Advantages fun, messy, cheap, educational
|Value for Money|
Having just planned and managed a six week holiday club for children aged 4-11 years old I thought now would be a good time to record and share the activities which are simplest to prepare and implement and provide some very good entertainment!!
Making the slime is very cheap and easy to do. There are only two things you need to actually buy (and one of them is optional!). You need a box of soapflakes - these can be difficult to find as there is usually only one brand in most shops. In tescos they are kept in the aisle with the washing powders and tend to be right in the middle of the various washing powders and liquids. The only brand that I have come across is called 'grannys original soap flakes' and they are in a white cardboard box slightly smaller than a cereal box. The box costs around £1.80 so its good value for money given the amount of entertainment you will get!! It is also worth buying a small bottle of food colouring to colour your slime. I have experimented with different colours but green is the most popular.The best thing to make the slime in is a washing up bowl although you can also do it in a bucket or large bowl. The slime is so easy to make that you don't need to worry too much about getting quantities correct.
To make the slime, boil a kettle and as soon as it is boiled pour the whole kettle of water into the washing up bowl. Sprinkle in the soapflakes gradually and stir them in with a wooden or large spoon to dissolve them. For one washing up bowl of slime you will generally only need ¾ of the box of soapflakes and about two and a half kettles of boiling water. I usually put in ¾ of the box of soapflakes and fill the washingup bowl to ¾ with boiling water but you can experiment and see what you prefer. Once all of the soapflakes are dissolved in the water add a generous few splashes of the green food colouring, stir it in and then leave the bowl on the side somewhere (out of reach of children) to cool down. For the first hour it will just look like a bowl of green water but by two to three hours (as long as you don't poke at it too much!) it will have turned into lovely thick, gloopy slime!!!As soon as it has cooled and set the children can play with it. The children at my work tend to prefer it with nothing in it but you can put plastic toys such as dinosaurs in the slime for the children to play with. Hand held whisks, funnels and beakers are also fun to play with in it.
I then use the leftover soapflakes to make a much thicker slime. This is done in the same way as above but use half the amount of boiling water. Once it has set you will have a small quantity of thick jelly like slime (pretty solid in consisitency) which is a darker shade of green. I then break this up into some large blobs and put them in the bowl of slime. When the children ask what it is in the slime just tell them its snot and watch their faces - its great!!!The slime will keep quite well for a few days and it helps if you cover it over. As it is just soapflakes and water the only children who might get an allergic reaction are those sensitive to soap but the soapflakes are actually very mild so its generally not a problem (I am allergic to many soaps but can happily play in the slime for half an hour with no reaction!).
I have found this activity particularly popular with a child who is blind (he loved digging around for the dinosaurs in it) and a child with cerebral palsy who finds fine motor co-ordination difficult. The slime generally doesn't stain clothes unless you have lots of food colouring in it and doesn't damage surfaces or toys as it just gives them a good clean!! When you want to dispose of it just add some boiling water and you can wash it down the sink.
CORNFLOUR & WATER
I usually make it on a large tray as it is best to play with on this, however it can also be made in a bowl. All you need is a box of cornflour (you can add food colouring but its just as much fun without). Sprinkle the cornflour onto the tray (use as much as you want - half a box gives a sufficient quantity to play with). Next, fill a beaker or a cup with cold tap water and tip a small splash onto the cornflour. Its very difficult to mix the cornflour and water together so its easiest to use a spoon and spread the cornflour and water together. You only need enough water to change the cornflour from being powdery into a thick gloop. (The only real way to get the hang of it is to add small amounts of water until you get the consistency right but don't add too much or else it wont work).One mixed in it is ready to play with. On the tray it will look like thick liquid and if you poke your finger into it it will feel a bit crumbly but then go to sticky liquid. The amazing thing about the cornflour and water is how it goes from liquid to solid and then back to liquid again. This is best demonstrated by grabbing a handful of it and moving your hands very quickly to roll it into a ball, as long as you keep your hands moving it will feel and look like you are rolling a solid ball. The moment you stop moving your hands it will appear to melt back into liquid and literally drip off your hands.
