School’s Out – Banish Boredom with These Fun Activities
School’s out for summer, but if you don’t have activities planned for those long hot summer days, boredom could soon set in.
There's nothing wrong with a day lying on the beach or a visit to a theme park, but what else is there to do, especially activities that are free or at least won’t break the bank?
Here are some ideas to keep everyone busy – including for those inevitable rainy days.
Fresh Air, Exercise and Fun
These three elements can co-exist when you find the right activity, and the exercise part of the equation is a welcome bonus for parents wanting to see their kids staying fit. The aim is to make sure the activities to not seem contrived or resemble school PE lessons in any way.
Treasure hunting has always been great fun, but Geocaching brings a whole new dimension to the activity. It is a perfect example of how the digital age has influenced kids’ activities for the better.
The only piece of equipment you need is a GPS-enabled phone and a Geocaching membership. Once equipped and signed up, you can start searching for all sorts of different caches with varying degrees of difficulty. Some are easy to find while some of the trickier ones can leave you scratching your head.
Geocaching is now a global phenomenon. It ticks all the boxes, providing fresh air and exercise while you go searching, plus it is a lot of fun that can be shared with kids of all ages and can even bring out your inner child.
Knights and Dragons
There are lots of castles and magical settings around the UK that will make for a brilliant day out – and they can become even better when you turn it into a game of knights and dragons.
The National Trust has some perfect venues for a knightly adventure, including Bodiam Castle in Sussex, which fits the profile of a fairytale castle, as do others such as Chirk Castle in Wrexham and Wray Castle in Cumbria.
If you are planning several adventures, it might be worth considering a National Trust membership, which will enable you to visit as many places as you want for a fixed price.
Bucket and Spade Days
When the sun is shining, the beach provides a relatively inexpensive day out that can keep everyone entertained.
Try beachcombing to add that extra dimension to the day. Runswick Bay in Whitby is a great venue to explore with a bucket and spade. These golden sands yield a good amount of washed-up treasure that is just waiting to be discovered.
Runswick Bay in particular is considered to be a prime beachcombing spot where children will often be rewarded with an ammonite fossil or two as a reward for their efforts.
The great outdoors offers kids of all ages the chance to set their imagination and creativity free by creating some unique artwork.
Visit a woodland near you and gather together some natural materials that you find there, then use these to create a wild art masterpiece, which uses all the versatile colours and textures found in our natural environment.
Harry Potter Walking Tour
Even muggles don’t have to pay for this one. You can easily follow your own Harry Potter walking tour using freely available information which includes iconic film locations such as Gringotts Bank and the Leaky Cauldron.
Download maps and information from the-magician.co.uk and then plan your adventure. There is even a treasure hunt that you can follow.
Land of the Brave
If you are a fan of Disney’s animation ‘Brave’, plan a trip to explore the landscape that was the inspiration behind the film.
There is a dedicated section on the Visit Scotland website which gives you the lowdown on where to find places like Dun-Broch castle and Eilean Donan castle amongst others.
Head over to the Isle of Wight and follow the Troll Trail when you get there. This is route 23 of the National Cycle Network and is a blissfully traffic-free bike path which is littered with troll bridges where something unexpected might well be lurking.
The Tarka Trail
The Tarka Trail is a 30-mile bike trail that takes you along the old railways of North Devon. There are plenty of great places to stop for food and drink along the way.
You don’t have to tackle the whole trail unless the family are feeling particularly energetic. A popular option is the manageable six-mile off-road section that runs from Braunton to Barnstaple.
Combine Culture with Exercise
A visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a good way to combine culture with some healthy exercise and fresh air.
Stroll around 500 acres of parkland in West Yorkshire where you will encounter no less than 60 giant works of art dotted around this vast open space. The Yorkshire Sculpture Park is recognised as one of the largest open-air displays of Henry Moore bronzes in Europe, and the really good news is that entry to the park is free.
A ghost trail is a spooky but fun way to spend a family evening checking out the local ghost folklore. You can often find a local ghost spotter guide book, or alternatively just search on the internet. It won’t be difficult to dig up local legends and tales of sightings, so check them out for yourself after dark – if you dare.
