Winter School Holiday Boredom Busters

Tearing your hair out counting down the days till the kids go back to school? Now that the school holidays are well into the second week, parents may be experiencing increasing difficulty finding and funding activities to keep children entertained, particularly on those cold winter days. Here are a few ideas to engage children in play and leisure, beat boredom and the winter blues.

LETS’ BAKE…LEMON SOUR CREAM CAKE

There is nothing like the smell and taste of a warm cake on a cold winter day. Foster children’s love of cooking and satisfy their sweet tooths by getting them into the kitchen and teaching them to bake.

Ingredients:

• 125g soft butter

• 1 cup castor sugar

• Rind of 1 lemon and

1/2 lemon juiced

• 3 x 70g eggs

• 1 cup plain flour

• 1/3 cup self-raising flour

• 100g sour cream

Frosting Ingredients

• 4 tablespoons butter, softened

• 1/2 cup sour cream

• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

• 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 2 3/4 cup icing sugar

Instructions:

• Preheat over to 180°C.

• Grease and line cake tin.

• Cream butter, sugar, lemon rind and juice together until pale and fluffy.

• Add eggs and incorporate one at a time until completely blended.

• Sift together flours and fold through carefully, alternating with sour cream.

• Spoon into greased cake tin and bake for 40 minutes.

• To test, insert skewer in. If skewer comes out clean, cake is ready.

• If not, cook for another 5 minutes and repeat until skewer is clean.

• Allow to cool for 25 minutes before icing.

Frosting Method:

• Mix together butter, sour cream, vanilla, lemon juice and salt.

• Blend until creamy, slowly add icing sugar until smooth.

• Pour over cake when cake is cool.

LET’S MAKE... MODEL PLANES

Making models is a simple craft activity for children to use in play, collect or proudly display. Models allow children to manipulate resources to investigate, take apart, assemble, invent and construct and fosters an understanding of geometry and symmetry.

Instructions:

• For each plane you will need 1 x dolly peg, 2 x small craft sticks, and your choice of size and quantity for the wings and tail.

• Choose the colour of your plane and paint the dolly peg, tail and wings all over. Paint the 2 small craft sticks black for the propeller.

• Paint each piece separately before construction. Tip: to make painting the pegs easier, slot on the edge of an empty ice cream tub or shoebox to save messy fingers.

• Add a second coat and let dry.

• Now add your details: badges, markings etc with a micro stubby brush. You can add camouflage, flags, letters, numbers...let your imagination fly!

• Once dry, using either PVA or a hot glue gun, construct your plane by gluing the 2 x small propeller craft sticks together in the centre to make a cross. Slot the wing piece into the centre of the peg and the tail at the end. (If you are making a multiple wing plane like the ‘Red Baron’ add a wing on top and beneath).

LET’S PLAY... DOMINOES

Escape the winter chill, get back to basics and spend family time with your children indoors by opening a box of dominoes. Whether sitting up at the kitchen table or getting down on the lounge room floor, the simple rules make this an ideal game for all ages. Children can benefit from playing dominoes as it contributes to their cognitive (thinking) abilities, specifically their numeracy skills.

Instructions:

• Place all dominoes in the centre with the blank side up.

• Each player selects five dominoes.

• Remaining dominoes are used as a draw pile.

• Stand dominoes upright, with dots facing players.

• Each player selects a domino from the draw pile to determine who goes first. Whoever draws the domino with the highest number goes first and play continues clockwise. Drawn dominoes are returned to draw pile.

• First player chooses a domino and places it in the centre.

• The next player selects a domino from their pile that matches one side of the domino in the centre.

• Place domino end to end or at right angles, as long as the joined ends match.

• Pick a domino from the draw pile if none of your dominoes can be played. When the draw pile has been depleted, pass without making a move.

• Continue play until all dominoes have been used.

LET’S HUNT... ADVENTURE RACE

Explore your environment with a treasure hunt or an adventure race. This activity promotes co-operation, collaboration and leadership and builds essential life skills, including the ability to read instructions or a map. Design an outdoor adventure race for your children in your backyard, if the weather permits, alternatively play this game indoors and have children find objects around the house.

Instructions:

• Compile and distribute a list of items for each child, “pair” or “team”.

• Individuals or teams race to collect as many items on the list as possible in a set time

• The first person / team back who has collected the most items on the list wins

Outdoor items on the list may include:

• Blade of grass measuring 5 cm

• A garden snail

• A feather

• Five different types of leaves

• A garden worm

• A stone or pebble measuring 6cm

• A piece of bark

• Something red

• Five different green things

• The root of a weed

• Soil weighing 50grams

• The name of two flowers in the garden

If possible, film or take photos to document the hunt – David Attenborough style.

LET’S NAVIGATE... OBSTACLE COURSE

Build trust and develop relationships with this physical and sensory challenge. An obstacle course encourages team work, co-operation cultivates effective communication skills, body awareness and the safe negotiation of environments.

Instructions:

• Set up an obstacle course using markers, chalk, cardboard boxes, steps, slacklines, tunnels, beams and bridges (this can be done in the backyard or in the garage).

