Cooking is a great RainyDayGame for kids of all ages – little ones enjoy tipping the ingredients into the bowl (and invariably spilling most of the ingredients onto the floor); older children can help with the measuring out of flour etc – and everyone likes licking the spoon! You can also make it as easy or as complicated as you want… there’ll be a suitable recipe out there for everyone!
We often use this recipe if we want to have a quick, easy cooking session (or need a bit of a sugar rush). It’s very flexible, so adapts well to whatever you’ve got in the cupboards (and definitely doesn’t need a special trip out to the supermarket). It’s quick and simple to make – and the resulting flapjack is perfect for picnics and lunchboxes. (And goes well with a cuppa too).
You will need:
250g of rolled oats
150g of butter
75g of brown sugar (but any type will substitute well)
3 generous spoonfuls of golden syrup.
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees, and thoroughly grease your baking tin. (A 20cm square tin is about right).
Put all ingredients apart from the oats into a pan, and heat slowly. Once it’s completely melted together, take the pan off the heat and add the oats. Mix together thoroughly, then tip it out into the tin and pat it down.
Bake for approximately 25 mins, until golden brown. Then tip it out onto a rack and leave to cool.
The great thing about this recipe is that you can jazz it up with whatever you fancy. Throw some chocolate chips in there when you stir in the oats, and you’ll get a lovely chocolatey version. Or chop up some dried fruit – apricots, figs, dates – and do the same. Mashing a banana in there results in a soft, moist flapjack, and if you are cooking for someone with a dairy allergy/intolerance, you can use soya butter instead of the real deal. In short, you can be as adventurous as you want – that’s why it’s so fabulous…
Masks are great. Inspired by a cafe that we sometimes go to- where the owners clearly understand that parents want a quiet coffee, so provide entertainment in the form of toys and masks to play with – we decided to have a go at making a few today. We tried a few different styles: full face ones, and the more elegant ‘masked ball’ type…
(and then we decorated them too!)
(No, I’m not sure why there is a lorry doing a nose-dive down the bridge of this mask either).
As with all good RainyDayGames, however, the fun doesn’t just lie in the making of them, but also in the using of them afterwards. Wearing a mask adds fun to all kinds of otherwise dull activities- we’ve done jigsaws wearing them (tricky, because we didn’t cut the eyeholes in exactly the right places); eaten dinner wearing them (well, one of us did – the mouth slit in the other mask was just too small); and tidying up is somehow more fun wearing a mask! It wasn’t just fun for Gerry either: wearing a mask is just an elaborate game of peekaboo really- so Rab enjoyed it too. Bonus.
The dreaded task of writing thank you cards seems to hang over me for most of the year. It’s partly my fault – it generally takes at least two months after the birthday/christening/celebration event for me to start dealing with them – and then takes a week or so to remember who gave what, then remember what their kids are called, then find their addresses…And everyone knows that thank you cards really ought to be homemade jobbies – theyre much nicer that way, and if the whole point is to show appreciation for the gift then you ought to do it properly. But this means that they feel like a really BIG job – and one that I’ll do tomorrow…
But really, I ought to embrace thank you cards – they’re a great rainy day activity for toddlers to get involved in (and you’ll be starting them young, so when they’re older it’ll be second nature to make them, without you having to nag!). Here are a couple of ideas for good child-friendly cards to make.
1. Hand/foot prints – straight onto plain card – easy peasy. (tip: keep baby wipes handy for immediate wiping of hands and feet…)
2. Get your toddler to cover a piece of a4 paper with paint. Make it as colourful (and abstract!) as they want, then set it aside to dry. When totally dry, cut out a series of capital ‘T’s. These can then be stuck on to the front of your cards, to form the T of Thank you. Write the rest of the word on with a marker pen, then put a little message inside the card and voila! Home made AND legible too!
3. Encourage your child to do a really detailed, careful drawing (only one, don’t worry!). Then scan it in to the computer, and print out smaller versions onto your card/folded paper. Looks great, and your toddler will be impressed that they’ve done it ALL on their own!
Hmmm. That’s all of my ideas done… Now I’ve got to think of a few more before Christmas….
… But sometimes a RainyDayGame requires chocolate! If you (or your kids) are having this kind of day (as we frequently do), chocolate fruit kebabs might be just the ticket. They’re fun to make, and look great (and the fruit should appease AK somewhat…)
You will need:
A selection of different fruits (bananas, apples, melons, pears, cherries, grapes are all good ones); kebab skewers; a packet of chocolate buttons.