Try an Unusual Sport
The summer months offer the perfect opportunity to try an unusual sport. For example, you could become the next world black pudding throwing champion, or maybe you will be a natural at knuckleracket.
The game of knuckleracket is a variation on the game of tennis that involves punching the ball. The knuckleracket is very easy to get the hang of and gives the kids a greater feeling of control when hitting the ball, so it is well worth trying.
Another game that is growing in popularity is Rock-It-Ball. This is a fast and fun five-a-side team game that many schools and universities have started playing.
Search out other unusual sports like underwater hockey and street luge and see what you can find.
Field to the Fork Challenge
An enterprising way of combining health food education with a fun outdoor activity is to organise a ‘field to the fork’ challenge for all the family.
The idea is that you set aside a day where you work together to forage and pick only natural ingredients, and then create a menu to produce a healthy family meal, all without a processed or unnatural ingredient in sight.
Slightly Different Ideas
If you want to arrive at the end of the summer and say to each other, “well that was a bit different”, here are some slightly different ideas that not many other children will be writing about when they return to school.
For example, you might discover that you have a natural talent to charm worms. Use the summer to get in some serious training if you want to try and become a world worm charming champion.
You could also try indoor caving in the awesome 150m artificial cave system in Hemel Hempstead or shark diving in the indoor Deep Sea World pools close to Edinburgh. Maybe you can expend some extra energy and swing away at the baseball batting cages near London.
Other unusual days out to consider could include a visit to Britain’s best roundabout. Some consider this to be the Holgate Windmill in York, or perhaps you might go around the Oxford roundabout which features a duck pond in the middle.
If you thought that all museums were similar in what they have to offer, you probably haven’t been to Teapot Island in Maidstone or the Dog Collar Museum at Leeds Castle, so give them a try during the holidays.
It seems that the last time the sun shined for the whole summer was back in 1976. So with that in mind, it is a good idea to have some contingency plans based around indoor activities that will keep boredom at bay.
A dinosaur day at the Natural History Museum appeals to all ages, and entrance is free. Dinosaurs are a big feature at the museum and most kids are left in awe at the 26-metre Diplodocus skeleton as well as the four animatronic dinosaurs, including a roaring T-Rex.
Learn Some Magic Tricks
If it has been decided that a duvet day is in order, it could well be a chance to learn some easy magic tricks. For ideas, visit sites like http://www.funology.com/ and once you have honed your skills, use them to dazzle your friends and family.
Have a Science Day
If you want to combine fun and education, science is a reasonable way of achieving this aim. Consider having a science day and search out some suitable ideas on the internet. Bear in mind the ages of the children, then find something that they will enjoy doing that is safe and appropriate for their age group.
Make Your Own Movie
A trip to the cinema or watching a film together at home is a great family activity, so why not spend a day making your own cinematic creation?
It doesn’t have to be a big budget affair, but a family collaboration where you work out the plot, cast the characters and get some costumes and props together will often result in a lot of laughter and fun – especially when you all sit down to view the results captured by your video camera.
Places to Go Before You Grow Up
Childhood can quickly pass by, so make a list of places to take your kids to before they grow up. Ideas for the list could include a trip to find the only herd of free-ranging reindeer in Britain. The magical setting of the Cairngorm Mountains is an experience in itself, but stumbling across these creatures with the help of an experienced guide is not to be missed.
A trip to Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is not for anyone with a fear of heights, but if you are inclined to ignore the advice of 'don’t look down', you will be rewarded with a stunning view over Giants Causeway. This is definitely your chance to experience being out of your comfort zone.
A visit to a subterranean wonderland should also be on your list. The National Showcaves Centre for Wales is a magical place to visit, and the sight and sound of an underground waterfall like the one you can experience in the Cathedral Cave is incredible.
Keep Boredom at Bay this Summer
Any of these ideas and activities will help to banish boredom. So plan some interesting and unusual things to do this summer, and make the holidays a time that you look back on with plenty of happy family memories.