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NOW CLOSED: Share your top ideas and tips for keeping the summer holidays fun filled on the cheap with Mu cheese - you could win an annual Merlin pass or a months supply of cheese

(136 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 02-Jul-12 08:16:00

We've been asked by Mu (the funky new Cheddar brand) to find out your top ideas/tips for keeping the summer holidays fun filled without breaking the bank. This could include arts and crafts, games, things to do at home, places to visit etc - we would love to know your favourite family activity.

Mu say "Mu believes in fuelling more family fun everyday; be this through our range of delicious, natural cheddars or through giving families the tools to make every day as enjoyable as it can be. The summer holidays are a perfect excuse to have fun with the family but sometimes it?s difficult to think of ideas to fill the whole holidays. Mu would like to create a free downloadable booklet which includes a list of activities that Mums can use for a bit of inspiration when needed"

This is where you come in! Please share your top tips on this thread.

The best ideas will feature in the Mu "Make everyday a Mu Fun day" free booklet which will be free to download from the Mu website and Facebook site from the 23rd of July

All entries will be put into a prize draw to win a family Merlin annual pass (worth over £400) which offers a family of four free entry into 28 top attractions including Alton Towers, Chessington and Sea Life Centre plus many more.

PLUS all entries chosen to feature in the booklet will win a months supply of Mu Cheddar. If your tip is used MN will be in touch for your address details.

Thanks and good luck

cosysocks Mon 02-Jul-12 08:21:15

Bubbles! Ds is six and this summer we are going to become bubble experts. Making own liquid and getting various bits together I.e hula hoops, making own bubble sticks. We will be experts by the end of summer.
in process of collecting loads of fab ideas on a summer fun board on pinterest.

OhNoMyFanjo Mon 02-Jul-12 08:24:02

Work smarter not harder, pick themes and depending on tge age you can even ask the kids for ideas what to do! Just work around the theme, history, food, language, colours, drawing/painting.

The local council will have stuff on so check out their website there will always be some free stuff.

Lightshines Mon 02-Jul-12 09:38:27

Jazz up ordinary activities - for watching a DVD together for example, make it a movie experience. The children can make tickets, pop popcorn at home, turn the lights off.
On a trip to the park make a treasure hunt - small prize for the child who can fit the most objects in a matchbox, find one thing beginning with each letter of the alphabet etc. Take magnifying glasses or binoculars and see the park differently! Combined with a picnic on a rug and an impromptu game of French cricket, most will be happy!
Make a scrapbook to tell the story of your summer holidays - stick in tickets, photos, wrappers, write in your memories and feelings. Wonderful to look back on.

AnnaMosity Mon 02-Jul-12 09:41:18

1.Warm sunny day
a hot patio
several todddlers or pre schoolers
a bucket of water
some brushes

tell toddlers to paint patio.
HOURS of sitting with a magazine interactive play

AnnaMosity Mon 02-Jul-12 09:42:27

make ice cubes

( you could be all arty and do food colouring and freese small animals things in them)
then say "here kids - play with the ice cubes"

cost - NADA

( can you tell i have done this for YEARS AND YEARS? ;)

LoveAndOtherIndoorSports Mon 02-Jul-12 10:06:05

At the beginning of the holidays make a calender with something to do on every day. Doesn't have to be anything big or special but little things like

Making playdo
Build a fort in the living room
Paint the fence (with watwr)
Watch a dvd
Go for a walk
Make cake
Go to the library
Dress up
Move the furniture around
Play in the bath
Make a collage
Clean the car
Do some sewing

Etc etc

Nothing you probably won:t be doing already but written down makes it look better. And gives you a plan.

And then at the end of the holidays when they moan they haven't done anything you can show them they have.

Helenagrace Mon 02-Jul-12 10:15:28

Place all your cheap and free ideas into a shoe box or an old handbag. Let the children take it in turns to pull one out. Somehow going to the park (again) or having a picnic (again) seems so much more interesting if they have no idea what's coming out of the box or bag.

I keep two lists of dry and wet day things we can do and add to them whenever I think of something. I can never think of anything to do when it's lashing it down with rain and I'm on the spot. The lists are really useful then.

GetKnitted Mon 02-Jul-12 10:22:00

I love week long adventures:

e.g. make glue on monday
first layer of papier mache on tuesday
second layer on wednesday
paint on thursday
enjoy on friday


look at maps on monday to choose a place to go
go on tuesday (take pictures)
review pictures on wednesday
make a collage book on thursday


Simple but.

Arrange meet ups in your local park. You get to sit and chat with other grown ups whilst the dc's play in the park or kick a ball around.

Yucky days, we walk to the local library and choose DVDs then pick up pop corn at the shop. By the time we've walked home and had lunch everyones ready to chill for a slobby afternoon and if I'm lucky I can get some jobs done

Chuck them in the garden and promise them certain death for returning back inside for any other reason than toilet, mortal peril or actual injury grin

Bosgrove Mon 02-Jul-12 11:01:45

We live near a forest on the edge of London, so long walks with a picnic or a gruffalo hunt with friends, a cycle ride on the bridle path, making dens or climbing trees. My three love it.

