It’s summer and your children seem be spending way too much time watching tv or playing their games console. We all know the importance of outdoor play and yet sometimes it’s difficult to get the children motivated. “I’m bored!” echoes around the house and you’ve started to count down the days until school goes back. Your bank balance is shrinking and you need some inspiration. Sound familiar? Don’t panic, here are 20 things you can do with the kids outside that are fun and free (or cheap). Kids love being outdoors! We just have to remind them. Let the fun begin!
- Cycling – Take the bikes out and enjoy your beautiful surroundings. Sustrans has a great website that maps out safe cycle paths throughout the UK. It clearly shows green paths for safe off-road cycling and purple for on road. There are even warning signs where there are potholes or dangers, so you’re not caught out. http://www.sustrans.org.uk/ncn/map
- Go on a bug hunt – Children are fascinated by our tiny outdoor friends. There’s a wonderful website teaching everything you need to know about bugs. “..if the invertebrates were to disappear, the world’s ecosystems would collapse.” Sir David Attenborough Who knew just how important tiny creatures were? On the Buglife website, you can print off a bug hunt sheet, phone them for a poster, plan activities and even be involved in looking out for endangered species. Happy hunting! See more at: https://www.buglife.org.uk/ .
- Explore Nature – If the children like a big challenge RSPBs Wildlife Action Awards will appeal. There is something for every age group, from pond dipping and feeding the birds, to bigger challenges like organising events and getting into the media. There’s even a press release template!
- Camping – Sleep under the stars. Last year I bought a pop-up 3 man tent for short camping trips. We camped in the back garden and my son still talks about it today – his best summer activity of last year. It’s a good idea to take some activities for the children. A ball and some portable games should keep them amused. UK Campsite has a handy camping checklist. Another interesting read for family camping is Get Out With The Kids
- A Day at the Seaside – Grab your beach towels and suntan lotion and head to the beach. I often take some bags for treasure hunting, a treasure hunting list and explorer tools. Paddling is fun when the water isn’t too cold. Spend a bit of money on a traditional fish supper and ice cream at the prom and watch the world go by. Happy seaside days! The RNLI (Lifeboats) patrol over 200 UK beaches. They can educate children through visits and talks from trained volunteers and lifeguards. Find out more about their outreach programmes. Want to check out the cleanliness of your local beaches? Look up the official statistics here. For seaside crafts, check out Activity Village.
- Visit a Park – Most areas have a free country park you can visit. My local park has regular ranger activities; a huge playpark; a café, and picnic benches as well as many walks. Check out your local parks’ Facebook page or your councils page. Take a picnic, take a bat and ball, a kite or your dog and set off on your park adventure.
- Join in at the Sports Centre – Many sports centres have free or cheap activities throughout the summer for children. All centres in my area have free swimming for children if they show a library card. Google your local centre or go to their facebook page for details.
- Olympic Fun – Get a group of friends together and have a fun Olympics day for the children, ending with a ceremony. Adults can join in too! Children love seeing their parents involved in sports, and if you fall over it’s funny for the children! I find the more the merrier and some children might prefer to go into teams. Activity Village has great resources.
- Get out in the garden – Want to explore the nature in your garden or local outdoors? There are loads of nature spotting worksheets on the Wildlife Watch website. The children can help water flowers in warm weather (under supervision if younger) weed and tidy – children (usually) love to help. At the time of writing (August) most garden planting is over, but you can plan for next Spring by getting your own growing kits for free. 3 packs of easy to grow Sunflower/Veg/Herbs seeds are on offer for free (P+P) from Food Forests You can also get a ‘Grow your Own Potato Kit’ free of charge from growyourownpotatoes. For those without a garden, how about investigating a local tree?
- Make a Flower Arrangement – Outdoors should be bursting with colour right now. Why don’t you pick some pretty flowers and create a flower arrangement? I did this with the children and the results were beautiful. All you need is some Oasis (I got 20 small blocks from Amazon) and then decorate a plastic tub to contain the display.
- Pick some apples – then make delicious apple pie
- Climb a hill and picnic on the top – remember the binoculars
- Build a den from nature, by collecting sticks and logs and placing up against a tree. For more ideas on den building, check out Save the Children which offers a free resource pack to fire up your kids imagination.
- Collect treasures on your nature walks and create a nature table. You could even do themes of colour or letter.
- Make beautiful artwork with your findings – shells and twigs work well here.
- Crazy Golf – Have a disused crazy golf nearby? There’s an unloved one close to me that we use regularly. We just take our own clubs. Plastic golf sets can be bought cheaply for younger children.
- It’s raining? Who cares! Put on your wellies and waterproofs and go jumping in the puddles. Collect the rainwater in a container and measure just how much has been collected. If there are many rainy days (it’s Britain after all) this link has 25 ideas for your rainy day fun
- Blow bubbles – ok, it’s a simple thing but children love the magic
- Paddling pool fun – run; jump in; put the slide in it and race boats – the list is endless. Always supervise children around water
- Outdoor chalks – as well as drawing pictures outside, you can introduce the children to traditional games like Noughts & Crosses and Hopscotch
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Lesa is an average person, living an average life and is moderately happy with her lot. There are peaks of bountiful happiness and pleasure and dips of turmoil and flatness. Lesa doesn't let life's set-backs knock her down or think she's invincible when she achieves greatness. She's finally realised that nobody is perfect and the purpose of life is to embrace it with all she's got and to give what she can to others. Oh, and try to have a lot of fun along the way.
Lesa has no idea why she's writing in the third person; she never does that.