Great ideas for getting your kids off computers for a while and enjoying some timeless fun.
No TV, no DS, no computer - whatever will they do?
Hard to imagine for our generation of high-tech youngsters, but there are plenty of ways to keep amused without the aid of a screen, even without resorting to reading, drawing, painting and other crafts, great as these are for whiling away an afternoon. If you can round up a few friends (or siblings and their pals to make up the numbers), there are plenty of games that will keep the kids occupied – and even provide them with healthy exercise and fresh air. And while they’re having fun, they’ll be learning all sorts of useful social skills into the bargain. Here are five to get you started.
‘It’ with torches: best for a winter’s afternoon or a sleepover party. Decide in advance whether ‘it’ is allowed to switch the torch off to conceal his approach or whether ‘it’ must keep it on to warn others and give them the opportunity to change their hiding place. A big garden without too many hazards is ideal, but indoors with the lights off will also work (make sure there are no breakables around).
Sweet hide ‘n’ seek
Each child gets a paper or plastic plate piled high with cornflakes. Hidden in each pile is a sweet (jelly babies are perfect). Hands are tied behind their backs and they dive in to find the hidden treasure. The winner is the first to emerge with the sweet between their teeth.
Swing the statue
Head for the garden and get swinging! The person designated ‘it’ takes each player in turn, holding their wrist or arm, swinging them round and letting go. That player must stop moving as soon as possible and hold that position as long as he can. The first player to move then becomes it, and swings everyone again. (Yes, one player has to stay still longer than the others, so it may be wise to start with the oldest to avoid tantrums and pleas of ‘not fair!’) You can also do this in teams of two, with one swing and the other being the statue and trying to stay still longer than their opponents.
All you need is a ping-pong ball and a large table. Split into two teams and take your position at either end of the table, place the ball in the centre, then blow as hard as you can to try and get the ball to the other end. Variations on a theme could involve flicking a scrunched-up piece of paper Subbuteo-style with your finger, or patting a small bouncy ball with your hand as if you were playing mini basketball (this could get rough, so beware of breakables!).
For something more sedate, give this a try. Each child gets a piece of paper. First write a name, then fold this over and pass it on to the next. Continue in this way until you have two names, a place, two quotes and a consequence on each sheet of paper (‘name’ met ‘name’ at xxx. He said… She said… And the consequence was…). Read each aloud and marvel at the disjointed stories.
For rainy days...
Bring the outside in. Set up a ‘cuddly jungle’ in the living room. Use blankets and furniture to drape a range of toys about the lounge, and dig out a cardboard box to create a makeshift boat to travel across the ‘Amazon’ (aka the carpet). Younger children will love designing a space for a hot desert on the sofa and a tropical jungle by the TV, then adding all the toy animals from around the home in a DIY safari park. Older children can help provide animal sounds to create the right environment.