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by Nikki Bush, a self-confessed parenting adventurer and mum to two boys. She is also an inspirational speaker, best-selling author, game designer, toy judge and creative parenting expert. Click here to visit her website

How often have you said to your child, “Go and find something to play with in your room,” and they have come back saying, “But there is nothing to play with!” even though their room is packed with games and gadgets?  It is true that there has never been a generation of children with so much stuff, and because of this, they have forgotten how to make fun out of nothing.

So, during the school holidays, take a few minutes every second day to create a “making fun out of nothing experience” which also doubles up as a connection experience between you and your child.  Inspire your child by being fun to be with.

Here are 3 ideas for this week which are simple to do and don’t require much in the way of specialised equipment or ingredients. The first two activities will also be reusable in the weeks to come:

SQUEEZY PAINT

This is really fun and adults love it too.  The “paint” is easy to make up and lasts for about a week in cool weather or if kept in the fridge.  Because it has salt in it, when it dries it sparkles and has a three-dimensional effect (it is raised).  Painting with squeezy bottles is great for developing finger and hand strength for hand-writing, as well as fine-motor co-ordination.

You will need:

3 x plastic squeezy bottles (same ones as used for tomato sauce and mustard)
3 x different food colourings
350g cake flour
350g salt
Water
Bowl
Spoon
Jug
Paper

What to do:

  1. Place flour and salt into a bowl.
  2. Add water slowly, mixing to a paste the thickness of crumpet batter.  It must be able to be squeezed out of the bottle.  It should not run out without having to squeeze.  It will thicken up slightly as it stands in the bottle over time.
  3. Divide the mixture into three different bowls.  Now add 2 – 4 drops of food colouring into each.  Mix well.
  4. Using the jug pour different colours of “paint” into each squeezy bottle.
  5. Now they are ready to use.  Allow paintings/designs to dry in the sun.  They may need to be left overnight.  The paint will only sparkle when fully dry.

RAINBOW CRAYONS

I don’t know whether the melt down process or the end product is the most exciting part of this activity, but regardless, it is a fabulous way of using up broken or left-over bits of crayons.  It’s also a good lesson for your children about how to be thrifty with waste.

You will need:

Left over or broken bits of crayons
A muffin tin
Non-stick cooking spray
Oven

What to do:

  1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Remove all paper from crayons.
  3. Grease the muffin pan with non-stick spray.
  4. Place pieces of the crayons into the muffin pans.  Mix your colours if you want a rainbow effect, or keep colours separate eg. All green pieces together.
  5. Place the tin in the oven for a few minutes until the crayons have melted – keep an eye on them.
  6. Remove the pan from the oven and let the crayons cool completely before removing them.
  7. Now use them to create works of art.

CRUNCHIE BUBBLE BARS

If you have a sweet tooth then this recipe is for you!  It’s also a no-bake recipe so it’s quick and fun to do.  Your child will need supervision when melting the butter and marshmallows on the stove or in the microwave.

You will need:

1 ½ cups marshmallows
60g butter
2 ½ cups Rice Crispies
½ cup hundreds and thousands
Medium to large saucepan
Metal spoon
Baking tray
Baking paper

What to do:

  1. Line the baking tray with baking paper or foil.  Grease lightly or use a non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Place marshmallows into saucepan with butter.  Melt over a low temperature.  Remove from heat.
  3. Pour in Rice Crispies and hundreds and thousands.  Mix well with large metal spoon.
  4. Spoon mixture into baking tray, spread and flatten.
  5. Place baking tray in the fridge to cool and set. Then cut into squares or rectangles and store in the fridge.

Have fun!

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