The long six weeks of the summer holidays can take some filling. When you’re used to bashing around all day between school, work, and after-school clubs, the relative calm of the summer holidays can be a weird feeling. Yes us adults probably still have to work through them and we spend the time juggling work with entertaining the children – will you stay sane until September?
Here are some ideas we’ve put together of things you can do with your children to while away the time and ensure that the time spent is more quality than quarrelsome.
What have you got planned with your kids this summer?
Arts and crafts for kids
Kids love arts and crafts. Arts and craft activities teach children dexterity skills, creativity, and patience. Crafting means they get to make something that is unique and special to them, and can provide great memories. Have a look at some of these wonderful arts and crafts activities for children.
1. Make a mini raft and float it on a stream – this is a great suggestion from Louise at Thimble & Twig – check out: how to make a mini raft.
2. Grab some stones and make some story stones to share while camping. Thanks to Kate of Crafts on Sea for this idea – check it out at www.craftsonsea.co.uk/diy-camping-story-stones/.
3. Go on a nature walk and make some journey sticks – these are a great way of engaging your children with their surroundings – have a look at Catherine’s suggestion at: growingfamily.co.uk/craft/nature-craft-journey-stick.
4. How about making some clay faces tree sculptures? Lots of fun for a day out in the woods or the garden. Thanks to Ella for these – they look fab! typicalmummy.co.uk/festivals/clayfacestreesculptures.
5. Make ‘potions’ and ‘perfumes’ – why do kids like messing and making potions so much? I don’t know. But I do know that they do love it – here’s Charlotte with how they do it teamsteinblog.com/2019/05/21/how-to-make-rose-petal-perfume-and-potions.
6. Head to the beach and do some beach art. Here are some great ideas for child-friendly beach art from The Artful Parent.
Mini adventures to have with the kids
Adventures with kids don’t have to be spectacular. There are some great adventures to be had right on your doorstep. Whether this is at your local beach, park, or woods, there is some fun to be found in every little trip. Check out these ideas for getting out and about with your mini adventurers.
7. Go on a footprint hunt and make casts. This is a brilliant outdoor and craft activity in one – thanks to Kerry for the suggestion – check out: blissfuldomestication.com/going-footprint-hunt-make-plaster-casts-animal-footprints/.
8. Go blackberry picking. Blackberries are usually ripe in the UK from late July onwards but can last until October, depending on the weather. They can be found both in the countryside and urban areas – look alongside railway lines (be careful!) and in industrial areas. Wash them before using in case of pollutants and use them in a crumble or combine with cooking apples to make your own blackberry jelly – here’s a recipe for blackberry jelly which might help.
9. Go on a nature hunt. Print out a nature trail checklist and go out and see how many things you can spot.
10. Go Geocaching – Geocaching is a fantastic free activity where you go to find ‘geocaches’ that others have placed. You need an app from www.geocaching.com/play and a sense of adventure. Some geocaches are small, and some are larger and contain prizes – take a couple of little items to swap, and always take a pen to sign the log. Find out more about geocaching with children at: mumof2point5.com/blog/geocaching-the-free-worldwide-treasure-hunt-you-didnt-know-existed/.
11. Go rockpooling – have you done this? You can find all sorts of weird and wonderful sealife by rockpooling – Here are Cerys’s top tips for good rockpooling rainydaymum.co.uk/rock-pooling/.
12. Go on a bike ride. Check out the Sustrans website for suggestions for family-friendly cycling routes around the UK.
13. Do a Treasure Trail – check out www.treasuretrails.co.uk – get yourself a treasure trail for your local town, crack the clues to solve the puzzle, and find out about places in your town you didn’t know existed. This is an activity that takes a few hours and can be done in one go, or in parts until it’s finished.
14. Make a kite and fly it – making your own kite and taking it to your local playing field or beach to test it out is a craft activity and adventure activity in one. Here’s a great article on how to make your own kite.
15. Take a dog for a walk. If you don’t have a dog, check out www.borrowmydoggy.com/ where you can access other peoples’ dogs who need walking. All the fun of your own dog, with much fewer of the hassles!
16. Have a family photography competition. A family photography competition will get your children engaging with their surroundings. You can do this at home, in the garden, in your local area, or even when on holiday in a new place. Here’s Michelle with how they did one when on a day trip to the seaside. www.mummyfromtheheart.com/2017/10/how-to-create-family-photography.html.
17. Learn to kayak. Kayaking is a great activity for the summer. Have you got a lake near you to have a practice? Don’t forget your life jacket.
With our range of inflatable kayaks, owning a kayak just got a whole lot easier. Check out the INTEX Challenger K2 Kayak – it’s a good one for a pair to go out adventuring together.
Rainy Day activities for children
Well it is the UK after all, so here are some ideas for things to do with kids on a rainy day. Fingers crossed the rain doesn’t last long!
18. Build a den or blanket fort. I don’t know a child anywhere that doesn’t love to do this, even on a sunny day when they could be in the garden!
