The October half term can be a particularly tricky time to occupy the kids. Your budget is centred around the upcoming festivities and the cost of Christmas in general. The weather is usually cold and wet at best. And with less opportunities to get out in nature, our moods can be lower than we’d like.
But with the children taking a break from their school-based learning, the October half term poses some unique opportunities to teach them some valuable life lessons. And so, we’ve come up with some great ideas to help you keep the little – and big – ones in your life busy all week long.
From helping out in the kitchen to autumnal arts and crafts, there’s plenty of ideas for the whole family to get involved in. Read on to explore our top 10 activities to keep the kids busy during the October half term.
1. Go for an autumn walk
Autumn is a beautiful time of year. When the rain ceases and the clouds part, those cool crisp autumnal days are ones to take advantage of. Plus, with plenty of inspiration to teach kids about the change in the season, who wouldn’t want to take advantage of time outside when the opportunity presents itself.
And so, when the rain stops, be ready. Pull on your coats and shoes and embark on an autumnal adventure. In October the leaves offer a beautiful tricolour display. As you walk, observe. And encourage your kids to do the same. Discuss the colours, the sounds, the scents of autumn. Allowing your children to lead the conversation, encourage discussions around the sensory differences between summer and autumn.
What’s more, your half term outdoor adventure doesn’t have to stop there. Read on to learn more.
2. Autumn crafts
Your autumnal walk with the kids provides the perfect opportunity to collect some natural crafting materials. The floor has become a carpet of red and gold leaves, conkers and conker shells lie discarded on the ground, and acorns, pinecones and sycamore seeds are in abundance. Nature’s offering of craft-friendly materials is at its richest.
So, as you stroll through your local area, why not collect some essentials as you enjoy your autumn adventure? Allowing your children to choose which materials they want to use in their crafting project will also promote personal development (1).
Leaves can be used to create rubbings or collages. Pinecones, conkers, and acorns can be used to create anything and everything from personalised gifts and gift tags at Christmas to creating autumnal and home decorations and beyond. The key is to let the kids explore their creativity in a fun and free-spirited way.
3. Get organised
Given that the next school holiday on the calendar is Christmas – a time where typically households are inundated with lots of new stuff to find homes for – the October half term is a great time to reorganise their bedrooms.
It may initially sound like a chore (and it totally is) but kids usually enjoy having a say when it comes to what goes where in their space. And, as they uncover toys and games they had completely forgotten about, they’ll start to enjoy the process. Plus, if you grant your child the autonomy to decide whether to keep, bin, or donate their things, they’ll benefit in more ways than one (2). Improved confidence, self-motivation, and a secure sense of self are just some of the benefits associated with granting your kids autonomy.
Involving your child in the tidying and organisation process helps them understand its worth. And if nothing else, they’ll know exactly where to find the toy they’re looking for once you’re done! But it’s also a good way to help you understand their bedroom setup. It’ll make it clear whether their bedroom furniture and storage needs have changed.
4. Carve pumpkins
If you’re a fan of Halloween, the October half-term holidays provide us with the perfect excuse to embrace this seasonal favourite. So, pick up a pumpkin next time you’re in the supermarket and set aside some time for you and your child (or children) to get creative.
Designing your pumpkin is a great place to start. This can be done on paper or drawn directly onto the pumpkin – again, let your kids lead the activity as they prefer.
Next, you’ll need to remove the flesh and seeds from inside the pumpkin. This is the part that kids will either love or hate – the stringy innards of a pumpkin are sure to spark plenty of spontaneous conversation either way.
Once you’ve finished designing and hollowing out your pumpkin, it’s time to start carving. Depending on the age of your child or children, you may want to take the reins on this part of the activity (3). But, that doesn’t mean that you need to leave your little one out. Use this opportunity to explain the importance of safety while using sharp tools. And explain what you’re doing during each step of the process. This will keep your little one involved in what you’re doing even though they’re not able to actively help out.
Why not take advantage of the October half term holidays to enjoy some creativity in the kitchen with the kids. From Halloween cupcakes to leaf-shaped biscuits, there is plenty of seasonal inspiration to draw on around at the moment. Plus, a great thing about baking is that it’s great for working on their motor skills and, if your children are a little older, maths can come into play too.
And so, when baking with your children, encourage them to assist with any mixing or pouring. Also, try to remember that baking is always messy. Doing so allows you to focus on having fun with your little one rather than the mess that is being created in the process (4).
6. Host an impromptu sleep over
If there’s one thing that most kids can agree on it’s that having a friend to stay overnight is one of the best things ever! So, why not be the “best parent ever” and arrange for that to happen!? If you’re considering hosting a sleepover during the October half term, be sure to check out our “Sleep Solutions for Sleepovers During School Holidays” blog post to get the advice you need to keep them busy.
7. Have a themed family film night
With the days drawing to a close earlier and earlier, by the time 5pm rolls around during the October half term, it could well be dark already. In our books, that presents the perfect opportunity to snuggle up and enjoy a family movie. With Halloween right around the corner, the kids could be keen to watch something spooky. Or, if your little ones aren’t overly into (family-friendly and age-appropriate) scary films, there are plenty of other viewing option to consider. Either way, we suggest getting your whole brood together, equip them with duvets or blankets, stock up on movie snacks, and enjoy some great quality time.
You could even work the goods you baked earlier into your movie offerings too – win-win.
8. Arrange a budget-friendly day out
Whether you go pumpkin picking or take advantage of free resources such as art galleries and museums, there are plenty of budget-friendly days out to enjoy. Do a little research ahead of the half term holidays and find out what’s going on near you.
9. Do a jigsaw
Jigsaws are fun and challenging for the whole family. Studies have suggested that jigsaw puzzles help to improve visual-spatial reasoning, short-term memory, and problem-solving skills whatever your age (5). And so, why not spend some time exercising your brain in a relaxing way as a family?! A 500-piece puzzle could be a great starting point that everyone can get involved in. Or, if this isn’t your first rodeo where jigsaw puzzles are concerned, you may find that a 1,000 or 1,500-piece puzzle is better placed to challenge you.
You could choose a puzzle that centres around Halloween or Autumn in general to tie in with the October half term theme. Or, go completely rogue and choose an image that the kids will love. Then aim to spend 30 minutes to an hour each day working on it. You’ll find that it provides a unique opportunity for family-focussed interactions too.
10. Draft those letters to Santa
Being well-prepared is essential to the Christmas holidays running smoothly. As such, the October half term poses a great opportunity to nail down your little ones’ Christmas wish lists. Or at very least get in a first draft anyway! For younger ones, this could be a visual representation of their ideal gifts (i.e., a collage of drawings or cuttings from catalogues or magazines). And the older ones can practice their SPAG (or spelling, punctuation, and grammar).
Let’s face it, by the time we hit October, there’s only actually two pay days left before the big event anyway. So, if you have a rough idea on the subject of what your little ones are hoping for by the October holidays, it’ll put you in a great position to ensure those who matter most to you won’t be disappointed on Christmas morning.
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