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

There are a number of benefits to being a proactive source of magic, wonder and surprise for your children every now and again:

  • They will respect you
  • They will enjoy being in your company
  • They will stop pestering you so much to do things with you because you have taken control and are being proactive in this regard.

So, during the very long Soccer World Cup 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 three ideas for this week which are simple to do and don’t require much in the way of specialised equipment or ingredients.


Making their own puzzles is a fantastic and inexpensive way of keeping children busy and entertained because they can make as many as they like, and they get to choose their own pictures too.  Any bold and colourful picture will do the trick, whether from magazines or personal photographs printed out on the computer.  The number of pieces and size of the pieces you decide to make will depend on the age of the child.

You will need:

  • 1 large photo or magazine picture (A4 or A5 is best)
  • Cardboard (just normal school project cardboard)
  • Glue
  • Ruler
  • Pencil/pen/khoki
  • Scissors (blunt nose for preschoolers)

What to do:

  1. Stick the picture onto the piece of cardboard so that the cardboard forms a frame around the picture.
  2. Using the ruler and pencil/pen/khoki draw cut lines onto the picture (please do this for, or help the under 6’s).
  3. For 2 and 3 year olds cut the pictures into two and four pieces.  You can cut them into smaller pieces as your child masters the puzzle.  A six year old should be able to do at least a 24 piece puzzle for school readiness.  As you are working off photographic material here the level of difficulty is higher than if you were working off a clear children’s puzzle picture. Click here for a puzzle age-ability guideline.
  4. As you child masters the use of scissors and cutting accurately along a line, he/she can cut out the puzzle themselves (should be able to do this sometime between 4 and 5 years of age).
  5. Make the activity more challenging for older children by cutting up the puzzles into more pieces or irregular shapes that fit together.  This then becomes more of a problem solving, brain-teaser type activity.


Now here’s creativity on the run.  Next time your children have ice-creams or ice-lollies, keep the sticks (or ask you GP for a couple of tongue depressors at the next visit, pharmacies stock them too). With a few khoki pens you can create some really fun stick puppets in just a minute or two.  No gluing, no sewing, no cutting.

You will need:

  • Wooden ice lolly sticks / tongue depressors
  • Khoki pens

What to do:

  1. Give the ice lolly sticks a good wash and let them dry completely.  No need to do so with unused tongue depressors.
  2. Take your khoki pens and draw eyes, nose and mouth, using different facial expressions on each stick.  Add details such as hair, glasses, a necklace or a tie, etc. (older children can do all this themselves, parents of preschools will have to get more involved).
  3. If you have enough sticks you can create your family for your child to play with, or a bunch of characters for a little play. Write the names of the characters on the back of the puppets to help the puppeteer.


Surprise your children with a fascinating, no-bake treat.  They will just love watching you create these Marshmallow Sandwiches.  Do try one first so that you can judge when they are cool enough to eat.

You will need:

  • Marie biscuits
  • Marshmallows
  • Microwave
  • Microwaveable plate

What to do:

  1. Place a marshmallow on the centre of a Marie Biscuit on a plate in the microwave oven. Cook on high for just a few seconds – watch it the whole time!  The marshmallow will balloon and will almost reach the diameter of the biscuit.
  2. Remove from the microwave and place a second Marie Biscuit on top.  Squeeze gently to make a sandwich with a gooey centre.
  3. Eat while still gooey but not hot enough to burn the mouth.

Have fun!

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