If you are running out of easy activity ideas for vacation care, oshc or camp I have you covered with this collection of inspiration from around the web. The activity ideas are suitable for children 6 years up but do use common sense and your knowledge of the stages of children in your care at the moment to decide what activities suit your program and children best.
Click on the text links in each section below to learn more about how to set up and play the highlighted activities. With twin 9 year olds (at the time of writing this), I certainly know how frustrating it can be to keep older children busy and the familiar phrase 'I'm bored' at bay throughout the school holidays (and spend some time away from the screens each day!) while also providing a balance of leisure time.
Hopefully this bumper list will make life a little easier for you whether you are planning for a group of school vacation care children or just a few of your own at home or in family day care!
Ready to add some new ideas to your list? Let's do it!
Card Games using a regular deck of cards
While the children probably already know how to play snap and fish, there are plenty of kid friendly card games that they can play using a regular pack of cards. See the rules below:
I love these 6 card games that Mumlyfe tells us are 'more fun than screens' We've tried some of them as a family and you know what? She's right!
There are always some days when we are stuck inside. Why not get the children moving with some of these great resources:
1. Go Noodle YouTube Channel – the children LOVE these songs and dances
2. Cosmic Kids Yoga – Yoga classes using popular children’s themes and many are based on popular movies too.
Don’t forget about music – if you have Spotify or a music streaming service you have so much music ready to go, no need to constantly fast forward and rewind tapes to find the song you need like I used to in my younger days! By the time I found the song the children had usually lost interest and I had to chase after them...ahh the good old days! Try THIS dance playlist on Spotify.
YouTube is great source for music on demand too. Why not try searching some of these classics:
While you’ve got the music going why not get out a broom stick and get a game of Limbo going or a game of freeze or musical chairs.
Easy Group Games
We often forget about the old games that we always used to play. When was the last time the children played some of these games?
Group Games (needing some direction)
1. THIS LIST has 15 great group game ideas for older children and includes all of the rules too.
2. Egg and spoon races (find even more relay ideas HERE)
4. Three-legged races
Minute to Win It Games
Always fun and a great way to encourage teamwork, listening, laughter and following directions. Browse this collection of awesome games from Mumlyfe!
Do you have a parachute? There are lots of great group games you can play with these – see some great ones HERE.
Create your own (or have the children make one) or use some of these ideas
Water play is just as much fun (maybe even more) when you’re older. The classic slip and slide is always fun, but why not try some of these water games:
If you already have a big box of these (they’re cheap for a big box at IKEA), why not try some of these ideas – over 40 different design ideas can be found HERE.
You don’t need to buy the fancy Lego kits – if you have a big bucket of Lego why not try introducing these projects for children to extend on in their own way:
Art & Craft from recycled materials and boxes
Older children love using recycled materials for craft just as much as they younger ones (if not more!) One of our favourite weekend games is to pull out all the cardboard boxes we have been 'holding onto for something' , add some cardboard rolls, clean recycle bin goodies, tape and pens, then create robots or battle outfits - they make for very funny videos! Why not try some of these other ideas:
Advanced art techniques
Older children are often keen to take their art to the next level and there are some easy to follow tutorials online to show them what to do.
One of my 9 yr old twins absolutely loves to sit down with her sketching pad while following drawing steps on the screen - tutorials are definitely for the older schoolies but don't rule them out just because they mean using screens or following specific directions, it's not something that will interest all children but many love this type of activity and the chance to challenge and extend their art skills in different ways.
Some video tutorials to get you started are:
Children love to bake and there are lots of easy and cheap recipes out there. Try to choose some simple recipes or snacks that older children can have a go at making themselves - you provide the ingredients and recipe...and an opportunity for the development of responsibility, creativity and independence. A few simple ones to add to your collection:
Visit the Raising Children Network here for some fantastic handouts, videos, recipes and tips to help you have fun cooking with kids and teens.
You made it to the end! I do hope you have found some new activities to add to your 'keep them busy' toolbox as you read through this blog. Happy holidays!
If you would like to access planners packed with activity and setup ideas for 6-12 year olds that encourage a range of learning outcomes join us inside The Empowered Educator member hub with other educators from around the world here.
A Little About Me
Jodie Clarke is an early childhood professional supporting educators who want and need to stay passionate about the work they do! She has 30 years hands-on experience in the early childhood and human services sectors across many different roles.
Jodie is mum to 3 in Australia and has already helped thousands of educators with their work through her popular blog posts, activity ideas, online training and e-books.