Nthabiseng Makhokha

How to keep your kids busy during the school holidays

Being a father

School holidays are fun for kids, but often a nightmare for parents trying to keep curious hands and minds occupied. Try these activities with your child during the holiday.

“Daddy, I’m bored!” Many parents have heard this dreaded phrase during school holidays – or even just on weekends. Going from being fully occupied with schoolwork, activities and interacting with their friends to flicking through channels on the couch is always an adjustment for kids – and parents too!

There’s no running away from school holidays; they are an essential break from academics for children. But while some kids may travel and visit family, it can be a stressful time for parents who don’t have other childcare options.

A breather is important, but children’s brains are constantly looking for new and interesting forms of mental stimulation. Fun and educational games keep them curious and their minds engaged, so school holidays are also a great opportunity for parents to help their kids continue learning – in a lighter way.

We’ve put together a list of fun developmental activities and educational games for you to try with your little ones during the school holidays.

Games for fine motor skills

  • Marbles: There are different kinds of games you can plan with marbles that help with aim and fine motor skills. Think about the games you used play with marbles when you were growing up and share them with your kids.
  • Make necklaces and bracelets with beads and macaroni: Aiming thread or a needle through a hole helps with focus and keeping the hands steady. This is a great developmental activity for toddlers.
  • Draw, colour, cut and glue: It goes without saying that this activity improves grip and hand-eye coordination. Make the activity fun and stimulate their imagination by trying to guess what each person will draw, colour or stick on their creation.

Home-friendly science experiments

NB: These experiments will definitely need a parent to be involved and keeping close watch for safety!

  • Egg in a bottle: Can you fit an egg in a bottle without breaking it? Absolutely! Light a piece of paper on fire and drop it inside a glass bottle while it’s still alight. Place a boiled, peeled and cooled down egg upside down on the bottle’s opening. Once the paper’s flames die, watch the egg get sucked into the bottle. (Don’t use a plastic bottle for this experiment!)
  • Create a lava lamp: Combine water, vegetable oil and food colouring in a clear bottle. Add baking soda to the bottle. Mix vinegar with water separately. Pour the vinegar mixture into the bottle for a bubbling reaction, resembling a lava lamp. Watch the colourful display as the bubbles rise and fall. You can create an even more impressive effect by shining a torch on the bottle. You’ll need to keep a careful eye on it so that the contents don’t overflow.
  • Rising water: Use a tealight candle to absorb water from a bowl into a glass! Fill a bowl with water. Float a lit tealight candle on the water. Cover the candle with an inverted glass and watch. As the candle burns, it consumes oxygen, creating a vacuum. The water rises inside the glass, showing the principles of air pressure and the effects of oxygen combustion.

Other activities to try

  • Sharing cultural stories and knowledge through arts and craft
  • Planting a garden
  • Baking different shaped biscuits

All of these activities can create wonderful moments of connection between parents and their children, most importantly because they involve spending time together. Having an active, positive and present father makes a huge difference to a child’s development. So here’s to creating fun memories – together.

I am an image
Nthabiseng Makhokha

Nthabiseng is a digital copywriter for Heartlines, and has previously worked for multiple print and digital platforms across the country and globe.

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