Phew! These holidays are stretching on a bit. Has the joy of having children home all day worn off for you yet? By mid-August, most mums who stay at home are running low on ideas of things to do with children that DON’T include Xboxes and PSP games and vegging in front of the TV. We’ve done:
a drawing game – each think of 10 things to draw and put them in a box, shake it and take turns to try and draw what’s on your bit of paper. A sort of home-made Pictionary.
we read ‘The Speckled Band’, a terrific, gripping and, most importantly, very short short story by Conan Doyle about Sherlock Holmes and Watson. We drew a picture of Holmes in a deerstalker and read a quick biography of Sir Arther Conan Doyle. I never knew he was a doctor – hence Holmes’ ability to infer all kinds of clues from observing things closely.
In the kitchen, while cooking various things, we froze, boiled and simmered ingredients, watching how they turned from liquid into solid and into vapour. And then, if it was possible, we ate it or drank it.
We watched Zulu and read about Rorke’s Drift in The Dangerous Book for Boys. Other films we watched included Braveheart (Scottish bid for independence) and The Boy In Striped Pyjamas (the Holocaust).
We did pop-art paintings – Nelson Mandela with a tongue piercing, Gandhi with tattoos. In dayglo colours.
I think you can pinpoint a lot of excellent stuff on TV if you have a lot of channels. The Discovery Channel feels like relaxing fun to ten-year olds but is pretty informative too. Let me know if you’ve got any favourite programmes that are fun and clever. I’m always interested.
Are you going on a plane this summer with children? Or any summer for that matter? Most likely you’ll think … “money, passport, tickets” …..as you leave the house. But I’d advise adding “games” to your list of indispensable items. When Easyjet announce a 4-hour wait in some poxy little airport with overpriced mags and drinks that your children simply MUST have to stay reasonable, you can whip out one of the following:
Bananagrams – we played this all holiday and it can be played by a family of all ages. Sort of freeform scrabble but good for vocabulary building and good for competitive children. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Winning-Moves-BAN001-Bananagrams-Game/dp/1932188126
BrainBox History/Maths/The World etc – the ten-minute memory recall game. It’s really quite difficult even for adults but mind-broadening, general-knowledge-encouraging fun and good for all ages too. http://www.brainboxgame.com/
Chess – no explanation needed. In our recent chess phase (which has sadly now been superceded by PSP’s FIFA 2010 game) we played out one of the chess grandmaster games Karpov v Kasparov from 1984 World Chess Championships. (It was a very long wait at that particular airport).
Boggle – my children have now cottoned on to the fact that this is actually more work than it feels when you are having fun shaking the Boggle box. But still, it’s good for the first few games and you can always revisit it later. You’ll need to add paper and pencil to your list of indispensable airport items for this one.
Here’s my list of things to listen to in the car, whizzing along the motorway, stuck in a traffic jam or just waiting for the lights to change. All of them are cunningly disguised as fun and entertaining while being packed with learning and knowledge. As I said once before, the car is your best learning tool – for you and the kids.
- Horrible Histories – audio CDs are fantastic for in-car family laughs on long journeys. Very good are Measly Middle Ages, Rotten Romans, Vicious Vikings. Excellent BBC production values and very funny sound effects.
- Beethoven’s Wig – another good one for long car journeys. This company takes the most famous bits of classic music and sets them to ridiculous lyrics so that Beethoven’s 5th, for example, starts with ‘Beethoven’s wig is very big…..’ you have to listen to get the idea, I think. Funny and clever. Now my children (12 and 10) can sing along to just about any classical ‘hit’ on the radio.
- I like the Naxos Junior Classics CDs I hate to admit it but to be honest, the books of these great works of literature can be a bit long and boring but the Greek Legends are great and King Arthur is very good too. Only really suitable for children 12 and up but interesting for the driver as well.
I’ll post up some TV and book favourites shortly that combine entertainment with interesting and useful knowledge.