Half term holidays can be short and sweet, but if it’s wet and cold this February, keeping the kids entertained during the week-long break will be a tall order
However, if we’ve learned anything in the last couple of years, it’s how to make the most of the Great Indoors. We’ve come up with a range of activities to delight kids of all ages, so read on to find inspiration, whatever the weather.
Make yourselves comfortable at a window that looks out onto the garden or green space and keep watch to see which birds pay a visit. At this time of year, they’re in search of food, so you could try hanging up a bird feeder on a nearby tree to encourage them to stop for a snack. If you haven’t tried bird watching before grab a field guidebook or go online to identify common species. You could also download a birdsong app onto your smartphone so you can identify different bird calls, and it’s worth keeping notes and taking pictures as a useful record.
World on a plate
Let their imaginations transport them to a favourite country for the day and then have fun making it feel authentic: choose something from the national cuisine to cook for lunch, play songs in the native language and listen to folk stories from the country - Circle Round podcast features tales from all over the globe and has colouring sheets to accompany the story, which are available to download. Dressing up in the national costume is also entertaining, and you could even encourage the kids to find out about the culture and then host a quiz at the end of the day, too.
Stars in your eyes
Star gazing is a magical experience whether you’re looking with the naked eye or through a telescope – and if it’s freezing cold outside, there’s no reason why you can’t do it from the warmth of your home and look out of a skylight or open window. Choose a night when the sky is clear and it isn’t a full moon (you can check moon dates online), because the darker the sky, the better chance you’ll have of seeing the stars. There are also some great apps, like Night Sky and Sky Guide, to help you identify a range of celestial objects, too.
The weather outside might be frightful, but it’s easy to get the kids to immerse themselves in the natural world by listening to a podcast. There’s a huge range of nature-focused podcasts available, whether they want to learn about the natural world or just be entertained. Try Earth Rangers, which has fun missions that kids can do to get involved.
Keep the troops occupied with a treasure hunt. Depending on the range of ages, you can vary the style and difficulty of the questions. For example, youngsters love rhyming clues hidden around the house that lead to one another and the eventual prize. Slightly older children will like the challenge of filling a matchbox with as many tiny objects as they can find in a certain time period – you can either stick to a theme, like things that are a particular colour, or start with a certain letter, or suggest a range of items chosen at random, like buttons, a piece of pasta or a hair clip, and whoever has the most objects wins a prize. Alternatively, make it harder for older family members by taking photographs of the hidden objects, and crop them so only a small area is visible so they have to guess what it is before they can go and find it.
Form a rock band and get the members to make their own musical instruments: Shoe boxes and elastic bands make groovy guitars, paper plates with metal bottle tops can be terrific tambourines, and dried rice in tin cans is a sensational shaker. Of course, for the braver music lovers, there’s always the trusty wooden spoon and saucepan lid drum kit.
Going for gold
Be inspired by the Winter Olympics and transform your front room and host your own indoor games. It’s a great way to help the kids to burn off some energy, and works really well if you get them involved in deciding which events will be included, too. From mini basketball, where competitors have to get as many ping pong balls into a waste paper basket, to the quickest time for stacking cushions, or the longest distance you can throw a paper plane, there are lots of ideas online to create an event to rival Beijing 2022.
Take the opportunity to cosy up with the kids in the comfort of an indoor den. Whether it’s a duvet thrown over the sofa, or a more ambitious construction involving blankets, chairs and clothes pegs, it’s the perfect place to hang out on a wet afternoon. We think the bigger the better when it comes to den building, because there’s nothing more fun than the whole family snuggling up together to read a story or watch a film from the safety of a homemade lair.
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