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100 Family Friendly Summer Activities

August 22nd, 2019 by tisner

Stuck for things to do with your kids this summer? Would a hundred ideas help? Well here you are, then – 100 things to do with your kids during the summer holidays. Some are in your home, others are local, and some might require a moderate journey, but it all adds to the mix. So dive in! (Oh, that’s number 72).

We’ve put the entries into five rough categories, but there’s some crossover between them. The categories are:

Science and nature

1. Go rock pooling

Take a fishing net and a bucket to the beach, find a rockpool and see what you find.

2. Race sunflowers

On your marks, get set, GROW! Let each competitor plant a sunflower seed in a pot at the same time, an see which reaches a line on the wall first, or set a date and time and see which is the tallest by then.

3. Gaze at the stars

Unlock your inner Brian Cox by getting into the countryside and looking up on a clear night. You’ll see stars, planets and galaxies galore. Download an Android or iOS app to help you identify all the heavenly bodies.

4. Watch a meteor shower

A meteor shower happens when the earth passes through the remnants of a comet and the super-fast fragments burn up in the atmosphere. The brightest are the Leonids, Perseids and Geminids. Here’s a list of meteor showers for 20192020 and 2021.

5. Watch wildlife at night

There’s something rewarding about watching wildlife by night. Set up in a garden with quiet snacks, hot drinks, comfy chairs and blankets, and you might see bats, foxes, hedgehogs, owls, or perhaps even deer or badgers, depending on your location.

6. Hunt for a four-leafed clover

After telling your kids how lucky it’s supposed to be to find a four-leafed clover, find a field, park or garden and get down on all fours to see if you can find one of these elusive plants. Good luck!

7. Pond dipping

To pond dip, run a fishing net through a wild pool and empty the contents into a tray filled with water. You might find tadpoles, pond skaters, sticklebacks, nymphs and all manner of minibeasts. The RSPB has a great guide on pond dipping.

8. Plant flowers for bees

The worldwide bee population is in decline, so let’s do our bit and plant flowers that they are attracted to. Some popular plants include lavender, alliums, buddleja, catmint and dahlias, honeysuckle and snapdragon, but there are many more to choose from.

9. Make a solar oven

Take a pizza delivery box or a shoe box and replace the lid with tin foil with a few small holes to vent any steam. Leave it out in direct sunlight and it can cook food in half an hour, reaching more than 100 °C – so be careful, and treat it like a normal oven.

10. Go bird spotting

Whether you look out of the window at home or go to an organised bird sanctuary, watching birds and learning their names is a fun and educational pastime for kids of all ages.

11. Make a bug hotel

A bug hotel is a little refuge for our creepy-crawly friends consisting of pieces of wood, small tubes, layered levels and plenty of cubby holes. Place it outside and before long it’ll become home to spiders, beetles, woodlice, earwigs and all manner of minibeasts.

12. Watch a thunderstorm

A thunderstorm is nature’s power at its most awesome. If you get the chance, and you’re a safe distance away and not out in the open, it’s definitely worth observing the spectacular light and sound show.

13. Make paper airplanes

Spend an hour or two folding paper into different airplane designs. Test them out, and see how adding flaps, rudders and weighted noses affects the way they fly. Once you’ve got the perfect design, why not decorate it with pencils and felt-tips?

14. Find animal footprints

Go out into a woodland or a field and get down on the ground to see if you can find any footprints. It’s quite possible you’ll be able to identify foxes, rabbits, deer, squirrels, hedgehogs and badgers, as well as many birds.

15. Plant some veg

There’s a whole world of veg you can grow at home, and you don’t need a garden to do it. Carrots, leeks and onions can be grown in large flower pots or buckets, for example, and you can grow lettuces, herbs and cress on a window ledge.

16. Feed the water birds

Go to your nearest pond and feeding the ducks, swans, geese and their cousins – but remember, bread isn’t good for them. Feed them peas, oats, grain or a bag of bird feed that you can pick up from garden centers.

17. Make bird feeders

Alternatively, you can attract birds to your home by making bird feeders. Whether it’s a bird cake made of lard and seeds, or simply filling an old plastic bottle with bird seed, you’ll attract plenty of feathered visitors. Some more great ideas can be found here.

18. Go on a nature walk

Fill your lungs with fresh air and get out in the countryside to see what natural treasures you can find.

