Rain, hail or shine, it's happy days for the whole family with these crowd pleasers
Bubs and toddlers
Bubble mixture plus a variety of wands always delight little people. See who can pop the most bubbles without using their hands, blow the most bubbles with one breath, or make the biggest bubble.
You don't even need reading skills to play this classic. Some commercial kits come with both written and pictorial clues on the cards – or simply make up your own.
Your ocean is blue card or blanket. Populate it with cardboard cut-out fish, attach a metal paperclip to each one, and make a fishing rod with a magnet on string attached to a stick. Cast off and see who reels in the biggest catch.
Fun at any age - and the simplest wardrobe will suffice. Scarves, fabric remnants and old hats in various colours fascinate little people. And babies can simply enjoy the sensory experience, playing with tags, textures, ribbons and fluffy bits.
Relax, and bless the mess! Save your floor by laying down a plastic tablecloth and let your tribe go wild on big sheets of paper with pots of bright, thick finger paint. Introduce some 3D with cardboard objects, such as toilet roll holders, egg boxes and shoeboxes.
Shake, rattle n' roll
Let the little ones get loud. Make shakers out of old bottles containing rice, beads, cereal, pasta, lentils – anything that makes noise –and attach lids firmly to prevent mishaps. Crank up the most infectious, upbeat tunes, and jam!
Kids aged 4-7
Just about anything can become a puppet: a paper bag; a picnic plate on a popsicle stick; a sock with googly eyes; cardboard cut-out figures operated marionette-style by strings attached to crisscrossed popsicle sticks; pompoms on pipe cleaners… the only limit is your imagination.
Encourage kids to collaborate by tackling a jigsaw puzzle that's super-challenging. Share the satisfaction and high-fives when the picture's complete.
There are endless versions of this ancient game, but the most common is Ringer. The basics: draw a circle 90cm wide in chalk, or make one out of string if you're playing on carpet. Put five to 10 marbles in the centre of the ring, and chose your 'shooter' marble,' which is larger than the rest. When it's your turn, kneel outside the ring and flick your shooter marble out of your fist with your thumb, trying to hit as many marbles as possible out of the ring. Those you knock out, you keep.
Spread a blanket and invite your teddies. Just like the outdoor version, this occasion calls for cupcakes, delicious sandwiches and cute cups and plates.
Liven up the traditional formula of collecting a list of objects with riddle clues and even a bit of tech – 'take a photo with four blue items in it.' The more challenging the list of things to collect from around the house, the longer the fun lasts.
An oldie but a goodie that helps kids let off steam by dashing to grab their seat when the music stops. If you're short on chairs, try musical statues instead.
Break out the famous mat and let the human pretzel fun begin. Hasbro's classic game has recently been updated with two new moves, adding extra hilarity.
The object is to be the first to get rid of all your dominoes. After the pack of 28 dominoes is shuffled and placed face down, each player takes seven and the player with the highest double goes first. The next player must place a domino with like value next to either end of the first. If you don't have a match, you must draw from the pile. If no more are left, you pass. The first person to run out wins.
It's way more fun if you DIY– and all you need is 12 toilet roll tubes or empty plastic bottles, plus a ball. Number each tube/bottle with black marker from one to 12 –that's the point scored when you knock it over.
One pack of cards can entertain everyone for hours. The standard deck gives you all the classics – Rummy, Crazy Eights, Snap, Cheat, Whist and Spoons. Uno, Apples to Apples and Go Fish have specially made decks that are addictive and easy.
Who doesn't love a sing-along? An at-home machine is a great investment if your family loves to jam. You can pick up a good one for under $200. If not, download backing tracks – or make your own music.
See also: Essential hacks for busy mums
This article has been produced in association with BIG W.
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