Children (and adults!) will love playing with it just as it is although spoons can also be fun to play with in it. If you want to colour it you can put the food dye in the water when making it up. I generally don't colour it as it can stain clothes and carpets!! It will get everywhere so its worth doing the activity on an easily cleanable surface or outside! However any spilt cornflour can be easily cleaned up with a wet cloth and the cornflour is easily washed of your hands by running them under the tap.After it has been played with for a couple of hours it can dry out and need a bit of water added to it, this is best done by adding a tablespoon of water at a time so that you don't add too much and ruin it by accident. The cornflour will keep for a good few days if you keep it in a resealable tub. When you want to dispose of it just add lots of water and you can wash it down the sink.~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Another popular activity is playdough. It is a great sensory activity and encourages imaginative play and creativity.There are various recipes and ways of making playdough but here is the one which I prefer and it keeps a good few weeks in a sealed bag or tub.
Mix the following ingredients in a large saucepan:
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup salt
- 2 tablespoons cream of tarter
- 2 cups of water
- 1 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- a few drops of food colouring
You can store the playdough in a tub but I have found that it keeps longer if you store it in a resealable sandwich bag as all of the air can be removed during storage. You can also add vanilla essence to make the playdough smell nice or glitter to make it look pretty!!Try to discourage the children from eating the playdough although I find that the younger ones generally try as it tastes so salty!!! It wont do them any harm if they do eat it but it might make them feel sick in large quantities!~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Another fun 'messy' activity is playing with shaving foam!! You can buy cans of shaving foam fairly cheaply and it will give some good entertainment (although it is an activity best done outdoors!!).For shaving foam fun I usually squirt a large blob of shaving foam onto a large tray and then let the children loose with it! They will love spreading it around and you can show them that when they clap their hands together with some shaving foam on them it will explode everywhere which they will love!!! Obviously children with sensitive skin may get a mild reaction and warn them that it will sting a lot if they get it in their eyes!!!~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
During the summer I had the delightful experience of having our three yearly OFSTED inspection. Thankfully it went well but the one thing that the inspector seemed most pleased with was the sand and water trays we had available. She said that people assume that once children go past nursery school age they willl no longer enjoy sand and water play.We have children up to the age of 11 and they love playing with these activities. Bags of playsand can be brought fairly cheaply from B&Q or gamleys. Let the children add some water and the sand will be of a consistency brilliant to make sand castles, moats and whole villages!!!
With the water - add some washing up liquid - this will mean that the children can create bubbles and it will also make the water more hygienic. Funnels, cups and buckets are great to play with in it.
Another popular 'messy' activity although it requires great deal of supervision with younger children to ensure that they blow rather than suck the paint up the straws!!!!All you need is some cheap paint, put it in a bowl - add a bit of water to water it down and a squirt of washing up liquid. Let the children use a straw to blow into the paint and it will bubble up above the rim of the bowl.
They can then press a piece of white paper onto the top of the bubbles to create a fantastic bubble painting. Older children may want to then paint on top of their bubble painting - for example using the bubble background as the ocean and then painting fish etc on top.
You can spend a good hour walking (healthy!) and discussing what you find and collecting. Then returning back to where you will make the pictures get the children to wash their hands thoroughly. They can then explore and discuss their findings before using them to either make individual pictures (by gluing the items onto paper) or making one large collage. I have found that the children I work with tend to prefer to work together and make a large collage of a tree as the end result tends to be more effective.
