Now the summer holidays are well underway, are you running out of ideas to keep the children busy? Don’t panic! Here are 50 of my favourite sanity-saving holiday activities.


  1. Visit the library.
  2. Build Lego models.
  3. Go hunting for new games in the charity shops.
  4. Make a den under the table/behind the sofa.
  5. Decorate the path/patio with chalk.
  6. Have scooter races.
  7. Write postcards to your family and friends.
  8. Make junk models from the contents of the recycling bin.
  9. Make pizza.
  10. Write Christmas wish-lists.
  11. Make a scrapbook of your summer with photos, tickets, and drawings.
  12. Design your own board game.
  13. Make Christmas cards.
  14. Make things out of holey socks.
  15. Design your own T-shirt.
  16. Go swimming.
  17. Do a garden treasure hunt.
  18. Blow bubbles.
  19. Make your own ice cream (whisked double cream + tin of condensed milk + extras).
  20. Fly a kite.
  21. Play musical statues.
  22. Have a board games tournament (play all the games you have and see who is Winner of Winners).
  23. Get brochures from the travel agent and plan a perfect holiday (cut out pictures of the nicest hotel, swimming pool, food, etc)
  24. Rearrange their bedroom furniture (if they will cope with the change).
  25. Home spa – nail varnishing, massage, give each other hairdos…
  26. Plant flowers.
  27. Use printable activity sheets (these Twinkl outdoor activity sheets are free to download).
  28. Make ice lollies.
  29. Play with Fuzzy Felt.
  30. Make people out of lolly sticks and washi tape.
  31. Go to the beach.
  32. Find a playground you haven’t visited before.
  33. Visit a pick-your-own farm.
  34. Make fairy cakes.
  35. Make models out of Plasticine or Fimo.
  36. Go blackberrying.
  37. Make your own animation (a friend gave this to Joanna and it is very fun).
  38. Visit a pet shop.
  39. Make a scene with gel art window decorations.
  40. Go litter-picking with grabbers.
  41. Earn a Blue Peter badge.
  42. Make an alarm to keep your annoying sister out of your bedroom.
  43. Make wax rubbings of coins, leaves, Lego bricks…
  44. Design a new pencil case for going back to school.
  45. Go birdwatching/tree-spotting/vehicle-spotting with an I-spy book.
  46. Create a mini-book about something you love.
  47. Put on an audiobook.
  48. Fill an in-car entertainment station.
  49. Create an animal footprint tray for your garden.
  50. Do a science experiment.

And if none of those will work today, my vote is for putting a new film on their Kindles and having a small doze on the sofa. How about you? Let me know in the comments.

Before you go…

  • If you found this post helpful or interesting, please vote for it. Thanks! ūüôā
  • You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. I love to talk to fellow adopters.
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The end-of-term transition anxiety has kicked in here this week. The dysregulation has moved up several notches. Both the girls are tired. There have been lots of tears and slammed doors and shouting about how terrible we are followed by apologies and more tears and cuddles and a bit more wailing and then calm (more-or-less). Time to break out a few more of my tried and tested sensory activities to see us through to the end of term and into the holidays.


Note: this is an update of a post I wrote last summer. This stuff works really well for us, so I’m sharing it again.

Around here, as in many adoptive families, holidays are hard work, especially the first few days of adjustment to the different routines. Joanna (8) and Charlotte (7) both have sensory issues caused by their early experiences: Joanna’s are primarily aural (oversensitivity to sound and a fear of loud noises), while Charlotte’s are¬†mainly oral (she likes to chew things ‚Äď toys, clothes, books ‚Äď and is very fussy about food and will not countenance the idea of a raw tomato within five feet of her plate). Both are also quite fidgety and love to fiddle with things ‚Äď to self-soothe because of attachment-related anxiety.

