Planning for half term
Another half term is nearly upon us and so, like many of you, we are faced with the task of keeping the kids entertained! When you google ‘ideas for half term’, lots of days out and activities come up. The majority of these involve spending (lots of) money, which not everyone can afford and, with Christmas around the corner, many parents are thinking about saving up.
Having fun doesn’t mean spending lots of money, however, so have a look at some of our suggestions of ways to have fun both inside and outside, without breaking the bank!
- Enjoy the garden
There is so much to do in the garden at this time of year that it’s a perfect opportunity to get the children involved. I remember sweeping leaves from my Grandparent’s drive and being paid 50p for my hard work! Here are some suggestions to encourage your children’s green fingers…
- Those with a vegetable patch can get the children to help harvest the autumn fruit and vegetables. These can then be used to have fun cooking or baking!
- Get the children to rake the lawn or sweep the patio and drive to clear those Autumn leaves. Use some of the leaves to create some lovely autumnal craft – read our blog
- Dead head the roses or tidy up the containers and hanging baskets. Great opportunity to spot some mini beasts too!
- Pick your own apples
If you’re not lucky enough to have your own apple tree, head out to a pick your own farm – search for your local one here http://www.pickyourownfarms.org.uk/. It’s a great way of seeing the fruit grow and encourages healthy eating. Questions such as ‘how do apple trees grow’ and ‘how do apples get to the supermarket’, turns the trip into an educational one.
Head home and either have a fun game of apple bobbing or try making your own healthy applesauce with the children. It’s tasty, easy, fast to make and stores well (keeps in the fridge for at least a week and large batches can be frozen and defrosted as needed). See our recipe below:
- Quarter 1.2kg apples, remove core and chop into small chunks. Feel free to leave the peel on to get the extra fibre and phytonutrients if you have a high- powered blender. Plus the red apples will make a lovely pinkish colour! Peel your apples if you prefer a chunkier applesauce without the pieces of peel.
- Place apple cubes, juice of half a lemon and 6 tbsp of apple juice in a saucepan and stir to mix.
- Heat over medium high heat until the mixture begins to bubble. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook, partially covered, for around 15 minutes until the apples are soft (but not mushy).
- Transfer mix to a high-powered blender. Blend on lowest speed for about 20 seconds, them gradually increase speed until the entire mix is completely smooth (2-3minutes)
- Pumpkin Festival
This autumn tradition is already huge in America and we’re starting to follow suit. The most convenient way of getting a pumpkin is to buy one at the supermarket. However, heading to a pumpkin patch has lots of advantages:
- Increased choice – have fun walking up and down rows deciding on which is your perfect pumpkin!
- The hayride – create a fun family memory and remember to take lots of fun pictures!
- Corn mazes – pick your own pumpkin sites often have these which are a perfect adventure to go on with friends and family, as they require you to think and work together.
- Farm animals – pick your own pumpkin sites are often found on farms. Little ones in particular love looking and petting the farm animals.
- Food – chances are, when you participate in the activities the pumpkin patch has to offer, there will be some food stalls. We love a hot chocolate to warm those fingers when it’s cold outside!
Once you’ve chosen those perfect pumpkins, head home for some fun creative carving or get busy in the kitchen with pumpkin soup or pumpkin pie!
- Wash the car
Growing up in Yorkshire, with parents who were not going to splash the cash on a car wash, it inevitably fell to us to take part in this job! It can still be fun in the colder months – just add the layers and wellies – and then have a hot chocolate treat afterwards to warm those cold hands!
Washing the car has so many benefits for both yourself and the children:
- A sense of responsibility, independence and pride in being helpful – cleaning is a great life skill to practise early on!
- Fresh air from being outdoors
- Learning about water (the value of water play cannot be underestimated)
- Hand skill development (grasping, strength, bilateral coordination – filling, pouring, scrubbing, wiping, squeezing, manipulating…)
- Imaginative play – the run-off can be turned into a dam in the gutter, or the suds in the bucket can be used to ‘write’ on the car while it’s being cleaned, the hose can make patterns on the dry pavement
- A whole bunch of sensory experiences
And whilst they’re at it, bikes and scooters can be washed too!
Try some of the below autumn craft ideas which we brought to you in our previous blog Autumn – bringing the outside indoors that are either free or cost very little:
- Window Art
- Autumn tree
- Pine cone feeder
- Acorn wreath
- Painted acorns
- Stone painting
- Autumn leaf garland
Or start getting organised for Christmas and get them making Christmas cards, crafts or family presents!
- Family walk or bike ride
Walking is a brilliant activity for you and your children to spend some time together. You can do it virtually anywhere and don’t need any expensive gear – just add the layers and pop on some comfy shoes or wellies.
Here are a few more reasons why taking a family walk is great this autumn:
- Its such a fun, interesting and educational time of year – colourful leaves, lots of things to collect (conkers, acorns, pine cones) and great puddles to jump in!
- Sociable time spent together
- Promotes independence and freedom – children can help make more decisions than they can in the car. They can choose to stop and look at something along the way, choose the route to walk and start to make decisions about road safety. For older children, walking independently offers some time to themselves.
- So many health benefits! Helps boost mood and self-esteem, helping you all stay healthy in mind and body.
Use the Scavenger hunt list to collect items to bring home for activities and games such as memory game and conkers – have a read of our previous blog Autumn – bringing the outside indoors for further information.
- Den building in your garden
Get them layered up and have some fun creating dens and shelters in your backgarden. All you need is a tarpaulin or a sheet and some string or rope, then venture outside like trepid explorers to find trees, bushes or fences where you can attach your building materials…hours of fun! Get clever and creative by using a stapler or safety pins to hold pieces of material together to make doorways and corridors!
- Local library or museum
Head to your local library for free to read some great new stories or look at some of your local museums which may either offer free entry to locals or have some special events organised during the holiday which are free to attend. Check out your local council’s website as you may find something for your children to do that doesn’t cost a penny.
It can be a good idea to have a look at the weather and make a plan for the week which will help you spend less money on unplanned things. Thank you for reading and hope these ideas provide some inspiration for having fun this half term with the family whilst spending less!
Jemma and Gill
Little Active People
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