1. Chop the fruit up into bitesize pieces. (Gerry does the soft stuff- bananas and suchlike, and I do the apples and pears etc).
2. Thread the fruit onto the kebab skewers. If your kids aren’t quite dexterous to do the threading themselves, they might like to decide what order the fruit should be placed in.
3. Place the chocolate in a small bowl and microwave it for thirty seconds or so, until melted. Then either drizzle the chocolate on top of the kebabs, or use it as a dipping sauce.
And voila! Fruity, chocolatey fun for all.
As women all the world over understand, dressing up in your finery can instantly change your mood for the better. It seems the same is true for toddlers… Today, we dressed up as pirates using nothing more than a few sheets of newpaper (and then sailed around the living room on the sofa!)
Pirate Hat (can be made into any other type of hat, too)
1. Take a sheet of newspaper. Fold it in half along the middle. (you can see the crease in the picture below)
2. Fold the top corners down into the middle, to create the pointy top of the hat. You may want to stick them down with sellotape to stop them unfolding.
3. Fold the bottom edges up to create the brim of the hat. Again, sellotape is useful to stop them unfolding. Decorate with the appropriate embellishments (skull and crossbones worked for us – but perhaps a red cross for a doctor or nurse, or pompoms for a more feminine touch!)
We also cut out a small bit of paper to serve as an eye patch, and tied it around Gerry’s head with ribbon. (Rab wasn’t bothered, despite Gerry’s best efforts to interest him). And shiver me timbers – there we had it – a costume which amused Gerry all afternoon.
The best RainyDayGames are those which are both fun to make and fun to use afterwards. Writing your own picture book is one such good’un – making it is lots of fun – but then, unlike some other ‘making’ activities you might do with your children, it doesn’t just go in the bin as soon as they’ve gone to bed!
1. First of all: you need pictures. You can use photos of family members, or cut interesting pictures out of old newspapers etc. or- as we did- you can use a mixture of both. (Ours included photos of Gerry and Rab, photos of relatives, and pictures of a digger, a bus, musical instruments and a big chocolate cake).
2. Stick these photos onto blank sheets of paper in any order you wish. (this doesn’t need to be a well thought out activity!). Leave the glue to dry.
3. Staple the sheets of paper together to form a book. Add a front cover (a photo of your children might prove quite popular).
Nb when we did this yesterday, we did steps 2 and 3 in the wrong order. Big mistake! The glue that stuck the photos onto the pages also stuck the pages together…
And voila- one book, filled with pictures of your children’s favourite things. They will love looking through it on their own- or you can ‘read’ it with them, making up a new story about the pictures each time.
A child’s life doesn’t need to be filled with RainyDayGames all the time. In fact, the opposite is true – children need time to play by themselves. For one thing, it gives their imagination a chance to shine.
As such, I left Gerry to himself for a good long time this afternoon. (And also, the washing needed folding and the hoovering needed doing). He spent at least an hour playing in the garden, trying to balance as many stones as possible on his wheelbarrow, which seemed odd from my adult perspective, but was thoroughly engaging for him. I think we are sometimes in danger of ‘overthinking’ parenting – sometimes the most simple of things will keep them happy!
Bubbles are always a hit in our house. We can while away most of an afternoon having bubble blowing competitions- who can blow the biggest/smallest/most in one breath/furthest travelling etc. Today, remembering an activity we once did at primary school, I thought we could be more creative with our bubbles and make bubble-art…
First of all we mixed a squirt of paint, a squirt of washing up liquid and a bit of water (precise measures, these!) in a plastic cup. We then blew through a straw into the mixture, creating bubbles in the cup. We blew until the bubbles reached the top of the cup – and then placed a piece of paper on the top, leaving a bubble-paint imprint on the paper!
This was great fun – until Gerry sucked instead of blew… He gagged, drank about two pints of water, then, after fifteen minutes of whimpering, suggested that perhaps a snack would make him better. Not a wild success.
Version 2 was inspired. We had some pots of bubble mixture in the cupboard. I tipped the top quarter of bubble mixture away, replaced it with paint, shook hard and then used the bubble utensil to blow bubbles onto the paper. It worked after a fashion, but didn’t create the same super bubble effect that version 1 had.
So… neither of these were fantastic… but with a bit of thought, they could both be great. A one-way valve in a straw, for example, would make all the difference to version 1. We salvaged some fun from it all, in the end, by having bubble blowing competitions (I blew the largest, Gerry the most in one breath – and Rab was mesmerised by it all!)