Off skiing this half term…or maybe somewhere hot?? Nah, me neither. Instead we’ll be ‘enjoying’ the arse-end of winter at home. The February half term is, I think, the most challenging of the school holidays.. the ideal would be either SNOW…lots of proper, crunchy, thick, white snow that you can turn into snowmen and sledge down with wild abandon (until the snow gets down your wellies, makes your feet freezing cold AND wet and you’ve still got the walk home to do!) OR the early arrival of Spring with a week of mild, sunny days to enjoy. BUT the reality, in the UK at least, is cold….grey…rain.
So, in the first part of my new series on ideas to get children creating and imaginations flowing, here’s some inexpensive ideas for those chilly February days.
DISCLAIMER ALERT – None of these tutorials or ideas are actually mine…I’ve just done the trawling around on t’internet so you don’t have to!
I will just point out here that you should be under no illusion that I am some kind of wonder-mum who fills our ‘days-off’ with exciting, creative, fun things to do and make. Oh no, I am WAY too lazy (& allergic to mess) for that. However, I will endeavour to drag T away from the TV for the odd half hour to indulge in something that doesn’t involve crashing cars into the skirting board or removing all cushions and blankets from around the house to make an indoor den (exposing the shockingly disturbing ‘back of the sofa’ crumbs, pieces of lego, dog hair etc as the sofa seat pads are utilised in said den-making, sending my inner-OCD psyche into turmoil at my ability to neglect such mess)
Anyway, back to the point:
Half term kicks off with Valentines Day. It’s not exactly up there with Christmas or Birthdays as special occasions go for kids, but hey, it’s an excuse to do something THEMED right? ..and us creative types do love a good theme. It also means you can basically get your children to make a gift for your other half….Unromantic? Probably…but hey, it kills 2 birds with 1 stone – it’s something to keep the kids busy AND produce a (made with such love) gift to give your other half
These Stained Glass Heart Cookies
are a pretty easy bake from the Good Food Channel…and if you or your children are a little bit artistic you can probably get away without a heart cutter and just cut the heart shape with a knife…obviously ensuring artistic child doesn’t stab themselves or you or the dog or cat or anything else with the knife.
Or for a bit of the WOW factor, how about making a whole darn heart-shaped cake….But “WAIT”
, I hear you cry, “I don’t have a heart-shaped tin…”
Ah-Ha…I bet you’ve got a square one (or at least a rectangular one) and a round one though. In which case, you can do this
clever cake-hack, whack on some icing and let the children go mad decorating with red and pink smarties, or jelly tots or edible glitter…or …(well, you get the idea)
For something that doesn’t involve sugar, chocolate and icing sugar mess (that stuff gets everywhere); what about some themed loom banding…? Are we sick of this craze yet? I’m not sure. It only lasted about 10 days in our household but when the loom band box is rediscovered under a pile of pictures, another creation is usually quickly produced, so maybe there’s some life left in these irritating little rubber bands.
Then, we move on to the next ‘special occasion of the week’: Shrove Tuesday. HURRAH! It is in the holidays – so for those lucky enough not to be going to work, there’s no mad rush panic trying to make pancakes for breakfast as well as the usual morning routine of
‘eat your breakfast’.
‘brush your teeth’
‘where’s your bag?’
‘No you can’t watch TV, we need to go….NOW!’
…or is that just in this house? Please say it isn’t so.
I reckon a good hour can be taken up with the joy that is making and topping pancakes. Make the whole thing an event….get some toppings in bowls and let the children make their own (possibly inedible, very likely messy) pancakes. For some ideas of toppings beyond maple syrup or lemon and sugar, try BBC Good Food
for starters. Or just go crazy in the supermarket and buy all the cadbury’s pouches of nibbles and bites and sugary syrups and toppings that money can buy.
…and then once everyone is feeling sick from way too many pancakes and blood sugar levels are through the roof, send them outside with the dregs of the pancakes to have some flippin’ good fun with an old frying pan, whilst you remove batter from your hair and toffee sauce from the dog’s ears.
So, now you’ve eaten all that valentine-themed baking and your own body-weight in sweet pancakes, you’ll all be needing to get outside and burn off some energy (children) and fat (adults)
Children love a list, so stick it on a wall, work through it together and go and have some creative adventures (although if you are in the UK, I’d advise leaving #42 until it’s a bit warmer!). Over the school holidays, many National Trust Properties
run (free) events that compliment the programme, so it’s worth checking out what’s going on at a property near you.
|Source: The Stick Book by Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield
If you haven’t tried Geocaching
yet, it’s a brilliant way of turning what otherwise might be a boring walk into an outside treasure hunt. We spent HOURS in the fresh air over Christmas trying to locate, find and record caches on our dog walks….and once you get to grips with it, you can even get creative and start making and hiding your own for others to hunt down.(Again, be under no illusion that we’ve got round to doing this yet – although we did have some fun thinking up what we might call them, having completed the local ‘Wacky Races’ series).
If we are lucky enough to get some of that snow I was talking about and it sticks around long enough to get bored of sledging (bored of sledging? NEVER!) here’s
some ideas from the people at Red Ted Art
, (which by the way, is a great resource for creative ideas for children) for things to do with snow and ice. However, given that this amount of snow is unlikely, here’s
some crafty things that can be made from treasures foraged in the back garden or a countryside walk from The Artful Parent Blog
. My favourite is the crayon rock which I might have to have a go at…..and don’t forget The Stick Book
, which I’ve mentioned before. It’s packed full of creative things you can make and do with a humble stick (or pile of).
Right, so that’s all the good intentions for quality, creative family time at home this half term….but let’s just have some hot chocolate, sit on the sofa and watch Despicable Me 2 first…..
Whatever you’re up to over the half term holidays….have fun,