Ideas for Indoor Summer Play

The days are long and filled with… well, boredom. Quite often, across the long, hot months of summer, kids everywhere are bored. The initial joy of being out of school for many unbroken weeks has worn off. The bike has been ridden, the ball games have been played, they have turned into prunes from constant water play; now what? This is the point where parents and carers have to get creative. The outdoors has lost its allure; it’s too hot, too bright and too empty. What does the indoors offer; aside from TV, computers and video games that is.

In today’s world, most older children will occupy themselves with TV and console games, or endlessly texting and updating their social media statuses (probably to say how bored they are!). It is far more difficult to get these pre and teen kids up and doing than it was a generation ago. Parents and carers have to get crafty, literally and figuratively.

For older kids, think music and food. These are the mainstays of most pre and teen lives. Bury the loathing of dubstep or whatever current craze is ‘in’ (remember every generation hated the music of their kids) and let the music flow. Use those consoles for something a little more useful than Assassins Creed or GTA. Invest in one of the brilliant games based on dance moves; Just Dance being a fine example of the genre.

The music tends to be a mix of a few standards and newer artists, such as Barry White, Maroon 5 and Rhianna (on Just Dance 4), and much fun and exercise can be had by the whole family. There is also the cheaper option of putting on the radio, TV music station, or a cd and getting everyone to make up their own dances. Fun, healthy and sure to get the family interacting.

Lay out the ingredients, flop open the recipe book (or use one of the brilliant online recipe sites such as AllRecipes) and tell older kids they are making their own lunch/dinner. With a little parental supervision – safety being a priority – most kids can turn out a pizza, cheese on toast, or even a few fairy cakes. Who knows, one such session might inspire the next Nigella. If the adult is feeling particularly brave, they can even leave the kids to ‘surprise’ them, allowing the kids to create something from their imaginations… It will be an experience, if nothing else!

Younger children are far easier to occupy, but what to do once the board games and Lego have lost their pull?

Boat races – Collect together empty walnut shells, or those little plastic shells that can be found inside Kinder eggs, some plasticine or blu-tac, some thin sticks (think matchsticks) and some coloured paper. Pop a wodge of plasticine into the base of a shell (or half a Kinder plastic shell). Cut a square of coloured paper and pierce from bottom to top with a stick. Shove the stick into the plasticine and the boat is ready to go. A paddling pool is great for this but a bath, sink or bowl of water will work too. Pop the boats into the water and waft them across the ‘pond’ with paper sheets or by blowing them. Endless fun, but do have an adult judge to prevent any disputes about who crossed the line first!

Fashion show –  Dig out a few old t-shirts, socks, or whatever old clothing is lying around and that no-one minds being ‘converted’. Gather up marker pens, glitter, glue, scissors, fabric scraps, sequins, pipe-cleaners and whatever else is lying around waiting to be used to create ‘fashion’. Give it all to the kids – preferably on a wipe-clean surface – and let them create. Boys can have fun creating football or baseball strips and girls rarely need help in tzsuj-ing up an outfit, but a few ideas could be flower garden, hip, cool and nerd chic. Clearly, boys and girls can swap ideas and come up with all kinds of things; fashion has no limits! They can show off their creations on a catwalk (the stairs are great for this, or the hallway).

Indoor bowling/tennis/ping-pong/basketball… – One of the easiest distractions to create but with everlasting potential. Gather up lots of newspaper, cardboard tubes (toilet or kitchen roll are perfect) old paper, even crumpled (clean!) tissue or kitchen paper, some tape and a little blu-tac. Get the kids crumpling the paper into approximately matched balls. A little tape will hold the balls in shape if they are refusing to co-operate. Stand the cardboard tubes up in a V shape and hurl the paper balls at them to knock them over; voila, indoor bowling.

For basketball, tape two or four sheets of paper together. Cut a hole in the centre. Drape the paper over a bucket and throw paper balls through the hole. For tennis, tape several newspaper pages together in a line wide enough to fit across the hall (or whatever room is available). Use blu-tac to secure this newspaper ‘net’ to opposite walls and use hands as bats to get the ball back and forth over the net. Make a smaller ‘net’ to put across a table-top to create a ping-pong arena.

These are just a few of the simple and effective ways to keep kids of all ages engaged and occupied indoors during the long summer months.