Cheap ways to keep the children entertained whatever the weather this summer | Personal Finance | Finance

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Whether it’s school holidays or a rainy weekend, sometimes we can all get blank minds trying to think of ideas to entertain the kids. Or, worse, the only things we can think of are ones that cost the earth!

At MoneyMagpie, we’re all about finding ways to live a full life while being financially savvy, so we’ve come up with some cheap ways to keep the kids entertained any time of year, whatever the weather.

Screen Time – For Yourselves

Of course, these days it’s easy to let children spend a lot of time in front of their computers, games consoles, phones, and TV. But if you want to spend quality time together, try making your own family TV show!

Let them use their technical knowledge to film short skits together. You can all get involved in scripting, making props, and acting together. If you’re feeling ambitious, how about setting aside time every weekend to work on a longer project?

It’s a great way to teach them creative and collaborative skills, spend time together, and you’ll have something fun to show at the end of it.

Cook Something Delicious

This one does cost a little bit of money but it’s worthwhile as you’ll have dinner at the end of it. Older children can learn important skills and how to follow a recipe, while younger children can be supervised with tasks appropriate for their age.

Cooking together doesn’t have to result in a fancy three-course meal, either. Spending a few nights a week learning new recipes together means you’re all learning something and enjoying quality time. Sometimes you might want to try something simple like pasta, but other days you could tackle a Sunday roast or a complicated dessert recipe to take on a challenge together.

Lay a Treasure Trail

Rainy days are the worst for hyperactive and bored kids. While they watch a film in the living room, take some time to cut out paper symbols and write a treasure map.

You might cut out dinosaur footprints, for example, and quicksand signs! Lay a treasure trail with the paper symbols through the house and leave a treat at the end, where X marks the spot.

The treat doesn’t have to be anything big or expensive – a tasty ‘picky tea’, a chocolate bar, or their iPad with an hour’s game time allowed are all fun treat ideas.

You can up the ante with games like ‘the floor is lava’ for part of it, where you’re not allowed to step on the carpet – so there’s lots of stepping on sofas and throwing cushions around for stepping stones! Of course, it all depends on the space you’ve got, but this can be quite an active and imaginary adventure.

It’s not just a rainy day event either – on sunny days, extend the treasure hunt into the garden!

Get Into Nature Crafts

Take your children on a walk in a local nature reserve and see how many birds they can spot, or if they can identify trees and plants with you using a plantfinder app.

Fresh air is great for everyone, and getting into nature even for half an hour boosts everyone’s spirits. While you’re in the woods or park, look for things that could be brought back for you to use in a craft at home later, too. Pine cones, for example, or even particularly smooth rocks to paint are good examples of ways to integrate nature into your crafts.

You might want to use dried leaves or even sticks to create interesting textures on air dry clay to make pots, as another idea to try.

Remember to leave places as you found them, and don’t pick from living plants.

Have a Family Olympics

This is a great one that can become a family tradition if you enjoy it! The tasks can also be altered depending on your children’s ages, so it’s an ideal activity to include all ages and continue doing as they grow up.

A family Olympics is suitable for children, parents, grandparents, cousins, aunties, step-family … everyone can join in!

Make up games or do more traditional ones like an egg and spoon race or obstacle course run. It depends on the space you’ve got to work in! You can also pair up into teams to make it more competitive and take on challenges such as finding out which pair can hold a counterbalance pose together the longest, who can drink a glass of water fastest, or any silly ideas you can come up with!

Garden Together

Even if you live in a high rise flat, you can still learn about gardening together. Window boxes, balcony pots, or even some seedling egg boxes on a sunny windowsill are all it takes to garden together.

If you want to spend time outside and don’t have a garden, find out if your local community has a green gym group or a group for younger children to learn about gardening. Perhaps your child’s school has a garden area that you can help tend to, or a family member might have a green patch that needs sprucing up.

Write a Song

Even if you couldn’t hold a tune to save your life, music is something that brings people together. Challenge your kids to come up with a song and then ask them to teach it to you.

It’s up to you about the boundaries you set – you might say it has to include (or exclude) certain words, or not have any repeating lines, or even be total nonsense!

The point is to get your children playing with language as well as learning more about rhythm as they try to set lyrics to music.

Write a Children’s Book Together

If your ears don’t fancy writing songs, what about coming up with stories together? This is something you can do with children of almost any age, and you might find it taps into an imagination you never knew they had!

You can add to the fun by typing up the story or writing it out on craft paper, and getting your children to draw pictures to illustrate parts of the story. This is another one of those craft activities that can take a whole weekend or become a regular activity if your kids love it.

Play Board and Card Games

Even if you don’t have any board games, this is still possible! Did you know most libraries have a board game library, too? You can borrow games without needing to pay for them, giving you all the chance to try something new together.

A pack of cards is very cheap and you can play literally hundreds of different games together with them, too. From snap to cribbage, bridge to twenty-one, there are so many card games you’re bound to find one suitable for your children’s ages.

It’s particularly good to learn some card games if you travel together as a family often, because a deck of cards is so portable you can pull them out anywhere while you’re on the train or waiting for a bus.