October half-term can be a tricky holiday. The warmer weather of summer is fading to a distant memory. The parties and other fun activities which fill the Christmas holidays are still to come. So what do you do when it’s probably raining and grey outside and the kids are saying they’re bored? It’s time to get creative (and get them away from the tablets and TV screens).
1. Write a picture book
As a children’s author I’m always looking for ways to get kids interested in writing and reading. This is perhaps the best way I’ve found. This activity combines kids’ limitless imagination with writing and drawing. And what could be better than that? Kids may need a bit of prompting to get going with the storyline, but once they do get going this is an activity that can keep them busy for hours. When I do school visits I include some creative writing classes and kids are always disappointed when the lesson comes to an end. They always want to know when they can continue their stories. To get the kids started, just help them to pull together a storyline (you can use the prompts in my previous post on story development here) and give them plenty of paper and colour pens and stand back and watch!
2. Make a board game
In these days of tablets and online games a board game seems almost exotic to many kids. Making their own is a great way to develop their design skills and let their imagination run wild. It could be anything from a variant on snakes and ladders to a more ambitious role-playing game. As a kid I used to enjoy making role-playing board games with a bit of a story. I even made boxes for the games out of old chocolate boxes, covering them in paper and drawing on them. A basic game can be made just using paper, sellotape, some old buttons and some glue.
3. Make a pie out of apples you’ve picked yourself
If you’re in Northern Europe or North America, it’s probably prime time to go and pick some apples. Many farms offer ‘pick your own’ in the UK and I’m sure they do in other countries too. Why not get out in the fresh air (you may need your scarf and extra-thick jumper) and have some fun gathering the ingredients for a tasty cake or pie? Making the mix for the sponge for an apple cake is loads of fun for kids (and there’s always the bowl and spoon to lick clean at the end).
4. Make story art from an old newspaper
Put those old Sunday papers to good use. Get your kids to look through and choose pictures for a story. This may need some supervision or help at the cutting out stage! Then they can have some collage fun gluing the pictures to paper and writing a caption for each part of the story. This activity will encourage your kids to think very laterally to create a story to fit the pictures they find. You may end up with complete nonsense, but that’s half the fun!
5. Create a photo journal of a walk through town
This activity has two added benefits. It can turn a mundane trip to the shops into an exciting activity for your kids. It can also get them using IT creatively, if you choose to go the higher-tech route. Before you go out, tell the kids you want them to keep an eye out for anything interesting or unusual they notice as you go around town. Explain that this will be for an activity you want to do later. When they spot something, photograph it. This could be anything from an old building to a billboard advert. When you get home, their task is to write a journal saying where they saw the item and why they wanted to photograph it. For added challenge, get them to write a story using the pictures (as a variant on activity number 4 above). You could do this on the computer using MS PowerPoint or a package like that or print out the photos if you want them to do it on paper.
Do you do any of the activities above with your kids? Are there others we should know about? Share your great ideas with the rest of us by leaving a comment below.