Then when we get bored of the outside, a 25 minute train ride into London and we have all the museums to visit,we take a packed lunch to have in Hyde Park or Kensington Gardens so it only costs the train fare in.

Fillybuster Mon 02-Jul-12 11:09:58

Plan ahead!

I stock up on discounted bits and pieces (art stuff, interesting looking packs in the 99p store (badge making, modelling, make-your-own doll/windchime/whatever), knock-down xmas wrapping) throughout the year, and have a fantastic 'hidden craft cupboard' full of fun activities for rainy afternoons. Anything with plaster of paris is particularly good as you can make it one day and paint it another.

'Toy sorting' is another great wet-day activity. I challenge the dcs to sort through (and maybe get rid of) the toys stacked up under their beds. Of course they rediscover old favourites and, hey presto!, another day flies past smile

If it isn't raining I boot them out into the garden. Challenge them to make a den (cardboard and old throws and cushions make great props but aren't essential), or set up an assault course. Time who can do the fastest laps, or shout out instructions - run to the tree, roll on your tummies to the path! If you have enough children you can set them up in teams, get them to make badges etc and then run silly races.

In nice weather 'toy cleaning' is also pretty effective smile

Food related activity fills a lot of our time blush. Make-your-own ice lollies with fruit juice (and experiment with making multicoloured ones by freezing them in sections); bake bread (the premixed packets are great for dcs); bake cookies and decorate them; bake banana bread; make pita bread pizzas or fish cakes....

Send the dcs to the local park with a list of things to find: an interesting stone; an alien artefact; something magical; an unusual leaf - you can be as silly creative as you like - it keeps them occupied for hours.

And I keep a list of all the other free & cheap stuff in the area: we walk to the library at least every 2 weeks; there's loads of great museums and art galleries (ok, we live in London, so we're lucky); any local or city centre events like the South Bank Festival etc and there's always the local soft play or kids cinema or bowling events for a special treat smile

I normally find that the problem is not having enough time to do all the fun stuff together, rather than having to fill the days smile smile

SaliFourth Mon 02-Jul-12 11:46:09

Buy/borrow from the library a children/teenager's cookbook and get them to choose a recipe every week to get them learning to cook. Teach them that washing up is an integral part of the whole experience and is very grown up wink

if the older ones become moderately good at it, you get the odd night off from the kitchen

ShatnersBassoon Mon 02-Jul-12 11:50:22

If you usually drive, use public transport to make a day out seem more like a major event. Children love doing anything out of the ordinary, young children find large vehicles exciting and older children like to help plan the journey by checking timetables etc.

megabored Mon 02-Jul-12 12:01:43

Let the kids be kids. Don't worry about he mess. Let them explore. Go to the woods. Go to the park in the rain. Let them enjoy the puddles. Pitch a tent in the garden. For rainy days, lots of am craft activities. Follow the leads children bring. If they want to play shop, be the shopkeeper!!! Most of all, enjoy.

megabored Mon 02-Jul-12 12:04:00

filly I have recently started doom just that. Those 50p packet of squishy pom pom thing on the sale after Easter are occupying my dd for hrs! We count them, stick them on card, make puppets, roll
Them, give them funny names. Hrs of fun.

megabored Mon 02-Jul-12 12:04:34

Doom?!= doing!!! hmm

ChildrenAtHeart Mon 02-Jul-12 12:25:01

World Tour - at the beginning of the holidays choose 5 countries (could be by sticking a pin blindfold into a map or opening an atlas at random pages etc). Research the countries on the internet/library, visit travel agents etc in week one. Then for each week children can make a packing list, do a pretend or real pack, make tickets, build their transport & off you go. Can eat food from that country, re-enact a relevant festival or celebration, reproduce art work in countries style, make national costume, listen to appropriate music & stories etc

CMOTDibbler Mon 02-Jul-12 12:28:16

Check out forestry commission places - we were at one in the Forest of Dean yesterday, and for £3 parking, there was a huge playground, places to bbq and just run around, safe cycling/walking tracks, and an interactive sculpture trail. A really lovely full day that we had to drag the children away from.

bagelmonkey Mon 02-Jul-12 12:29:59

Find out if a local attraction has an annual pass. There are a few places near us that have annual passes at a reasonable price (eg equal to entry twice in one year) that have indoor and outdoor play areas, plus either museums/animals etc. We got an annual pass and just pop along for an hour or two to use the park/soft play/feed the ducks etc.

ICutMyFootOnOccamsRazor Mon 02-Jul-12 12:42:00

I bought an old set of small drawers from a junk shop and DS helped me paint them bright colours. LIke Filly, we use them to collect craft supplies throughout the year - either things that come into the pound shop or things like feathers, stones, shells, leaves etc that we find while we're out and about. DS calls them his 'Mr Maker Drawers' and he LOVES getting them out and making random things.

