School Holidays Hack: Activity Selection Bag

Thinking of things to do each day of the school holidays can often prove tedious and taxing, especially when nobody seems to want to agree on what to do – you can’t please everyone right?

Maybe you might like to try something I’ve been doing with my kids for awhile now.

The activity selection bag is a really easy and fair way to determine what to do on a day where you don’t have anything planned.  It’s so simple.  All you need is a bag,  some paper and pens.

At the start of the holidays, sit down with your kids and think of different activities you would like to do.  Write each individual activity onto a small, separate piece of paper, fold the paper over and place it into the bag.  To make it fair, you each need to write an equal number of activities.  How many you include is up to you, but to give you an idea, for the summer holidays, my two children and I wrote down 10 activities each.

In order to ensure your kids aren’t writing down activities that are a) requiring you to take out a second mortgage or b) outside the realms of realistic possibility, such as time travel, it’s probably advisable to discuss some boundaries with them.  Make sure you’re aware of what they’re writing down so you can manage their expectations if appropriate (please note: I said manage their expectations not quash their joy).  Writing a list of your own ensures you have a good range of activities going into the bag.

On any morning where you are without plans, grab the bag and randomly pull out one of the activities.  That’s the activity for you all to do that day – it’s as simple as that!

Thinking of things to do each day of the school holidays can often be tedious and taxing, especially when nobody seems to want to agree on what to do - you can’t please everyone right? Maybe you might like to try something I’ve been doing with my kids for awhile now. The activity selection bag is a really easy and fair way to determine what to do on a day where you don’t have anything planned. It’s so simple. All you need is a bag, some paper and pens. At the start of the holidays, sit down with your kids and come up with different activities you would like to do. Write each individual activity onto a small, separate piece of paper, fold the paper over and place it into the bag. To make it fair, you each need to write an equal number of activities. How many you include is up to you, but to give you an idea, for the summer holidays, my two children and I wrote down 10 activities each. In order to ensure your kids aren’t writing down activities that are a) requiring you to take out a second mortgage or b) outside the realms of realistic possibility, such as time travel, it’s probably advisable to discuss with them some boundaries. Make sure you are aware of what they’re writing down so you can manage their expectations if appropriate (please note: I said manage their expectations not quash their joy). Writing a list of your own ensures you have a good range of activities going into the bag. On any morning where you are without plans, grab the bag and randomly pull out one of the activities. That’s the activity for you all to do that day - it’s as simple as that! There are a few rules that we’ve implemented, but you can ignore or add depending on what works best for your family. In case it’s helpful, I’ve included our rules here: The weather - if the activity pulled out is weather dependent, such as going to the park and (as luck would have it), it’s pouring with rain, then you need to agree to have this as the next activity you do as soon as the weather allows. You then need to select another activity from the bag. Everyone has to do it! Whatever you draw out, everyone (even you) has to take part. There can’t be any ‘well Theo doesn’t want to go for a bike ride, so none of us are going’ It’s not fair to the child whose activity you’ve picked, to have it called off due to a sibling throwing a wobbly. However, if it’s the child who actually chose the activity having the breakdown and nobody else is bothered about doing that activity either, then by all means re-draw. Additionally if the activity is one that can be done at home and one child doesn’t want to take part; as long as they are happy to amuse themselves whilst the activity is taking place, then we would let that slide too. For example, once the activity pulled out was my son’s Lego Master Builder Challenge, which my daughter had no interest in. Whilst she played with her toys, I sat and built Lego with my son. If it’s a repeat, put it back in the bag - sometimes my kids enjoy a particular activity so much, that they want to do it more than once. Baking is a big favourite in our house, so they both put this into the bag. We’ve been fortunate so far, that baking hasn’t been pulled out twice in the same week, but if it did, we would probably re-draw. If you’re fine to repeat the same activity in the week, then great, it’s whatever works best for you. Some tips: Work to your budget. The cost of activities within the holidays can quickly add up, so make sure you know your budget and advise your kids whether they can include activities that you would have to pay for such as swimming or soft play. Avoid including activities that require too much forward planning. If you include a theme park trip as one of the activities and you’re drawing it out of the bag at 10am and the theme park is 2 hours drive away, it’s probably not going to work out. Granted you won’t necessarily have all that you need for every activity, but if they require more planning than a quick trip to the shops for provisions, then I would probably suggest you need to forward plan it. Some ideas: If you’re stuck for ideas on what to include, here are some of the activities we’ve previously included within our bag: Cake baking (explains itself). Hide and seek (see above). Board games ultimate champion - spend an afternoon playing different board games, keeping score to determine who is the ultimate champion. The prize for the winner in our house is getting to pick the teatime movie. Detective walks - Create look and find sheets for your children to tick off as they walk along. There are lots of ideas of what to include online. Swimming. A visit to the park. Teddy Bears Picnic - Can be done inside or out. You can extend the activity by getting the kids to create invitations and gather all the play food for the teddy bears to eat. Talent show - again this can be extended by creating posters, making props etc. Create a story book - a great opportunity for lots of cutting, sticking, drawing and writing. Gather all teddy’s round to listen to the telling of the stories you’ve created. Bike riding. Garden olympics - use your imagination to create a series of sports games within the garden. Create an animated movie - we use a free Stop Motion app (ironically called Stop Motion) to create little animated movies using either Lego or other toys. You can edit them for sound and titles etc. Lego Master Builders - challenge yourselves to make an epic Lego Master Build Shops - each create a ‘shop’ in different rooms in your house and spend time visiting and buying from each other’s shops. Playdoh (oh the joy - rolling eyes emoji) Making - use empty boxes, plastic pots etc to make models. Put out paints, stickers and pens to decorate. Water fun - We don’t have a water table in the garden, so we put out washing up bowls with different empty containers, sieves etc for the kids to have fun and get wet with. You can include bubbles if you want. It’s really delightful when the children surprise me with some brilliant ideas for activities they want to include. They get really excited when it’s time to pick a new activity out and as a result everyone is far more accepting of what will be happening for all or part of that day. It also pushes me to be more involved. I’ve found that since we started doing this we’ve had more quality time together, which is great whilst they are still in that precious phase of wanting to spend time with you. Have a great holiday! I’m always looking for new activity ideas so would love to hear of any that you’ve thought of too.
Our activity selection bag

