As a Surrey family photographer, I’m lucky to be able to work around my two children and do some fantastic photoshoots like this family shoot with grandparents or this great photography session with twins. Photography work means a fair amount of editing and I often have to find time in the day to catch up on my work. Here are a few easy ideas that I’ve been setting up for my two-year-old during the day, and also using with my five-year-old in the afternoons to help distract her from being tired and grumpy after a long day at school.

Follow the line

A simple activity that doesn’t take long to set up is called follow the line. Grab some masking tape and make up a few lines on the floor. I usually do one straight one, one zig zag one and one that goes all over the place. The first challenge for the kids is to balance on the line without falling off. In the first instance they go forwards, then sideways, then hardest of all, backwards!

If you need to extend the activity further, try getting them to blow a small pom-pom along the full length of the line with a straw. Expect lots of giggles with this one as they try and master the lines!

Hersham Rocks

We were lucky enough to find a special painted rock on a recent walk introducing us to Hersham Rocks. If you haven’t come across them, it’s a simple but inspired idea that is based on hiding painted rocks around Hersham and seeing where they can get to. The kids love painting the rocks and can spend lots of time decorating many rocks. If you need a bit more time to get work done, try hiding them in your own garden to test them out!

Once you’ve painted your rocks and labelled them with ‘Hersham Rocks’ take a picture and post it on Facebook to see how far they travel. If you fancy trying it further afield, check out @surreyrocks.

Ice Treasure

Ice is endlessly fascinating in our house and whatever the season, we get through a lot of it – as I’ve mentioned before here. One idea that keeps them busy for at least half an hour is the simple activity of breaking and melting ice. I freeze a large container of water overnight with some hidden treasure (eg lego/duplo figures, coins, hairclips). The next day when it’s frozen I put it in a big plastic box and give them a jug of warm water and a wooden spoon and ask them to find the treasure! We also do this at bathtime (most nights actually!) to try and focus attention on something in the bath rather than splashing water outside the tub…

Now this might sound too simple but trust me, they all love it. This activity is great for all ages under 5 and really does keep them busy until the ice has gone. Younger kids might need thinner ice but my eldest loves the challenge of finding what is hidden in that huge block of ice!

Mix a magic potion

Mixing things is always something children love to do whether it is making mud pies or fairy cakes. For a slight twist on this classic activity try setting out some common kitchen ingredients for combining into a special mixture. I use out of date things from the back of my cupboard like flour, baking powder, old herbs, couscous but it can be anything you have to hand that you can spare.

If your child loves fairies, you might even want to throw in some glitter. Probably a good idea to do this one outside so you can sweep things up afterwards…

More inspiration

If you need more inspiration for summer holiday activities at home with the kids check out @fiveminutemum or @play.hooray on Instagram for some excellent ideas.

What are your top kids activities that encourage independent play? Please do share your ideas, I’d love to hear them. If you’re looking to get the kids out of the house instead, read my recent post on children’s activities in Surrey.

My name is Katie Lister and I’m a Surrey family photographer living in Walton-on-Thames with my two children, Sienna and Joey. If you’re looking to update your family photographs, check out my upcoming autumn-themed mini photography sessions.