One day a week I clear my calendar (wahm) and let DS choose what we do - usually a walk in the forest, or pirates and a picnic in the garden, or a morning at the park - nothing we have to pay for! Scavenger hunts in the garden are also a huge hit.

mumnosbest Mon 02-Jul-12 12:47:58

Making obstacle courses in the garden, eg balance along the skipping rope, 10 jumps on the trampoline, in and out the swings, throw a ball into the plant pot, jump from hoop to hoop... The kids use my phone to time themselves.

Treasure hunts for ds wo can read or 'arrows' for dd who can't. We chalk arrows around the garden for her to follow. The kids then love washing the all away to play again.

Mini sports day with friends kids: beanbags, egg n spoon, hopping races etc.

Sandwich and cake baking followed by a picnic to eat them all

Bella2010star Mon 02-Jul-12 12:57:34

I think being organised is the best idea. First of all I get all the "what's on" magazines and look for inspiration for free fun days in the local area. These are usually in libraries or art galleries. I use websites to also search for activities that are going on then put them all in our diary. We mostly like doing craft activities though. Should anyone need inspiration for the holidays please look at my blog
There are loads of craft ideas and activities to explore!

CuppaTeaJanice Mon 02-Jul-12 13:02:06

You can't beat a good old welly walk! We dress up as pirates and sail our galleon (a mild-mannered Honda Jazz) across the seven seas to an undiscovered island (the woods at the top of the town) and starting at the mouth of the wild river (a tinkling stream about 4 inches deep) our brave crew of swashbuckling pirates invades the unknown lands.
We traverse the treacherous rapids, collecting precious treasure (pine cones, stones, feathers) and recording the terrain for future explorers (taking photos with our Fisher Price camera). Sometimes we come across an island native (dogwalker) and have to hide until the danger has passed, or a savage beast (a Yorkshire terrier last time iirc) so we stand our guard with our golden cutlasses (sticks) until it retreats in terror (not really, we aren't in the habit of scaring small dogs!). After a while we reach our nirvana, the promised land which generations of pirates before us have talked of but nobody has found. A magical silver waterfall (more of a dribbling ghyll really, but it is beautiful if you ignore the discarded carrier bags and visible pipework left by the water company), cascading into a pool filled with priceless jewels. We sit on it's banks, devouring our feast (sandwiches) before heading back to the coast, and our galleon, with joy in our hearts, treasure in our pockets and soggy socks on our feet!! grin

cocolepew Mon 02-Jul-12 13:04:56

Open the foor show them out and let them use their own imagination.

jennywren123 Mon 02-Jul-12 14:20:10

Craft activities here, and bike rides, and geocaching. Plan something small to do each day. I will also look for museum activities and special events at National Trust properties. We will use our family railcard to go and visit friends.

costumequeen Mon 02-Jul-12 14:32:15

We have pizza night! Make your own pizza from scratch - lots of messy fun kneading the dough and watching the 'magic' of the dough rising. Make your own tomato base with tinned tomatoes, herbs and garlic, and put together a 'selection plate' of toppings so everyone gets to choose their own customised pizza. We just raid the fridge and cupboard so it can be anything from left over cold meats, to frozen spinach or sweetcorn, olives, sliced veg, fresh herbs from the garden and of course whatever cheese is in the fridge! Roll out the dough as thin or as thick as you like, load it up with toppings (you could even design patterns or faces) and pop it in the oven. Watch it bubble and brown, then enjoy as a carpet picnic - don't forget the taste test to see who's was the best! A fun, cheap and healthy (depending on your toppings) way to learn how to cook a tasty meal and practice the art of being creative with food and sharing at the same time!

Thevelveteenrabbit Mon 02-Jul-12 14:40:45

Lots of craft - Hama beads, card making, and then write and send the cards.
Activities that you need a bit longer to finish so don't happen during term time - washing dolls clothes by hand in the garden, planning days out - eg writing scavenger hunt lists for each other before a trip to the park.

sallymonella Mon 02-Jul-12 14:43:05

When they were younger I used to let them loose with the paints outside. They used to paint themselves and then I'd bring them in for a bath. This would waste at least an hour or so!

CoronationWigeon Mon 02-Jul-12 14:48:40

Making a race track: get the cheapest kind of masking tape, and mark out a race track on the floor (not carpet) with two parallel lines of the tape. You can create sections which are "garages" and "car parks" too. Make some really good bends / straight runs etc. Get out toy cars and race them! DD loved this.

Also: making bread - DD loved kneeding it (pretty much like playing with playdough).

flubba Mon 02-Jul-12 14:49:12

Paintbrushes, a bucket of water and a wooden fence. Set them to painting it! smile smile

I made an advent calendar of activities last winter for my family. You could just as easily do a summer holidays one? The kinds of activities we had were all decided by us as a family, and then each day the kids took the card out of the numbered pocket and we did that activity together as a family. Every single activity was either free or very purse-friendly; you can take a look at the full list here, but an example of some of them were;

Make peppermint creams for Christmas tree decorations
Decorate the kids' rooms
Go for a walk in the dark with torches
Make Christmas spiced biscuits with cinnamon
Make some glittery Christmas playdough
Make paper chains
Make Christmas cupcakes
Make a Christmas picture

