Keeping active children entertained indoors can seem like a challenge. However with a little planning, it is easy to produce simple and inexpensive games that will keep children of different ages amused simultaneously. Set aside one room for crafty or creative games which might get messy and cover surfaces with newspaper or waterproof table-cloth fabric in advance.
Read a children's poem or short story that features lots of different characters. Provide the children with plain cardboard face masks, available from fancy-dress stores, and give them craft paints and pens. Each child should choose one character from the poem or story and paint their face onto the mask. When finished the children can put on their masks and act out their own version of the story.
Balloon People Games
Create balloon people and have fun playing with them. Provide each child with a blown-up balloon and a heart shape, about 6 inches long, cut from stiff cardboard. Cut eyes, mouths and noses from colored paper to glue onto the balloon and add any other details with craft pens. Paint feet onto the cardboard, with the toes pointing towards the rounded edges. Make a small slit towards the pointy end of the heart and push the knotted end of the balloon through. Glue a coin onto each foot to weigh it down if the balloon person doesn't stand up.
Provide children with tubs of cookie dough and have them form "cookie monsters" by squidging lumps of dough into monstrous head and body shapes. Older children may want to roll out their dough and cut out more accurate monster shapes. Place a sheet of baking paper on a tray and write each child's name beside their dough-monster. When cooked decorate with frosting and colored shakes, then play monster games until they've all been eaten.
Who Am I
Write a famous person's name on a post it note and stick it to the forehead of each child where they can't see it. Make sure it is someone they will have heard of. Each child then takes turns asking questions aimed at working out who they are. They are not allowed to ask their celebrity name and the other players can only give yes or no answers.
Mary Stewart has been a news and features journalist since 2000. Her work has appeared in U.K. national newspapers and magazines, including "The Times (of London)," "The Sunday Telegraph," "The Mail on Sunday" and "The Guardian". She has a B.A. in journalism from Napier University.