SWRI offers ‘wet play’ tips to keep kids entertained

The summer of 2012 looks set to be another wash out, with school children more likely to have been holed up in the cinema or bowling alley than visiting the park or the beach. And with several weeks still to go before youngsters return to the classroom, worried parents will be wondering how many more expensive trips to indoor play centres the household budget can stretch to.

However, members of the Scottish Women’s Rural Institutes – many of them mothers and grandmothers – are never short of ways to keep children entertained on a budget. They often adapt the craft, baking and activity sessions that they enjoy during their monthly meetings to carry them out at home with their little ones; and with some 20,000 members in Scotland, they are not short of a few ideas of their own.

Isobel Robertson, the national chairman of the SWRI, says that members have no shortage of ideas for whiling away the hours during wet and miserable weather. She adds, “One of the main reasons the SWRI exists is so that women can develop new skills. At SWRI meetings up and down the country, members learn everything from crafts and cookery to sports and sewing.

“As many of them are mothers and grandmothers, they are also able to exchange ideas and experiences of what has kept their own children entertained when they can’t be playing outside – SWRI is very much about support, networking and friendships.

“Family days out are extremely expensive these days, and with many household budgets under pressure because of the rising cost of living, there isn’t always spare money for treats.”

Why not have a go at some of these activities which have been tried and tested by SWRI members?

- Petal Pounding – It sounds very noisy, but is actually lots of fun. This involves collecting blooms from the garden, laying them out on a piece of cotton or card, and using a hammer to pound out the natural dye. There are lots of how-to guides online to show how this can be done safely at home.

- Make Your Own City – All that is needed for this is a very large sheet of paper, along with some crayons or thick marker pens. Encourage youngsters to plan their own city, including everything from playparks to skyscrapers – they can even make it futuristic with hoverboards and flying cars.

- Shoe Box Beach – The miserable weather doesn’t have to mean that the beach is out of bounds. Children can make their own beach in a shoe box by filling it with sand and creating their own beach scene, including small scraps of material as towels, pipe cleaner figurines and cardboard palm trees.

- Shell Boxes – Those who are lucky enough to find some sun can use their visit to the beach to collect shells. Wrap a large matchbox or other container with some decorative paper, and then stick the shells on top to create an unusual decoration. These can be used as jewellery boxes, treasure chests and gift boxes.

SWRI is one of the largest women’s organisations in Scotland. It boasts around 20,000 members in 33 Federations from as far north as Shetland to Wigtownshire in the South West.

More information on the SWRI can be found atwww.swri.org.uk, or by calling SWRI headquarters in Edinburgh on 0131 225 1724 or email swri@swri.demon.co.uk