You could add things like
Scavenger Hunt
Creating a 'laser' burglar alarm system with crepe paper down the hallway
Going for a picnic
Creating a new meal with five ingredients

etc etc

HannahLI Mon 02-Jul-12 14:57:29

The garden and outside is a great place for activities:
- Plant and grow things such as sunflowers, tomato and strawberry plants. They wil need watering nearly every day in the summer months and they will have great fun checking them and helping to care for them.
- Garden tents are great fun to make and you can recreate day after day using anything you can find. Clothes horses and chairs are great for the structure and old blankets and bed sheets or painting sheets are perfect for the canvas!
- I love pavement chalk. Great stuff and very cheap to buy and you can get the whole streets kids making pictures outside and it washes away easily then you can start again.
- nothing wrong with balls, skipping ropes, boules and all those fun outside games as they also encourage team playing
- The park locally is fun or a good walk where you can take bikes and a picnic is always fun too

Inside stuff:
- bin bag clothes for the fashionistas amongst our children. You can be creative with what you have making different outfits using bags or even if you kids are older create outfits out of recycled rubbish such as newspaper, bottletops etc. perfect for a project or to get young minds thinking creatively.
- cooking is a great activity to do so why not challenge your kids to cook you dinner one night. There are some great recipes for children to use on the Internet.

overtherooftops Mon 02-Jul-12 15:11:35

Cornflour in a huge tray is fantastic, soft and runny in one instance, hard in the other depending how it is handled, does not matter if they eat it and they will get a science lesson thrown in wink

Lots of treasure hunts in the garden/park/beach

Outdoor chalks.

cherryjellow Mon 02-Jul-12 15:29:12

rounders in the park
national trust places
merlin attractions wink
beach - make sandcastles, merpeople, dig, play in the waves, go crabbing
get them to decorate a small part of their bedroom, to make it 'theirs' on rainy days (eg door plaque or actual flowers on the door)
make dens
invent new cake recipes with lots of sprinkles, food colouring and fruit
Pick fruit in the garden
get the chalk out and decorate the patio
hide and seek around the house and garden
visit relatives
sleep overs

ShatnersBassoon Mon 02-Jul-12 15:56:23

There's the classic indoor camping for a rainy day. Flat sheet + chairs/table/clothes airer = a tent. Give them a torch, some blankets to put inside, put what they'll need to make 'camp food' in a rucksack ie bread, cheese, fruit etc., flasks of drink, and plastic plates and a blunt knife. I've done this a few times and it's passed an afternoon. It seems a bit more wholesome than putting a DVD on, and I get to look like Fun Mum for a little while grin

pleasestoparguing Mon 02-Jul-12 16:23:35

It all depends on how many DC you have - if you only have one or very small ones entry to a lot of places is good value - also look out for free child's place with paying adult vouchers- and many places are free for under fives so you can go out and about quite cheaply.

But if you have 3 DC all over 5 (like I do ) you have to be more innovative.

I scour the Primary Times we get from school towards the holidays- one year it had a whole list of free places to go - I made a list on the calendar and we did one a week for a month.

National Trust and English Heritage don't cost extra if you have more DC so they are both a great investment if you have a lot of DC and consider only getting the one parent family option if your DH isn't often around to join in.

The other option is to recreate your own days out -
rivers, seaside, large lakes are generally free to go to and a picnic is alwas better than what you can buy at most places - you can get the DC to hel plan and pack the picnic too. the advantage of going to free places are that there a fewer shops and cafes to distract children.
A lot of the English heritage castles that are really ruined are free to and again no cafes ( or loos either mind you!) - so you can have a great day ot totally free as there's often no proper car park too. If your DC areinterested you can do the history thing or dress up do crafts before you leave - think what they do in the paying places and then just do it yourself for free.

The weather might put you off but my DC love going for a walk in the rain if there's the promise of hot chocolate on their return - after all if you were on holiday somewhere would you sit in your tent every day if it was raining? Rememeber most cities and even some towns have free museums and they might not be first choice but go and see you may be surprised - art galleries are brilliant there is always a picture for everyone then you can go home and make it yourself.

And if your're not too precious about your sofa cushions and pillows you can fill the sitting room with all things foam filled and have your own soft play.

gazzalw Mon 02-Jul-12 16:25:54

Making a fun holiday diary to include tickets/photos/pics/artefacts collected over the course of the hols - it tends to gather momentum so it almost becomes a competition to see who can do the best diary with the most interesting pics/writing/recollections

pleasestoparguing Mon 02-Jul-12 16:30:03

Best free playparks -
Bath Victoria Park, Weston-super-Mare water playground or to be honest anywhere thet is a different playpark form the one you normally go to.

Not really afer those Merlin Tickets I've got loads to do hmmblush

goingtoofast Mon 02-Jul-12 17:11:38

Camping in the back garden - always a hit, get some of the kids friends over for even more fun.

Bike riding.

Our local council has a free play day at the local park with plenty of free activities.

