Hints and tips for a half term away from your screens.

Boys will be boys, vintage photograph

The first half term holiday of the school year is upon us and as always we're on hand with ideas for keeping your kids occupied during the break without the need for resorting to too much screen time. Here we pick our top tips from one of our favourite parenting books - How to unplug your child which we hope will inspire you and your brood during this autumn break.

For bad weather days:

1. If you have a fancy dress box or some of your own clothes which you don't mind donating for the day, get your kids to put on a play centred around a theme of your choosing. This not only occupies them for a lot of the day, as they practice and come up with ideas, but it also gives them a chance to perform to you, in turn helping with confidence, and ignites their imagination. And who knows, if it's any good, you can get them to perform their play at a family gathering or for grandparents when they come to stay! For a 21st century twist - why not instead get your clan to film their very own music video?!

Vintage childhood photograph, costume, family plays

2. Setting up a book club is a great way to get the whole family reading and exchanging ideas. Pick a book which can be read easily within the week and that perhaps has an audio book so that younger non-reading children can join in. Maybe pick a book that you remember reading from your own childhood, as this will encourage reflection and will give you a chance to tell stories from your younger years. The Wind in the Willows and A Little Princess are some of the stories we love sharing with older children whilst the Peter Rabbit stories are still fantastic stories for younger kids.

Children reading, book club

For those sunny days:

3. If your kids are into their animals, why don't you borrow a dog for the day, bearing in mind you don't already have one! Ask friends with a pooch if you could dog sit for the day or instead use one of the many dog borrowing websites. This activity not only gets your children outside playing with the dog and taking them for walks, but it also gives them responsibility for the day. Who knows, if it's a success this could be a regular occurrence - much to the delight of your doggy-bound friends! Of course, if you're already a dog owner, use them to get your kids out and about this holidays...

Children and dogs

4. With the Autumn winds starting to take hold, there's no better time to get outside and fly a kite. Get into the park or onto the beach to find our perfect flying spot and see how long you can keep your kite in the air for. Don't buy a kite which is too complicated - simplicity is key and it means the risks of returning home grumpy with a tangled contraption are kept to a minimum!

Children flying kites

For those creative days:

5. Starter tapestry kits are a great way of keeping the kids quiet and occupied over the half term break. There's a whole host of designs available for both boys and girls and the simple stitching involved is easy for them to pick up meaning they won't need to keep running to you for help. Perhaps you can then get the tapestry mounted on a little cushion for their bedrooms once the project is completed?

Children tie dye t shirt

6. What could be cooler than having a hand in designing your own clothes? The art of tie-dying has long been a fun activity for children and is very easy to do. All you need is a plain white cotton t-shirt and your choice of coloured fabric dyes. You'll be left with new clothes that your children can't wait to show off to their friends or wear to bed as a new pyjama top!

For those sweet treat days:

7. If you're like us and will be mourning the loss of The Great British Bake Off next week. Why not have your own family version? Let your child pick their recipe and lick the bowl in this fun day of yummy competition. Maybe you have Granny and Grandpa coming to stay who can act as your very own Paul and Mary?!

Children baking

8. What could be more rewarding than picking your own fruits for a delicious tart? October is a fantastic month for finding apples, blackberries, elderberries, plums, raspberries and strawberries at a number of PYO farms. Or why not pick your own pumpkins for carving Halloween ghoulies and making delicious pumpkin pies.

Daddy and daughter berry picking

For those clearing out days:

9. Sometimes, you need to have a good clear out. Why not encourage your children to pick out 10 items that they don't need anymore. These items can either go to the local charity shop, a great way of teaching kids about those in need, or items can go to a local car boot sale, where the children can become entrepreneurial and make some pocket money!

For those days when you need to get somewhere:

children on car journey

10. And finally...like any holiday, half term if fully of trips out, either to see friends and family or maybe for a family day out. Here are some classic games to make those journeys a little easier - 

          Hangman, dots and boxes, noughts and crosses (pen and paper needed)

          The memory game

          20 questions: who am I

          Desert Island Discs




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