By Amy Treasure

The school holidays are almost upon us and – love the thought or loathe it – now is a great time to consider how to keep the kids occupied over the summer. Computer games and the internet are a great diversion and they have their place, of course; but there are many other more sociable and virtuous pursuits they could be getting involved in too.

If you’re keen to provide some good old-fashioned FREE fun, there’s plenty to do – despite what your grandchildren may tell you to the contrary!

This list promotes getting outdoors and moving, plus lots of imagination-based games and activities.

1. Have an arts and crafts day with stations

Paints, playdough, plasticine; mixing, moulding and modelling. Show them what’s expected of them and they’ll get stuck in!

2.Visit a museum or art gallery

Most museums and galleries are completely free to visit. And while this option may be age-dependent, that’s only true up to a point…

Children too young to appreciate a science museum? Then they’d likely be fascinated by dinosaur bones and replicas! Equally, if they’re not yet taking an interest in the skeletons of extinct animals, then they’re likely the perfect age to appreciate a railway museum – which often tend to have working steam engines to awe even the tiniest dots.

3. Put on a play

It usually takes just a bit of encouragement to get little minds whirring; and once they’re in that mindset, children can amuse themselves for hours. You could have them come up with characters, write their parts, and learn their respective lines.

Getting them dressed up – including make-up – and offering to film their efforts will make the whole experience more authentic and capture their imaginations.

4. Pitch a tent

Kids love tents! Even if it’s only in the back garden, this suggestion is bound to impress. You could include a picnic in the garden; or get really creative and build a makeshift assault course to keep idle hands (and arms and legs) busy!

5. Go to the beach

Sunshine and ice-cream is all it takes to give an ordinary activity the atmosphere of a holiday. If weather permits, a traditional bucket and spade day always goes down a treat.

To really inspire, consider hosting a sandcastle-building competition – and join in!

6. Build a den

Every child (and many adults too) relish den-building! If the children claim they’re too old, you’ll have only to show them the joy you also take from recreating this childhood pleasure to get them on board.

Besides which, there’s scope to be ambitious here: you can do so much more than simply pull cushions and throws off the sofa: encourage the family to go for a bike ride and forage outside and attempt an al fresco masterpiece!

7. Bake

Baking is a family favourite – not least because of the reward earned! Unfortunately, this choice of activity is often over-looked due to time-constraints. However, this is a wonderful way to bond with your grandchildren, while also teaching them a fantastic skill.

8. Volunteer (home)

If you’re feeling saintly – or want to teach the children about charity and altruism – you could arrange to volunteer close to home. While your plans may initially be met with scepticism and complaints, it’s an inevitability that attitudes will have changed by the end of the day. And you’ll have promoted self-esteem and pride as a by-product of a kind deed. You could even tie this in with baking and encourage the little ones to share the fruits of their labour.

If you have lots of chores to do at home, a twist on this idea would be to get them helping you out at home! (Bribery involving an ice-cream van may be necessary…)

9. Host a play date / barbeque

This is a fantastic way to be sociable without having to fork out for local attractions – simply ask your guests to each bring a dish. Other parents will no doubt be grateful for some adult company too – away from the hustle and bustle of expensive days out. It’s also a great way to use up your left over baked goods.

10. Have a home-movie day

Going to the cinema is great fun – but so pricey these days!  Fear not; there are so many brilliant films available to stream online, a trip to the cinema can easily be recreated at home.

If that’s a little out of your comfort zone you could raid your own cupboards and share old favourites with your grandchildren that they never had an opportunity to see. After all – it’s common knowledge that the oldies are the goodies!

Admittedly this is a bit of a cheat option, but if you’ve worked your way through the list above then you’ve all earned a much-deserved rest.

There’s just one stipulation for this activity: indulgent treats are a must!

Making the Most of the Summer

The school holidays are notoriously stressful for you, with connotations of boredom for the kids. However, with a little forward-thinking on your part, and some guidance and encouragement for the children, it’s entirely feasible to provide a magical few weeks based around imaginative play.

But without question, the most crucial element for keeping your grandkids engaged and having fun is to join them!