TGIF, even if it was only a short work week after after last week’s four-day weekend.

We have another long weekend … to celebrate Malaysia Day on Sept 16. Many will be taking full advantage by going on holidays.

But if you are not keen on travelling on jammed highways and jostling with the crowd, why not stay home.

In between your leisurely meals and naps, you could do some family activities.

Having fun together strengthens the family bond (without breaking the bank).

Maybe the children will learn some things too.

Here are a few family activities for this long weekend.

Play board games

It is time to dust off the old board games, folks. Before video games and social media came to play, people spent hours on games like Monopoly, Cluedo, Trivial Pursuit and Chess. These games are not only fun but it helps with kids’ cognitive development. Playing board games promote healthy competition and foster close bonds. Choose games that suits your children’s age.

Board games allow children to improve their cognitive stimulation and alertness. Photo: The Star/ Zainudin Ahad.

All on board

When was the last time your family hopped ona train? Rail trips are affordable, fast and fun for children.

The monorail passes through KL city, connecting between KL Sentral to Titiwangsa. Passengers can hop on and hop off at different stations to go sightseeing to places like KL Tower (Bukit Nanas station), Sri Kondaswamy Kovil Hindu temple (Tun Sambanthan station) and Lake Garden (Titiwangsa station). It would be an educational experience for children.

For those who love satay, hop on the MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang line to Stadium Kajang and walk to Medan Sate Kajang to have your fill.

Look, it is the Twin Towers! Train rides are fun for children as they get to feast their eyes on  popular tourist attractions. Photo: The Star/Art Chen .

Gardening

How about a ‘green’ weekend filled with fun activities in the garden? Gardening teaches children about sustainable practices and ways to care for the environment.

Try planting vegetables, herbs or flowers. Teach children how to germinate seeds and understand the origins of produce that they consume.

Give them the responsibility of watering plants.

Encourage children to help out at community gardens too.

Simple but pleasurable tasks like gardening and harvesting vegetables are ways to further tighten the bond between children and their parents. Photo: Kelvin Loh

Explore the outdoors

Introduce children to the outdoors. Teach them how to love nature and appreciate the simple things in life.

Encourage children to put aside their digital gadgets for fun activities like hiking, herping (searching for reptiles) or cycling.

Outdoor activities enable children to stay active, fit and healthy.

During hiking trips, parents can teach their children about plants and wildlife. Photo: The Star/Low Boon Tat

Old school games

Sure, many tweens will be experts in uploading their latest Instagram feed or updates on their favourite Club Mickey Mouse mouseketeer.

But how many children know how to play traditional games like batu Seremban, congkak, zero point and galah panjang?

Invite the neighbours’ children to join in. Through games, children learn more about different cultures and Malaysia’s rich heritage.

And the best bit is these games don’t require electronics or WiFi signal.