Have you got any plans for this February half-term? It might seem like you only just sent your children back to school after the Christmas holidays, but half-term is just around the corner. If your mind has gone blank, and you need some inspiration to keep your children entertained for a whole week, Morphée have you covered. Here is our very own half-term guide, which has a range of indoor and outdoor activities for you to choose from.
Indoor activities for kids
We all know how important it is for children to get fresh air and burn some energy running around outside, but we do live in the UK. The weather during February is often very cold, grey and wet so you will need a few indoor activities to keep the children entertained.
Will your child be the next Bake Off winner?
If you don’t mind a mess in your kitchen, baking some tasty treats or getting your child involved with the cooking preparations for dinner can be a really fun thing to do.
Not only will you get to eat tasty food afterwards, studies have proven that this activity has many benefits for a child's learning and development.
Social-emotional development. Following a recipe is a crucial part of any recipe, getting your children to follow the recipe by themselves and encouraging them to read out the next steps can teach them independence and the importance of following instructions.
Mathematical skills. Getting your child to read out loud the quantity of each ingredient and getting them to weigh it out will help them with their numerical skills. Similarly, they can also practise reading the time, many cooking recipes will require you to put things in the oven at different times, so make sure you have a clock at hand.
Mindfulness. Studies have shown that baking and cooking helps to regulate brain activity in the same way as meditation and other mindfulness activities do. All these activities will engage the prefrontal cortex which makes people focus on the activity at hand, which is great for children who might struggle with concentration.
Motor skills. When you're cooking, you might have to pour liquids which requires concentration and hand-eye coordinations, whilst kneading dough or mixing ingredients together helps to strengthen muscles.
The best part is that your child will be having so much fun in the kitchen that they won’t even know that they are also practising educational skills at the same time!
Mindfulness activities for children
During this half-term, why don’t you try a few mindfulness activities for kids? One of those could be meditation. Meditation involves focusing on the present moment and on your breathing to help relax your mind and body. Studies have shown that practicing meditation regularly will help benefit both your physical and mental health. There are many forms of meditation that can be altered to suit your child, whether they want to practise meditation sitting up, lying down or listening to music, it is completely up to them. The main goal of meditation for children is to help them understand their emotions and deal with them whilst staying in the present moment. Regular practice of meditation can also help with focus, which is important for children in and outside of school.
Teaching your children how to meditate:
- First you will have to get your child to sit in a comfortable position, whether that's lying down or sitting crossed-legged, they need to be able to stay in one position for the session.
- Next you will have to teach them how to connect with their bodies. A good technique is to get them to watch their bellies, as they breathe in and out their stomachs will move up and down.
- To help prevent their minds from wandering off, it is important to explain the benefits of practising meditation to them. It is inevitable that they may get distracted by other things going on in the room, if they do then you should encourage them to again focus on their breathing to help centre them.
Some children and adults will find it harder to meditate without someone guiding them through it. My Little Morphée, which has been created by sleep specialists for children, has over 190 sessions including guided meditation journeys. Teaching your child to meditate will not only help them during the day to relax, but it can also be incorporated into their bedtime routine to help with sleep. Meditation increases the natural melatonin levels in your body to help encourage a peaceful sleep, which might come in very useful if you’re planning a couple of exciting days out during half-term.
Turn your children into artists
To help keep your children entertained this half-term without the use of technology, why don’t you set up an arts and crafts station? Kids' activities can get a little bit messy – to ensure that your house does not get covered in paint, glue and glitter, we recommend that you set up an arts and crafts station. Cover your table and floor with newspaper or an old towel or cloth to avoid any disasters.
Arts and crafts are a great way for children to get creative and you can use pretty much anything you have in your cupboards at home or in your garden. If you have run out of arts and craft ideas, here are a few which use common objects you might find in your home or garden.
Potato stamp art. This is a very simple activity that only requires a few different products. First cut your potato in half and carve out the desired shape using a knife. Once you have cut out your shape, dry your potato with a cloth to remove any excess liquid. Simply add different paints to separate paper plates or bowls and then your child can start dipping their different stamps into the paint to create a picture.
Fairy leaf puppets. To begin with you might have to take a trip to the woods, a park or to your garden to collect different decorations like leaves, moss, and sticks. Next you will need to make a cut out of your fairies body, so your child has something to stick their decorations onto. To get the puppet effect, stick your fairy onto a stick, so your child can hold onto it. They can get as creative as they want, the leaves can be used to make a dress and the moss can be used for the hair, it’s completely up to them!