• Arrange children in pairs

• Blindfold one partner

• The other partner is in charge of safely directing and guiding his or her partner verbally, using instructions, or by using spotting techniques through the course

• Partners swap roles

To simplify: Do the course without a blindfold

For an added challenge: Time the teams to see who is the quickest to finish the course or have children continue to try to improve on their previous course time

Safety precaution: Make sure there is plenty of room between the obstacles, that children feel safe in being blindfolded, and there is no trauma issues, and that the partner uses spotting techniques during balance-type obstacles where there is a risk of a fall

LET’S GET OUR HANDS DIRTY... ESTABLISH A VEGETABLE GARDEN

Teach children about sustainable food practices have them establish and care for their own vegetable garden. Use Mr Fothergill's guide to establishing a vegetable garden. Winter vegetables include carrot, peas, broccoli, all year around lettuce seeds and onions. 

Instructions:

Select a location

• Select a site that receives a minimum of six hours sunlight a day.

Soil preparation

• The soil must be well prepared prior to planting. Add organic matter to provide nutrients, improve soil structure and ensure good drainage.

• If starting a garden in a raised bed or container be sure to use good quality soil mix combined with extra compost or manure.

Planting

• The ideal sowing depth is about twice the seed diameter.

• Sow seed at the recommended spacing and cover lightly.

• Refer to the back of seed packet for specific sowing details.

Care and maintenance of your vegetable garden

• Water the root area, avoiding the foliage

• A good soak every few days is recommended.

• Maintain a weed-free garden

• Prune leaves off the ground

• Rotate crops, alternate the varieties of vegetables grown in one place from year to year

LET’S LISTEN TO STORIES... MY GRANDPARENT AND ME

Nurture your child’s relationship with their grandparent and gain an appreciation of another generation. Have your childs’ grandparent tell them all about their childhood and what it was like when they were their age growing up.

Encourage your child to ask questions such as:

• Where did you grow up?

• How many brothers or sisters did you have?

• What do you remember about your grandparents?

• Who were your friends?

• What was school like?

• What did you do for fun when you were a child?

• What movies and songs did you like when you were young?

• How did you meet grandma/ grandpa?

• Where did you work?

• What important lessons have you learned in your life?

Take a photo of your child and their grand parent for them to remember. Make a photo frame to put it in. To make a basic frame select a variety of different coloured Popticks (or paint/colour neutral sticks) and glue 4 popsticks on the short sides of the frame and then 3 popsticks on the top and bottom long sides of the frame. Add some sparkle by gluing Rhinestones onto each corner of the inside of the frame.

Alternatively, have your child draw a photo or write a story of their grandparent as they imagine they would be like at their age.

LET’S CREATE…PAPER BAG PUPPETS 

Have the school holidays and winter weather left you feeling silly and wacky? express these emotions by creating crazy paper bag puppets. Once made, use the puppets to stage a puppet show.

Materials:

  • Craft Paper Bag 235259
  • Coloured Paper A3 189902
  •  Kids PVA Glue 085746
  • Chenille Stems 003152
  • Crayola® Washable Markers 058289
  •  Rainbow Glitter Paper 136705
  • Black Wiggle Eyes 235119
  • Pom Poms 000034

Instructions:

To create the Lobster:

  • Glue down the bottom of a red Craft Paper Bag to the front of the bag as shown above. Cut out a breast, claws and hands for the Lobster from yellow Coloured Paper. Glue the breast and claws to the front of the bag using Kids PVA Glue.
  • Cut a red Chenille Stem in half. Bend each piece at a 90 degree angle to create the lobsters elbows. Glue the Chenille Stems to the sides of the Craft Paper Bag. Attach the hands to the top of the Chenille Stems with Kids PVA Glue.
  • Fold another red Chenille Stem in half. Glue this to the back of the bag to create stems for the eyes. Cut out two white eyes from Coloured Paper. Use a black Crayola® Washable Marker to dot on the eyes and attach to the top of the Chenille Stems with Kids PVA Glue.

To create the Frog:

  • Cut out green hands, large green eyes and a red tongue from Coloured Paper. Glue these to the front of a green Craft Paper Bag. Now draw on a mouth nose and eyes using a black Crayola® Washable Marker.

To create the Ladybird:

  • Cut out 2 large wings from Rainbow Glitter Paper. Glue these to the front of a red Craft Paper Bag. Draw a body and face onto the front of the bag using a black Crayola® Washable Marker. Glue two Black Wiggle Eyes and a red Pom Pom nose on to the face using Kids PVA Glue. Now, bend a black Chenille Stem in half and glue to the top of the bag as antenae.

To create the Dog:

  • Glue down the bottom of a purple Craft Paper Bag to the front of the paper bag as shown above. Cut out a breast, round nose, floppy ears, eye and paws for the Puppy Dog from blue Coloured Paper. Glue these to the front of the paper bag using Kids PVA Glue as shown above. Draw on a face and eyes using a black Crayola® Washable Marker.