Here are a few ideas to help fill the days – places to go on days out, activities for days in, and ways to keep the family entertained on those long, long journeys!

The value of structure

Some adoptive parents find their children cope best with a clear structure, so they plan their vacation in detail, setting activities for each day well in advance, and displaying the information for their children on a pictorial calendar.

Taking shortcuts, like doing food shopping online over the holiday period, can help parents juggle the extra childcare that the holidays bring.

Days out

It's worth finding out what activities or play schemes your local council is offering – check their website or ask at your local library and leisure centre. As well as sports and activity sessions for a range of ages, some offer cycling proficiency courses for older children.

Other days out could include:

  • Zoos
  • Museums
  • Safari/theme parks
  • Castles or stately homes – often with extensive grounds
  • Steam railways
  • A local swimming pool
  • Cinema – many run daytime holiday clubs
  • Theatres - often run tours and workshops for children, sometimes open air theatre too
  • Local authority countryside teams and local wildlife trusts' free activities, i.e. pond dipping and treasure trails
  • Wildlife parks and sanctuaries
  • Children's farms

Days in

By the time you factor in the transport, entrance fees and treats, days out can be expensive. The following list, which contains ideas from our Online Community users, is for days at home that can be just as much fun:

  • Fill a large plastic box with a few plastic toys and some coloured water and freeze it – then let the children chip and chisel away like archaeologists to get to the toys
  • Camp in the garden overnight
  • Potato printing and fingerprinting
  • A walk collecting interesting objects
  • Water painting – give them large paintbrushes and a big bucket of water, and let them paint the house and the patio
  • Paddling pool fun...try adding washing up liquid!
  • Hand and feet painting
  • Growing seeds e.g. on a windowsill, try cress or, if planting outdoors, pak choi, runner beans or tomatoes.
  • Treasure hunts
  • Roll out some wallpaper lining paper on the floor and draw around the children, then they can paint them and cut them out
  • Buy some large photo frames for several pictures and ask the children to choose their favourite photos to be displayed
  • Borrow a friend or neighbour's dog for regular walks

Long journeys

A familiar part of many people's summers are the long journeys to reach holiday destinations. Keeping children entertained and happy during these times can be a monumental task. Once you have played 'I Spy' for a couple of hours, a few more ideas for games could come as a relief! Here are some suggestions:

  • Guess the Animal: Someone thinks of an animal, others ask questions about that animal, i.e. 'can it fly?' They can only answer 'yes' or 'no'.
  • The Alphabet Game: Think of a category (e.g. animals) and find a word for every letter of the alphabet, such as Aardvark, Bluebird, Cat etc.
  • Word Association: The first person says apple, second person says banana, third person says monkey, etc.
  • The Number Plate Game: look at the nearest number plate for the group of three letters. The first letter is the initial of the person's name; the second is where they come from, and the third is the job they do.
  • Yes and No: Ask one person questions to which they can answer anything except yes or no. If they say yes or no they are out and it's someone else's turn, i.e., 'what school do you go to?' 'Are you sure?'
  • Other ideas for keeping children entertained during long journeys include providing them with a CD or MP3 player, audio books (which often can be borrowed from a local library) or a deck of cards.

Further ideas and resources

From our Forums:

The Cinema Exhibitors' Association Card website - a national card that can be used to verify that the holder is entitled to one free ticket for a person accompanying them to the cinema.

Adoption at the Movies blog - reviews of movies from an adoptive parent's point of view

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