1. Body painting Buy a selection of bathtime body paints, then hop in the tub to paint designs on each body part, naming the body parts and the things you are drawing as you go… bees on their knees, a sweet on their feet and so on.
2. Put on a puppet show If you don’t have puppets to hand, then retrieve those fuzzy winter socks from the charity bag and turn them into colourful sock characters. You can do the same with paper bags and even those floppy yellow washing-up gloves. Cut out a large square from the centre of the bottom of a big cardboard box (to create a ‘proscenium arch’ for the show), put ‘curtains’ inside the box at either side, then see what the puppets have to tell you.
3. Where are we going today? Pull out a suitcase and have each child pack a bag – tell them not to tell you, but to choose a specific destination (the snow, the beach, a safari etc), then they can pack their bags with all the appropriate gear. When all the bags are packed, arrive at ‘the airport’ (aka your living room), then open the bags one at a time and have everyone decide where the bag was going. Everyone can then make postcards from their ‘destination’.
4. Your home cinema Set a start time, make big tubs of popcorn and ice-cream cones, then set up your comfy ‘cinema’ seating in rows and ‘sell’ tickets for the show. You could also make posters for the event. Winnie-The-Pooh, Babe, The Lion King, Shrek and Mary Poppins are all great ideas for a rainy-day movie.
5. Hollywood star Line a kitchen tray with a layer of PlayDoh (about 2cm deep), then have your child press her hands down into the PlayDoh. Tell her to hold the pose for 30 seconds (while you take a paparazzi picture), Then help her scratch her name above the hand prints. Spray the PlayDoh with hairspray (so it will dry shiny instead of cracked) and let it dry.
6. Line dancing Create a repeating pattern of steps (such as 4 steps left, clap, hop, jump, jump; turn around and repeat), then repeat over and over again until you all know how to do it really well. Try and come up with imaginative spins and turns to make it an even more dramatic performance.
7. Take turns writing a story and illustrating it Get a large scrapbook and have one child write the story on each right-hand page, then switch books and the other child can draw their illustration for the story on the left-hand page. Get out the glitter, glue and colourful paper for creating the cover illustration. And have a competition to come up with the title.
8. Make a family tree Give your child a big board of cardboard then show him how to ‘grow’ his family tree – starting with himself at the very bottom and with you and your partner on the next branch. The next branch will split further with each of your mothers and fathers, followed by more branches for aunts and uncles. When all the details are in place, he can draw a big tree picture over the top, using the chart’s branches to guide the drawing of his tree.
9. Get a pen pal Inspire your child’s love of writing letters by setting her up with an international pen pal. Over the age of three, the excitement of getting her very own letter in the post will be inspiration enough. If you have friends living overseas who have children of a similar age, this is the perfect way to begin – for older children, remind them that they can collect stamps and postcards from another part of the world. If you are not in this situation, your child can join a letter-writing organisation.
10. Start a holiday diary Buy a book that you can fill with drawings, photographs, musings, poems and dried flowers – anything that reminds you of each and every day. Even toddlers can have a holiday diary – although you will have to help them quite a bit.
“Give your child a big board of cardboard then show him how to ‘grow’ his family tree”