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Terrible weather + kids= cabin fever.
If you’re a parent and you live in England, or indeed any other cold, rainy country that hasn’t had a proper summer since your own childhood and is full of over-priced indoor ‘adventures’, then you’ll know all about cabin fever.
When your lovable angels start running out of patience with board games, Lego, even their ration of TV and start ramping up the energy as they tear around the house attacking each other, it’s as good a test of your creativity as any.
Either the more negative ‘I’ll tell Santa’ school of crowd control or the more positive ‘I’ve got a great idea’.
The Crystal Maze
Those of us of a certain age, or those who have stumbled across it on Challenge TV, will be familiar with cult classic game show The Crystal Maze. Hosted by the wonderfully eccentric creator of The Rocky Horror show, Richard O’Brian, in the early 1990s, its saw a team of boilersuit-clad contestants select a team member to enter a themed room to try and complete a challenge.
Complete a jigsaw, solve a mathematical or logic problem, win a test of strength of speed and seemingly endless variations thereof and earn a crystal. Take too long and the contestant will get locked in whereby the team captain will need to decide whether to buy them out with a crystal or leave them to their fate locked in their TV dungeon…
The aim of the game was to collect enough crystals to earn sufficient time in the Crystal Maze itself. Here, inside a glass dome with as many team members as possible, the fans started and the team use the time available to collect as many gold pieces of paper as possible while trying to avoid collecting silver pieces of paper.
If you don’t quite follow, it doesn’t really matter. It helps if the kids in question have seen the show, but a quick spin on YouTube can solve that in any case.
Cabin fever meets the Crystal Maze
One particularly dreary spring bank holiday weekend saw the cabin fever starting to kick in. I stumbled across The Crystal Maze on Challenge TV and managed to keep the kids interested enough to watch it and hatched a plan.
Kids love a challenge. It was time to re-create The Crystal Maze.
It’s best to create your own challenges, but to help you with some ideas, I’ve listed a few of the rounds below. You may want to give them a little leeway in the early rounds to avoid inducing a tantrum, but the closer they are to the time running out, the more fun they have it seems…
Round one – jumbled letters
Write a clue on a piece of paper to the location of the first crystal. Cut up the letters and let them (or just him/her if you only have one) try to piece the word back together against the clock.
Round two – Lego challenge
Round two was a test of Lego-building skill against the clock. The goal was to completely enclose a ticking time-bomb crystal with a Lego casing before the time ran out. Assemble a decent pile of Lego and watch them build the surround against the clock. So popular, they demanded a round each!
Round three – reassemble the train track
If they are into their train tracks, then this is a perfect round for them. The railway bridge has collapsed and they need to rebuild it against the clock, so that the train can deliver the crystal in time. Not only do they need to rebuild the bridge, but they also have the agonising wait for the train to go around the track.
Round four – blind man’s crystal
Certain the round with the most potential for comedy (and accidents). This involved blindfolding one of the kids, with the other tasked with guiding them against the clock to find the crystal, drop it down the pipe and retrieve it against the clock.
“Left, left, no other left…”
Final round – the Crystal Dome recreated
Now, it just wouldn’t be the Crystal Maze without the finale in The Crystal Dome. This does of course lead to certain logistical challenges – how exactly do you recreate The Dome in the average home? Never mind that, first get yourself some gold and silver paper or just get the kids to colour some in. Then chop it up into rectangles.
Then you need to get yourself an enclosed space and a hairdryer. They get five seconds for each crystal they have collected or whatever arbitrary amount of time you think will be the most fun.
Throw in the rectangles like confetti at a wedding and use the hairdryer from below to keep some of them airborne and out of reach and let the chaos ensue!
Where did the time go?
Disclaimer: re-create at your own risk etc. etc. #healthandsafetynightmare