Chalk is easily washed off pavements and children will love having such an unusual canvas. Draw a few outlines of people on your driveway or the pavement outside your house, then the children can draw on the clothes. Or draw circles with different numbered points written inside them, grab some damp sponges and see who can throw theirs inside the circles. The winner is the person who scores the most points with three throws. (Supervise carefully if playing near a road)
Look for Gruffalo footprints!
Challenge kids to keep their eyes open for possible tracks that could indicate the Gruffalo has passed by on route to its lair. Great fun for park walks.
Hold an archaeological ice dig.
Freeze some small toys in a block of ice by half filling a plastic container with water, adding the toys and popping in the freezer. Top up with more water and freeze again. Give children squeezy tubes filled with lukewarm water and a little salt, plus some plastic spoons, and let them excavate the hidden treasure.
Have a sunflower growing competition.
At the start of the holidays buy a packet of sunflower seeds, let all the family plant their own and see whose sunflower grows the tallest by the end of the summer.
Build a Fort
This project is great for rainy days and all you need is two chairs, a bed sheet for draping across them and some clothes pegs to keep the sheet in place. Feeling more creative? Add a moat around the fort’s perimeter with blue tissue paper, and a few cardboard fish shapes (cut from the back of cereal boxes). Anyone wishing to enter the fort will need to guess the secret password.
Use plastic containers laid on their sides to create a goal at each end of your kitchen table. Players must use a drinking straw to blow a ping pong ball into their opponent’s goal. If the weather’s nice you could fill a paddling pool with water, add miniature boats and use the straws to blow them across the surface – first boat to reach the other side wins.
Make a caterpillar rock garden
Get the children to hunt for rocks or large stones, then paint each one in a different pattern. Think stripes, polka dots and swirls all in different colours. They’ll also need to paint a face on one of the rocks, and stick on two twig antennae, before arranging the rocks into a caterpillar shape.
Compete in a mini golf tournament
Challenge the children to create a crazy golf course in the garden using objects such as hula hoops, slinkies and kitchen roll tubes as obstacles to manoeuvre around. No plastic golf clubs? Use rolled up newspapers to tap the balls instead.
Create your own Ice Cream Factory
Line up a range of fun toppings, such as mini marshmallows, sprinkles, chopped fruit, maple syrup and sauces in ramekins or muffin cases, plus some ice cream, and let the children build their own sundae. Encourage older children to create one for someone else, as this will get them thinking about what others like too.
Wash the car
While you might think it a chore, washing the car is surprisingly fun for small people. Fill a bucket with soapy water, give them a sponge and let them go wild. Just keep hold of the hose and give them an occasional flick with the water to get them giggling.
Create a reading corner
Suggest to your children that they help you make a cosy reading den, filled with comfy cushions, beanbags, a big pile of books and a torch or colour changing lamp for evenings – they’ll be raring to try it out. If your child is aged 4-11, you might like to sign them up to the free Summer Reading Challenge (summerreadingchallenge.org.uk) which asks children to read six library books of their choice, collecting rewards along the way.
Planning a day out by the coast? Use a bucket and spade to scoop up shells on the beach, then take them home, given them a rinse, and use to decorate greeting cards, pictures, photo frames or jewellery boxes.
Open a bug hotel
Help children to fill a jam jar with twigs and leaves, then go bug hunting to find their guests. Make sure an adult carefully puts some air holes in the lid. Don’t forget to let the bugs ‘check out’ after their stay.
Create an audio map
Ask the children to find an outdoor spot, close their eyes and listen to the sounds. Ask them to draw what they think is making the sounds, and where they are coming from. It could be a dog barking to the left or trees swaying in the wind to the right.
Thread a daisy chain
A traditional summertime skill that children will use throughout their childhood
- Look for daisies with short, thick stems.
- Use your thumbnail to split the daisy stem in the middle (be careful not to split it all the way to the bottom).
- Thread the stem of a second daisy through the slit. Repeat the process.
- When the chain is long enough, thread the stem of the last daisy through a small slit at the top of the first stem.