08 August 2017

The Great Outdoors: Summer activities outside for kids

As we all know, blue skies are not guaranteed in the average British summer. So get ready to make the most of those precious moments when the sun puts his hat on. 

You can swap the TV screen for sunscreen with these outdoor activities and they won't put a strain on your wallet either.

Get them soaked

On a baking hot day there is nothing anyone enjoys more than splashing about in water. Put on swimming costumes, fill up the paddling pool, load the water pistols, inflate the water bombs; or just turn on the garden sprinkler or hose and make sure that everyone is outside getting a jolly good soaking.

Set out on a scavenger hunt

Nature is full of treasures. Put together a list of things to find - a sprig of lavender, an oak leaf, a dandelion etc, and then head to your garden, local park or nature reserve to search them all out. You can download the Woodland Trust's scavenger hunt pack here.

Go in search of blackberries

Blackberries are probably Britain's most bountiful crop and, in most cases, they are there for the taking. Wherever you are in the UK, you're never far from a blackberry bush, you'll find them lining the edges of parks, bordering riverbanks and dotted across the countryside.

The hedgerows are now filling up with these purple jewel-like fruits and they reach their peak in August. Grab a container, fill it up with these delicious berries and then return home to eat them with whipped cream or vanilla icecream or use them to make pies, cakes, crumbles and jam.

Take the ball game challenge

Cricket, rounders, football, catch, piggy-in-the-middle, bowls, skittles, keepy uppy, tennis, badminton, netball, croquet, dodgeball, rugby, juggling, its time to raid the toy box and get out all the outdoor ball games that you've accumulated over the years and see how many you can play in a day. If your kids are competitive and they have friends over, they could get into teams and draw up a league table.

Get arty with nature

Get our the paints, colouring pencils, glue, chalks and paper and get ready to turn nature's bounty into art. Learn how to make a leaf or bark rubbing; collect up pebbles for painting and turning into paper weights; create a nature collage, complete with a frame made of twigs; construct daisy chain necklaces; create pavement chalk drawings; and, if you're near the beach, get sand sculpting among other great outdoor art ideas.

Turn those little fingers green

Many kids get a lot of satisfaction from helping things to grow. Head to your local nursery and let them choose some seeds to plant. Or, help them to understand the science of gardening by harvesting the seeds from fruit that you have in your fruit bowl at home. 

If you're lucky enough to have your own garden, you could give them their own little patch from which they can grow all sorts of flowers, fruits and vegetables. If you have no or limited outdoor space, create a miniature garden with one single flowerpot to keep on a windowsill or think about renting an allotment, a small plot will cost you less than £50 a year.

Get den building

Building an outdoor den is number 4 on The National Trust's list of Fifty Things to do Before You're 11 and Three Quarters. Challenge your kids to create their very own secret hideaway using only what nature has delivered - twigs, branches, leaves and mud - and their own fair hands.

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