Spring break activities: Fun, creative and (mostly) free things to do at home with kids

Try The National's day-by-day guide to entertaining children over the extended school holidays

Encourage children to let their imagination run free when playing dress-up or rearranging furniture to create fun props. Getty Images
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The usual two-week school spring break has been extended to three to include Eid Al Fitr, with most children off from March 25 to April 12. For families who aren’t travelling during the break or sending their children to a camp, this means 15 weekdays to fill with fun and games.

With that in mind, here's a daily guide on how to entertain the little ones at home.

Day one: Plant a vegetable patch

Designate an area in the garden, a planter box on a balcony or even some small pots on a windowsill and fill it with soil. You don't need too much equipment either, as spoons and forks will suffice as tools.

Challenge older children by not buying packets of seeds, but by getting them to slice open apples, tomatoes, cucumbers and oranges to source the seeds themselves.

Day two: Record breaker day

While it’s not guaranteed any actual world records will get broken, children can set some household records with a day of challenges.

Draw up a list of fun and accessible challenges – the sillier the better – that can be done at home, such as highest stack of blocks built without falling over, biggest bubble blown using bubblegum, most jellybeans eaten in 60 seconds using chopsticks, furthest flick of a rubber band, longest paper chain made in one hour and most clothes you can put on in one minute.

Day three: Home-made afternoon tea

Make sure you have plenty of baking ingredients to hand, then set the children the task of making their own afternoon tea for everyone to eat. Finger sandwiches, cakes, sponges and biscuits are all simple enough for little ones to make from scratch, and serve up for the family when they're done.

Day four: Create a scrapbook

Come up with a theme or let children decide what they want to scrapbook about and invest in a sturdy book with plain pages or use an existing notebook or even sheaves of paper. Dig out old magazines, catalogues, newspapers, photos and even books and let them loose with scissors and glue to create fun scrapbook collages.

Day five: Make a tunnel

All those home delivery boxes will come to good use when you challenge the children to build the longest tunnel they can fit in the house. They will only need scissors and some strong tape to stick the boxes together, and do remind them to add the occasional window.

Day six: Den-building contest

Open up the linen wardrobe and make every kind of sheet, blanket, duvet and pillow available for the ultimate den-building contest. Designate different areas of the house for each child's den, such as the living room, dining room and bedrooms, and set the challenge of creating the most impressive den.

Can they add multiple rooms and is it big enough for mum and dad to sit in?

Day seven: Copy a famous painting

Give budding artists an outlet by choosing an image of a famous painting online and ask your children to recreate it as best as they can. No easel or big equipment is needed, just paper, paint and brushes. Have a home gallery showing when they’re done.

Day eight: Dress-up competition

Come up with a few different themes that everyone has to adhere to and challenge little ones to raid the house wardrobes to come up with the perfect outfits. Themes can include nautical, superhero, circus, wonderland, cowboy (or girl) and beach. Parents can allow access to their wardrobes if they wish, but no actual costumes are allowed – that’s cheating!

Day nine: Old-school games

Before phones and television, parlour games were all the rage as entertainment for children and adults alike. Hide-and-seek, sardines, are you there, Moriarty?, blindman’s buff and pass the slipper all require minimal, if any, equipment, just plenty of cunning.

Day 10: Make a family newspaper

Challenge children to put together a newspaper from scratch that’s all about the family. The front page should be a big family story, with other news and features inside.

Pictures should be hand-drawn or printed-out photos they have taken themselves. Don’t forget to add fun details, such as a word search of family names or a cartoon about a funny incident.

Day 11: Lego-building challenge

Most family homes have a box of Lego or other building blocks in the playroom, so challenge little ones to build something individually, or come together with siblings to create their very own world.

Ideas include creating a spaceport with docking stations and spacecraft; a jungle landscape, complete with volcano and river boats; or a mansion house with plenty of weird and wonderful rooms.

Day 12: Make a movie

With so many free apps available online, filming and editing a movie has never been easier. Let children’s imaginations run wild by asking them to come up with an idea, storyline and characters before letting them film on their tablet or phone, adding plenty of special effects later.

Make sure to get the popcorn ready for the big premiere screening when it's finished.

Day 13: Bird and bug hunt

This can be done in the garden, out on a walk or in a local park. Create a list of animals, plants and flowers the children need to find and tick off. Put ants, grasshoppers, breeds of birds and different colours of flowers on the list of things for them to find. They don’t have to stick to mini beasts and can add cats and dogs, too.

Day 14: Blindfold taste test

Buy an array of snacks, treats and different foods to create the ultimate taste test. Lay the food out in bowls and plates and let the blindfolded person try each. They should try to guess the taste and what it is, before giving marks on how much they enjoyed or disliked it. The person who guesses the most foods and flavours wins.

Day 15: Water play, outdoors and in

If you have a garden, fill up buckets with water and have children dunk sponges in them to throw at one another as reusable water “balloons”. If you don’t have a garden, fill up some bowls or the kitchen sink with water and add different items such as food colourings, flour, corn starch, bath bombs, pasta and more to carry out experiments about how water affects each item. Make notes of your findings.

Updated: March 20, 2024, 3:56 AM