With school summer holidays just around the corner and hopefully some warmer weather on the way, here are a few activities to prise those little fingers away from the electronics and get the kids enjoying themselves outside.
Short walks for families
You don’t need to go on a massive hike with lots of gear to enjoy a walk out with the family and it doesn’t need to be a great distance either. Why not walk to a nearby park, canal or river, getting the kids to spot things on the way? You could print nature and wildlife spotting sheets off from the internet or even make your own.
Local councils, water companies and National Trust sites usually have some short walk guides on their websites suitable for families that you can print off and take with you. If you’re lucky enough to live near a forest, the Forestry Commission also do short themed trails where the kids might even come across the Gruffalo.
Take a picnic, drinks and snacks for the kids and make an adventure of it as you discover somewhere close to home that maybe you’ve not walked around before. You don’t need specialist equipment; a good pair of trainers will do, and it doesn’t need to cost a fortune; walking is free, but you might need some change for car parking.
Make sure you pack some treats, too; it’s amazing how much further little legs can walk when there’s an enticement of cake or sweets at the end of it!
Activities at home and in the garden
Of course, you don’t need to leave your home to enjoy the outdoors, as there are plenty of activities you could do in your garden. Why not ‘camp’ in the garden without having to go camping by getting the kids to build a den?
Picnic blankets, chairs, throws, cushions and a bit of imagination is all that is needed to make the most magical play tent for the day.
If you’re feeling creative with some paper, string and colouring pencils, the kids could even make some bunting for their new home. They can then have a picnic outside and, when the sun sets, everything is easy to tidy away, you haven’t had to travel anywhere, and you get to sleep in your own bed – bonus!
Fairy and dinosaur garden building is an activity to get the kids hunting around the garden or local area looking for fallen petals, leaves, sticks and little stones. You can spend a day building your garden using old lids as a base and using the sticks and leaves as the carpet.
Dandelions, daisies or fallen petals make great fairy decorations or dino hiding places. If your child has fairy or dinosaur toys, take them outside to see the garden they have built. Let your kids’ imagination run wild and make a fabulous habitat for your chosen creature.
Use your environment
If dinosaurs and fairies aren’t their thing, how about making a pebble pest? Just paint a pebble, leaving it to dry in the sun, and then add googly eyes. It’s a fun activity, doesn’t take too long and, once dry, your pest can find a lovely place in the garden to live.
Pavement chalks are a big hit in my house and the kids will spend hours decorating the patio. Any chalks will do but the big jumbo variety are easier for little hands to hold.
Challenge the kids to make a pirate treasure map and practice their names or the alphabet with the chalks. Your little Picasso has a great blank canvas to draw on and a bucket of water or the next downpour will soon clear it away for their next masterpiece.
You don’t have to be creative or energetic to enjoy some time outdoors with your family. A simple picnic or BBQ and time to chat and take in your surroundings is all you need to spend some quality time outdoors together. Let’s just hope we have some nice weather.
Emma Lewis is a Yorkshire parenting and outdoors blogger who, after two hip surgeries, has now discovered a love of walking and is passionate about getting her kids outside. Follow her blog Hip2trek.co.uk for her journey about hips, trips, training and getting the whole family outdoors.