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On the JJ Barnes Blog, I check out different ways to entertain children on rainy days in the summer holidays.

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Rainy Days Of Summer

We are entering the six weeks summer holidays during one of the rainiest most miserable Julys I can remember. Our plans of beach trips, BBQs in the garden, dog walks and playground excursions look in serious jeopardy as the grey rain hammers against the windows, thunder rolls through the skies, and everybody huddles up inside wearing fluffy pyjamas all day.

Rainy days can be a drag for kids, especially when there’s no school to keep them busy and entertained during the day time. And if, like me, you’re a work from home parent, you won’t be able to spend all day every day setting up educational and exciting projects to keep your children amused.

However, do not fear. There are plenty of ways to keep them entertained, engaged, and even educated, on the gloomiest of days of the summer holidays!

How To Entertain Children On Rainy Days In The Summer Holidays

I’ve gathered up a wide range of suggestions for activities to entertain children on rainy days in the summer holidays. Some will need parent input, some will need a parent to casually observe, and some mean your children can just be left to it (this is when you want to get into a hot bath with a glass of wine and hide).

I am also sharing the educational benefits of each activity, so at the end of the day you can pat yourself on the head for a job well done (some of these are tenuous… but go with me.)

Build A Blanket Fort

If you’re willing to sacrifice your dining table for the day, building a blanket fort is a fantastic activity for children, and needs very little parental supervision. Gather blankets, cushions, and pegs, and let them turn your table and chairs into a den with no room for adults!

My girls love to build a blanket fort and it keeps them busy and entertained for ages, even after the fort is complete! Once they’re satisfied with the outside, they then fill the inside with piles of cushions and snacks, then disappear inside to play games or watch Netflix or giggle and whisper insults about the grown ups. The tidying up is always a bit exhausting, but the fun and activity of the fort makes it all worth it.

Educational benefits of building a blanket fort:

  • It helps children develop their problem-solving skills. When children are building a fort, they have to figure out how to use the materials they have to create a structure that is sturdy and secure. This helps them develop their problem-solving skills.
  • It helps children develop their imagination. When children are building a fort, they have to use their imagination to come up with a design. This helps them develop their imagination and creativity.
  • It helps children develop their teamwork skills. If children are building a fort with friends or siblings, they have to work together to get the job done. This helps them develop their teamwork skills.

Set Up A Scavenger Hunt

This requires a bit of advance work on your part, but it’s worth it. Give your children a list of treasures they have to find and gather from around the house, then send them scurrying away. You’ll have each found treasure excitedly presented to you, and there will be the possibility of competitive conflict, but it’s a great way to keep them busy and active.

You can either hide items for them to find and write clues, always popular but a lot more effort, or you can give them a list of general household items that they have to gather from what’s already there. A great way of deciding what to send them hunting for is to choose a theme, and vary it each time you do a scavenger hunt so the challenge is different each time.

Ideas for themes:

    • Colors: Have the kids find things that are a certain color, such as red, blue, or green.
    • Animals: Have the kids find things that are related to animals, such as stuffed animals, pictures of animals, or animal-shaped objects.
    • Food: Have the kids find things that are related to food, such as fruits, vegetables, or kitchen utensils.
    • Objects in the house: Have the kids find things that are commonly found in the house, such as a remote control, a book, or a shoe.

Educational benefits of a scavenger hunt:

  • Problem-solving: Scavenger hunts require children to use their problem-solving skills to figure out where the items are hidden. This can help them develop their critical thinking skills and learn how to approach problems in a systematic way.
  • Language skills: Scavenger hunts often involve reading clues, which can help children improve their reading comprehension skills. They also require children to communicate with each other, which can help them develop their verbal and nonverbal communication skills.
  • Math skills: Scavenger hunts can help children practice their math skills, such as counting, adding, and subtracting. For example, a scavenger hunt could involve finding a certain number of items or finding items that add up to a certain number.
  • Observation skills: Scavenger hunts require children to pay attention to their surroundings and look for clues. This can help them develop their observation skills and learn how to notice details.
  • Teamwork: Scavenger hunts can be a great way for children to learn how to work together as a team. This can help them develop their social skills and learn how to cooperate with others.
  • Memory skills: Scavenger hunts require children to remember the clues and the items they have found. This can help them develop their memory skills and learn how to retain information.
  • Creativity: Scavenger hunts can be a great way for children to use their imagination and creativity. For example, children might need to come up with creative ways to solve puzzles or find hidden items.

Play Online Games

My girls love playing games, and while we have obvious favourites on the PlayStation, Minecraft being right up there, sometimes it’s fun to have a bit more variety. When I was growing up we didn’t have access to anything beyond what we’d bought in the shops, but my kids are growing up in a world where online games are not only fun and interesting, they’re also free!

For instance, the ten year old loves games like Cross The Road. She has to concentrate and really practice, which is great for keeping her focused on an activity for a long time, plus she gets a real sense of accomplishment and treats us all to a rather startling cry of “YES!” when she gets her character through another level.

I am absolutely not cut out for home schooling, but I do want to keep her toe in the waters of school so going back in September isn’t too much of a shock. Setting up her with educational games that make learning fun, especially when it’s her least favourite subject maths, is a fantastic way of helping her without actually having to figure out how to teach her. In Aliens Vs Maths, draws her in with easy wins, but as it gets harder she is pushed to think more and really test herself.

For the seven year old, who is firmly embedded in the stage of all things pink and sparkly, UniKitty has her squealing with joy. And even though the ten year old reckons she’s too grown up for it, it invariably results in her busting in to show off how it’s really done. To help with her spellings, I get her to play Animal Words. She loves animals and it’s so easy to access just filling in the blanks that she feels confident and has fun.