19. Go on a bug safari

Get down on your hands and knees, whip out your magnifying glass and see what bugs you can find and identify. You’ll find all sorts of insects, spiders, worms, centipedes and millipedes between the blades of grass and in the soil. Take a jar with you if you want to catch them for a closer look, and remember to always return them to where you found them.

20. Visit a zoo

Get closer to nature at a zoo. Nowadays zoos are centers of conservation and education, and can trigger a lifelong interest in wildlife.

21. Go to a planetarium

Lie back, let your eyes adjust and take in the wonders of the universe with an expert commentary.

Arts, Crafts and Cooking

22. Press some flowers

Could there be a more relaxing pursuit than trekking out into the meadows, picking a few flowers and pressing them for posterity? Whether you have a professional flower pressing kit or just press them inside books, you’ve got a memory that will last for years.

23. Make sock puppets

All you need is some old socks, material, buttons and beads to sew onto them – and a hand, of course – and you’re good to go. Kids will have hours of fun making and performing with their sock puppets.

24. Make slime

Kids are obsessed with slime. Although you can buy it ready-made, look online for some cool recipes, so you can pretend to be teaching them something. We’re not sure how this recipe ended up in the BBC’s Good Food section, but it’s a good one.

25. Make perfume

Grab a basket, ask the owner of the garden, and pick petals to mix your own recipe for the most fragrant perfume imaginable, and save £60 come Christmas …

26. Learn to blow a grass whistle

Hold a blade of thick grass between your thumbs, stretching across the natural curved gap they make, then blow through it, you’ll get a high-pitched squawking sound. Learn it while you’re young and you’ve got a skill for life.

27. Make a rain gauge

Take a test tube or long bottle, put a funnel in the top and leave it outside. Every morning, see where it has filled up with rainwater using a ruler. Empty and repeat every day and write the results in a rain journal.

28. Do leaf or bark rubbing

See the natural world in another dimension by rubbing the texture onto paper. For bark, place some paper against a tree and rub with the side of a wax crayon. For leaves, place them on a tabletop and put the paper on top, then lightly rub.

29. Keep a journal

Why not encourage your children to keep a journal or diary of everything they get up to over the summer holidays? They can include photos, drawings and scrapbook entries, and maybe even rate their activities so they can repeat their favorite ones.

30. Make a pasta necklace

Any pasta shape with a hole through it can be painted, glittered or decorated and threaded onto a string to make a fun necklace. Try penne, macaroni, rotelle, cavatappi, manicotti, rigatoni, ziti or even cannelloni and you’ve got a fine selection.

31. Master a magic trick

It’s great to have a bunch of magic tricks to perform, but even better to nail one trick through practice, so that nobody has a clue how you did it. There’s plenty of inspiration in this video; once you’ve mastered one, move on to the next.

32. Make pizzas from scratch

Making pizza from the raw materials lets your kids experiment, learn to cook and spend some quality time with family. Here’s a simple and delicious pizza recipe on BBC Good Food for you to try. Bellissimo!

33. Learn to code

Have you heard of Scratch? It’s a language that’s designed for young coders that takes the most common computer programming elements and turns them into a visual, graphical system. It was designed for 8–16-year-olds, but children much younger can master it.

34. Make a mud kitchen

Younger kids just love playing with mud, so why not build them a mud kitchen? It can be anything from a washing basin on a table to a custom-built outdoor kitchen, but it’s guaranteed to get their imagination going.

35. Potion making

This one’s simple – get a jar and encourage your kids to fill it with petals, grasses, seeds, leaves, stalks – anything they find growing in the garden or park. Then stir, squish and crush it  until you get a potion that they’ll be convinced has magical powers.

36. Paint outside

All children enjoy expressing themselves with paper and paint, but how often do you take it outside? It brings a whole new dimension to the art, with different lighting, new sounds, fresh air and tons of things to inspire them.

37. Tie-dye a T-shirt

Take a plain T-shirt, tie it in clumps, dye it and dry it. When you remove the string, you’re left with psychedelic flower-like shapes that look amazing.

38. Make a daisy chain

Use daisies in the garden or park and make a necklace, bracelet or crown. You have to make a small slit in the stalk with your fingernail or a knife so you can feed the next stalk through it, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be making impressive chains.