Baking, not free but cheap and the kids love it. We have cake competitions, the kids bake and decorate cakes. They spend ages loooking through cook books choosing which ckae to bake.

glitch Mon 02-Jul-12 17:37:36

One of my DS's favourite days out is a trip to the garden centre that has an aquatic centre and pet shop inside. We spend ages looking at all the fish, go and have a look at the pet shop rabbits and the dog biscuits (?), we have an ice-cream in the cafe, occasionally I get to look at the plants, and sometimes we buy a cheap bag of bird food so we can spend time filling up the feeders when we get home.
Much cheaper than going to an aquarium.

1stMrsF Mon 02-Jul-12 18:39:16

I have only preschoolers so these ideas are pitched at that level, but I still find the holidays s bigger effort than term time especially as we used to going out when things are cheaper and less busy so we try to do home based things then.

We go to a different park each time, all of which have different things to offer e.g. A sand pit, duck feeding etc. always take a picnic, which doesn't have to be lavish - sandwiches, fruit and crisps plus a juice carton always goes down well here. National Trust properties are also great for this type of day out and often have children's trails or other events in holidays.

We have an annual pass to a children's farm nearby and find that terrific value, although initially a large outlay, as we go so often and can go just for the playground sometimes or just for the soft play on a rainy day.

Two friends and I take it in turns to host lunch - cooking pasta for 6 kids instead of 2 is not much more effort or much more expensive and you are rewarded with 2 future days when you get fed by someone else! Usually we eat the same as the children plus salad. Each visiting mummy brings something to add e.g. Berries for dessert or cake for morning snacks leaving the host to concentrate on the main dish and you bring whatever you have at home rather than buying something new. Another friend and I do a similar thing at tea time and then the girls share a bath and have their bedtime stories together, just needing to be popped into bed when you get home.

Subscribe to the moneysavingexpert email - I have picked up several great offers on there for free swim vouchers for local pools, cheap restaurant deals and cinema tickets. The children are free for the swims and cheap for other things so if you can save significant amounts on the adult costs it makes for a cheap day out.

Use freecycle or eBay to get cheap or free garden toys to provide the entertainment in the garden on dry days instead of going to busy playgrounds or soft plays. For this age group a sand pit, water table and tent are hours of fun and often being handed down by families with older kids. A baby bath can stand in for water or sand play and you can build a tent with old sheets and the washing line. Hopscotch on the patio I am just introducing and painting and play dough can also be move outdoors making them easier to supervise and clean up.

Last year our rural sure start bus parked on various local green spaces each week offering messy play for under 5s for free.

Shouldacouldawoulda Mon 02-Jul-12 18:52:30

The children get lots of crafty gifts for their birthdays. I always stash a few away so that they forget about them and get them out in the summer holidays for a craft day when it's raining (often then).

The school gives out Primary Times which has lists of local events which are often cheap or free. I put the ones we want to go to on the calender so we don't miss them.

I take turns to host movie nights/sleepovers with other mums. It's worth the hassle for the reciprocated break.

The local cinema does a kids club and don't care if we take our own sweets and drinks in so we manage a few cinema trips too.

Can't believe nobody else does mad science shock
I set the DCs a challenge at the start of the day e.g. drop a raw egg out of the upstairs window without breaking it, points for speed, style and ingenuity. Then the planning phase begins. Up until lunchtime, only pen and paper theoretical experimentation is allowed, the Internet may be used to investigate options.
After lunch, the messy phase begins, with a large sheet of lining paper to record the "scores".
Hours of fun, costs barely anything, the DCs develop analytical problem solving skills.
Everyone's a winner.

VivaLeBeaver Mon 02-Jul-12 18:56:20

DIY nature trails. So go for a walk and collect leaves, bird spot, flower spot, look at tracks in the mud and try to work out what animal made them.

MumOfAPickle Mon 02-Jul-12 19:06:06

On wet days we play musical statues with a music channel on the tv, taking turns to be the 'pauser'. Keeps all ages happy for about an hour!

woodchuck Mon 02-Jul-12 20:10:54

I am a big fam of picnics and eating al fresco in the summer hols. If we are feeling adventurous we go somewhere interestinng, if not we stay in the garden, sometimes putting up a tent for the kids to eat/camp in. I get the kid sinvolved in deciding what we are going to have and helping to make the goodies.

NorbertDentressangle Mon 02-Jul-12 20:43:12

-get the children to make a Miniature Garden
give them a seed tray (or plastic tray that you get with food purchases) with soil in and get them to add leaves, flowers, stones, twigs etc to create a garden eg. a path made with small stones,a 'pond' made with a bottle lid sunk into the soil, rows of plants made with leaves etc
(this sort of thing)

-make Cress Heads -grow cress in empty, decorated egg shells like this. Children love checking and watering them every day. They also then get the 'reward' of giving the heads a haircut and eating the cress!

-go to your local library
borrow books to read and books of 'things to do'. Look out for activity sessions (usually free) and events such as the Big Read

oldgreyknickertest Mon 02-Jul-12 20:52:58

If fine, anything with water. Eg local park paddling pool with picnic, bubbles, water fights with balloons or guns, hose or watering cans, poohsticks in stream at end of suburban garden, creating a mini pond.

Picnics whatever the weather. Carpet picnics on rug indoors if wet.

