With school holidays just around the corner (well, at least if you live in Scotland 😉 ), the attentions of parents everywhere turn to keeping little ones entertained during the lengthy summer break. CBBC and PlayStation marathons notwithstanding, there are lots of things you can do to avoid wails of ‘I’m bored’, or ‘are we there yet?’ So here are a few ideas for all weather eventualities, to kick summer holiday boredom firmly to the kerb.
THE SUMMER READING CHALLENGE
One of our favourite activities over the summer holidays, the Summer Reading Challenge is a nationwide initiative run by the Reading Agency and local libraries to get more children reading during the summer break. The idea is that children aged 4-11 sign up to read 6 books over the break and in return receive special rewards each time they finish a book. There’s a certificate for everyone who completes the challenge and many libraries run a little awards presentation too. Following on from last year’s ‘Animal Agents’, this year’s theme is ‘Mischief Makers’, inspired by the Beano. The summer reading challenge will available to sign up to at libraries across Scotland later in the month.
BLUE PETER BADGES
Blue Peter badges may sound retro but they are still very much available! Children aged 6-15 can apply for badges and they come in various colours these days, not just the iconic blue of this 40-something Mummy’s youth 🙂 . My youngest has recently applied for a green badge for achievements linked to the environment with a letter about picking up litter. He’s also applied for a purple badge which involves submitting a review of a recent Blue Peter show. For this year only, once they already have at least one Blue Peter badge, children can also apply for a limited edition Diamond badge. Having a Blue Peter badge also has perks – badge holders get free entry to many UK attractions. There are plenty of them in Scotland (yay!) including Edinburgh Zoo, the Cairngorm Reindeer Herd, and the Highland Wildlife Park. Time to get those applications in kiddos – you can find out lots more about applying for Blue Peter badges here.
One of the latest crazes that families can have fun getting involved with are ‘kindness rocks’, a scheme involving decorating rocks with inspirational messages and pictures, and leaving them in public places for other rock-loving individuals to enjoy. Many towns have now started kindness rocks projects of their own – check on Facebook or local information to see if there is one close to you. Painting the rocks can be a fun activity for kids, and going out hiding (and seeking) them is a great way to encourage children to get excited about going out on walks.
Geocaching is another fun outdoor activity for families – a sort of treasure hunt for the digitally-savvy. ‘Caches’ are boxes hidden somewhere outdoors, found by downloading co-ordinates from the geocaching website to a GPS or by downloading a geocaching app to your phone. Once found, the ‘treasure chest’ usually contains a log book to sign and sometimes a small trinket. If you take a trinket you are meant to swap it for something in return – examples might be a small lego figure, some stickers or a badge. Finding caches can be lots of fun and it also gets you out exploring. We have done this several times with our children and it’s something they’ve always thoroughly enjoyed.
Scavenger hunts are great fun and there are lots of downloads online you can use – the Woodland Trust website is a fantastic place for nature-inspired resources at any time of year. A nice idea are egg box scavenger hunts, where you take an empty egg box and tape a piece of paper marked up as a grid on top. On top of each space, write out or draw a picture of something for the kids to find – e.g. a pine cone, a leaf, a feather, something sticky, something special. Kids can pop their items in the corresponding egg space to complete their scavenger hunt. Another great way to get children excited about spending time outdoors.
Even if you aren’t going away on holiday this year, there’s plenty of fun to be had in your own back garden. What about a night spent in a tent with the kids on your very own back lawn? For a bit of extra adventure, families can also sign up to initiatives like the RSPB’s Wild Challenge which enables kids to earn bronze, silver and gold awards for completing activities like building a birdbath or making a minibeast hotel. Or why not have a beach day, build a den in the forest or make the most of a windy afternoon and head out and fly a kite?
Gardening is another great activity to get little hands involved with and a couple of years ago we tried our hand at growing our own vegetables (you can read all about that here). These days, we stick to the easy stuff like growing herbs and planting sunflower seeds – which are a lot less labour intensive but still offer the excitement of watching something grow. Oh, and I’m not averse to getting kids to help with the dreaded weeding either – # mumperks. Who said there can’t be added benefits to keeping little ones amused? 😉
We’re big fans of family cycling in our household and getting on your bike is a great activity for fitness and general wellbeing. One of our top tips for weekend outings (and exercise for Mum and Dad), is to head somewhere quiet and do a fast walk while the kids do a bit of pedalling as you stomp. Better still, get everyone on their bikes and head for an off-road trail if possible – if you need a little more inspiration you can read lots more about our favourite family cycling destinations right here on the blog.
BAKING, COOKING AND GETTING CRAFTY
For rainy days, you can’t go wrong with a bit of baking, cooking or arts and crafts time. Yes, it’s messy, but honestly, it can also be a lot of fun! It doesn’t have to get complicated – my kids are happy making fairy cakes and drawing pictures. Another top tip on the creativity side is to get your kids to keep a journal all about their fantastic summer hols!
Check out local listings and social media for information on summer holiday activities close to you – many local communities have free or reasonably priced kids activities running throughout the break. Where we live there are all sorts of activities on offer like tennis lessons, ranger-led events and summer swimming sessions. Cinemas often offer discounted family viewings over the holidays – and don’t forget to check out your local library for lots of other ideas too!
If you are going away and are looking for something to keep the kids amused on long car journeys, my absolute top tip is to get hold of some audiobooks (you may be able to borrow these from your local library too). We’ve passed many an ‘are-we-there-yet?’ free hour in our campervan listening to The Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Swallows and Amazons (the latter really gets you into summer holiday adventure mode!) In fact, Audible offer 30-day free trials which may fit in quite nicely with your seasonal holiday planning. Making a family road trip playlist (and singing along together loudly in your vehicle) is another great way to get your summer holiday journey off to a flying start 🙂 .
Whatever you’re doing this summer, I hope this has given you some ideas for family activities. If all else fails, movie days, playdates, cards and board games are always fail-safe options too! I’m one of those Mums who freely admits to loving the school holidays – roll on six (or is it seven?) weeks of routine-free downtime. And with all of these activities to keep us occupied, fingers crossed there shouldn’t be an ‘I’m bored’, or ‘are we there yet?’ wail in sight 🙂 .
What about you, how do you plan to keep the kids occupied this summer? Will any of these suggestions help you, or do you have other ideas of your own? I’d love to hear!
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