Just back from (an otherwise gorgeous) holiday where three days of relentless rain made me feel happy that whilst I had failed to pack an umbrella, raincoat or wellies, I did manage to take some rainy day activities that kept my little ladies occupied as the torrents of driving rain made going outside an unenticing proposition.
I always have a good shop before the summer holidays, to stock up on pursuits that will keep them busy and out of trouble; the lulls in activity being when my little treasures are at their most menacing.
Below are all books and activities that I have bought myself over the past year or so, none particularly costly, and which have proven popular with my 9- and 6-year old little badgers. I have provided links to Amazon because this is where I tend to place my orders (if you buy any of these things after clicking from this page, I will get some very modest pocket money) – but have a look in The Works and places like Home Bargains for similar activities, maybe cheaper. Even more good value might be a rummage round your bookcase or your children’s bedrooms, I found a number of forgotten colouring books lurking. Amongst other, less pleasing, discoveries…
This How to Draw Really Cute Stuff book has been the biggest success of all this summer. I bought it with my 9-year-old in mind, but the recently-6-year-old has spent hours engrossed in it as well. (And actually me too. I am awful at drawing but following these have managed to replicate some things that are almost recognisable.)
Around the World Mazes has proved popular, and, really, could be construed as educational. My 6-year-old particularly loves it. In a similar vein, The Map Colouring Book is gorgeous. It’s big, so a home-based activity rather than suitcase fodder, perhaps, but it has kept my big girl occupied for hours. It gets my teacher seal of approval too.
We took this i-SPY At the seaside out most days when we were away and it has helped soothe some fractious moments. (We never managed to tick off the Blackpool Tower, but we were in Cornwall. It seemed a bit unfair). There are a number of these – some pleasingly niche – including i-SPY On a car journey in France also i-SPY At the airport and i-SPY Camping. There’s almost guaranteed to be something suitable, and it may take the heat off you for a few minutes during a tiresome journey. Other ideas for making expeditions tolerable can be found here.
Card games take up little room, for holiday/journey/day out entertainment – but can be desperate with young children. By far the most successful for us is WHOT!. The rules are extremely straightforward and the games mercifully short.
Dobble is marginally more complicated, but my 6 year old can beat still me with one arm tied behind her back.
The Usborne Activity Cards are also pretty good. I have got 50 Things to Do on a Car Journey and 50 Things to Do on Holiday but there are others specifically designed for rail/air journeys as well as a load of others. They are quite self-contained – wipe clean cards for completing activities on – but remember to take an extra whiteboard pen if you have more than one child and they don’t live to share with their siblings.
For very little tots Aquadoodle is pretty good and mess-free – we used to have one of these travel versions and it kept a fractious toddler entertained for some time.
The Crayola Color Wonder pads are also pretty amazing if your artists are a little unpredictable.
You really need a kite on holiday. Obvs. We actually bought ours when we were at the seaside, but this one looks pretty similar.
Boules is another holiday/summer garden classic for our family. It’s led to some terribly ungracious defeats, but we persist.
I hope there have been some useful suggestions of ways to keep your children busy this summer – good luck, everyone! Please let me know if there’s anything I should be adding to this list.