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What to do in the summer holidays

Girl in canvas shoes and sun hat playing mini golf in the sunshine

Six weeks off school during the summer holidays can make for a great opportunity to spend more time with your children and soak up the sunshine. However, planning activities to keep kids engaged and occupied throughout the summer holidays can be tricky. Fortunately, we’ve come up with a list of great ideas of things to do in the summer holidays with your kids.

What to do with kids in the summer holidays

Remember, not every day has to bring an exciting new adventure. Some activities, such as day trips, require forward planning - for example, buying tickets, arranging transport, packing lunches ahead of time. But your kids can have just as much fun doing spontaneous activities that don’t involve so much effort.

When you’re planning for the summer holidays, it’s good to allow some wriggle room or wildcard days - this allows you to be spontaneous and go with the flow of your children’s interests and the weather. It also means you’re more likely to have the opportunity to visit other events you hadn’t heard about when you were planning.

Take a trip to the beach

The UK is a beautiful island nation, and that means most of us are never further than a few hours away from the seaside. Whether it’s a simple day trip or a week’s stay away, spending some time on the coast can be an excellent change of scenery to help invigorate and excite your children.

Not only can you enjoy the classic sun, sea and sand, but you can also take advantage of the trip for a little bit of light education. The sea holds a whole different ecosystem, and you’re sure to find someone who can help you and your kids learn more about the deep blue. On top of that, your children might pick up a new skill such as rock-pooling or paddle boarding. Don’t forget to pack quality, sturdy sandals for the trip!

If you can’t make it to the beach, don’t worry. There are plenty of inland alternatives that can help you to get a similar experience - some of which you can do in your own garden! Set up a paddling pool, sandpit and a sun lounger or deckchair, and you can have plenty of beachy fun right at home. Alternatively, why not head over to your local swimming pool or waterpark to make a splash?

Use your local library

Just because school is out for the summer, doesn’t mean you have to completely abandon learning. Reading is a great way to build vocabulary and educate your children about whichever subject you choose - and getting immersed in reading outside is a brilliant way to rack up time spent outdoors without your little ones realising. Your children can also participate in the Summer Reading Challenge to read as many books as they can over the summer holidays with fun rewards and incentives!

Your local library has a wide variety of books suitable for all age groups, and if you’re stuck for your children’s next book, librarians are often a font of book recommendations. But the library doesn’t just specialise in physical books - you can usually also take out audiobooks, CDs and DVDs as well.

On top of this, many libraries offer special activities and events for children over the summer holidays to help parents out. From Lego building sessions to storytelling workshops, you’re sure to find plenty going on at your local library - just head inside and ask a librarian to find out what’s in store over the summer.

Visit a museum, aquarium or zoo

Sticking with the learning theme, remember that you don’t always have to be the teacher. By heading to a museum, aquarium or zoo, you and your kids can learn more about a topic from experts in that field - whether it’s something as broad as marine biology or as niche as pencils. Sometimes these institutions offer specific child-friendly activities and events you can book, as well as enjoying exploring at your own pace.

Visiting an educational institution such as a museum can even inform your activities on the days after your trip. Many museums offer worksheets, reading materials and colouring pages you can take home and use in your own time to entertain your children. You can also build on what you’ve learned on your trip out by seeking out books, documentaries and online resources on the subject.

Try some arts and crafts

Kids love to get stuck in with their hands, and arts and crafts sessions are a great way to foster their creativity and imagination. While free-flowing play is good, you might also consider challenging them with prompts. For example, you could ask them to draw a picture of a creature you saw at the zoo, or to create a collage of the beach.

Arts and crafts doesn’t have to involve high-end materials. With a little innovative thinking, you can set your children up with all they need using items from around your home - think newspapers, pasta, magazines, leaves, pinecones and whatever else you can put to good use. This is a great opportunity to help your children learn about reusing and recycling! Just be careful to supervise them when scissors and glue are involved so you can be sure it stays fun for everyone.

Explore the local area

Exploring and adventuring are close to the hearts of many children, so whether you’re new to the community or you’ve been living in the area for a while, chances are there are places you’ve never been, and even some you didn’t realise existed. Exploring with your children is a great way to learn more about the place where you live - and who knows, you just might find your next favourite place to go.

If the term ‘exploring’ sounds a little too adventurous, remember that it doesn’t have to be all about climbing trees and navigating off the beaten track - although that can definitely feature! Exploring can be as simple as taking your usual route through town and challenging your children with a game of I-Spy to get them looking around and thinking about their surroundings.

Struggling to find new spots in your local area? There are lots of online resources and apps available to help you find walking trails, cycling routes, heritage sites and tourist attractions to visit. Tourist information centres are also a wealth of local knowledge you can tap - and don’t forget to engage with social media groups relating to your community for more ideas. You could even ask friends or neighbours if they have any recommendations for local places to visit to help broaden your knowledge of the area.

Play in the park

Finally, why not pop on their canvas shoes and take your children out for a day at the park? Play can involve either purpose-built play areas or free play on grass. As well as being a great place to let them loose, the park is somewhere they’ll get the chance to interact with other children their age. This is great for social development, particularly during the summer months when they won’t see as much of their usual friend group.

You might choose to head home after a couple of hours, but if the weather’s nice, why not make a day of it? Picnics are a great way to spend more time outside during the summer months, and the park is a perfect venue. Park trips also give you the ideal chance to teach your children about the importance of picking up after themselves and taking care of their local environment.

Whatever you choose to do with your children this summer, have fun. Make sure they’re wearing appropriate footwear that supports and protects their feet to stay safe. And don’t forget to buy quality school shoes towards the end of the holidays so you can be ready for the next school year.