19. Have a movie night. Pretend you’re at the cinema by cranking up the TV and getting out those DVDs for a movie marathon. Why not make your own popcorn? Try charlotteslivelykitchen.com/sweet-popcorn/.
20. Take on a reading challenge. Does your local library have a summer holiday reading challenge? It’s a great way of getting children to consume books and lots of them.
If your local library isn’t taking part then check out summerreadingchallenge.org.uk/ for more information on how to join in The Reading Agency’s 2019 reading challenge.
21. Research your family tree. Get your children finding out more about their extended family and ancestors and creating a family tree to share with others. This is also a good way of making the time to visit family members you don’t see as often as you should. Have you researched your family tree?
22. Make a scrapbook. Get all those clippings and photos you’ve been storing away in ‘that’ drawer and start a scrapbook. It can be as simple or elaborate as you like. Here is a good post about starting a scrapbook and the sort of content you can include – www.metrokids.com/MetroKids/April-2011/Start-Scrapbooking/.
Things to do in the garden with kids
If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, private or shared, then there’s a whole host of things you can do with your children – or they can do themselves while you supervise not too far away! I bet you did some of these things yourself as a child too.
23. Make LEGO cable cars. You can do these indoors down the stairs but it’s much more fun outdoors. Run the cable from an upstairs window and launch the cable cars down to the bottom of your garden.
24. ‘Paint’ a wall – sometimes all it takes to keep kids entertained is a bucket of water and a brush. If you have a willing wall in your garden, letting your kids pretend to paint it is a seriously good activity, especially on a warm day. Thanks to Beth for this suggestion – see how it works at twinderelmo.co.uk/water-painting-the-ordinary-moments/.
25. Do some gardening. Whether you want to teach your children the value of home-grown fruit and vegetables or the benefits of a bit of weeding, gardening will certainly keep little hands and minds occupied. Don’t know where to start? Here’s a post on how to start gardening with children from Claire of The Ladybird’s Adventures.
26. Step the garden skills up a level by creating a wildlife pond. A pond that wildlife will appreciate for drinking and cooling off doesn’t need to be big. Here’s how Mark made his:
27. Sensory play – the garden is the perfect place for multi-sensory play. Use a variety of toys and substances to get your child’s senses working hard. Here’s what Chantele did on a dinosaur theme twoheartsoneroof.com/2019/05/dinosaur-themed-sensory-play-set-up-for-toddlers/.
28. Make a solar oven. This is a great STEM activity that teaches your children all about solar energy. Emma from Science Sparks tells us more www.science-sparks.com/make-easy-solar-oven.
29. Hold a pool party. I know we don’t get the weather in the UK to justify us all having a swimming pool in our back gardens all year round but we do often get enough for a few days a year, and if it’s a heated spa pool, then it’s even more feasible. Create a pool party atmosphere with some fairy lights, some tunes, and mocktails with umbrellas.Check out the Intex PureSpa range of hot tubs available on our online store.
30. Wash the teddies – this is a surprisingly fun activity. Not only can you watch the teddies going round and round in the washing machine (it’s better than daytime telly!) then you can hang them on the line in the sunshine.
31. Wash the car. Who’d have thought messing about with water would be so much fun? Keep them entertained for longer (and use less water) by using buckets and sponges rather than a hose pipe. Here is a good guide to how to wash your car.
32. Make a weather station and learn how to use it. You can measure rainfall, temperature, and wind speed and direction. Keep track daily and use the data to talk about weather patterns. You never know, you might nurture a future famous meteorologist! Read: How to build a weather station.
33. Do some chalk pavement art. Making a little mess and creating something colourful – what’s not to love?
34. Have a back garden camp out. You don’t need to go far to get your camping fix. Pop your tent up in the garden and sleep in there overnight. It’s cheaper than a camping holiday and the toilets are always nearer and as you like them!
Things to do in the community
The summer holidays are a great time to get your kids more involved in their local community. Here are some good ideas for getting out and about and meeting more people and engaging more with their local area.
35. Why not start your own community mini-library? Give your used books a second lease of life by letting others borrow them? Here’s how Maggy of Red Ted Art started their own mini library www.redtedart.com/how-to-start-a-little-library/.
36. Take part in a ParkRun. ParkRun is a free weekly event that takes part across the UK. It’s a timed 5k run and many are open to juniors too. Check out Erin’s post about taking part in Parkrun as a family.
37. Look out for kindness rocks. Have you got a kindness rocks league in your area? If not, start one! But what is it? Here’s more on the Kindness Rocks craze kidsdaysoutreviews.co.uk/kindness-rocks-craze/.
38. Learn to fish. Do you have a fishing lake local to you? I suspect you do. Fishing is a fantastic activity for teaching patience and the art of pondering and doing little else. Here’s what you need to know on where you can and can’t fish canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/fishing/places-to-fish/where-can-i-fish-for-free.
