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Keeping the kids happy out and about

One minute they're complaining about being too bored inside, the next all they want to do is come home! If you want some tips for keeping them happy in the car, doing the shopping, or at the park, here are parents' top tips:

If you need to keep them busy out and about:

Game #1: Little treasures

Have a go at collecting items, such as sticks or shells, for a ‘treasure basket’ – placing them in a basket or bucket one by one, counting as you go along. Use the items to make patterns in the ground – for example, creating lines with sticks or using stones to make round patterns. You could also use your leaves or pebbles to make numbers – for example, using 10 leaves to make a ‘1’ and a ‘0’. Parent tip: counting worms is less fun.

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Game #1: Count things on the way

When you’re heading somewhere, keep them busy by counting things you see together - like red cars, buses or lorries. You could also check which side of the street has odd numbers and which has even numbers?


If you’re visiting someone, give your child their house number and ask them to tell you which side of the street they’re on. Then you could help them count down - or up - and ask them how many doors away you are. They’ll soon find their way around.

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Game #2: Guess the number

Guessing games can be a super power for keeping them busy and avoiding meltdowns. It's an easy way to make a walk to school, or a car or bus journey more fun. Just think of a number between 0-30 and get your child to guess what it is. You can help them by saying 'higher' or 'lower'. This will help them change direction while they’re counting, without even realising it.

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Game #3: Magic fingers

Keep them entertained by using your ‘magic’ finger to write words in the air of things that you see and ask each other to guess what the other person is writing. Make it easy by starting with short, three-letter words - like 'cat', 'bus' and 'red'.

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Game #4: Write your name

Steamed-up windows are a perfect place to write your name. Get your kid to write their name on the windows when they’ve steamed up. If they’re confident, ask them to write ‘hello’ backwards so that people on the streets can see it.

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Game #5: Singing by numbers

Keep them happy in the car by singing counting songs, like 5 currant buns or 10 green bottles.

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Game #6: Adding up around the park

When you’re out and about and somewhere like the park, you could ask your child how many swings they can see, the number of steps between trees, how many dogs you see, or how many people. Or how many more people than dogs. There’s a whole world out there just waiting to be counted.

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Game #7: Count throws at the park

Count each time you throw the ball to each other. To mix things up a little, you could try different ways of counting - starting to count in twos (2, 4, 6) say, and then having a go at counting in fives (5, 10, 15) and tens (10, 20, 30). You could even take a point away when someone misses.

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Game #8: Keepie uppie challenge

Take turns at keepie-uppies down the park. Start by counting each keepie-uppie. Then start again, and this time each keepie-uppie could be worth two points. Then maybe five points. You could even take a point off each time you drop the ball. You could ask your child to be in charge of keeping score while you play.

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Game #9 Forwards and backwards

Try taking it in turns to say alternate numbers to 30, while rolling or throwing a ball back and forth. Then, if you're up for a challenge, try it backwards and in 2s. Start at different numbers, or if you don't have a ball handy pat your tummy or clap your hands while you count.

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Game #12: Goalie game

Jumpers make fantastic goalposts! Take it in turns to be in goal, and then for every ball that gets through the jumpers add a point. For every ball you miss, subtract a point.

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Game #13: Get a free library card

You can visit your local library, or apply online, to get them a free library card. Your child can help you fill out the form with their name, age and address details.

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Game #14: Get a free book

Get them to help you choose some books at the library that you can read together. If you’re not sure what to look for, the librarian will be happy to help - or you could check out our book lists for some great recommendations for kids from the Scottish Book Trust.

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Game #15: Draw a picture

When you get back, chat about your day out, and ask your child to draw a picture of their favourite part. You could help them to label parts of the picture - such as swings, sunshine or grass. If they need a bit of help, get them to trace the outline of the words.

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Game #16: Write about it

After a day out together, why not get them to wind down by getting them to write about it?  To help them, you could start off some sentences they can finish. Why not try these – “The weather was…”, “Lunch was…” “The best part of the day was…”

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Game #17: Make a story

Talking about your day out together by asking your child to imagine what your day out might have been like if it was on Mars, or if a dragon had come along. Encourage them to use their imagination and write down their own story.

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Being a parent is the best job in the world, but it can also be one of the most stressful. There will be days when it all feels a little too much. To help you manage the challenges ahead, Parent Club has some tips on coping with being a parent and keeping calm with your wee one so you can build a rewarding relationship together.

Gif of animated character getting frustrated

Gif of animated character getting frustrated

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Behaviour Play & Learn Out The House Child (4-8 years)

Last updated: 22 Apr, 2020