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If money's tight you may be wondering how you'll keep the kids entertained this spring holiday. But there are lots of fun, low cost things you can try with the family. Here are some ideas.

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Spring holiday ideas for all the family

Laser maze

Remember those heist films where the jewel thief has to make their way through a complicated pattern of lasers without setting off the alarm? You can try this in your home!

Put a prize at one end of the room (it doesn’t need to be something new – a favourite toy will do). Next, make a maze by loosely attaching string to the furniture (don’t tie it on – you don’t want anyone getting stuck). The kids then have to crawl and climb through it without touching any of the string. If they do, everyone has to make a noise as if an alarm is going off. Just be sure to keep an eye on everyone, and don’t leave the kids unsupervised with the maze. 

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Learn some magic tricks

We thought a magician never reveals their secrets – but it turns out sometimes they do! The kids will love learning to do these magic tricks with the BBC’s Afternoon Club. Prepare to be amazed!

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Set up a mini golf course in the house

You don’t need fancy equipment to set up your own crazy golf course – all you need is spoons for golf clubs, ping pong balls or even screwed up bits of paper and mugs to use as the holes. Have fun creating your course,  placing the mugs around your home in awkward places and using toys to create obstacles. Then see who can get round the course hitting the ‘ball’ the fewest times.  If you have a garden you can take this outside and get some fresh air at the same time.

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Make a recycled sculpture

If like us you find your recycling bin is overflowing, now’s the time to put it to good use! Challenge the kids to make a sculpture from paper, cardboard, cans, tin foil, jam jars, plastic bottles and anything else you’ve set aside to recycle (make sure you clean any food containers first). A monster, a superhero, a spaceship, an elephant, the Taj Mahal – their imagination is the only limit to what they can create.

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Pitch a tent

Photo of a girl reading with her mum

If you’re lucky enough to have a garden – and a tent – then your holiday problems are solved. But even if you don’t, the kids will still enjoy camping in the living room. Don’t have a tent? A sheet, two chairs and some string is all you need! What will they take with them on their holiday to join them in their tent? A favourite toy? Some books to read? The cat?

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Make a family time capsule

A time capsule is a collection of items that mean something to your family, that you put in a box or jar and bury or hide somewhere in your home. You then make a date to 'dig it up' in the future. It's a fun way of thinking about what's important to you as a family and what you want to remember.

First, decide what you’re going to put in it. You could include drawings by the kids, a list of their favourite things at the moment (their fave food, superhero, song... anything!)  and some mementos of things you’ve done, like stones or shells you collected on a nature walk. Put the objects in a sealed container like a jar or tin and then either bury it in the garden or hide it somewhere in your home. Then decide when you’ll dig it up again – in one year? Five years? Ten years? It’s up to you.

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Pizza party

Photo of a healthy pizza

Most kids love pizza – and if you make it yourself, it’s not only healthier than buying it in the shop or ordering take away, but it will also keep the kids busy! You can find an easy recipe for the base here, and then get decorating with tomato, cheese and as many veggies as you can persuade the kids to add. How about making faces or patterns from the toppings, to make it even more fun?

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Super science

Make a DIY lava lamp, a rainbow cloud and – every kids’ favourite – SLIME! If your children aren’t enthusiastic about science, they’ll think again when they check out these experiments from CBeebies.

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Plant some seeds

Image of three children crouching on grass, with one child holding a twig.

Spring is the perfect time to plant some seeds and watch them grow. You don’t need a garden to do this – a sunny windowsill is fine! You can of course buy seeds in garden centres and supermarkets or online, but this article from the BBC explains how to grow plants from seeds you can find in your kitchen cupboards.

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Have an Easter-themed sports day

Get the kids up and running in the garden or park with an egg-cellent Easter-themed sports day. Try egg rolling, egg and spoon races (you can always use a ball if eggs seem a bit messy) and bunny hop races – guaranteed to tire everyone out in the hope of a good night’s sleep!

