Zoe Lake, author of Adventures at Home, shares ideas on how to entertain kids over the Easter holidays without going out or spending a fortune.
During school holidays, when money is tight – as it is for many families right now – it can be difficult to keep the children entertained.
But maybe all you need is a little inspiration. And Zoe Lake, a nanny and mother-of-one, hopes to provide that in her new book Adventures at Home, which offers easy-to-organise, inexpensive and fun activities kids can try at home with their parents.
Lake, who has a seven-year-old daughter, says, “Our lives are hectic, just like everyone else, so to make sure we get some quality family time, we plan for the fun.
“We love creating mini-adventures around the house together, whether it’s building a giant tablecloth den that swallows the back garden or challenging each other to go 24 hours without electricity.”
“Adventures at Home includes ideas for inspiring others to make time for fun, using what you already have and reducing the need to travel far or spend money. Many of these ideas can be especially useful during school holidays when the days seem endless and the air is filled with possibilities.
Here, Lake shares some of his ideas for avoiding boredom by creating adventures at home…
1. Organize a garden music festival
Dig up your tent, get out your blankets and cushions, turn on the radio and set up camp in the garden – the kids will love it! Spend the day listening to music in the comfort of your own garden. Homemade ribbon wristbands and VIP lanyards allow unlimited access to the snack cupboard, fruity mocktails, and of course the restroom (without queuing!).
2. Wildlife hunting in the garden
Find out who you share your garden with, help yourself to a nature guide to help you identify yourself, or encourage a few new inhabitants with a log pile for insects, hanging feeders for birds, a compost heap for worms, overturned pots for frogs and a colorful flower bed for bees and butterflies. It’s a good idea for children to keep a picture journal of what they find.
3. Photography Day
Lend your kids a camera or your phone and encourage creativity. You might want to document your day, record the garden in full bloom, or use photo prompts for fun. You can each photograph the colors of the rainbow and compare your photos, explore shadows and reflections, or even take family portraits. Remember to embrace everyone’s point of view, because we all see things differently.
4. Set up a sewing project
Sewing is a valuable skill in life, so why not have fun while learning? Turn old scraps of fabric like t-shirts and duvet covers into tents, throw pillows, capes, stuffed animals, garlands, utility belts or a patchwork quilt for the more adventurous. Remember, if you’re seen as fixing and fixing too, instead of buying new, that way of thinking becomes second nature to the next generation.
5. Boxes for a rainy day
We love a good cardboard box creation. If you’re not ready to build just yet, just pack your boxes flat and store them behind a cabinet or under the bed for a rainy day. Think Barbie house, intergalactic space station, puppet theatre, race car, fairy castle or possibly, with enough boxes, a small town!
6. Create a game store
Set up a simple farm shop from pallet wood or an upturned crate. Create chalkboard signs, make pretend food out of salt dough and felt, sell cut flowers from the garden and reuse paper bags for customers. Earn your own play money by rubbing crayons on real coins and slicing them. Even pretend to sell real lemonade or freshly baked cakes for a steady stream of refreshments.
7. Host a cream tea party
Tie up garlands, shake out a pretty tablecloth, fill a jam jar with fresh cut flowers and dig up the fancy teacups that usually gather dust. Bake your miniature cakes and slice your jam sandwiches, and serve with fruit tea in the sunshine (hopefully). If you run out of items, take a look at your local charity store to make it more authentic.
8. Decorate a small dollhouse
We found a second-hand hoard of a dollhouse in a charity shop, and every year we complete its decor by making many things ourselves, like the sofa from a cereal packet and an old shirt. . Corks make excellent plant pots, stools and tables, fabric scraps make good rugs and cushions. Keep an eye out for small items that could make your newly furnished cushion cut.
9. Test your skills at mini-Olympics
Our annual Garden Olympics are one of our favorite days of the year. Open the Games with an Olympic flame (made of tissue paper) and homemade hanging flags, followed by competitive egg-and-spoon rounds, sack races, hula hoop, beanbag toss and swingball. Record the score on a board and finish with salt dough medals in an elaborate award ceremony.
10. Stretch the time with a reading nook
Making a reading nook is a wonderful way to spend a lazy afternoon. Set up a den or teepee and make it cozy inside. Fill a basket with books and make the most of toddlers curled up on your lap for story time or even try writing your own story together, bringing the characters to life.
11. Wear them with an obstacle course
It can be so much fun, keeping the family amused for ages trying to beat their best times. Drag what you have from the inside, like tables and chairs to wiggle around in, play equipment, hula hoops, jump ropes to limbo, a wooden board to balance yourself in, and cones for you sneak out.
Zoe Lake’s Adventures at Home is published by Pimpernel Press, priced at £20. Available now.