Looking for summer activities for kids? With the longest holidays fast approaching, now’s the time to start planning some fun things to do to help keep sibling squabbles to a minimum and make sure those six long weeks pass by uneventfully. Because keeping kids entertained is no easy task!
If you go down to the woods… nature activities for kids
The woods are a hive of activity and a great way to get outside and enjoy some much-needed shade on a hot summer’s day. So when you’re looking for summer holiday days out, find your local forest and get exploring with our nature activities for kids:
• In a previous episode of Blue Peter, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, joined a group of kids for a den building challenge, with impressive results – and they made it look pretty simple. First you need to find a spot in the woods with plenty of branches and sticks on the floor. Next find the longest, sturdiest one you can find and prop it up in the crook of another tree, between two branches. This will act as the spine of your den. Now find plenty of long branches and lean them up against this spine to form the sides. You’ll need lots to create the shape you’re looking for. Once you’ve created the basic structure you can use twigs, moss and even mud to cover the walls for more protection.
• Challenge the children to be “as quiet as mice” and see what they can hear. Encourage them to experiment with ways to creep across the forest floor without making a sound. Listen out for birdsong and see if you can recognise the types of bird from the sounds they make. You can download a number of free apps to help with identification, or use our guide to the most common garden birds for help.
• Go on an outdoor scavenger hunt. Take along a clipboard, a pencil and a pre-written list of items for your kids to find during your hike in the woods. Example items could be a yellow flower, a spider’s web, 4 different types of leaves and a tree stump that you can stand on. Offer prizes for the first to spot all of the items on your list. This is a great way of keeping kids entertained so they don’t realise how far they’re walking through the woods. Plan the ultimate outdoor scavenger hunt today.
All sands on deck… beach activities for kids
In terms of summer activities for kids, the beach has to be top of the list. But once the sandcastles have been built and the waves have been jumped, you’ll need to come up with some other outdoor activities for kids that are suitable for the beach:
• Go rock pooling. This is one of the most popular beach activities for kids, and with a small net, a bucket and a bit of patience it’s amazing what you can find. Make sure you check the tide times before you plan your adventure and wear jelly shoes or wellies to make sure small feet don’t get cut on rocks and limpets.
Top tip: Disturb the sand at the bottom of the rockpool with your net to find any small shrimps and fish that are hiding there.
• Run a family sand sculpture competition. Show everyone pictures of professionally made sand sculptures for inspiration and then challenge them to create their own. Make sure you have some prizes available for any that particularly impress you.
• Work together to build a ball track. Start by building a mound of sand up the beach and then create a smooth, winding track as far down to the sea as you can. Not only will kids of all ages love constructing the raceway, they’ll enjoy testing it by rolling a ball or marble down it to see how far it will go. This is one of the outdoor activities for kids that is great for developing problem solving, team-work and engineering skills in slightly older children.
Pitch up your tent… camping games for kids
It’s easy to think that when you’re at a campsite with other families around you won’t need to be constantly coming up with outdoor activities for kids in your care. Unfortunately, this is probably not the case. So it’s always best to have a few outside activities for kids up your sleeve:
• Have you tried geocaching? It’s a GPS-lead treasure hunt that gets you out and about exploring, finding new places, discovering hidden ‘loot boxes’ and swapping small items that you find within them. And when it comes to summer activities for kids, it is pretty much perfect for keeping all ages entertained and out of trouble. No matter where you’re camping there will almost certainly be a cache nearby and we bet you’ll be just as excited about logging your finds as your kids are. You can find out more in our blog “What Is Geocaching and How Does It Work?”.
• What about stargazing? Give the kids a treat, let them stay up after dark, lay out together on the ground and see what you can see. The more remote your site, the better your chances, but once your eyes adjust (as long as it’s a fairly clear night), you’re sure to see something. There are also plenty of free apps you can use to identify which constellations and planets you’re looking at. Finish off with hot chocolate and toasted marshmallows for a magical night to remember – this is one of our favourite outdoor activities for kids!
• What about fun camping games for kids? If you’re looking for things to do outside with kids, organise a round of campsite ‘Scattergories’. Using the name of your campsite or the place you’re staying, get the kids to find, or write down, something they can see in the campsite that begins with each letter. Set an area that you’re happy for them to explore and let them roam. Offer prizes for the most items found, most ingenious idea etc.
When you’re staying at home…things to do outside with kids
If you’re running out of summer activities for kids or you just fancy a day of not going out, don’t let the excitement stop with these fun outdoor activities for kids that are perfect for home days in the holidays:
• Who says egg hunts are only for Easter? Sneak outside, hide some of your kids’ favourite treats among the bushes and then relax in the sun with your feet up while they ransack the garden trying to find them. Don’t forget to make sure you have a rough idea of where you’ve hidden them though…
• Who doesn’t love bubbles? Fill a large tray or bowl with water and add a squirt of washing up liquid. Then take a long piece of rope, tie a slip knot to make a small loop. Lay the loop in the mixture, take it out slowly, slip the knot back to make the soapy loop bigger and gently swing the loop through the air. With a bit of practise, you’ll find you can create pretty large and impressive bubbles that’ll have the kids chasing after them and shouting “more, more, more” for hours.
• One of the simplest outside activities for kids is identifying garden wildlife – it’s both educational and will keep them entertained for hours. Looking for ideas? Check out our guide to garden wildlife, and our children’s guide to wildflowers.
• Finally, make the most of everything that’s to hand at home and help your little ones to make an outdoor play tent to bring playtime outside. Simply tie together three garden canes, pull them out into wigwam shapes, pushing the ends into the ground for stability. Then wrap an old sheet around the structure and tie it in place. The rest is up to you. Add cushions, blankets, teddies and books for a reading den, art materials for a craft den (you could even let them decorate the outside with felt tips) or tip Lego all over the floor for hours of outdoor entertainment that’ll capture everyone’s imagination.
So if you’re looking for things to do in the summer holidays or fun outdoor activities for children, it just goes to show that you don’t need to spend loads of money and plan big. Some nature activities for kids that are the most entertaining and the most memorable require nothing more than time and a little imagination. There are endless things to do outside with kids that are educational and fun for the whole family.
Have fun, and why not tell us about it on social media if you try any of these summer activities for kids.
Now that you’re armed with lots of fun outdoor activities for kids, get them set for their summer holiday adventures, whatever the weather, with our range of kids outdoor clothing. Taking the dog too? Check out our pet accessories.