Our HandiMoova is a great piece of kit for getting fishing equipment moved over uneven surfaces. What have you moved on your HandiMoova?
39. Learn to play tennis. With Wimbledon now over, have your kids decided that tennis it to be their next big thing? Look out for summer schools at your local tennis club – they can be very good value and a good option for childcare. Tennis for Kids is a scheme run by the LTA which is great value as a starter package for kids aged from 4 to 11.
40. Organise a community picnic. Get your kids’ friends and their families together and organise a community picnic. All you need is to spread the word of a time and place and see who joins in.
41. Start a community walking group. Use social media to see if other families want to join in your walks and you’ll soon find you have a group of friends to walk with. Take it in turns to share your favourite walk or find new ones.
Days out for kids
If all else fails, a change of scenery is never a bad idea! There are hundreds of options for family days out all around the UK which can entertain children of all ages. Which of these have you been on and would you recommend?
42. Eureka Museum, Halifax. This is a mainly indoor attraction aimed at younger chidren. It teaches STEM topics such as the human body in a child-friendly way. It gets busy though, especially on rainy days. Their annual pass is very good value.
43. The Science Museum, London. This is a FREE museum which is excellent. It has a range of exhibits for all ages, including an impressive transport collection, and a good selection of temporary exhibitions and events.
44. The Science and Industry Museum, Manchester. This is another good one for science and transport geeks. Again, it’s totally free.
45. Natural History Museum, London. Next door to the Science Museum. This is a great day out for fans of animals and dinosaurs.
46. National Railway Museum, York. A must-do for all fans of trains. This is a seriously huge collection of trains and railway paraphernalia. Again, it’s totally free and a handily short walk from York train station.
47. Ride a steam train – there are lots of options for this across the UK. If you’re Yorkshire way, have a look at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway – www.nymr.co.uk/ – which runs from Pickering to Whitby via Goathland station (which was Hogsmeade station in the Harry Potter films). Which is your favourite steam train route?
48. Visit a castle – There are around 1500 castle sites in England alone. Which is your favourite? How about visiting Sudeley Castle and Gardens in Gloucestershire? Or maybe Eastnor Castle in Worcestershire?
49. A day out (or even a weekend) at a music festival will keep your children occupied and then some. Festivals which are family-friendly are everywhere – how about the Just So Festival as recommended by Emma of Dirt, Diggers, and Dinosaurs?
50. Visit a birds of prey centre. How fascinating are birds of prey? We love them. Victoria of Free Time With The Kids recommends the Hawk Conservancy Trust in Hampshire. Have you seen birds of prey in action?
51. Visit a country park. There are soooooooo many country parks around the UK, most of which are free and child-friendly. Raimonda recommends Plean Country Park in Scotland for a visit or three over the summer.
52. Go Gruffalo hunting with the Forestry Commission. The Gruffalo and friends have numerous trails in Forestry Commission locations all around the country. You can follow his trail and find the main man himself, or take part in activity trails with Zog or Superworm – see the Forestry Commission website for how to find your nearest trail.
© The Forestry Commission
53. Visit a stately home. Go all Downton Abbey and visit your local stately home and gardens. Some allow access inside the main house, while others are for external gazing only. They are a fab place for a picnic and many have annual passes so you can get extra value from your visit. Which is your favourite stately home?
54. Go to a zoo. So many to choose from here. Which zoos have you visited that you would recommend. We like the ones with a safari drive too, such as Longleat, Woburn and Knowsley. Great for some monkey fun and actually ok for a rainy day too.
55. Visit a theme park. This is one for breaking the budget but we try to go to at least one theme park every summer break. We like Alton Towers but also the smaller ones such as Twinlakes in Nottinghamshire. Paulton’s Park is surprisingly good too – which would you recommend?
56. Go airplane spotting. If you live near a busy airport, then plane spotting is a good way to while away a couple of hours. Take care as some airports don’t like you getting too close, while others have rules about photography. Some airports, such as Manchester have specific zones for plane spotters which are free to use (parking fees apply if you arrive by car). Check our your local airport’s website for more information.
57. Pony Trekking! Have you ever been pony trekking? I’m not sure our garden is big enough for a whole pony so hiring one out for the morning to get our pony fix is the best. Prices vary across the UK and depending on party numbers, but you can get an hour on a pony for around £10 to £20 per person.
58. See a movie outdoors. Outdoor movies are becoming hugely popular. Drive-ins are all well and good but how many of us have a convertible? Venues for outdoor cinema include campsites, town squares, and even on boats on the Thames – check out this list of places to see a movie outdoors this Summer in London www.timeout.com/london/film/outdoor-cinema-in-london.
59. Visit a maize maze – my children love maize mazes. August is the ideal time to be visiting one as the maize is nice and tall and provides an extra challenge. Again, loads to choose from. Have you been to any you would recommend to others?
Whatever you get up to with your family this summer, we hope you have a good one!