If left to their own devices during the school holidays, children will take the path of least resistance and will default to a screen. If you don’t want them glued to screens then you have to actively distract them with other fun activities, put limits on screen time, and get involved with them too.

Being the winter school holidays, perhaps it is cold, windy and wet outside, depending on where you live, so some family indoor activities in a warm room, maybe next to a cosy fire, are just the thing. Remember, kids really do love a sense of togetherness with their family members. It’s what they want most even if they can’t express it very well.

I’m sure you have board games, puzzles, card games and craft kits or science experiments stashed away in a cupboard somewhere. Now is the time to take them out!

Puzzles make great holiday activities

Whether puzzles are 24 pieces or a thousand pieces, they can become a family activity. Puzzles require:

  • Concentration
  • Sorting and matching skills
  • Planning
  • Part-whole relationships
  • Figure-ground perception and so much more (in fact they are one of the best educational toys around)

Make sure you have a dedicated space to build on that you won’t need to clear up before the puzzle is complete. You can also consider buying a puzzle building mat that means you can roll up your creation before it is finished and bring it out again at a later stage and everything will be in the same place where you left it.

Click here for a more detailed post on puzzle building.

Board games help families connect

Monopoly is probably one of the world’s most famous board games but there are so many more to choose from today that families are spoilt for choice. Benefits of board games:

  • Turn taking
  • Strategic thinking and planning
  • Winning and losing
  • Concentration
  • Conversation
  • Learning to play by the rules

Click here to download my Toy Talk 2016 toy and game recommendations for some ideas.

Other games for quick fun

Card games are a fun and are usually quicker than a board game. Try UNO as a classic for starters and there is so much you can do with a traditional deck of playing cards too. What I love most about card games is that they are usually small and portable so are easy to take with you when you are travelling or going to a restaurant where you may have a bit of time to kill while waiting for your food to arrive.

And you can create some fun out of nothing too. Try out my potato game called Perrara for some hilarious family fun. Click here for instructions.

Experiments and crafts

  • Making things – whether crafts or experiments, is really good for kids. They get to:
  • Improve their skills eg. eye-hand co-ordination when sewing, knitting, weaving, painting etc
  • Use their creativity eg. colouring, building, painting, decorating
  • Follow instructions, when it comes to crafts or science experiments
  • Have patience because they need to learn that things take time eg. Glue takes time to dry and reactions such as creating crystals in a science experiment, don’t happen in an instant
  • Feel a wonderful sense of satisfaction in their efforts

Click here for my Making Fun Out of Nothing craft activities.

Uninterrupted playtime is the single biggest benefit of school holidays

Children today are so rushed and having uninterrupted playtime is a gift. During the school holidays, let your children get out a variety of games and toys, and mix and match them eg. the train set, Barbie dolls, a farm set, cars, building blocks, Lego sets and more. They can build a whole village around the train track.

Give them the gift of a whole day or two of going back and adding to their game before having to pack it away. You will be amazed at how engrossed they will become if they don’t have to pack away half an hour after starting.

Benefits of playing together as a family

  • Play is a way for families to bond.
  • It is a language all of its own.
  • It builds bridges between adults and children.
  • It creates warm, fuzzy, rich multi-sensory memories.
  • It evokes laughter.
  • It creates opportunities to praise, encourage and tease each other.

Never underestimate the power of play in creating a strong family unit. There is a saying that families that play together, stay together.