There are a few rules that we’ve implemented, but you can ignore or add depending on what works best for your family.  In case it’s helpful, I’ve included our rules here:

  1. The weather – if the activity pulled out is weather dependent, such as going to the park and (as luck would have it), it’s pouring with rain, then you need to agree to have this as the next activity you do as soon as the weather allows.  You then need to select another activity from the bag.
  2. Everyone has to do it! Whatever you draw out, everyone (even you) has to take part.  There can’t be any ‘well Theo doesn’t want to go for a bike ride, so none of us are going’ It’s not fair to the child whose activity you’ve picked, to have it called off due to a sibling throwing a wobbly.  However, if it’s the child who actually chose the activity having the breakdown and nobody else is bothered about doing that activity either, then by all means re-draw.  Additionally if the activity is one that can be done at home and one child doesn’t want to take part; as long as they are happy to amuse themselves whilst the activity is taking place, then we would let that slide too.  For example, once the activity pulled out was my son’s Lego Master Builder Challenge, which my daughter had no interest in. Whilst she played with her toys, I sat and built Lego with my son.
  3. If it’s a repeat, put it back in the bag – sometimes my kids enjoy a particular activity so much, that they want to do it more than once.  Baking is a big favourite in our house, so they both put this into the bag.  We’ve been fortunate so far, baking hasn’t been pulled out twice in the same week, but if it did, we would probably re-draw.  If you’re fine to repeat the same activity in the week, then great, it’s whatever works best for you.

Some tips:

Work to your budget.  The cost of activities within the holidays can quickly add up, so make sure you know your budget and advise your kids whether they can include activities that you would have to pay for such as swimming or soft play.

Avoid including activities that require too much forward planning.  If you include a theme park trip as one of the activities and you’re drawing it out of the bag at 10am and the theme park is 2 hours drive away, it’s probably not going to work out.  Granted you won’t necessarily have all that you need for every activity, but if they require more planning than a quick trip to the shops for provisions, then I would probably suggest you need to forward plan it.

Some ideas:

If you’re stuck for ideas on what to include, here are some of the activities we’ve previously included within our bag:

  • Cake baking (explains itself).
  • Hide and seek (see above).
  • Board games ultimate champion – spend an afternoon playing different board games, keeping score to determine who is the ultimate champion.  The prize for the winner in our house is getting to pick the teatime movie.
  • Look and find walks – Create look and find sheets for your children to tick off as they walk along.  There are lots of ideas of what to include online.  Google: Nature walks look and find sheets.
  • Swimming.
  • A visit to the park.
  • Teddy Bears Picnic – Can be done inside or out.  You can extend the activity by getting the kids to create invitations and gather all the play food for the teddy bears to eat.
  • Talent show – again this can be extended by creating posters, making props etc.
  • Create a story book – a great opportunity for lots of cutting, sticking, drawing and writing. Gather all teddy’s round to listen to the telling of the stories you’ve created.
  • Bike riding.
  • Garden olympics – use your imagination to create a series of sports games within the garden.
  • Create an animated movie – we use a free stop motion app (creatively called Stop Motion) to create little animated movies using either Lego or other toys.  You can edit them for sound and titles etc.

 

  • Lego Master Builders – challenge yourselves to make an epic Lego Master Build
  • Shops – each create a ‘shop’ in different rooms in your house and spend time visiting and buying from each other’s shops.
  • Playdoh (oh the joy – rolling eyes emoji)
  • Making – use empty boxes, plastic pots etc to make models.  Put out paints, stickers and pens to decorate.
  • Water fun – We don’t have a water table in the garden, so we put out washing up bowls with different empty containers, sieves etc for the kids to have fun and get wet with.  You can include bubbles if you want.

It’s really delightful when the children surprise me with some brilliant ideas for activities they want to include.  They get really excited when it’s time to pick a new activity out and as a result everyone is far more accepting of what will be happening for all or part of that day.  It also pushes me to be more involved.  I’ve found that since we started doing this we’ve had more quality time together,  which is great whilst they are still in that precious phase of wanting to spend time with you.

 


 Have a great holiday! 

I’m always looking for new activity ideas so would love to hear of any that you’ve thought of too.  Get in touch by leaving a comment in the box below!

School Holidays Hack: The activity selection bag
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