Stuck for something to do with the kids this half term and strapped for cash? Jo Henwood looks at a few ‘alternative’ activities to keep the young ones amused once the clocks have gone back and you have a week to go before school starts again.

Bright eyes

Optician Helen Kirk in her consulting room at C & G Mullens in Chester

Book an appointment with an optician. Parents who don’t wear glasses are less likely to get their children’s eyes checked out unless a problem arises. All children up to the age of 16 are entitled to a free eye test and, if they are in full time education, up until the age of 18.

As well as getting your children’s eyes the clean bill of health, there is always some interesting equipment to have a look at!

Related: Day in the Life: Helen Kirk, optometrist at C&G Mullen opticians

Smile sweetly

Go to the dentist. Get your kids’ canines, mighty molars and insightful incisors looked over by an expert. It is never too early to take your child to the dentist and good dental hygiene is important, even if they don’t have their second teeth yet.

Children are entitled to NHS dental treatment under the age of 18, or 19 if they are in full time education. If your child is not registered with an NHS dentist, you can find one in your area at

Tidy terrors

Eight or 18, everyone needs to know how to use the vacuum cleaner, whip a duster around or clean a mirror. Depending on the state of the bedroom to start with, you could start small. Don’t say ‘Tidy your room!’ in a loud, angry voice but set small tasks, with a time limit:

  • Polish your mirror
  • Put your T-shirts away
  • Put your books in order on the shelf
  • Sort out your pens and pencils and put them in a pot

Cook up a treat

Get the kids to make tea one evening. Teach them how to make their favourite meal. They could learn how long it takes to boil an egg, when pasta is ‘al dente’, or when meat is cooked through. If they like pizza, try making your own dough and be creative with your toppings - perhaps even add some spinach or basil leaf to make it more colourful.

Spookily crafty

Don’t fork out for a wicked witch or a ghastly ghoul outfit for Halloween this year, however cheap it might seem in the supermarket.

Instead, cut up an old black T-shirt or dress, wrap some twigs together from the garden for a broomstick, or find an old sheet and cut out some eyeholes to make a ghastly ghost. More money left for treats!

And don't forget to send photos of your finished product for our Little Horrors picture gallery.

Related: Send us pictures of your Little Horrors this Halloween

Spark up your life

Show your youngsters how to change a light bulb or change a plug. They may eventually leave home and need to know such things.

A load of rubbish

Get them to put the bins out. See if they can meet the weekly challenge set by Cheshire West and Chester Council of separating paper from tins, old clothes from plastic bottles and used food from compost. See if they can pick the right bin out of the five on offer.

Have you twigged yet?

Teach them to play Pooh Sticks. Find a bridge over a free-flowing stream. Choose your twig and go.

Driving you mad?

Don’t wait until they are 17 and learning to drive before getting any road sense. Go for a walk or a drive around your local area and spot road signs. What do they mean? What is the speed limit here? Can I park on this road? When should I put my lights on? You might even learn something yourself.

Tippy toes

Get their child’s feet measured. Even if you bought a new pair of school shoes for the start of the new term, they might already be growing out of them. Clarks in Chester offer a fitting service, with trained staff, as does Shuh in the Grosvenor Shopping Centre.

What did we miss? What do you do to keep the kids entertained in half-term? Let us know in the comments below