Thursday, November 14, 2013

rainy days: entertaining kids for free

We have a week or so of rainy days ahead of us. It's an idea to have a few rainy day activities that require little preparation and cost because if your family is like mine cabin fever sets in within a day or two!

Bake: We created this recipe and made these  'Coconut Rough' biscuits. Any food processor will do or you can get that elbow grease going! They don't have to be eaten all at once either. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Or you could make
* muffins; or
*lemon meringue pie;
*peanut butter and carob biscuits;
* a rainbow cake;
* a pear and ginger holiday cake;
* a black magic cherry cake;
* a Persian love cake;
* a decadent strawberry and hazelnut torte;
 and, it doesn't have to be Easter to make hot cross buns;

Cook: You've got to eat and there's nothing like feeling productive on a rainy day! My kids love helping me in the kitchen. They love being given a job to do. Rainy days tend to lead in to cold, wet nights. Why don't you get in early, put the oven on low in the morning and create a good slow cooked dinner you can all share at night after it's been filling the house with gorgeous aromas throughout the day?!

Here are a few recipe ideas for the slow cooker.
* Lamb with Ottolenghi's cous cous.
* Slow cooked lamb shanks in red wine.
* This chicken tagine recipe can be slow cooked in an oven at 120Âșc for 4-8 hours.
* Moussaka (requires a bit of preparation).
* Chuck a whole bunch of vegetables in an oven proof pot and your favourite herbs and spices, a bit of water and you'll have a yummy vego stew.
* Use your favourite curry ingredients to make a slow cooked curry.

Slow cooked lamb shanks in red wine

Have a tea party: Make some 'tea' (herbal is better for kids) or hot chocolates for everyone and lay a rug or towel down. Share morning or afternoon tea and snacks on the rug together.

Play dress ups: If you don't have a dedicated dress-up box kids LOVE trying on Mummy and Daddy's clothes and shoes and pretending to be Mummy 'making dinner, reading a book, brushing child's hair' or Daddy 'going to work, mowing the lawn, doing the dishes.'

Declutter: I spent a rainy morning going through all my kids' toys and books and managed to fill the bot of our car with things we can live without. I'll deliver these to an op-shop with the hope that they can be used by somebody and the op-shop can make a few extra dollars for families less fortunate, especially leading up to Christmas. 

Old games: Have you, like me, got a few puzzles and games that the kids haven't looked at in a while? These rainy days are perfect for getting out old toys and the bonus is that they should be entertained for a while.

Draw: You only need some paper or card, pencils or textas and a bit of creativity. In my experience kids love to free draw i.e. draw whatever they like, but if you've all got cabin fever a bit of directed drawing might do the trick. For example try doing still life drawings with household objects. There's no reason why you can't get the paints out and paint under a covered area too.

Make play dough: Do you have flour, water, salt and food colouring? There are dozens of play dough recipes online but I like the cooked play dough recipes. I once read that a few drops of peppermint oil gives play dough longevity. Even if this isn't true it makes it smell good!

Dance: Get some music on and have a good ol' fashioned dance. It's good exercise and I guarantee you'll all have smiles on your faces dancing around the loungeroom!

Make books: Take photos and print them out or have a child draw the illustrations in books about themselves. These books have a simple, repetitive structure which is great for pre-readers or those children who are beginning to read. These books give value to the child's world ad experiences.

Examples of books include:
* This is me. This is my Mummy and Daddy. This is my sister/brother. This is my pet. This is where I live. 
* This is me. (insert names of family members) This is my Daddy. This is my Mummy. This is my grandfather/grandmother. This is my cousin. This is my aunty. This is my family.
* I am (insert child's name). I like (example) dinosaurs. I like my blankies (or comforter). I like bush walking (insert verb here and as many pages as needed e.g. swimming, reading, running, climbing, cooking, talking, drawing, eating, camping, circus tricks.)

If in doubt play Lego (or Duplo for littlies): We don't have a mountain of Lego but you can make a lot from a little and you can pull it apart and make more things.

Share the love: Chances are that if you're getting cabin fever so are your friends. You can rotate between houses so that all the toys are pulled out in every house and muddy footprints are spread through everyone's hallways only one person has to host each day. It also means that there are 'new' toys at each house.

Read: I've written about my favourites books here if you need inspiration. Some children can sit for an hour listening to an adult reading to them. Some children like reading on their own and some seem to have little interest in sitting still to read but I've found that the more you read with children, the more they want to read! Grab a stack of picture books (from home or the local library) and have a reading hour. You can explain that everyone is having reading time (and a read the newspaper or a magazine yourself) or you can grab a book that requires an adult to read it. Today I began reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl to the kids. We've seen the original movie but there's nothing like a book!

Craft activities: You only need to type "kids craft" into Pinterest (or click here) and hundreds of ideas come up. There are so many crafty ideas that can come from everyday household objects too. What about sponge painting, making collages from old magazines, using cartons and boxes from your recycling to make a castle or a robot? The list of ideas is endless!


Jump in muddy puddles: get your wet-weather gear on and make Peppa Pig proud. The kids will love this and you can warm up afterwards with a bubble bath!

Chalk drawings: As a child (or an adult) it feels as though there's nothing more rebellious than graffiti'ing the front steps. Sidwalk chalk (available from toy stores, craft shops and $2 stores) is perfect for scrawling the driveway and better still, the rain will wash it away! We have this great book,Chalk the Block with loads of chalkie ideas.

Hopscotch: Following on from chalk drawings use chalk to draw up a hopscotch design. Here are the rules for Classic Hopscotch.

Have you got other ideas for activities with kids on rainy days? I'd love to hear your suggestions!

Miss May Blossom

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