Tents and camping, real in country side it back garden, make your own for littlies inside with rug and chairs or outside with washing line and chairs.

Buried treasure. Go on a country walk and bury the treasure. Next day go and discover it.

Cardboard boxes. Huge fridge ones from curries, smaller ones. Cut a few holes in to look through. A tardis, a tortoise, a rocket, a castle.

Reading and story telling for wet days. And kim's game for memory training. Jacks, marbles, hoola hoops, quoits, pea shooting and petanque as they get older.

Card games, pairs (pelmanism) and snap,then beggar my neighbour, then racing demon and whist, dummy and ending up with black jack and poker for the teens. Pit for all the family.

Making telephones out of tin cans and string.

Teaching them to whittle.

Cooking. Not just biscuits but making pasta and pizza and potato salad and scrambled eggs.

Tree climbing if decent trees around

Plant a garden. Radishes and lettuce.

Hold a table sale outside the house sharing proceeds with fave charity.

Writing postcards to granny.

Duvet day. Cinema as above, ie dvd closed curtains and popcorn, making pizza.

Going fishing or to local pond with fishing nets and jam jars. Take picnic.

English heritage membership, children free.

Discover if your local area has free deals. Eg the local library or swimming pool. In London children are free on buses. So go on the top of the no 11 bus from Liverpool st station down the kings road and you see all the sights of London, or nearly, for the cost of one adult bus ride.

primalsteam Mon 02-Jul-12 21:11:50

Trawl local charity shops for good books to read or things we can use in crafts.

Get those big chunky pieces of chalk and draw funny faces, outline round your body lying down, trails to follow in garden and also on pavement outside we have done, strange messages to passing pedestrians, a route to follow on scooter and helpful lines for ants to find their way home!

Get old mags and newspapers and cut out pics to make ideal home or an ideal person.

Goto nearest airport and go plane spottng, also good to get ready for/or instead of actually going abroad on holiday. make pretend passorts, pack a bag of essentials and learn hello in couple of foreign languages.

Draw maps of local area. then get kids to mark a route on it and pick an 'x' marks the spot on map, then go out and use their map to see if you can find it atually.

Give kids a budget for a meal, lunch picnic or tea. Then let them try and work out what to buy or make for that meal, then if reasonable ie not just 10 packs of harribo's- then actually do that for next trip to shops and meal.

Give everyone a new silly name or nickname, which must be used for the whole rest of the day!! if you forget have to do a forfit.

Go out to park or garden and collect different leaf shapes. put paper over them at home and rub crayon on its side on paper to get a leaf-rubbing or print. then mix them all up. then try and match leaves to prints. works better the more differnt leaves you find.

Hopezibah Mon 02-Jul-12 21:14:19

Make the most of the beautiful countryside and nature all around us: pond dipping, bug hunting, scavenger hunts for leaves, seeds, feathers etc, rockpooling at the beach. On a really hot day, get the kids to lie on the patio and mist spray with water to leave fantastic silouettes. On a wet day, go puddle jumping. If you have been mega organised in winter and saved a container of snow - get it out on the hottest day and see the childrens faces as they play with snow in JULY! above all have fun and enjoy all these free activities. x

ivykaty44 Mon 02-Jul-12 21:57:28

treasure hunts

supply dc with clip board - made of carboard from cereal packet or box and a bulldog ring.

Make up a few questions about simple things - it could be your street, for example - how many front doors have the number 3 in the number? Or how may gardens have gates?

The questions get more complicated for the older children

PepeLePew Mon 02-Jul-12 22:21:49

Library each week
Get them to make a list of "things they enjoy" and pick something each day - I encourage small stuff eg "find some funny clips on YouTube" and "buy an ice cream"
Let them browse the cookery books, choose a menu, buy the ingredients and cook it
Movie afternoon - home made popcorn and curtains pulled
Picnic in the park

boredandrestless Mon 02-Jul-12 22:35:53

I do a lot of free activities with my son, we do creative stuff and go on days out, but what he most loves to do is this.....

I sit down and tell him I will do anything with him for the next 2 hours.
Last time I did this we played dominoes, went through a comic together, and played in his tent. Nothing fancy, it was the 1:1 quality interacting time with me that we both enjoyed. smile

CheeryCherry Mon 02-Jul-12 22:36:51

Before the end of term, gather a list of when friends are available/away, with mobile numbers. Distribute to all who are interested, then big meet ups/picnics/park trips can easily be arranged and planned around the days weather, quite spontaneously. Gets everyone out of the house, kids can play while adults skin and chat.
Also have a to do list for wet and dry days.
Plus a list of people to visit and people who must visit you. We have friends and relatives who we meet up with during school hols.

severnofnine Mon 02-Jul-12 22:40:18

organise a trip to local park.... grown ups can take some pims and children can go bonkers together running round ( you need to be organised to set this up with other mums before school breaks up though)

make movie tickets choose a film and close curtains (and maybe even some coke as a big treat), or if feeling more flush lots of cinemas do a weekend showing of an older film at £1 a ticket.

trips to london to the natural history museum or other free entry places using railcard for cheaper tickets.

older children can do an online or book based "treasure hunt". We'll think up a theme then fins a load of questions like: which is the smallest country in the world or how many children did queen victoria have? he then has an hour to find as many answers as possible either using books or internet depending on where we are.

or a trip out with clipboards and pencils to do drawings... there is a small aircraft museum near us which is good for this!

or my personal favourite- tip out all the lego into a huge heap on the floor and make spaceships or a city or a massive tower!

jimswifein1964 Mon 02-Jul-12 22:43:46

Our library does a summer reading challenge, so that gives some routine to the hols- changing books and getting the challenge card filled up.