Enter the list of sensory activities to help them stay regulated, happy little sausages during the holidays.¬†You’ll note that all of these are of the uncomplicated ‘buy it and get on with it’ variety, rather than Pinterest-worthy creations that require you to spend a week crocheting the shoelaces of elves first. The only one that requires any advance preparation is number 4, but that’s just putting some stuff in the freezer overnight. Job done.

1: Beads

The beads are a great calming activity – the sorting and threading and concentrating works beautifully to help them stay regulated. Seriously – it’s amazing. I have rarely seen them so calm! As long as there are enough of each type to go around and sibling rivalry doesn’t kick in, all is well. This particular set was ¬£6.00 from Tesco¬†and has kit for four necklaces with lots of beads left over. I haven’t been able to find it there this year but there are similar kits on Amazon (try the¬†WINOMO Alphabet beads¬†or¬†Melissa and Doug Deluxe Wooden Bead Set).

2: Playdough/Plasticine/FIMO

An oldie but a goodie ‚Äď give them a supply of dough, cutters and rolling pins and let them do their thing. (All you have to do is watch it get trodden into the carpet.) Nice and tactile for those who enjoy that sensation and/or the creative possibilities. Alternatively, our OT recommends the gloop made by mixing cornflour and water. It’s great for making fingers work harder and giving that feedback their muscles need.

3: Baking

Basically an edible version of the previous idea ‚Äď adding an extra sensory experience into the mix. Use a¬†simple¬†biscuit recipe and let them go mad with the cutters, or for a treat try my chocolate cake recipe. (This cake is EPIC and also completely foolproof.)


4: Frozen archeology

A great idea for hot weather. Take some of their plastic toys and freeze them in a big container of water (with food colouring or a bit of orange squash in to hide the toys if you want), then give them a spoon to perform their archaeological dig! This activity provides new tactile experiences to keep sensory-seekers interested and can be combined with playing in a paddling pool for extra entertainment! Joanna and Charlotte love this.


5: Water

Charlotte completely lights up with joy when she’s in a swimming pool, and it’s a full-on immersive sensory experience, so our girls have a fortnight of swimming lessons every summer. But if that’s not an option, then a middle-of-the-day bath can work, especially if you colour the water with food colouring. In hot weather, the classic run-through-the-sprinkler game reliably produces a lot of shrieking and giggling in our garden. In hot weather we sometimes peg out a tarpaulin on the grass and squirt washing-up liquid or bubble bath on it. We then put the hose at the top end (our garden is on a slight slope). The girls love to slide down the slope and get covered in bubbles, then rinse off in the paddling pool. (Don’t have a tarpaulin? Grab one from camping shops or from Amazon here for under ¬£6.50.)

Our garden bubble-slide.

6: Masking tape racetrack

This one needs a roll of masking tape (washi tape works well too) and some Matchbox-type cars. The first time we did it I designed a course for them myself, but Joanna added her own modifications. I like to include plenty of obstacles to make it more of a sensory experience. We have cushions to drive over, maybe a beanbag mountain, a cardboard tube tunnel, whatever we happen to have in the recycling box at the time. I find that the girls’¬†attention span increases when they can use the tape themselves after I’ve done the basic layout. They also enjoy using lots of props (e.g. people, trees and buildings from their train set and toy farm).


An early prototype

I hope you find these helpful during the holidays. If you you have other¬†sensory play ideas¬†I’d love to hear about them. Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.


  • If you found this post helpful or interesting, please vote for it. Thanks! ūüôā
  • You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. I love to talk to fellow adopters.
  • You can also sign up here to receive my monthly newsletter. It¬†contains my recent blog posts, my favourite adoption-related blog posts by others, and relevant resources from around the web.

It’s the silence I like best, I think.

My children are often lovely, funny, helpful, kind, and generally delightful. And equally often…¬†not those things. They can fidget for England and they really, really love the sound of their own voices. Our lives are conducted with a soundtrack of chatter (I once heard it described as ‘verbal scribble’, which is exactly right) that drives me to distraction.

Enter the Kindle.

