All around the country the same question is being asked "What shall we do with the children in the summer holidays?" Especially if you are in one of the authorities that have seven weeks of summer holiday this year! I am in this group and my dilema is how to fill the time but not spend a massive amount of money so here is my top 10 things to do with your children over Summer.
1. Visit a museum
Throughout the country there are a wealth of free museums covering science, industry and local history. Many have activities for children and often hold special events directed at families and so with a bit of online research before hand you can have a fun and cheap day out. Within reach of Leeds where I am there's Leeds City Museum housing a selection of local and ancient history, The National Railway Museum in York, Manchester Museum with a artefacts from Ancient Egypt and fossils from the dinosaurs as well as many exhibits housed in fabulous Victorian glass cabinets and one of our favourites Cliffe House Museum in Keighley with a surprisingly varied selection of exhibits including a working bee hive upstairs!
2. Make biscuits
A big favourite, with a delicious treat at the end! Making biscuits is a great chance for everyone to work as a team and for the children to get experience of weighing and measuring and reading a recipe. Everyone gets involved in our house, the children get all the ingredients out, measure everything, use the mixer and dollop the mixture onto the tray. They even put the tray into the oven. After the biscuits have cooled you can decorate them though they rarely make it to this stage here but we do all give them a score and critique as if we were on the Great British Bake Off!
3. Make a Stop Motion Photography Film
A simple way of making a film that children love. The film above is on my daughter and I created using a long piece of paper which we edged past a stationary camera a centimetre at a time, moving each element of the bike ride a tiny bit each time. When the frames are put together in a simple movie maker package afterwards this is the result. You don't have to make your own props, lego pieces would do or cars just remember to keep the camera still and press the button after each tiny movement has been made.
4. Go on a minibeast hunt
A great activity that can be done on your doorstep, you don't need acres of garden, all you need to do is look carefully. Poking about in dead leaves, in the soil, around plants and under flower pots can keep everyone busy for a while as you discover all sorts of insects and creatures. If you are not sure what the beasties are I would highly recommend a spotters guide like the ones below.
These are available for a few pounds from the Field Studies Council and are great to take out on walks or days out.
5. Play cards
Teach your children to play cards. Nevermind playing patience on a screen show them how to play it with the actual cards in their hands. There are hundreds of different versions of patience out there to choose from but clock patience is a great one to start with. There are also a number of traditional card games to play with two players or more the rules for some are here.
6. Play French Cricket
With just 3 or more players you can play French cricket though the more players the easier it becomes. It is a really fun game that only needs a cricket or tennis racket and a tennis ball and a trip to the park. It can be as fast paced as you like and you can adapt the rules according to abilities. You can find the rules here.
7. Go for a walk
A good walk helps to break the cabin fever that can set in when everyone is in each other's space over the summer break. There are hundreds of great walks up and down the country that are suitable for children. A quick search on the internet will show you what's out there, I like to start with the water authority site as they have walks that go round their reservoirs. It is Yorkshire Water for me and their walks are here. The National Trust and AA also have a selection of walks that you may be interested in.
8. A trip to the Beach
Choose a nice sandy beach to visit and you can easily spend a day there, playing games on the sand, flying a kite, drawing in the sand or building sandcastles. If the beach has a little rocky area go and have a poke about in the rock pools to see what you can find but don't forget to put the rocks and animals back if you move them. Don't forget to research the tide times before you go to ensure you get there when the tide is out!
9. Have a pyjama day!
"Popcorn02" by Taken byfir0002 | flagstaffotos.com.auCanon 20D + Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 - Own work. Licensed under GFDL 1.2 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Popcorn02.jpg#/media/File:Popcorn02.jpg
Stay in your bedclothes and snuggle under a blanket to watch a film together - don't forget the popcorn! If you make it from scratch it can be great fun. Follow that with some board games or lego model building and the day will fly past!
10. Have a water fight!
By Umberto Salvagnin [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
A great idea when the weather is warm and everyone needs cooling down. Surprise your children by preparing a bumper bag of water balloons ready for battle and hide them as the last part of a treasure hunt. Once they have found them, get stuck in there yourself with a massive super soaker pistol :) What is more, if you have the battle near the car you can kill two birds with one stone, no need to wash it later!