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Get messy: at home with the kids

Get Crafty With Hartleys

Get crafty with the kids this summer with these 10 boredom-busting ideas...

With the kids at home over the summer holidays, it’s the perfect time to get together as a family. However, if you've exhausted your list of fun things to do and are already considering a seventh round of Eye Spy, then don’t worry.

To help keep your little monsters busy – and to save you from having to adorn yet another popcorn necklace – here are some fun ideas for keeping the kids busy and having fun.

Make and bake

Chocolate biscuit cake with marshmallow pieces

When it comes to whipping up delicious treats in the kitchen, we’re very much fans of taking the Nigella approach to baking: Simple ingredients, easy to make and a whole lot of chocolate. Baking is fun, messy and at the end of it all, everyone gets a treat and the house smells like happiness.

Want to stay away from hot stuff? Decorating biscuits is just as fun – as long as you can keep the decorations from being eaten before they’ve made it to the biscuit. Dollop with icing and watch as Grandma’s face slowly manifests itself in the form of Dolly Mixtures and strawberry laces.

Camp it up

If you’d love to spend a night with the kids under the stars but a week of eating baked beans fills you with dread, why not set up camp in the garden? You can still enjoy the rustle of sleeping bags while chomping down various ketchup-smothered snacks, with all your home comforts within reach.

Weather not playing ball? Camp inside! Scatter cushions and blankets around the living room, hit the lights and snuggle up for storytime.

Pizza the action

There aren’t many of us who don’t love a good pizza – besides, it can be anything you want it to be! Even if you hate tomatoes and cheese, you can mix it up with different toppings for a bespoke, Italian-style treat. Try different bases – pitta bread and French stick slices are perfect – smother in sauce and pile up the toppings as high as they’ll go for maximum crammage.

How does your garden grow?

Colourful flowers growing in the garden

For many, identifying garden plants can be a bit of a minefield. Is it a weed? Is it a flower? Going to pull it up anyway? – STEP AWAY FROM THE TROWEL. There are now lots of apps to help you find out what’s in your garden: Plantsnapp, LikeThat Garden, FlowerChecker, NatureGate or even Google Goggles – just take a picture and wait for the wonders of technology to guide you and your children round your outside space.


Game on

Great for rainy days, games and puzzles can keep kids entertained for hours and are a great excuse for team work as well as interaction. Download a quiz, race each other in Mario Kart, bring out a board game, solve puzzles and of course, crack open the snacks for a truly engaging as well as mind-bending experience.


Dig in!

Picnics in the countryside can sound idyllic but they can also be time-consuming - but don’t let that stop you from breaking out the spork. Gild your lawn with blankets and choose a variety of foodie favourites for a fun feast in the sun. Grab some fresh juice for the kids and a slosh of Pimms for the parents for that extra touch of summer.


Homemade lemonade with straws and sliced lemon

Lemons, water and sugar – making lemonade is fun and easy and while you’re at it, gives everyone a healthy boost of vitamin C. Serve with lots of crushed ice, colourful straws and gingerbread cookies.
And if you’re in the mood for superfoods, why not make a selection of colourful juices? Create your own concoctions and while you’re at it, see if you can trick your youngest into eating kale – “tastes just like apple…honest…”

All a flutter

Birds are great for watching, learning about and drawing too. Help them make your garden their home by making your own bird feeders. Google a how-to that suits you best and adorn your garden with your homemade creations. Bird feed, nuts, seeds and berries are all great for getting you on your way.

Room with a view

Grey skies and rainy days can make for long days stuck indoors. Get crafty and brighten up the view by inspiring your kids to make their own window art. String together paper rainbows, glittery creations, buttons, feathers and pom-poms and hang as mobiles to add colour to the windows. Also a great way of using up the last of the craft materials in the art box.

And last but not least – add a touch of magic to the garden

Fairy gardens encompass the winning combination of sounding fantastic and looking great, without requiring too much effort. Get a large plant pot, fill with soil and off they go. Decorations can include coloured pebbles, delicate flowers, tiny houses and if she’s lucky, Barbie might get a look in on the action too. Drench in glitter for instant magic.

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