Owning a cottage isn’t hard to do in Manitoba. We have some of the most readily available and affordable cottage living in the country. Even if you’re just renting a cottage, or visiting a friend or family member’s place this summer, your kids will love it!
But you might be wondering what to do to keep them busy 24/7, since their regular toys, playmates and activities might not be available,
Keeping them entertained should be pretty easy — it just takes a bit of planning. While most of the enjoyment comes ready to go, like hiking trails, beaches and docks, kids are active little people and need lots to do to keep them busy. Here are some ideas:
1. Go on a scavenger hunt
Look for the tried-and-true standards, like bugs, leaves and rocks, but throw in some fun challenges, like “sticks shaped like a Y” or “two rocks of similar shape and colour” or a “blue flower.”
2. Go on a hike
Have older kids draw a map of the property or area and take a nice hike, following the map. Bring along some snacks and water as a way to break up the hike midway through (and extend the activity).
3. Build sandcastles
Assuming there’s a nearby lake, bring along plenty of shovels and buckets of different sizes for building castles and digging moats. Kick around a beach ball. Have water races. Then play hopscotch and tic-tac-toe in the sand. And once everyone’s tired and resting on their beach towels, play the classic eye-spy.
4. Plan for a rainy day
Even if rain isn’t in the forecast, it’s safe to assume you’ll need several indoor activities, so make sure to have some playdough (it’s easy to make your own — see recipe), construction paper and crayons on hand. Older kids will enjoy board games, card games, puzzles and making friendship bracelets. Or bird feeders using recycled materials like plastic milk cartons or 2-litre soda bottles.
5. Blow bubbles
Have the kids blow, chase, catch and pop bubbles. It’s easy to make your own using ½ cup of dish soap, 1½ cups of water and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Stir gently until dissolved and then have fun!
6. Check out the local country or antique store
There’s usually at least one not too far from most cottage areas. And don’t forget to get ice cream after!
7. Paint rocks
Collect a pile of rocks, then decorate them! If you want to be extra fancy, offer your kids not just paint but also other materials like googly eyes, stickers, pipe cleaners and found items from outside.
8. Watch movies
Some cottages don’t have internet access but many have a TV and a DVD player. Kids can get burnt out from the sun, so although the whole point of the cottage is to get away from screens and technology, consider allowing a movie here or there. It’s a particularly calming activity at the end of a busy day.
9. Splash around in a blow-up pool
Even if there’s a beach and lake, an inflatable pool is a safe spot for babies and toddlers to hang out in. It’s always less stressful when they’re contained!
10. Have a theme party
Bring something along that plays music, pick a theme and party like it’s 2020! Even better, hold your party once the sun’s gone down. Let kids wear glow necklaces and shine flashlights.
11. Count your mosquito bites
Kidding! (But not really, it’s Manitoba, after all.)
Homemade Playdough Recipe
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup salt
4 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 cups lukewarm water
2 tablespoons of vegetable or coconut oil
Food coloring, optional
Stir together the flour, salt and cream of tartar in a large pot. Next add the water and oil. If you’re only making one color, add in the the color now as well. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the dough has thickened and begins to form into a ball. Remove from heat and then place inside a gallon sized bag or onto wax paper. Allow to cool slightly and then knead until smooth. If you’re adding colors after, divide the dough into balls (for how many colors you want) and then add the dough into the quart sized bags. Start with about 5 drops of color and add more to brighten it. Knead the dough, while inside the bag so it doesn’t stain your hands. Once it’s all mixed together you’re ready to play.
Store the play dough inside the bags once done to keep soft. Keeps for up to 3 months.