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Get closer to nature

Getting outdoors and exploring the natural world is a great way of clearing the head and boosting everyone’s wellbeing. And the good news is, you don’t have to travel far to find nature near you. This map from Ordnance Survey will help you find green spaces in your area.

Scottish Wildlife Trust has lots of great ideas for getting closer to nature at home and when you’re out and about. How about making salt dough with natural dyes or creating your own mini beast safari?

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Culture vultures

Museums! They’re interesting, they’re indoors (if the weather’s not great), and lots of them are free – what’s not to like? What’s more, many museums hold free family events over the holidays. You can find free museums in your area listed on the Money Saving Expert website.

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Ideas for younger kids

Arts and crafts are a good way to fill a long afternoon and keep little fingers busy. Here are some ideas. Our pages on things to do with toddlers and children have more suggestions.

Fun with paper-mache

Ever tried making paper-mache? It may be a lot of mess, but it’s fun, simple and no scissors are required! If you have any balloons, try blowing them up and then covering them with paper-mache to make eggs, masks or bowls. Check out this easy recipe from the BBC and get pasting!

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Home-made play dough

Got flour, food colouring and oil in your cupboards? Then you have all the ingredients to make playdough! Hours of creative fun guaranteed! This recipe from the BBC shows you how to make it. How about making some Easter themed sculptures? Eggs are an easy place to start, or they could even try making a bunny!

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Make rainbow rice

This fun sensory activity from our friends at  Smart Play Network makes use of something we all have in our homes these days – hand sanitiser! You can check out more videos like this here.

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Easter craft

Child holding painted Easter egg

Who needs photo filters when you can make your own bunny ears? You can find instructions on the National Trust for Scotland’s blog.

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Activities for older children

Older kids can be harder to entertain than wee ones, but here are some ideas that might hit the spot. Our page on activities for teens has lots more ideas.

Create your own escape room

Set everyone’s minds whirring by getting the kids to create an escape room in your home – and then seeing if the adults can escape it! They’ll need to pick a theme – zombies? fairy tales? Harry Potter? – and create a storyboard and puzzles. This may sound a bit complicated, but complicated is good if you want to keep older kids occupied for any length of time. The Escape Kit website shows you how to get started.

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Origami is the art of paper folding. It may not sound very exciting but try it and you might find it surprisingly addictive! There are lots of different ideas to try on the Origami Instructions website, from simple swans and hearts to much more complex folds.

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Make a stop-motion movie

Ever wondered what makes Wallace and Gromit come to life? The answer is stop motion animation – and you can do it for free on your phone! If your kids have a creative or techy streak and are in need of a project that will really absorb them, this could be the answer. All they need is a phone, some free software and something to film – this could be LEGO, toys, their own drawings, your origami models or any other objects they can lay their hands on. Their imagination will do the rest! This YouTube video explains how to get started.

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Start a gratitude journal

Yes you’re probably rolling your eyes right now, but being grateful for the good things in our lives can help cheer us all up. So why not suggest your kids keep a daily list of things they’re grateful for? 

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And breathe...

photo of a mum and a child cross legged on the couch laughing

You don’t have to fill every day of the break with action – holidays are for relaxing too! So how about suggesting the kids give one of these calming activities a go:

  • Colouring in – it’s not just for wee ones! Messing about with pens and crayons gives your brain a rest, and can also spark creativity. There are lots of free designs online to download – have a look together and see what you can find.
  • Yoga – it’s not only a great way of stretching out and getting fit, it’s good for the mind too. You don’t need any fancy equipment – just a space on the floor and some comfy clothes. There are loads of free classes available on YouTube and lots of different styles of yoga to try. Yoga instructor Adriene has a good video for teens – have a go as a family or let the kids find their own style.
  • Pampering day – you don’t have to go to an expensive spa to feel pampered. Encourage the kids to make their own face packs from bananas, plain yoghurt and honey then lie back and listen to some restful tunes. Peace all round!
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