12 fun holiday activities for the kids that won’t break the bank

No need to splurge on expensive outings these holidays. These 12 fun holiday activities are ideal for keeping little one’s entertained for hours. By Tammy Jacks

12 fun holiday activities that won't break the bank

If you’re looking for enjoyable, educational things to do with your kids these holidays, we have plenty of ideas.

These 12 fun activities are designed to engage all the senses and keep your kids busy. If you’re working and don’t have leave, no sweat, these fun activities can be done with a child minder or family member too. Or, if you’ve planned regular play dates for your kids, share these ideas with your fellow moms, too…

Plant a small garden together or simply let them dig!

A wonderful educational experience, this simple activity engages almost all the senses. Plus, kids will love the chance to get their hands dirty and spend time in the garden – feeling different textures and simply getting muddy. Take the time to explain how the plants will grow once you’ve planted them, and let them water their new shrubs afterwards.

ALSO SEE: How to make gardening fun for the kids

Play dress up

Allowing your child to imagine and dream is a fundamental part of developing self-confidence and self-expression, explains Liz Senior in her book, Growing Up With AaSmile. Playing dress up is a great way to encourage this. Collect some funny props from a cheap store or look in your own wardrobe for quirky clothing and accessories such as hats and scarves. Get creative with styling and have a garden or superhero party.

Hold a car wash

If it’s warm enough to spend time outdoors, let the kids play with soapy water and sponges or cloths, while washing your car at the same time. Kids generally love cars, water, bubbles and messy play so it’s a win-win for everyone.

Bake biscuits and decorate them

Although this idea isn’t new, it’s a firm favourite amongst kids and adults. Who doesn’t enjoy baking and decorating delicious treats that you get to enjoy together afterwards? We love this idea for cold, rainy days where families get to huddle together and munch on the treats in front of a roaring fire or favourite television programme. If you have older kids, you can also turn the washing up into a fun learning experience. Sorting and matching are activities which are central to mathematics, explains Liz. Placing cups on saucers or stacking them together, sorting cutlery or packing away washed bowls and plates in the correct places is a wonderful opportunity to learn.

Visit the library together

Too much screen time can be bad for kids, especially during the holidays where the temptation to sit on the tablet or watch too much TV is always there. Why not visit your local library and let the kids’ imaginations run wild with a host of new books? Reading has a multitude of benefits including an increase in communication skills as well as mental sharpness and concentration.

ALSO SEE: Too much screen time can affect early childhood development

Have a picnic in your local park

Whether you have babies, toddlers or older kids at home, most children love fresh air and open spaces. So, grab a ball, picnic blanket, some snacks (such as fresh fruit, sarmies and homemade popcorn) and head to your local park where you can sit and enjoy a morning or afternoon outdoors.

ALSO SEE: 7 great picnic spots

Get messy with chalk in the driveway

Drawing is a wonderful way to help your child develop her creativity, but drawing in a book can be boring. Use chubby chalk that can be washed off easily and let your child draw in the driveway instead! Liz explains that a preschooler should be able to purposefully create patterns such as shapes, crosses, circles and abstract symbols which she can name. Also help her to draw herself and name her body parts. This creates self-awareness. Babies or younger toddlers will love the chance to let loose and scribble away!

Stamp old T-shirts

Your kids can make wonderful shapes and patterns by dipping a variety of different textures into fabric paint and then stamping them onto old t-shirts or fabric. For instance, bell peppers work well to make flowers and bath sponges make pretty circular shapes with holes.

Let them put on a show

Let’s face it, most kids love having your undivided attention and being the source of entertainment. This activity is a wonderful way to get creative and can take a whole morning or afternoon. First, let your little ones make their own puppets for the show out of paper plates, brown bags, socks, cardboard or toilet rolls – as well as different materials for the eyes and hair like buttons and ribbons. Let them think up a show and practice it before the grand finale. You could even paint or draw on a box for the stage and use towels or sheets for the curtains.

Click here for instructions on how to make your own under-the-sea finger puppets

Have a holiday box

Take a walk in your garden or neighbourhood and collect a variety of insects, leaves and flowers. Look at them in different ways, through a magnifying glass, while wearing sunglasses or through cellophane. 

Do a toy cleanup and visit an orphanage

Research has shown that the less toys you have in your home, the more creative your children will be, as they’ll learn to make do with less and engage properly with the toys they do own. And there’s no better time than the holidays to do a good cleanup. Let your child help you sort the toys she’s happy to part with, then take her along to an orphanage or other non-profit organisation and encourage her to give them away to those who really need them. Children are never too young to learn the act of kindness.

Create a family photo album

Most of our pictures are digital and simply sit on our cellphones or cameras without us ever displaying them at home. Why not make a point of having some family snaps printed and let your child create her very own family album? Let her decorate the pages, while you share stories about each family member. This seemingly simple activity will enhance your child’s memory, as well as encourage her creativity as she decorates each page.

If youre a working mom and stuck with what to do with the kids in the holidays, consider:

 Nurturing nannies

These combined nanny and child stimulation classes are a great way to provide your nanny with a structured list of activities and toolkit, to play with your child at home. They also run a holiday club twice a week during the main school holidays.

Visit www.nurturingnannies.co.za for more information.

Play-and-Learn workshops

Pikanini Baby Academy in Johannesburg hosts age-appropriate play workshops for moms and caregivers where you get a manual with over 50 at-home activities to do with your kids. This is great for full-time working moms who want to give their children’s caregiver useful activities to do with the kids. And the benefit is, most of the activities incorporate items you have at home already. Activities are suitable for kids up to age four.

For an instructor in your area, visit www.pikanini.co.za


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