39. Do a treasure hunt

Bury or hide a treat in the house or garden, then write a clue to its location and hide it. Next, make another clue to find the first clue, and another clue to that one, and so on. Make the clues as hard as you like and go and chill out somewhere.

40. Make ice pops

Make some cordial and fill your ice cube mould or special ice pop moulds, remembering to put a stick in them. An hour or so later you’ve got refreshing, tasty treats and you’ve saved a fortune when the ice cream van turns up.

41. Bake cakes

It’s not always sunny in the summer, so take the opportunity to learn some kitchen skills, most importantly in the art of cake-making. This list should get you going.

42. Plant a fairy garden

Until your kids are old enough for Game of Thrones, why not entertain them by giving them a corner of the garden for pixies, fairies and elves? With a little rockery, some moss, a few tiny flowers and somewhere to call home, they’ll be enchanted.

43. Plant a dinosaur garden

If your little one has boxes of toy dinosaurs, why not let them create their own Jurassic garden? Indoors or out, all you need is a bit of sandy soil, a large pot or a deep tray, some rocks and some plants. Check out Pinterest for inspiration.

44. Make s’mores on a campfire

A great way to get your kids to love the outdoors is to get a fire going and toast marshmallows or make s’mores (melted marshmallow and chocolate between two crackers or biscuits).

45. Make a cupcake stand

This can be as complex or as simple as you like. At the simple end, cut three or four cardboard circles and glue them to sections of foil tube. Then paint and decorate to taste, and while the paint’s drying, you may as well make a batch of cupcakes.

46. Pick blackberries and make a pie

Blackberries grow wild all around the country, often on roadsides, but also around fields and parks. Take a basket out and go picking. When you’ve got a decent amount, it’s back home to make a yummy pie. Here’s one great recipe, but ready-rolled sweet shortcrust pastry will do.

47. Pick your own strawberries

Open Google Maps, zoom into your area and type in “pick your own strawberries” and you’ll be shown all the local farms that let customers fill their punnets with strawbs. You pay by weight on the way out. Strawberry season usually lasts from May to September in the UK.

Get active

48. Roll down a hill

Find a hill (preferably grassy), lie down and let gravity do the rest. It’ll get you dizzy, but kids love doing it – and find the spectacle of adults flying legs akimbo down a hill hugely entertaining. Good, simple fun.

49. Have a karaoke party

Invite friends round, fire up the music and let them sing their hearts out. You don’t need a karaoke setup and instrumental backing tracks – just singing along to the original recordings will do. You can hire karaoke machines with thousands of songs to sing along to.

50. Go cycling

Get on your bikes, find your nearest cycling path and explore. The number of purpose-built paths is ever growing, so look out for your local ones and get out in the fresh air with your bikes.

51. Visit a skate park

Is your little one mad on skateboarding, scootering or BMXing? Take them to your nearest skate park and let them try out their skills surrounded by like-minded kids.

52. Watch a sporting event

Britain loves its sports, but lots of sports go under the radar. Have a look around and you’ll find all sorts of unexpected spectator sports going on, be it athletics, equestrian, ball games, gymnastics, swimming, martial arts or wider sporting events that cover all bases.

53. Chalk on the pavement

Get a pack of colored chalks and send the kids out to see what they can come up with on the pavements. Hopscotch, treasure hunts, target games and other cool entertainment can be found, and it’ll all clean away next time it rains.

54. Make a den

Find a place with lots of fallen foliage and branches, lean the larger branches together like a wigwam or against a tree, then start filling in the gaps with twigs leaves until you have a basic shelter. Remember to leave a doorway!

55. Make a rope swing

Find a good solid tree with a sturdy horizontal limb, throw a strong rope over the limb secure it with a knot. Tie a 50cm branch to the dangling end for a seat. Give it a good test by yanking it hard, and you’re ready to swing.

56. Climb a hill

Your kids appreciate the sense of achievement.

57. Fly a kite

George Banks was right – flying a kite is a perfect way to bond with your kids, especially if you have a stunt kite, controlling it through dives and climbs. The normal warnings apply, of course: stay away from powerlines (risk of shock) and trees (risk of tears).

58. Have a picnic

Alfresco dining is always fun, so generations have enjoyed the simple pleasures of a picnic for its own sake. You can make it as simple or as over-the-top as you want, but surround yourself with friends and family and you won’t care about the ants and wasps.

