Want to keep the kids happy, inspired and busy this summer? There's no need to spend a fortune with our creative ideas for children of all ages...
Keeping active kids entertained in the school holidays is not for the faint-hearted, and it is easy to start feeling like every minute should be packed full of roller coasters and Micky Mouse.
But sometimes, simply sitting down and helping your children create something imaginative is just as satisfying as seeing them hurtled upside down at a theme park – and much cheaper too.
Chocolate jungle jam jar
Bring out the Heston Blumenthal in your little chef with these fun and quirky jam jars. Getting busy with chocolate jungle swamp, coconut grass, icing creepers and jelly snakes will keep them focused for hours. Older children can get hands-on with the baking, while younger ones will enjoy filling the jars. Be warned, they might be so proud of their creations that no tasting on your part will be allowed.
Play fancy dress in the cutest possible way by getting to work with some homemade edible necklaces. Threading is a great task for concentration and hand eye coordination, and loads of ingredients can be used, from soft fruit to popcorn or cereal.
Loop cereal necklaces
Use fruit laces or liquorice strings and thread cereal (we used Cheerios) onto the strings until they are full. Tie them securely, but be careful when pulling the knots to avoid breaking the edible strings.
Using a wooden skewer, pierce the popcorn, then thread onto fruit laces or liquorice strings with mini marshmallows to give different colours and textures. Also try pieces of fruit, such as green grapes and dried apricots, with soft gummi bears threaded onto fruit laces.
Promised the kids a half term sleepover? Pizza-making is a brilliant way to entertain a group of rowdy children. Have a big batch of dough already made and just let them get on with the rolling and topping. Have all the topping ingredients out in little bowls and get the kids to taste things they might normally shy away from like red pepper strips or mushrooms. Serve with houmous to dip the crusts in, so nothing goes to waste.
Fruit memory game
This is a fun way of introducing new fruits to children, as well getting them to eat some of their 5-a-day favourites, too.
Use an assortment of fruit such as: apples, apricots and bananas, sliced strawberries, a small handful of raspberries, blackberries, cherries, blueberries, grapes and cherry tomatoes. You will also need 10 paper cups. Once you have gathered your ingredients you can place one fruit under each cup. Write a list of the fruits you’ve used. Shuffle the cups around, then guess which ones are hiding the matching fruits as you work down the list. Eat the fruit when you get it right!
Fruity ice-lolly pens
Hot day? Cool the kids down and get them involved in a fun activity with these fruity ice-lolly pens. They will never have enjoyed practicing their handwriting so much, and are bound to enjoy experimenting with different fruity ingredients too.
Tip – Ocado sell umbrella lolly moulds (£5 for a set of 6) that are perfect for the pen shape, but any thin ice-lolly set will work.