10 cost effective ways to keep kids busy and entertained these school holidays

With the school holidays fast approaching, keeping kids occupied will be occupying many parents’ minds. And with the cold weather setting in, some activities are out of the question, and those that aren’t, can be quite pricey.

Here are some tips for keeping kids busy over the holidays:

1. Bring the movies home – bringing the box office to you is easier than ever, and a lot more cost effective, considering that sending one child to the movies will set you back over R100, including snacks. So instead, draw the curtains, make some popcorn, try this super simple slush puppy recipe and hit play.

2. Splurge when there’s a special – there may be days where the kids just need to get out, so keep an eye on the news and social media for school holiday special offers and discounts or take advantage of year-round offers like half price movies or kids eat free specials.

3. Mind game madness – forget your average word search, word games have come a long way. A puzzle, for example, can double up as a spelling or story telling game by writing a sentence or story at the back of puzzle pieces. This way they can unravel a story or read a new sentence by putting the flipside of the puzzle together. There are thousands of printable word games online to suite every child’s interest.

4. Good old-fashioned fun – many of us grew up playing games that encouraged physical activity and kept us busy for hours. Think hop-scotch, hide and seek, red rover, Simon says and Marco Polo. These are also a great way to get the kids outside in the sunshine on those milder winter days. If the weather isn’t great, teaching them a new board or card game could be equally fun!

5. The giving game – there are hundreds of organisations around the country where kids can get involved in volunteering, from handing out soup and sandwiches at children’s homes and visiting the elderly to walking dogs at the SPCA. Take a look at sites like www.forgood.co.za for volunteering opportunities for you and your kids.

6. Let them make lunch – it’s as simple as using cookie cutters to create crafty sandwiches or arranging sliced up veggies in different shapes. This not only makes lunchtime more interesting, it also teaches them about doing things for themselves and doubles up as a fun in-door activity. Having ideas for each day will also help you plan your shopping list, and avoid overspending and unnecessary waste.

7. Get their creative juices flowing – with a few pipe cleaners and a little paint, the sections of an egg box could transform into a dinosaur, a lady bug or a bee. An empty toilet paper roll can soon be a zebra, a flower, serviette ring or even a super hero. So make sure to hold onto things like old milk cartons and cold drink bottles and check your art supply stock before the holidays start.

8. Let the craft come to life - Let the kids make good use of their crafts with a puppet show to bring their characters to life, or a race with the toy cars they made to pit their engineering skills against each other.

9. Build a blanket fort – it doesn’t get simpler than this. By rearranging some furniture, raiding the linen closet, and throwing together unused cushions and pillows, your kids can build a blanket fort their friends will envy. They can have sleepovers and picnics in here. Add a torch and some snacks in the evening and there fort will feel like they’re camping outdoors. Take a look at these blanket fort ideas for some inspiration.

10. Embrace the explorer – choose a weekend during the holidays to take a drive somewhere the family’s never been before. Open Google maps and do a little research on fun, budget- and family-friendly places to spend the day. Get the kids to help choose a place and where to stop along the way. Pack a picnic and snacks to save money and get ready to explore a small part of our big beautiful country.