59. Make a fort

Save those cardboard boxes from your deliveries, because they’ll come in useful during the fort season. Another activity where kids’ imaginations will run wild, the cardboard fort will keep them occupied for entire afternoons.

60. Visit a maize maze

Farmers often make temporary mazes in their cornfields so that families can go and get lost together. With cafes, petting farms, farmers’ markets and playgrounds attached, it’s a great day out.

61. Splash in a paddling pool

Assuming there’s no water shortage, splishing and splashing around a paddling pool is a lovely way for kids to stay cool and have some quality fun in the summer garden.

62. Go camping

Don’t be put off camping by spartan childhood experiences, because modern camping is (if you want it to be) a much more homely experience. Look around and you’ll find sites with electric power points, decent Wi-Fi, swimming pools, bars and entertainment complexes.

63. Visit a funfair

There’s always fun to be had on the rides, amusements and stalls of the funfair, whatever the age of your children. You might end up coming home with a massive stuffed toy, so make sure you’ve got room in the car or house.

64. Go on high ropes

High ropes attractions are popping up all over the country, with a few chains like Go Ape being the best known. Although safe, walking a tightrope or descending a zipline 10 metres in the air sure does feel risky, and that’s where the fun is.

65. Go canoeing

Many places that have canoes and kayaks and also offer lessons, so you’ll be feeling the water between your paddles in no time. Use this guide to find a great place to canoe nearby, then work out your best route when you’ve chosen it.

66. Have a water fight

If there’s one activity guaranteed to bring howls of laughter on a hot day, it’s getting soaking wet in a water fight. If you’ve got super soaker guns, great – but some old detergent bottles or a bucket of water and sponges will do the trick.

67. Jump waves in the sea

Another simple pleasure: stand on the seashore and jump over the waves as they come in. Kids never get bored of it.

68. Learn to skim a stone

Find a relatively tranquil lake and look for a Minstrel-shaped stone. Hold it between your thumb and forefinger and throw the stone from low down with an all-important backspin to keep it rotating fast. Then count the splashes as it bounces on the surface.

69. Go to a castle

You’re never got far to travel to find one, whether it’s a ruin or looking spectacularly intact. It’s a great opportunity as you’ll ever have to really fire up kids’ imagination.

70. Visit the seaside

Get your bucket and spade and go!

71. Build a giant sandcastle

Sandcastles are great, but could they be greater? There’s no limit to the size of your sandcastle, and with a team of friends and family members, there’s nothing to stop you building something quite spectacular.

72. Go swimming

Find your local pool and go with your kids. Whether you spend your time doing lengths, playing around with balls and floats or teaching or learning the art of swimming, you’re going to have a great time keeping fit, staying cool and bonding.

73. Perform a play

Get your kids’ friends together and leave them in a room for a few hours to dress up and come up with some kind of performance. Whether it’s a traditional fairytale, a family comedy or a talent show, it’s a joy for all.

74. Create an obstacle course

Arrange chairs, tables, cushions, boxes, cones, wickets, hula hoops, beanbags (anything kids can use to climb, dodge, crawl, jump and throw) and set it out so they have to get from A to B in the quickest time.

75. Go geocaching

Every day, you probably walk past a few geocaches without even knowing about it. They’re little rewards hidden by the geocaching community and there are more than 3 million round the world. Download the app (AndroidiOS).

76. Climb trees

An essential skill that seems to be getting lost in the younger generation, tree-climbing is fun and helps to build kids’ coordination, strength and confidence. Find some easy ones to start with and progress to more challenging trees as they get better at it.

77. Play football

Among the simplest games in the world for two or more people, if you’ve got a football you can play it anywhere, from the beach to the backyard. In short, always carry a football.

78. Visit a city

Visit as much of your country as you can.

79. Go plane spotting

Do you know your Jumbo Jets from your A380s? There’s something exciting about being close to these huge airliners when they’re taking off or landing, especially in the rain. Lots of airports have viewing areas for people to do just that.

80. Skip!

Everybody used to know how to use a skipping rope, but it seems to be a dying art. Whether your kids go  solo or with friends, it’s great fun and really keeps them fit. Learn the old skipping songs for a real dive into childhoods of the past.

