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Holiday Time and School Break

Banish the "I'm bored" phrase from your home during the school holidays with our great ideas to constructively occupy children

By Elaine Eksteen

Holiday Time


Before the school break kicks in, we suggest you prepare a couple of activity boxes to whip out whenever one of your offspring says they’re bored.
The good news is that you won’t necessarily need to go out and buy anything.
This keep-’em-occupied plan is about repackaging and recycling what you’ve got. It should take you less than an hour to round up most of what you need to keep your children entertained for hours – and that’s without leaving your house.
Follow this up with a quick visit to your mother-in-law’s and a sniff through her handwork cupboard, and you’re very likely to have a craft-activity box near sorted.
We’ve collated our fun-to-go into three groups – craft, sports, and card and board games – and suggest you curate the bits and pieces you unearth into similarly categorised boxes.
Your children are certain to find something they feel inspired about somewhere in these. Happy holidays!
Crafty Character
Round up old cereal boxes and other cardboard packaging, some scrap paper, old magazines, wool, buttons, pipe cleaners, strong paper glue, beads, a pair of scissors, socks that have lost their partners, felt, needle with an eye big enough for threading wool, chunky knitting needles, glitter, paint, paint brushes, pencil crayons, khokis, newspaper, old wrapping paper, tissue paper, string, raffia, empty matchboxes, recycled foil and foil pie cases, masking tape, play dough, clay and bits of ribbon.
With just a few items your children can get stuck into any one of these 20 boredom-busting activities (plus numerous others they might come up with themselves) , during Holiday Time
1. Cut paper dolls out of recycled paper.
2. Make pipe-cleaner people (dye the pipe cleaners in food colouring to make them interesting colours).
3. Try string weaving. For this activity you’ll need to make a loop of string (about 40 cm in length) and then reach back into your memory – if you’ve forgotten how to weave the
    Cat’s Cradle or Teacup and Saucer between your fingers, take a look here so you can pass on this skill to your children.
4. Knit a scarf, or make squares and sew these together to make a baby or doll’s blanket.
5. Make hand puppets from old socks. Sew or glue on some wool for hair, stick on googly eyes and add a tongue of felt or fabric.
6. Create a cardboard and wool bangle. Cut strips of cardboard, long enough to create a circle that fits over the child’s fist onto her wrist. Glue these into a ring and then wind different
    colour strands of wool around   the width to create a bangle.
7. Finger-knit necklaces for granny and aunty.
8. Create beads out of strips of magazine paper. Tightly wrap long, narrow triangles of paper dipped in glue around a kebab stick. Apply a layer of clear nail polish when complete,
    carefully remove from the kebab stick and leave to dry. Thread onto wool or string to make a necklace.
9. Create a pair of sunglasses using pipe cleaners and cardboard. Decorate with glitter and paint.
10. Create pom-poms. You’ll need two “doughnut” shaped cardboard circles and wool.
11. Make a two-humped camel using egg boxes (for body) and pipe cleaners (for legs).
12. Use buttons and pipe cleaners (bend and twist to make legs, wings, feelers) to create fun creepy-crawly creatures.
13. Convert cardboard toilet-paper inners into colourful racing cars by decorating the body with paint and then adding wheels (Liquorice Allsorts and toothpicks will work nicely).
14. Create clothing out of newspaper and hold a fashion show to show off the creations.
15. Make a coat-hanger mobile. Hang painted paper shapes on strings of different lengths from the hanger, then cover the hanger in a cardboard “hood” decorated to match the theme.
16. Try your hand at origami swans, frogs, boxes... the sky’s the limit.
17. Make your own Little Town. Cover matchboxes in paper, add a cardboard roof and paint and decorate to look like little houses, shops, and schools. Arrange on a large piece of cardboard; draw in roads. Position the odd tree (green pom-pom on toothpick weighed down by a blob of clay or play dough). Just add toy cars and away you go.
18. Have a funny hat competition. Children can use cardboard, foil, newspaper, pom-poms, and more to come up with their own weird and wonderful creations.
19. Build an air soccer pitch. Tape a sheet of newspaper or cardboard to the floor using masking tape. Mark the halfway line and create goals using two old shoe boxes. Glue these in place. Children can decorate a cardboard tube, which is their blower. A ping-pong ball can be painted a bright colour to make things more fun. Let the game begin!
20. Create a 3D collage – think skyline, farm or street scene – using corrugated and other cardboard, paper clips, pie tins, and other bits and pieces. Add a touch of paint, some glitter and you’ve got a great birthday present for Dad or Grandpa.
Be a Sport
For fun that’s exercise too, gather together things such as: a skipping rope, old pairs of stockings tied into a three-metre loop for that 80s playground game “stocking” or “elastic”, a dingbat, home four-square kit (tennis ball and masking tape to mark court on tiled or wooden floor), badminton rackets and shuttlecock, ping-pong balls and bats (children can play on your dining-room table – just mark the halfway line with masking tape or string and Prestik), home jukskei (tent peg and hardboard hoop), duster hockey set (newspaper rolled into a baton and secured with masking tape becomes the duster hockey stick, a pair of rolled up rugby socks the ball) and skittles (you can make these from plastic bottles filled with water or sand).
Roll the Dice
You’ll need to dig out all the board and card games that have been gathering dust in various cupboards in the house… Think Uno, Scrabble, Risk, Monopoly, Pictionary, dominoes, cards, Cluedo, 30 Seconds, puzzles the children haven’t done for a while, Pick Up Sticks, and so on. 

If you’ve forgotten the rules or lost the instructions, a book like Reader’s Digest The Treasury of Family Games by Jim Glenn and Carey Denton will help. It has easy-to-follow instructions for dice games, board games, domino and card games, old-fashioned parlour games, word games and lots more. The section on children’s card games is particularly helpful.

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