Educational kindle apps

Our interest in getting Kindles started as an educational idea: the school used the Mathletics¬†website and app for maths homework, and we wanted the girls to be able to do it on their own machines rather that mine or Pete’s precious MacBooks which are vital for our work and would almost certainly not cope well with an orange squash spillage. (Mathletics, by the way, is awful: the app has limited functionality and the website often crashes, causing much frustration all round. School now seem to have given up on it too. DoodleMaths is much better.) Having researched tablets, we found that the combination of a Black Friday deal and Tesco Clubcard points meant that they were as close to free as they were going to get. So we bought them as Christmas presents, loaded them up with content, and had the quietest Christmas yet. Success!

Gus on the Go

When the girls are plugged in to their Kindles they are quiet, still, absorbed. They listen to stories. They watch the videos we’ve installed (and we don’t have to be subjected to Frozen on the TV). Joanna reads. (We’re still working on that with Charlotte.) There are games and apps of the ‘education in disguise’ variety, such as ‘Gus on the Go‘, which features¬†an owl who¬†is teaching them French and Russian (naturally) and a bit of surreptitious maths in various shopping games. In short, it is a Good Thing, and because the parental controls are highly customisable, it is locked down to what is safe and appropriate for our children: no internet, no camera, no shopping facility (yikes, the idea). We vet it all and they’re happy.

Fire for Kids Unlimited

We tried a¬†‘Fire for Kids Unlimited‘ subscription for a few months. That filters the content by age and allows the children access to a huge library of videos, books and games for ¬£5 a month (¬£8 if you don’t have Amazon Prime ‚Äď these prices are for up to four children, and a cheaper version for one child is available). We filtered out a few unhelpful things by keyword, but Joanna still came across something she found a bit scary, so we cancelled the subscription and now add everything on manually. I check everything and add something new every month or two.

At the moment (as I mentioned recently) they are very taken with the new additions of¬†Gangsta Granny (thanks to a tip-off from Joanna’s teacher that this will be her topic next term) and Madagasgar (a long-term favourite). They’re quite happy watching both over and over again, so the investment (¬£1.89 and¬†¬£6.99 respectively) lasts several weeks. Heck, Charlotte is still watching blimmin’ Frozen at least once a week.

Non-screen time

I don’t want to give the impression that our children do nothing but stare at a screen. That’s not the case at all. They love making dens in the garden, climbing trees, drawing and colouring, and are in a swimming lesson as I write this. So I feel no guilt about balancing all the activity and noise with an hour or two of screen time in the afternoon (or, in the holidays, a bit more than that) so I have a bit of peace in the midst of the maelstrom because…¬†self-care klaxon¬†my sanity is important too.

Screen time rules

Our rules aren’t¬†quite as rigid as the picture¬†below but there are sometimes conditions of screen time and it tends to be¬†limited by battery life (for I am the keeper of the chargers, bwah-ha-ha). It works.

Screen time rules: source unknown

tl;dr (short version)

So, in summary, once you’ve got the devices in lockdown from a security perspective, and provided the¬†nippers¬†run about every now and then (which really isn’t a problem for any of the adopted children I know), then screen time is educational and entertaining for them and sanity-saving for the adults and so, as far as I can see, it has no down side.

Even the customer service is great. I needed to contact Amazon about an issue with one of them¬†recently and we were sent a replacement with no hassle within 24 hours. I was impressed. We certainly wouldn’t be without them now, and… I liked theirs so much I bought myself one too.

A note about links

This isn’t a sponsored post ‚Äď no money has changed hands ‚Äď I just like Kindles. That said, I do use affiliate links. So if you click through and buy something (say, a Kindle Fire¬†or a childproof case) I get a very tiny amount of cash. Just so we’re all clear.


  • If you found this post helpful or interesting, please vote for it. Thanks! ūüôā
  • You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. I love to talk to fellow adopters.
  • You can also sign up here to receive my¬†newsletter, containing my recent blog posts, my favourite adoption-related blog posts by others, and relevant resources from around the web.