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Fun Things To Do At Home With Children

Having seven children 'five of them boys 'they love spending time outside getting muddy. However as the nights draw in and the weather becomes wetter and colder outside play has to be cut to a minimum most days. The problem with staying inside to play though means that the first choice is either watching television or playing on the play station. Not wanting to encourage too much 'couchpotatoism' in my children I have to keep lots of fun and entertaining ideas up my sleeve to entice them away from the box and also to stimulate their minds and curiosity.

Of course I do allow them to watch television and we even have a subscription to Sky television. There are some wonderful programmes these days that teach children all about history, science, travel and cookery 'and of course, they don't realise that they are learning because they are having fun! Children, like adults, also need some time out in which to relax and chill out, but too much time in front of the TV means they may become a little too relaxed and don't get to burn off their excess energy and so end up fighting with each other.

My children vary from newborn up to twelve years and so finding activities that they can all enjoy and which don't wreak too much havoc can be a challenge at times. We have a big table which we try and use for most activities. This helps keep the mess all in one place. I also try and seat each child not to close to the child next to them 'less chance of WW3 breaking out over who has which colour pen and less chance that one of them will be stabbed in the eye!

The table-based activities that seem to go down well include the following:

Playdough 'all children (and parents!) seem to like playdough. We prefer the cooked sort because it lasts up to a week if stored inside the fridge. There are various recipes available online and you just have to work out which suits you best. Never known what people use cream of Tartar for? Make playdough and you will find out that it is a vital ingredient! I also advocate adding salt because this stops little ones eating it. After being used daily for a week it's not the sort of thing you want your child to be eating! My children like to make animals and spaceships out of playdough but cake cutters are also useful and you can also bake the figures made and paint them at a later date. We don't often do this in our household because painting is currently banned. Due to one of them painting some of the new words they had learnt in the school playground on the living room wall and also inscribing them on the brand new pine doors around the house we have withdrawn all paint and felt-tip pens from the house.

Another activity which they all seem to enjoy is scrapbook keeping. We tend to go on a big family holiday once a year and so in the months leading up to this we collect travel brochures about the places we are going and cut out pictures and the children then write about what they want to do and see when they get there. Then we watch the news and read the newspapers and cut out any articles or pictures relevant to the places we are going. Our family holidays tend to involve a lot of driving and visiting places so this is easy to do. We are also Disney fans which means pictures are usually easy to find. Cutting with scissors, obviously, needs to be supervised closely (especially the boys) but it's good to let children develop their cutting skills from quite a young age. The plastic scissors designed for children we tend to find are useless for cutting more than a stamp in half and so we do use real scissors 'but since these are good at cutting your own or your sibling's hair a responsible adult does need to watch every move. We have had a few near misses with fringes going missing....

As I mentioned earlier, I am not a fan of colouring pens and paints. These treats are reserved for school time and playgroup. My house has just been redecorated after someone drew a picture of me on the dining room wall. It was horrendous and had to be painted over to remove it. I therefore only allow crayons and colouring pencils into the house now. Woe betide any relative who gives the children pens for Christmas! The children tend to lose patience with crayons quite quickly 'they just don't seem to colour that well, and so colouring pencils are favoured. For paper we pick up cheap copying paper from the supermarket (they don't like drawing on the back of printed scrap paper) and also use rolls of wall lining paper for larger projects. In fact the latter is great for collages too 'glue made from flour and water is very cheap and quick to make and washes out of clothing easily.

When the children feel in the mood to be crafty, having tired of drawing on their siblings' arms and legs, another favourite is for the boys to make and decorate paper aeroplanes and the girls like to make pasta necklaces. Macaroni seems to work best and I occasionally allow them to get some paints out 'but only in small quantities and Dad's old shirts have to be worn to prevent their clothes getting too stained. The planes are then thrown all over the house so the next hour is spent clearing up the mess and retrieving the planes from the toilet and other off places where they have ended up.

Away from the table one of my favourite activities for them is to build an assault course 'this reminds me of being a small child when I used to pretend to be a horse and set myself obstacle courses. We use cushions and chairs mainly due to lack of space but quite a lot can be done with these. Blankets can be held between chairs to create a tunnel and these are great fun. When they get bored of the obstacle course they use the blankets to make a tent between the sofa and the chairs and often sit there for ages talking about smugglers and sinking ships.

There are plenty of other things that we do at home and having such a large family means that each and every child manages to contribute their own ideas. The downside is that the mess created is unbelievable but the sound of laughter and smiles on happy faces far outweighs the mess 'and even the odd scribble on the wall can be forgiven. After all they won't be children for long and when they have left home there will be plenty of time for us to enjoy a clean scribble-free house!
About the Author

About The Author Jane Bishop is a mother of 7 small children and is the owner of 2 online children's clothing stores 'Milliemoos Children's Online Resale which sells nearly new and new brand name and designer children's clothes and Amalaika Discount Designer Clothes which sells discounted children's designer clothes and shoes. Visit her sites at www.milliemoos.com and www.amalaika.com to kit your child out in the best for less.


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