Educational benefits of online games:

  • Problem-solving: Many online games require children to solve problems in order to progress. This can help them develop their critical thinking skills and learn how to approach problems in a systematic way.
  • Language skills: Some online games require children to read and understand instructions. This can help them improve their reading comprehension skills. They also require children to communicate with each other, which can help them develop their verbal and nonverbal communication skills.
  • Math skills: Some online games involve math problems. This can help children practice their math skills, such as counting, adding, and subtracting.
  • Social skills: Online games can be a great way for children to interact with other children from all over the world. This can help them develop their social skills and learn how to cooperate with others.
  • Creativity: Some online games require children to use their imagination and creativity. This can help them develop their creativity skills.

Arts And Crafts

My daughters love doing arts and crafts with a passion unknown to mankind. They are never happier than when there’s glitter, googly eyes, and pipecleaners scattered liberally across the room, and they’ve somehow manage to glue their faces to each other. For this reason, I recommend parental supervision as much as possible when you crack out that craft box.

For ideas of projects, there is no better platform than Pinterest. Search crafts for kids and spend half an hour pinning everything you think would work, and bam, you’ve got an entire summer of activities all sorted! Just remember to keep your vacuum cleaner and a damp cloth to hand… and maybe take out another mortgage to provide enough supplies for the enthusiasm they’re sure to throw at this activity.

Educational benefits of arts and crafts:

  • Fine motor skills: Fine motor skills are the small, precise movements that children use with their hands and fingers. Arts and crafts activities can help children develop these skills by requiring them to use their hands to manipulate materials such as paint, clay, and scissors.
  • Creativity: Arts and crafts activities allow children to express their creativity in a variety of ways. They can choose the materials they want to use, the colors they want to use, and the designs they want to create. This can help children develop their imagination and their ability to think outside the box.
  • Problem-solving skills: Arts and crafts activities can help children develop their problem-solving skills. For example, if a child is trying to create a specific design, they may need to figure out how to use the materials they have in order to achieve their desired result. This can help children learn how to think critically and solve problems.
  • Self-expression: Arts and crafts activities can help children express themselves in a safe and healthy way. They can use art to communicate their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. This can help children develop their self-esteem and their ability to cope with difficult emotions.
  • Social skills: Arts and crafts activities can help children develop their social skills. They can work together with other children to create projects, share ideas, and give and receive feedback. This can help children learn how to cooperate with others and how to resolve conflicts.
  • Academic skills: Arts and crafts activities can also help children develop their academic skills. For example, they can help children learn about colors, shapes, and numbers. They can also help children develop their fine motor skills, which can be important for handwriting and other tasks.

Play Board Games

Board games are coming back in popularity. Yes, you can get versions of most games on the PlayStation, but there’s something really lovely about sitting around a table as a family, rolling dice, and playing a proper old fashioned game. Plus there’s so many games on the market that you’ll find something to suit every age group!

Hungry Hungry Hippos

You will never see my seven year old happier than when she is savagely hammering away on her hungry hungry hippo to make sure he’s the hungriest hippo of all. And who doesn’t love this game? It’s suitable for everyone from the small to the big, it’s noisy, it’s chaotic, and it’s weirdly satisfying.

Tension

For the ten year old, she likes something that makes her think, but is still accessible to the little one. With tension, we all have to really think and under pressure, trying to name ten things in a given category. It’s also a lot of fun to stare down your competitors, add to the tension and pressure, and then crow in glory when you’ve made them forget something as simple as vanilla flavour ice cream.

Educational benefits of playing board games:

  • Problem-solving skills: Board games often require children to solve problems in order to win. For example, they may need to figure out how to get their pieces around the board or how to collect the most resources. This can help children learn how to think critically and solve problems.
  • Critical thinking skills: Board games often require children to think critically about the game and their opponents’ moves. This can help children learn how to make strategic decisions and how to think ahead.
  • Math skills: Many board games involve some element of math, such as counting, adding, and subtracting. This can help children practice their math skills in a fun and engaging way.
  • Reading skills: Some board games require children to read instructions or cards. This can help children practice their reading skills and learn new vocabulary.
  • Language skills: Board games often require children to communicate with each other in order to play the game. This can help children practice their language skills and learn how to cooperate with others.
  • Social skills: Board games can be a great way for children to learn how to interact with others in a positive way. They can learn how to take turns, how to resolve conflicts, and how to be a good sport.
  • Memory skills: Some board games require children to remember information, such as the location of pieces or the rules of the game. This can help children develop their memory skills.
  • Creativity: Some board games allow children to be creative, such as when they are designing their own game pieces or creating their own strategies. This can help children express their creativity and learn how to think outside the box.

If all else fails:

If it’s still raining, you’re still stressed with work, and your children still need to be entertained, please don’t give yourself a hard time for sitting them in front of the TV.

I don’t know about you, but a lot of my childhood school breaks were spent staring at the TV because both my parents worked hard and weren’t able to occupy me every given moment, and because, let’s be honest, TV is great. Whether it’s cartoons, movies, or even weird YouTubers competing in challenges that seem to involve more slime than is necessary, your kids can have a great time and enjoy their holidays by just zoning out for a while.

Not every day needs to be about making special memories, and life is hard, tiring, and full of stress. We work so hard to try and keep food on the table and bills paid, and children sometimes have to sit aside and watch TV for you do it. Don’t add not creating constant educational and entertaining opportunities to your list of pressures. Let them watch TV, eat junk food, and just be a kid who doesn’t have to go to school for a few weeks. They’ll be fine, I promise. You’ve got this!

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