Orange peel bird feeder. Have you ever thought about making a bird feeder? All you will need is an orange, bird seeds and other ingredients you might have in your cupboard like peanut butter and popcorn. Simply cut your orange in half and scoop out the middle, cut a hole in the top of your orange peel and thread a piece of string through, so it can hang on a tree branch. Next, mix your bird seeds, peanut butter and popcorn in a bowl until it becomes sticky, spoon it into your orange and hang it up. Now all you have to do is watch and wait for the birds to come.
We always hear the saying that fresh air is good for us, but why is that? Not only will the fresh air help to clean your children's lungs, but it can help boost their mood and increase their energy levels. To make the great outdoors even more exciting, here are a few fun activities you can try out this half-term.
Plan a day trip out
When it comes to half-term you might want to plan a day out with the kids, it could be close to home or you might want to travel somewhere further away. For some inspiration, here are a few fun days out that you can enjoy with your children and no, it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg!
If you’re based in London, or fancy visiting the capital of the UK, The Natural History Museum or the Science Museum are sites you have to visit, and they are both free to enter! You don’t even have to spend all day at one, you could spend half a day at one or half at the other, or even just visit a specific exhibition that your child might enjoy. If your child has been learning about something at school such as dinosaurs or space, they might find it really interesting to see the dinosaur bones and learn more about what they have been taught at school.
Another day out during half-term could be spent outdoors, as long as you don’t mind getting a little chilly! Whether you pack a picnic lunch and go on a countryside walk, or you decide to travel to the zoo, fresh air is something you will benefit from. If you want to go on a day out that could also be educational and fun, the zoo or a farm could be a great activity for all the family. Going on a big day out like this does involve a lot of planning, especially if you have more than one child, but it will be worth it. If you think about this day from a child’s perspective, they will get to see animals that they have never seen or hardly get to see before, making it a very memorable experience. Seeing the animals and talking about them can help to spark interest and conversations about where the different animals come from and how we can help protect them in the future.
Turn your child into a greenfinger in just 1 week
If you have a garden, an allotment, or even a small outdoor space, encouraging your child to try out gardening this half-term could turn into a great hobby. Taking a trip to the garden centre to buy the seeds of a vegetable they enjoy, planting it and waiting for it to grow will teach your child the hard work it takes to grow your food. It will also teach them where vegetables come from. Instead of buying seeds, you can also use vegetable scraps to grow your own veggies, like the seeds of a pepper, which will help teach children how to reduce waste.
Now we know that the vegetables or fruit that you grow won’t grow overnight, a good idea is to plant a few flowers as well to watch them bloom quicker than the veggies or fruit. Alternatively, amongst your slower growing vegetables you can plant ones that grow faster. A few examples are watercress, salad leaves and radishes! As an extra activity, your child could draw out the different stages of the vegetable growing from start to finish, so they can document the process. Even if you don’t have a garden, you can use small planters that could fit on any window sill ledge or on a balcony. If you want to get more creative and you are looking for ways to recycle and reuse items in your house, old wellington boots or plastic bottles are perfect for planting seeds in. Simply fill them up with compost, add your seeds to the soil and water and feed your plants regularly.
Backyard Treasure Hunt
What comes to mind when you think of fun family activities to do? One of the first things we thought of was a treasure hunt. Depending on the age of your children, you can tailor each one to their age. For school-aged children it might be more exciting if it requires some problem-solving to get to the next clue, whereas for younger children you might need to make it more simple. The basis for any treasure hunt is the same, you will need to hide clues around your garden in a particular order and each clue that they answer will lead them onto the next one.
There are a number of pre-made treasure hunts that you can find on the internet, or you can get creative yourself and make up your own clues. If you don’t know where to start in terms of the clues, here is one we thought of earlier. ‘Fill me with seeds and hang me high. I’ll bring visitors down from the sky’, the answer is a birdhouse and this is where you would hide the next clue. If you don’t have a garden or if the weather is really rubbish, which let’s be honest is very common in the UK, you can always create a treasure hunt inside instead. Remember, don’t forget to hide some treasure that will finish the hunt. The treasure can be anything you like—whether you want to add ‘pirate treasure’ like coins into a treasure chest or you want them to find a new toy or book the choice it's completely up to you.
The team at Morphée hope we have given you some exciting things to do in the school holidays. If you take part in any of these activities, make sure to tag us on our Instagram @morphee.uk so we can share them with our followers!