February half term is always my least favourite of the school breaks – it’s cold, dark, wet and miserable, and there’s very rarely anything good to do, even when we’re not in a lockdown. The difference this time is that we’ve limped here through weeks of demanding homeschool, and where I would normally have been looking forward to spending lots of extra time together, they’re probably quite sick of me haranguing them to do things – which will mean there will be plenty of time for doing whatever they want to do, most likely console-based.

But, I don’t want this holiday to disappear into a haze of Fortnite and Minecraft. I’m always sad to remember that there are a finite number of school holidays, and still fewer holidays when they will submit to organised activities without a fight, so I do want to do a couple of things to make it memorable for them and me. Here are a few of the ideas I’ve found, and while I probably won’t get round to doing them all (I’m exhausted before we’ve even started, but that’s another story), I thought it might be nice to share them in case you’re in need of some inspiration too.

Everything here can be done by raiding the recycling, so if you’ve still got a lot of Christmas boxes from a well-known international delivery company lying around, this could be the post for you…


Model city – build and destroy

It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just stragetically-placed boxes and bottles as skyscrapers and office blocks, and maybe some paper laid down as a park, pond etc. You don’t even have to decorate any of it, unless you want to make a morning out of it. Run cars or trains around it, introduce dinosaur hazards, have an earthquake or other major natural event – perhaps even a giant child attack? And because it’s just the recycling, it doesn’t matter if the whole metropolis is destroyed. Film it and turn it into the next classic disaster blockbuster!


Bowling alley

Enough empty soft drinks bottles (Coke, 7Up, maybe even some tonic water? Plenty of those round here…) lend themselves perfectly to a bowling alley. Find a tennis ball, or maybe you have one of the many bouncy balls that seem to reproduce naturally around our house, and set them up across a room, or down a hall. Keep score and get someone to do the adding up, if you can bear to bring Maths into the holidays!


Junk modelling

They both adored junk modelling in their early years, and I’ve been keeping a few little boxes and tubes aside for the odd homeschool project that has cropped up – so I thought I might let them loose with that stash, the sticky tape and anything else I can salvage from the recycling and see what they can come up with. I predict now that there will be a robot and a jetpack – there is always a jetpack.


Marble run

If you’ve got enough cardboard tubes, tape a few together and make a marble run – and you could make v-shaped funnels out of cereal packets to funnel them along greater distances. Run between furniture, or even downstairs if you’re feeling brave!


Junk Camp

This one always goes down well here, and you can put in as much or as little effort as you like – it will still be a hit! We normally make them a covered tent under the dining table with sleeping bags, and let them sleep there for the night – one of the biggest draws is that they are also allowed to stay up and watch films on their tablet with some treats after we’ve said goodnight. Then if it’s not in the way too much, you can leave it up for them to potter in and out of the following day; it seems to encourage reading and playing far more than the usual living area setup. If you’ve got any recycling left, get them to furnish their camp with homemade “furniture” – bedside tables, tablet stand, book table, bedroom robot (that may just be my kids)….


More than any other holiday, the important thing for us at Casa Chamberlain this week is rest: rest from the nagging, the grind and the repetition of the same events, over and over again. If they feel like playing on their consoles all day this weekend, then they can – I’m certainly not going in all Mary Poppins – but having a few ideas for some half term indoor fun up the sleeve for later in the week, when we’ve all had a bit of a recharge, is something I’m really looking forward to. May your half term be peaceful and give you the strength you need for a (hopefully shorter) Round 2 in 10 days…

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