To make the pom-poms cut out two identical donut shapes from some card (old cereal box card is ideal). The children can then wrap the wool around the donut shape (around the edge and through the hole). They keep wrapping it round until the hole in the middle of the donut shape is so small that it is difficult to wrap it around anymore. They then need to cut around the edge with a sharp pair of scissors (cut between the two pieces of card for an even effect.)You then need to help them slide a long piece of wool around the edge and between the two donuts of card. Tie it tightly and then the card donut shapes can be torn off and removed. This should then result in the creation of a fluffy wool pompom which can be further decorated by gluing on eyes, legs, feet etc.~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Another messy activity and although this one doesn't have the same 'wow' factor as the cornflour and water - they will still love the making a mess just for the sheer hell of making a mess!!!Simply grab a large bowl - chuck in some plain flour and mix with some cold water to make a bowl of floury mess!!! The kids love just playing with the mixture in the bowl but if you add some food colouring you can use it like a paste paint and let them use their fingers to create paste pictures on bits of paper.~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
This works well as a party game but I use if for when the children at work are getting a bit restless.Buy some cheap packs of economy toilet rooms (the really thin stuff is fine and doesn't cost too much). Let the children loose with them so that they can 'mummify' each other in toilet roll. It can be done as an activity purely for fun or if there are more children around do it as a competition (first team to mummify a team member) or best mummy.~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Collect about 5 cardboard cube shaped tissue boxes (the type with a hand shaped hole in the top) and use them to make 'feely' boxes. You can do it as a game where the children have to guess what is in them and it can range from soft cuddly toys to cold cooked spaghetti (tell them its worms!)
I get a selection of food colourings (usually about 5 different ones) and then dye the rice in mugs by half filling the mug with water then adding a few drops of food dye and then filling the mug with uncooked rice. Do this with each of the different colours (it doesn't tend to stain the mugs which is good!) and leave them for about 3 hours. Then drain off the water and put the rice out in the sunshine for an hour or so or put it in the oven on a baking tray for a few minutes to dry it off. Once it has dried, all the different colours of rice can be mixed together to create 'rainbow rice'. The children will love playing with it as it looks very pretty and feels nice to let it run through your fingers. Once they are bored of playing with it they can use some PVA glue to stick the rice onto paper and make pictures.I tend to also dye pasta in the same way so that the children can make pasta and rice pictures. These always look amazing and even young children are able to get a very effective end result that they can be proud of.~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
North, South, East, West - this game is simple but great if you have got a group of 3 or more children. Label up the four walls of the room (or playground, field, whatever) as North, South, East and West (other names such as colours or names of fruit can be used) and when you shout out one of the names the children have to race to that wall. The last one to the wall or those who go to the wrong wall are out.Bulldog - this one needs to be well supervised to prevent injury but the children love it. All the children line up at one end of the playground/garden etc and one is chosen to be 'bulldog'. When you shout 'go' the children have to run to the other end of the playground/garden while the person who is bulldog tries to tag them. Once tagged the children also become bulldogs. The winner is the last one to be tagged bulldog.
Whats the time Mr Wolf - a classic that most children will know anyway - one person is the wolf and has their back to the other children who line up against a wall or fence etc. The children shout 'whats the time mr wolf' and the wolf shouts out a number (eg: 4 o'clock) the children then take that number of steps forward. The game continues like this until the wolf shouts 'dinner time' at which point the children have to run back to the start line and the wolf chases after them - whoever they tag becomes it.Races - don't underestimate how much children actually just like running around or competing against each other! During the summer the children asked to do a competition of who could run around the field the most times!!! Their stamina amazed me as they all went for at least half an hour whilst I was able just to sit back and watch!! They also tend to love the traditional games such as 'it' and 'stuck in the mud'.~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
I used to love playing hide and seek when I was younger but it is a game that tends to get forgotton. I suggested it at the beginning of the summer holidays to the children at work and they absolutely loved playing it (the club runs from a large church hall with a big field and playground so there were plenty of good places to hide). All of the children were able to play - including those in wheelchairs as there were so many large places to hide. Their fascination with the game lasted the whole six weeks of the summer with us having to play at least 5 games per day!!!
Thank you for reading.
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