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. Click here to visit her website.

Whether you are away on holiday or staying at home, you need to be able to keep your surprise jar full of fun things to do.  You don’t have to be the magician every day, but just often enough to keep your children’s sense of anticipation going and their belief that you are fun to be with, even if you do lead a very busy life.

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 three ideas for this week which are simple to do and don’t require much in the way of specialised equipment or ingredients.


Now this may be a blast from your past!  All you need is a bit of wool and your hands.  A fun activity that is enjoyed by both girls and boys.  Do it while waiting between activities, or when travelling in the car or long-distance.  See who can make the longest chain.  A fantastic fine-motor co-ordination activity to strengthen reading and writing skills.  The more you do it the better you get!

You will need:

  • A ball of wool

What to do:

  1. Make a slip knot and put the loop over your pointing finger (to see pictures, click here, and I am right handed so the loop is placed on my left pointing finger).
  2. Hold the short tail in your other three fingers.
  3. Using the long end of the wool make another loop over the same finger, next to the first loop of the slip knot.  Put the remaining long tail in the same hand as the short tail.
  4. Now, pick up the slip knot loop and pull it over the second loop and off your finger.  Give the short tail a gentle tug.  You have created your first daisy chain.
  5. Now repeat step 3 over and over again and your chain will start growing.  You will find your own rhythm and create your own tension for the stitches so that they start looking even and identical.



Who wants just another ham and cheese sandwich for lunch?  How about a sandwich with a difference?  Sushi sandwiches!  Just the same old ingredients in a different disguise and fun to make too!  In old-fashioned terms – a pinwheel sandwich.  Sometimes children will eat better when they have had a hand in preparing the food.  I tried this out with my own children and my nieces and nephews while on holiday last week and it was an instant hit from age 5 to 15.  Even my very fussy niece enjoyed her lunch.

You will need:

  • Fresh bread (rectangular)
  • Mayonnaise or mashed avocado or butter/marg
  • Grated cheese
  • Sliced ham or tuna mayo
  • Bread board
  • Rolling pin
  • Bread knife
  • Spreading knife

What to do (for ham, cheese and avo sushi sandwhiches):

  1. Place a piece of bread on the chopping board and cut off the crusts.
  2. Now take the rolling pin and roll over the bread, flattening it.
  3. Butter the bread if desired.
  4. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on next (or mashed avocado).
  5. Now place a piece of ham on the bread followed by a thin layer of grated cheese.  Don’t overfill.
  6. Carefully roll up the bread and, using the bread knife, cut into sushi-sized pieces (approx 2 cm).
  7. Ring the changes with the fillings.  Tuna or chicken mayonnaise and lettuce would work well or make up a vegetarian filling of your choice.  My very fussy niece only used peanut butter and she loved her sushi sandwiches.


Children from age three to teens enjoy flying paper aeroplanes, but few children know how to make them today.  Here are a few instructions which may come in handy as a boredom buster or a cheap way to keep children entertained at home or on holiday.  They are fascinated with the concept of flight and love to see whose plane can fly the furthest.  The design below is for a basic plane (you will need to get involved until the age of approximately 6/7 years).  Paper plane folding is a spatial planning and fine motor control activity.  Many other designs and modifications can be made to improve the aerodynamics – just ask any dad.  The secret to a good paper plane is in the accuracy of the folding.

You will need:

  • A4 paper (from your printer or photocopier)
  • Crayons or khokis for decorating if you want

What do do:

  1. Fold the paper in half lengthwise.
  2. Open it out and fold the top two corners of the paper into the middle to form a point.
  3. Fold this point into the middle of the paper, forming a square.
  4. Fold the top two corners of the paper into the middle again to form a point.
  5. Fold the paper in half, creasing well along the centrefold (all the folded bits will be on the inside).
  6. To make the wings, measure a line approximately 2cms upwards from the centrefold.  Fold back the paper along this line and crease well.
  7. For even better aerodynamics, fold the tips of the wings up 1cm.
  8. You’re ready for take off!

Have fun!

For more ideas of games to play with your child these holidays, click here for Nikki Bush’s Top 20 recommendations and here for Week 1 of Making Fun Out of Nothing ideas, here for Week 2 and here for Week 3.

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