Giant crafts outside - we get boxes the local shop is throwing out, and take sellotape/poster paint out onto the patio.

Get the bus into town and WANDER - we just stop where we fancy, & discover loads of new things as a result!

Tesco clubcard points go a long way for days out!!

Visit Daddy at work!

Let them loose with a camera/camcorder.

Camp in the back garden - they make their own picnic first, take binoculars etc.

Let each child have a day where he/she chooses a day trip - and just go smile

droves Mon 02-Jul-12 22:47:42

Never thought I'd see " funky" to describe cheddar . Can cheese even be funky ?

Thought those 1970 's buffet half oranges with the cocktail sticks and bit of mankey pineapple and sausage were as good as it was going to get .


I've had "funky" cheese before, I didn't think it was a complimenthmm.
I thought funky was what happened to cheese when left out of the fridge for too long!

nickschick Tue 03-Jul-12 08:41:31

Theres nothing much I can add to whats already been suggested of the nicest summers we had was when ds1 was 12 ds2 was 10 and ds3 about 5 .....ds3 and I 'found' a huge huge box,as a nursery nurse and with ds3 being very imaginative we knocked on the door of the house where the big box was from - they gave us the box grin and a load of bubble wrap .....ds3 and i dragged the box home (it was so big and sturdy it was a feat) we put the box in the garden and ds3 sat in it for a bit and put stickers on it and generally liked the box tea time their must have been 6 kids including ds1 in the box and a queue of many more awaiting entrance.

Each night the box was carefully manouvred into the kitchen (which meant no cups of tea unless you squoze around the box) and each day the box was used by lots of kids even those of about 14 wanted entrance to the box .....over time the box had a door cut in and a small window was graffitid on sad turned the other way up and became a rocket ....I have no idea how so many kids played with one box( we are not socially deprived wink we have bikes and x boxes and stuff and there were no dodgy dealings going on inside the box either grin).....even when we went on holiday the box was loaned out to friends who took care of it and all summer the box was the place to be!!.(the last week it disintegrated in pelting down day time rain sad causing ds1 & 2 to fall out)

this was about 6 years ago so not the dark ages so my (long winded) suggestion would be ........find a box grin.

Even now teenagers say to me 'rememember our box?'

CJfromTheWestWing Tue 03-Jul-12 08:48:14

Feed them in the garden - picnics at home almost feel like a day out. Pop a blanket over the washing line for the tent feel too.

Or pitch a tent and let them have friends roubd.

If you have tiny kids make it a daytime sleepover teddy bear picnic idea.

CJfromTheWestWing Tue 03-Jul-12 08:50:01

Give your garden party a theme - pirates etc - and arrange a fun filled playdate. Fet tigether with ither mums and arrange little stalls, like at a fete. They will have a ball.

Depending on the age of your children will depend on what you do but years ago when I looked after 15 children during the holidays we used to do the following:

The weekend before the holidays we would decide on a theme for the holiday period eg the zoo, fair etc and which charity the money would go to. One year we did a fete and this is what we did:

Week one: We produced all the flyers and tickets for the big event and post them around the neighbours (messy/creative play)

Week two: We started to make stall, out of boxes and collected prizes.

Week three: Baked for the cake stall and made pictures and cards for the art stall.

Week four: We looked at the location for the fete and decided where all our stall would go.

Week five: Arranging the entertainment for the fete and practiced. The children did magic tricks and danced and told jokes.

Week six, final push on advertising and then the night before set up the stalls.

On the big day the local vicar opened the fete and people bought the children's cakes etc and the day ended with a party. The children loved it and the money raised went to the local animal shelter. I think the children raised around £30 in total and they had a full summer holiday activity.

I am currently using a site called Pinterest to moodboard plan our Summer Holiday Activities. That way I can take what other people have shared and pop it in a folder, pin other ideas I find online, and plan something for each week, plus just dip in when I am panicking and need to find something to entertain them at short notice.

nickschick Tue 03-Jul-12 11:32:10

Yummymummyton1 you sold cakes you had baked 3 weeksearlier?

overtherooftops Tue 03-Jul-12 11:44:23

Nickschick your post made me smile.

I remember last year our town had a sports "mascot" olympics.

They put huge tyres down for mascots to run between, within half an hour it was swarming with kids/teents/toddlers balancing/jumping in and out of, using as lilly pads and such.

I turned round to the organisers who were watching in amazement and said "our kids do not like natural play these days do they?" hmm


JugglingWithTangentialOranges Tue 03-Jul-12 12:19:44

Visit friends !
Have them over to yours
- Then all go out in garden, or kids outside, grown-ups inside.
Put the kettle on brew

Does that count or is it too simple ?!

