1. Throw an afternoon tea party A tiny table, a pot of lukewarm ‘tea’, cups, saucers, serviettes and spoons and your toddler will be acting like the perfect lady of the house... Encourage her to ‘pour the tea’ and ‘add the sugar’. Offer plenty of pleases and thank-yous.
2. ‘Paint' the fence A bucket of water and a big wide paintbrush will be all your preschooler needs to set off on the man-size task of ‘painting’ the fence.
3. Make a daisy chain Pluck the flowers so you have nice long stems, then pierce the stem lengthwise and thread the next flower through. Now make necklaces, bracelets, garlands and crowns.
4. Hopscotch Use chalk to draw a hopscotch pattern on the ground or use masking tape on the floor if it’s indoors. There should be 8 squares set off in ones and twos. Number them in order. Each player will need a different marker (stone, shell, bottlecap, button, etc) then, standing behind the start line, each player tosses their marker into square one; they then have to hop over the square that has the marker and hop and jump all the way to square 8, hop and jump back and stop at square 2 to pick up the marker; hop in square one and then start again, this time tossing the marker into square 2. A player is ‘out’ if the marker lands outside the appropriate square or if they lose their balance or put down their other foot or a hand.
5. Blow bubbles Set up a big bucket with a mix of one part detergent with 10 parts water (for super-strong bubbles, add a dash of glycerine as well), and put together a collection of bubble blowing ‘wands’ (a piece of string tied in a loop, a wire coathanger twisted into a circle). Compete to blow the biggest bubbles, do a bubblechase, or see how many bubbles you can burst in one minute.
6. Start a water fight Gather as many parents/children/friends as you can. There should be a goal, which each team is protecting from getting wet (and one they are trying to get wet); when one of the goals has been soaked, you know you have won.
7. Set up camp Pitch camp in the back garden. You’ll need a tent, some bedding, seating and food to cook on your fire. If fires aren’t allowed in your area, light a trangia (make sure there is very close adult supervision at all times) and roast marshmallows, flame-grill your (pre-cooked) sausages, or toast some bread. Take some digital photos for the holiday diary. It might even inspire a camping excursion in the future.
8. Make a scarecrow Help your child bend a wire coathanger into a diamond shape, keeping the hook at the top. Put the hanger inside the leg of a stocking and pull until the fabric is taut. Tie a knot in the stocking to prevent it slipping off (make sure the hook still sticks out the top). Give your child a range of old clothes and fabrics – these will be used to make eyes, a nose, mouth, scarf and hat. Help her cut out the shapes she wants and glue them on to the nylon. Use the hook at the top of the face to hang your scarecrow from a tree.
9. Hold a mudpie-making competition Buckets, ladles, spatulas and shaped cutters will be everything you need to start the competition. Save the scoring until the next day to test if any of the pies crack or to add decoration.
10. Slug and bug hunt Send your child on a slug and bug hunt with a glass jar and a small net (for catching their finds). When they have a few specimens, talk about what food the bugs will need. For inspiration, check out www.insectlore.co.uk and www.sciencemuseumstore.com