Ideas for hours of fun over Christmas and the holidays

The good old sprinkler is still just as fun as we remember.
The good old sprinkler is still just as fun as we remember. Photo: Getty Images

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Summer holidays are a child's idea of bliss. With long, hot, unscheduled days as far ahead as they can see, the options for fun are endless.

For parents, well, the long days are a little more daunting. That's why it's a good idea to have some ideas ready for when the inevitable cries of "I'm bored" come out: with a big play equipment set, a few props and a little imagination, these holidays could be the best your family has had.

Let the games begin!

Everyone's favourite: backyard cricket

We all have childhood memories of playing backyard cricket, with bare feet and rules that were easily bent. Wouldn't it be great to pass those fond memories down to our kids?

The best thing about backyard cricket is it's easy to play at a moment's notice. All you need on hand is a bat, a ball and a set of stumps – oh, and big voices ready to declare opponents out. (We're pretty sure the kids already have the volume up in the school holidays, and that noise is best sent outside with a cricket set.)

The Great Play Equipment Challenge

The play equipment is sitting in the backyard, just begging to be used in an exciting game … so try putting the kids to the ultimate test by setting a Great Play Equipment Challenge.

It goes like this: a series of challenges are set depending on the equipment you have. For example, there might be a rope climbing challenge, followed by sliding down backwards, then swinging ten times before doing a fancy trick on the trapeze and finding a hidden toy in the sandpit. The winner is not only the fastest, but the one who does it with the most style.

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Ready … set … go!

Giant board game challenge

If you thought board games were just for the winter school holidays, think again. Not only can board games be played outside, but they're even more fun out in the sun! Try these easy DIY ideas:

  • Make a big noughts and crosses board with timber pieces and tiles to see the kids go from bored to board game heaven.- All games are better when they're mega-sized, right? Well, this is true for dominoes: make a set and the little ones will enjoy balancing them all, ready to fall.
  • Grab some spray paint and add coloured dots to your grass in an outdoor Twister-style pattern. Get the kids to craft a spinner or dice, and it's time to watch them get tangled in human knots.

Cool down with water play

Any game-playing over the summer holidays is sure to work up a sweat, so some cool down activities are in order. Kids love water play more than just about anything else, so set them up with a wet activity and they'll be in paradise. Here are some watery ideas:

  • The good old sprinkler is still just as fun as we remember. Get the water spraying for a set amount of time (it's a good chance to explain water wastage to the kids) and play an old-fashioned game like freeze tag or Simon Says under the water.
  • Setting a water bomb challenge will make you the coolest parents ever. Grab a bag of water bombs, set the kids the task of filling them and then attempt a relay game: the one with the least amount of broken balloons wins.
  • If your kids are younger and a little bit arty, they might love the simplest water game of them all: a bucket of water, a paintbrush, and some exterior walls to paint fabulous designs on.
  • Watering the garden can turn into a fun water game – and the fun increases if it's your children's very own garden and their own kid-sized tools!

Obstacle course

As the summer school holidays gather momentum, you might be running out of ideas or motivation to set up fun activities. You need to have one final trick up your sleeve: the kid-made backyard obstacle course.

Direct the kids to some prop ideas; they can use anything like skipping ropes, hula-hoops, tunnels, hoses, the trampoline, sticks – whatever they can find. Then they can make a fun course full of challenges and obstacles. The best bit is, once they've gone through the course they're bound to come up with improvements to it – maybe adding in a touch-point in the cubby house or steering the pirate ship to safety – so this could keep their bodies and minds busy for hours.

And maybe you, too, can enjoy the school holidays.