21 ideas for a savvy half-term

At our #savvyhalfterm Twitter party on Tuesday 12 October more than 190 bloggers swapped tips and advice on how to enjoy half-term. In an hour we tweeted nearly 1,000 messages. (Did we mention the event trended in the UK?)

Here, we’ve pulled out just a few of the ideas from the avalanche of novel and thoughtful suggestions. Got more? Add them here. You can also see mum blogger reviews of days out on  supersavvyme.com, who sponsored the party.

Thanks to everyone who contributed!

1. Do a treasure hunt – Hide things around the house or garden and give them a pirate map to find the “treasure”. Organise a treasure hunt with each clue leading to the next. Or send them on safari with a list of mini-beasts to find. Kids can’t read yet? Draw pictures.

2. Put the kids to work – No need to be Dickensian about it, but kids do love to do grown-up tasks. Have them wash windows, clean the car, rake up the leaves, or even be a real beautician and give you a manicure.

3. Incorporate dress-up or role play into games – Amp up the drama on conkers by having the kids dress up as gladiators or knights. Or make some art then hang it up for a “show”.

4. Teach your child something new – Skip the schoolwork and instead, tutor them in a life skill: sewing, understanding autumn flora or fauna,

5. Encourage den building – Give the kids free reign along with extra pillows and blankets to build the equivalent of a 5-star secret den. Turn it into a “cuddly jungle” by adding all the stuffed animals.

6. Do autumn crafts – Make leaf crowns, paint small stones then varnish them with clear nail polish, collect pine cones, get sticks and leaves to make collages.

7. Commission some photography – Let them loose with a digital camera, get the pictures printed and have them create a half-term album.

8. Encourage green fingers – Now’s the time plant bulbs – snowdrops, daffodils and crocus – so the garden is abloom come springtime. Or get them sweep up the leaves…and jump into the pile.

9. Bring all the toy vehicles into the garden then use chalk to draw roads, train tracks, even a helipad.

10. Put on a show or a dinner – This one’s ideal for working parents: tell the kids and their carer to create a dance routine or show during the day. A big box with one side cut-out makes a great TV for a programme. Or have them plan and prepare a family meal. When you get home, they show off all their hard work.

11. Get ready for the autumn holidays – Make parkin, construct your own Halloween masks, create a spooky paperchain, fashion your Guy Fawkes, or do a pumpkin carving (or drawing) contest.

12. Get ready for Christmas – This is its own category. You can make potato print wrapping paper using plain brown paper, collect pine cones and spray them for a table decoration, cut up old Christmas cards into different shapes for new gift labels…the decoration possibilities are endless. And isn’t it time you started your Christmas cake?

13. Go look for the Gruffalo – Dig out the wellies, grab a camera or sketchbook, and head out into the words or a big park and look for the creature, drawing what you see along the way. Back at home, they can turn it into their own “hunting for the Gruffalo” storybook.

14. Go urban exploring – Get an all-day tube, train or bus pass for your area and ride all day, seeing where you end up. Alternatively, make a packed lunch and have a “park-a-thon” – see how many you can visit in one day.

15. Organise a contest  – Whether it’s apple-bobbing, a Lego-building competition, a conkers championship or clay modelling stand-off, a little bit of rivalry adds to the thrill.

16. Edit the toy box – Pull out all the old unused toys then head to the charity shop or arrange a toy swap party with other parents. The idea: they leave the house with a bin bag of old toys, they come back with one “new” second-hand one. Another version: put on a fashion show, pulling out all the outgrown clothes as they’re tried on.

17. Name them editor-in-chief – Have them make their own newspaper, featuring all the family news, with real photographs or pictures they draw.

18. Hit the museums and local attractions – It might sound obvious but loads of places run special half-term programs and many of them are free. Maybe it’s time to actually get around to going to that small museum, to hit storytime at the library or to try an activity at the leisure centre.

19. Visit the pet shop – It’s like a zoo, but more domesticated. Say hi to all the animals and make up names for each of them.

20. Don’t rush them – It seems like we’re always hurrying our children out the door or onto the next activity. Let them relish the slower pace of holidays in their everyday activities: put all the bath toys and some pouring pots from the kitchen in the tub for an extra-long play session, let them wear their pyjamas all day, linger over cuddles, stories or lunchtime. Ban the word “hurry” for a day.

21. Enjoy yourself – You don’t want to end half-term more exhausted, so don’t set yourself outrageous goals. Keep plans fluid so if the weather or timings don’t cooperate, you crew doesn’t mutiny. Join in the fun – whether it’s jumping in puddles or playing tag. No one is watching!

Feeling inspired?! Have a great one.

Please feel free to link to any posts you have written on keeping the kids entertained.

Jennifer Howze

Photo credit: sveden


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