so that they can join the picnic too.
11. Play shop – set up a small table to use as the shop counter, use items from the store cupboard such as tins and packets, my daughter has some play money, a plastic shopping basket and a trolley, take it in turns to be the customer and shop keeper.
12. Cardboard boxes – everyone has these lying around somewhere, get one that is big enough for your child to be able to get into, let your child’s imagination run wild, they could be in a car, aeroplane, train or a house, the possibilities are endless. And if they get bored of that give them some pens or pencils and let them decorate the box too.
13. Play a computer game – now I wouldn’t normally think to suggest this but children can learn a great deal from some of the free games available on the internet and if they only spend a small proportion of their time doing this I don’t feel this will do them any harm. Cbeebies has a wonderful range of games on their website all with the aim of your child learning while they play, sit with your child whilst doing this and again its good parent and child bonding time.
14. Go for a walk – if its a dry day (or even if it isn’t) get out in the fresh air. Half an hour or so of running around, looking at the sights will do wonders for your child, whether its going for a walk along the local high street and pointing out the sights to them or walking in a local park and spotting local wildlife such as birds or squirrels it will keep their brain occupied and the fresh air will help them sleep well at night!
15. In the garden – this is a great time of year to plant some seeds, ok seeds aren’t free but you can easily buy a packet for under £1, its a great way to get children interested in plants and how things grow, get them to water them and look after them too.
16. Treasure hunt – now that Easter has passed why not use the Easter egg hunt as an idea, hide little treats or toys in the garden, give the children a basket or bag and get them searching for as many prizes as they can.
17. Chalk drawings – get the kids outside on the patio or any hard area you have in the garden and let them get arty and draw with some chalks, and the good thing with this is that it can easily be washed away with the next rainfall.
18. The taste test – a lovely little game to play, get your child to put on a blind fold then get them to taste different food and they have to guess what it is.
19. I spy – a classic game that helps children notice the things around them, go for a walk and get them to look for certain things whether its the trees and plants or spotting the next blue or red car.
20. Lets dance – children like nothing better than dancing to music, put on their favourite tunes and join in the fun, it helps get rid of lots of energy and is also good exercise for them (and you!).
I hope this has given you enough ideas on what to do with your children, they are often happiest just spending time with their parents or being outside and using their imagination with play……..and none of those need to cost any pennies at all!
If you have any ideas I’d love to hear them.