A parent’s heart sinks when they draw the curtains back to see grey skies and buckets of rain. But there are plenty of low-cost ways to entertain the little ones indoors – without an electronic device in sight!
Mix up the painting
Unleash your child’s inner artist by investing in some washable watercolours and setting them loose with a paintbrush. With one of your old shirts worn backwards as coveralls, and newspaper providing a great furniture protector, all of this needn’t cost more than a few pounds. Even kids without a natural love for art will enjoy experimenting with potato prints, finger-painting and (for those who can cope with a bit more mess) hand and foot printing.
Rather than invest in expensive play clay, why not buy a cheap bag of flour and make your own that is inexpensive, safer and fun? Mix 400 grams of plain flour with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, 100g of salt and about 300ml of boiling water (a little at a time). Knead to the desired consistency and you’re good to go! Plus, for a little extra variety you can always add a little food colouring.
You might not want to let your kids whip up a curry or roast a chicken, but there are plenty of child-friendly, bowl-licking recipes that your children will love. Make cornflake cakes by mixing butter, cocoa, syrup and sugar over a low heat then pouring onto the breakfast cereal. Or whip up some little cupcakes using a simple sponge recipe. With weighing, mixing, cleaning up and icing, the right recipe can keep your little ones happy for hours!
Most kids love getting stuck into some craft work and but that needn’t mean buying expensive art materials. Decorating a shoe box to use as a treasure chest in their room or using air-dry clay to create animal ornaments are both low-cost ways of keeping youngsters happy. To ensure you have a variety of options when the time comes, why not create a craft drawer in your house where you can stash old cling film rolls, bits of coloured paper and magazines to cut up, so you have plenty of resources when the skies open!
Whether making an engine noise while running, or racing around with little metal models, kids love pretending to drive. Why not create a little car using four small chairs and a piece of cardboard cut into a steering wheel shape? Your kids can play at driving to their hearts’ content without even leaving the front room.
If your kids have the need for speed, an alternative could be playing car races on a flat surface, such as a table or tiled/wooden floor. Use Blu-Tack to mark a start and finish line see which of your little ones can roll their car the furthest in your own version of the Grand Prix!
Hide and seek
For children, your house offers a wealth of secret hiding places (provided you don’t let on when you see a pair of shoes sticking out below the curtains). Kids love playing hide-and-seek and may surprise you with their resourcefulness when squirrelling themselves away.
Children are blessed with active imagination and boundless energy, so why not take advantage of this and create a blanket fort, by throwing an old bedcover over a table or a clothes horse? Kids will soon add accessories to create their own magical castle to defend from invaders, or a palace fit for royalty – depending on their preference!
It’s easy to spend a fortune on kids’ presents from time-to-time, only to see them discard the item and play with the box. When it comes to fun, kids can be inventive, so with a little encouragement from you, they could make a rainy day into a day of adventure!