Bored? Not in my house… here’s my fun-packed list of projects for kids for the school holidays to get the whole family inspired by gardening, nature and the great outdoors, says Katherine Miller
The summer holidays can be stressful if you’ve got children and they get bored. Bickering will quickly set in. It is beyond most household budgets to go on expensive outings and visit theme parks every other day for six weeks, so here are a few suggestions that might keep the whole family entertained through the holiday period. It’s worth investing in an unusual long-term project that will take a few weeks to complete, such as raising butterflies. Several creative ideas like this that the kids can do by themselves will help to fill the days. Our favourite “free” project is the miniature garden in a tray, and our best activity for hours of fun is building a wigwam in the garden – which gets repeated again and again…
1 Send off for a Blue Peter badge
Children aged between 6-15 years can apply for a Blue Peter Badge and card, which gains free entry into lots of attractions all over the UK. Green badges are awarded for sending in letters and pictures that are about the environment, conservation or nature.
To find out more visit: bbc.co.uk/cbbc/shows/blue-peter
2 Plant a seed
One of the best seeds for little children to plant is Nasturtium. Their big seeds and strong sturdy seedlings are perfect for little hands. The plants produce edible flowers which come in a range of large red, yellow and orange blooms.
3 Teddy bears picnic
Everyone has to try this at least once this summer… on a travel rug or in your homemade camp (see item no. 17) or eating egg & home-grown cress sandwiches (see item no. 7). For a real treat, try putting lemonade in the teapot. There’s nothing like eating alfresco with the kids and the bears.
4 Quick crops
Salad leaves such as lettuce and rocket grow very quickly in the summer, so this makes planting, growing and eating achievable in just a few weeks.
5 Catch & measure the rain
There will be some rainy days, but don’t despair. Collect rain in an empty bucket and pour the water into a measuring jug each day. If it rains for a week then you’ll have enough Information to make a colourful chart to show the results. If the sun comes out, then enjoy it!
6 Printing with vegetables
Such a fun way to paint… try making hungry caterpillar bookmarks using half a carrot (right). Homemade bookmarks also make perfect thank you notes!
7 Cress heads
You can sow cress seed in any sort of container filled with compost. Seeds sprout within 48 hours and are ready to eat in just 5 days
8 Daisy chain
A quiet moment making a daisy chain will encourage children to relax in the fresh air and concentrate on creating something simple and special.
9 Butterfly house
For a fascinating and educational project, watch your own caterpillars grow and change into beautiful butterflies in an enclosure at home. Live kits, including everything you need can be ordered from yellowmoon.org.uk
10 Pick-your-own fruit & veg
Try visiting a local farm and picking your favourite seasonal fruits or vegetables. For information about pick-your-own farms in England, Scotland and Wales see: pickyourownfarms.org.uk
11 Leaf / bark rubbing
Paper and crayons are all you need to make interesting bark or leaf rubbing pictures. Go outside and find different trees or collect leaves for later, and try this at home.
12 Grow something different
Try growing an apple pip, or experiment with different seeds from foods like peppers and melons. This makes a good windowsill project for the holidays.
13 Nature trail
Make a list of things to find… a feather, a leaf, a stone, a blade of grass etc… and then go on a nature trail.
14 Flower dying
Try standing white flowers in water and food colouring, then watch as the flower ‘drinks up’ the colour in its petals. We found blue food colouring had the best results.
15 Carrot top jungle
Grow your own jungle by placing the top 2cms of a carrot into a tray of water. Keep the water level topped up to 1cm and within a week you will have the makings of a forest!
16 Mini beast detectives
There are tiny creatures everywhere! How many can you find? Can you identify or draw them?
If you capture a mini-beast in a container to study, make sure you return it later.
17 Build a camp
Providing a wigwam, or garden furniture to build a camp under will make lasting memories of happy times in the garden. A box of old blankets or sheets, clothes pegs and cushions will keep them busy for ages. Don’t make it for them, it’s the actual building and arranging the materials that makes this fun.
18 Nature mobile
You could use a coat hanger and some string to make a mobile of all the things that you have found on your nature trail (see item 13).
19 Flower pressing
You don’t need special equipment to press flowers. One or two small blooms in-between some paper, pressed between heavy books for a few weeks will achieve the same results.
20 Miniature garden
Create your own miniature garden from scavenged materials around the home and outdoors. Pine cones for trees, pebble paths, and lolly-stick fences are just a few ideas to inspire your creativity!