School holiday special: Summer days in

For those long summer days close to base, David Randall suggests 20 ways to banish the B-word. None of them cost more than a few pounds (and some could even make you money!)

Here are 20 more ideas for in and around home, especially suitable for 4- to 14-year-olds. In the interests of public safety and the neighbours, some of them should be supervised at all times.

1 A family history project. This can be the start of weeks of interviewing grannies, uncles and stray second cousins. More informative than a mere family tree, and less dry to compile, it can be extended to building a scrapbook or family archive. For those with a shortage of older rellies, make it a local history project instead.

2 A drinks stand. A small table, plastic cups, cordials, lemonade, their own concoctions, plus biscuits and cakes of their own manufacture - all sold at knock-down prices. Guaranteed to provide weeks of slightly profitable fun. Many years ago, my brother and I turned our garden shed into a "pub", and local kids even donated pies made by their mothers, which they then happily bought back at a penny a slice.

3 Hold a family (or street) Turner Prize competition. They can paint their entry, chalk it on the pavement or patio, make an installation (no unmade beds allowed), or sculpt it. Set a closing date, hold a back garden exhibition (in the Emin-style shed, if wet), and hand out prizes (making sure you obey the first and only rule of family contests - that everyone gets a prize).

4 Help them build a contraption. For older ones, this can be a downhill racer go-kart; for younger children it can be a little pull-along cart to transport their pets or toys round the garden. But it's either built from scratch, or a customised version of something going cheap at a boot sale (which are a great source of old pram wheels and accessories).

5 Some children like forming their own clubs, designing a name, logo and rules. This is partly to create a sense of belonging, but mainly, one suspects, for the pleasure of excluding children they don't like. A source of much fun, and no little psychological traumas.

6 Fix a milo-meter to their bikes. Or, if they have one already, set it to zero at the start of the holidays. They then track just how much ground they are covering, which, with any luck, will induce them to log even more miles to beat their friends. Keep a league table, offer prizes. Organise a Tour de Area. Anything to keep them pedalling.

7 Paper puppets. A great "if wet" option for younger children is to get them to draw a character (from a book, film, their family or, perhaps, a much-mimicked grown-up), colour it in, cut it out, and stick it on to a straw or chopstick. They then hide behind the sofa, and put on a puppet show.

8 Buy a couple of squirrel-proof bird feeders for the garden. Get the children to keep them filled and start a log of species that visit. You can add nesting boxes or bee boxes. A bowl of cat food on the lawn at night will attract hedgehogs - providing a nocturnal nature show.

9 Let them plan, cook and serve the evening meal. Dangerous, I know, but in the unlikely event of a success, could become a regular event. In the more likely event of an inedible pizza being served, say: "You know, this is so good I'm going to take the rest of it to work tomorrow to let them try it." Thus saving their face and your stomach.

10 Sleepovers. We all know these as a source of hours of planning, much nocturnal giggling, and heaps of morning-after mess. But, they are a great inducement for children to carry out any set chore, and, if you're canny, you'll contact the parents of as many of their friends as possible and arrange a sleepover rota, thus ensuring you a few child-free summertime nights.

11 Back garden camping. This can be under canvas, with the house used only for ablutions and as a source of fresh water. Even better, they can try building a makeshift shelter of wood or branches. The canvas option makes a good dry run to see if your cosseted darlings can take a camping holiday.

12 Have a "boredom box". Similar to a swear box, except the children have to put money in it, not for every oath, but for every time they utter the "b" word.

13 Back garden "dig". A small trench-shaped area is agreed, and off the little archaeologists go. Shovels down to about a foot or so, trowels and brushes thereafter. The odd coin, old toy or bit of crockery is virtually guaranteed. The resulting cavity can be used for that water feature you've always promised yourself. Note: sites where old family pets have been buried are best avoided.

14 Infect them with a hobby. Example: get your children a disposable camera each. Tell them to take pics not just of their chums, but also of their area and bits of the landscape they find interesting. Get them to start albums (or portfolios, as the more ambitious little photographers will call them).

15 Moth safari. On a small table in the garden, place a lamp, plus a bit of wood which you have coated in sugar water. Then, as the light fades, sit back and watch the local moths zoom in. For the more serious student, visit www.atropos.info to see how to make a proper moth trap, plus news of unusual sightings.

16 Visit www.allkids.co.uk/kids_pages/Boredom_busters.shtml, which has a wealth of links to games, rainy day ideas, and instructions on making things. Suggestions to suit all ages, and a great place to go for "if wet" ideas.

17 Reading group. Your children and their friends each buy a couple of books at the beginning of the holidays. They then read and swap them - and maybe even discuss them. Can also be done with computer games, but lacks the parental feel-good factor.

18 Treasure hunt. An old stand-by, but, if well planned, can keep younger children amused for hours. For older ones, take a trip round your area, work out some questions and riddles, sort them out so one leads to another, and let the kids loose on their bikes.

19 An eBay contest. Once registered on the site (which will take most of a day), everyone can sort out things to sell online. You put them up, and see who gets the most (and more lucrative) bids. Junior profits to be retained by the seller, adult ones donated to the family Special Day Out Fund.

20 Volunteering. An idea for older, worthier children, is to find out about any local digs, or conservation projects at which they can volunteer. Your local library will have details. Just imagine - your child laying down the foundations of a life as a useful, concerned citizen. Hard to believe as they flick through the TV channels one more time, but it could happen. Just believe.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger is in Argentina having chemotherapy

Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
News
We are phenomenally good at recognising faces; the study showed that humans have been selected to be unique and easily recognisable
science

Human faces unique 'because we don't recognise each other by smell'

Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show?
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
news

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Student
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise
student

Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum
theatre

Returning to the stage after 20 years makes actress feel 'nauseous'

Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week