Rainy days

81. Dance in the rain

Don’t get down when it rains in the summer … get up! While nobody wants to dance in the winter rain, a summertime shower is a wonderful time to get outside and get soaking wet, especially if it comes after days of relentless heat.

82. Play board games

Offer your kids a board game and you might be surprised how engrossed they can become. As well as the classics like Monopoly, Cluedo, chess, draughts, Operation etc., you can find themed board games for every subject in comic shops.

83. Visit a museum

Every city has its general museums, but there are also car museums, space museums, science museums and even a pencil museum. In fact, search online for pretty much anything online with the word museum and you’ll probably find one.

84. Go to the cinema

Whether it’s rainy-day entertainment or a way of escaping the stultifying heat, a trip to the cinema is a perfect way to while away a summer afternoon. See a summer blockbuster or take advantage of special summer holiday ticket deals.

85. Go bowling

There are hundreds of ten-pin bowling alleys in the UK, and kids just love the satisfaction of knocking those pins over. They all have side-walls and ramps, too, so it doesn’t matter what their age or skill set, they’ll be able to take part.

Chill out

86. Read outside

How long has it been since you and your kids indulged in the simple pleasure of sitting outside in the sun with a book and a glass of something cold? You’ll wish you’d done it a lot more often when you do.

87. Blow giant bubbles

Every child has blown bubbles from the little container, but did you know you can make truly huge ones? You can buy the kits from toy shops or supermarkets, or you can save money by making a huge batch that’ll last you weeks as is explained on this site.

88. Ride a pony

Lots of kids love horses, but few get the chance to ride them. Take your horse-obsessed child to your nearest horse-riding centre and ride a pony. They’ll probably get the chance to feed and groom their ride, too.

89. Join a library group

Most libraries offer clubs and groups, especially throughout the school holidays, so go along and see if any of the ones at your local library interest you or your kids. It’s a great way of meeting like-minded children and parents.

90. Write a story

Sit down, switch off the telly and see where your children’s minds take them when you ask them to write a story. You can collaborate with them and invite friends and siblings to join in, too, and then illustrate the story to really capture the mood.

91. Have a sleepover

Get some midnight feast food in and invite your child’s friends round to spend the night. Depending on the size of the bedroom, you might want to convert the living room into a sleeping space – they’ll surely entertain themselves.

92. Watch the sunrise

Find a nice spot where you can see the horizon in a roughly north-eastern direction, get up nice and early and watch the sky turn from deep blue to lighter blue, red, golden and orange until the sun finally pops up. Use this tool to find out what time sunrise is in your location.

93. Watch the sunset

Watching the sun go down might not be quite as magical as seeing it come up, but it’s usually at a more sociable hour outside of June or July. Find a spot where you can see the western horizon, take snacks and watch as our star goes to sleep.

94. Have breakfast in the park

During the summer holidays, parks normally start to fill up at around 10am, so before then you might have the whole place to yourself. Find a nice spot and have a picnic in the fresh morning air. It’s a great way to start the day.

95. Have a pajama day

Do you really have to get dressed if you have no plans to go out? No! Stay in your PJs and have a day of lounging about, watching TV, doing your hobbies or playing with toys.

96. Blow a dandelion and make a wish

Here’s a simple bit of fun with a hint of magic – find a dandelion with its distinctive fuzzy head, and blow its seeds off and make a wish as they scatter on the breeze.

97. Make a stop motion film

Head over to your Apple or Android app store and search for “stop motion”. You’ll see plenty of apps that let you build a movie one frame at a time. After a bit of practice, they’ll be making cool films out of Lego and other toys, or making speeded-up films of domestic life.

98. Make a campfire

Gather firewood, select dry kindling and some paper or rag to get the fire started, then build your fire from the ground up, starting with the small stuff and finishing with the larger branches. Strike the match and watch it come to life. Marshmallows optional.

99. Go cloud gazing

Lie back on the grass or the beach and look up at the clouds. Young kids will love to spot shapes of familiar things in them, and older ones might be interested in identifying the different types of cloud that signify their altitude, speed and how they are formed.

100. Paint pebbles

Go to the park, a stream or the seaside and pick up pebbles, then bring them home and paint them. You can paint them into characters with facial features and personality, or maybe you’d just prefer to paint abstract designs on them.

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