Join a NCT coffee morning rota for similar, or meet up with everyone from your ante-natal class, taking turns at each.

Meet up in park with friends and their children for a picnic, or have ice-creams and coffee from the cafe.

newlark Tue 03-Jul-12 14:18:57

Give the children a packet of coloured chalk and let them loose on the patio/wall of the house - drawing pictures, writing practice, hopscotch, drawing targets to throw a ball at (with different scoring rings) etc, etc. It all washes off in the rain grin.

JugglingWithTangentialOranges Tue 03-Jul-12 15:07:30

Ooh yes, everyone should do that one newlark - that and painting the patio with water and big painting brushes. "So, What colour are you painting the wall, DS ?" (when you remember to look up from your magazine grin)

Punkatheart Tue 03-Jul-12 15:19:34

My daughter is now motivated by things, rather than flying kites and going to galleries. At first I found it depressing, but then I realised that I simply had to change with her - taking into account those hormones of hers.

So now I encourage her to write letters to magazines - magazines she either finds in the libraries or is given by friends. She also enters competitions and I encourage skill-based ones, like short story competitions and poems.

Before you say that it sounds very indoorsy and couch potato-like, she once won a prize in a writing comp and we won a lovely trip to Stonehenge.

Researching for comps and being creative is all good stuff but she thinks it's fun, rather than work. It's a win-win situation!

lisad123 Tue 03-Jul-12 17:17:31

Raid your local scrap store and make musical instruments and make a band including making up songs.
Treasure hunts, bug hunts and flower pressing.
Meet different friends in the park for an evening picnic, much quieter.

rookery Tue 03-Jul-12 18:09:03

Save up washing up bottles: great for drawing patterns with water outside and squirting the parent who's got comfy with book and cup of tea.
Offer sheets and pegs for them to make a den outside with a sheet over the washing line.
Teach them how to make paper aeroplanes, paper water bombs, paper boats... and leave them to it. (There may be tears. Have dry towels handy. Maybe hot chocolate...)
Take a book like Eye Spy Nature out somewhere green and let them search for things to tick off. Keep your distance - let them discover things for themselves. Or download the free resources from the Woodland Trust website.
Make a little ramp in the garden for toy cars.
Make a marble run from cardboard rolls (kitchen roll, foil, etc - requires a bit of collecting in advance!)
Designate one bit of the garden the mud patch: digging, watering, squelching, empire building allowed.
Put a box in the middle of the garden. Give them paints. (Rainy day: same, but with felt tip pens). Leave them to it.
Above all, remember what we used to do in the 1970s & 80s and don't be afraid to leave (slightly older) children to their own devices: let them get bored and don't offer to entertain them... This takes nerves of steel and runs so counter to current parenting but it's really worth persisting! I love spending time with my dcs but they need to be left to find their own way too.

poopoopoo Tue 03-Jul-12 18:16:38

1. Get a big (or even better huge) card board box from the supermarket. This can be a: plane, space ship, boat, island..... you can paint it, draw on it, cover it with a blanket. This is my childrens favourite, and can keep them occupied all day with ongoing imaginary places.

2. *Do the household chores and involve the kids*- make lunch together (making pizza is an excellent easy option!) have a restaurant set up this is fun indoors or outside in nice weather! _Do the washing_- Pretend you are a launderette (role play, dressing up, paying for the service, sorting colours, using the buttons on the machine then hanging it up etc).

3. Plan some days out with the children to free local events and activities if nothing free is on locally, do some research there may be something going on not too far away. There are free small parks with great facilities often not too far away otherwise download vouchers in advance for reduced entrance fees..or just go to the local park and have some fun with a ball feed the ducks, ride bikes, learn to roller skate, go to the local pool- It is probably cheaper than you imagine, they have offers on for certain days where it only costs a pound for adults and kids are free. Our local pool allows one adult with two toddlers on a Saturday morning.

4. Sort out old toys and clothes and take them to the local charity shop and get some different things while you are there. They will have fun looking through your old toys if you still have any in the attic or at grandmas! You can then the next day decide what to donate and also get some new (but old) very cheap toys, puzzles, games, lego, dress up clothes, story books, books, books! (I know some people will not like this one, but I am not ashamed to say I buy second hand! I make sure things are clean and I clean/wash before use) You can teach children the importance of recycling and the problems the world has with waste disposal!

5. Ask them what they want to do They might just want to have time at home to play with their toys or watch a film. learning is about repetition; you might get fed up reading the same old book or watching the same old film, but if thats what they want to do then great! (if they say 'Disney World' then say you will start saving- and make an action plan with them for the next 5 years!)

Have a great summer! smile

DoodleAlley Tue 03-Jul-12 18:50:35

Go on treasure hunts.

If you're in an urban environment you could look for different materials, colours of buildings, numbers of floors, vehicles.

If you're at the seaside or in the countryside you could find rough things, smooth things, learn some common trees by their leaves and mark them off.

A cheap clipboard can be covered with decorations by them and then you can print off duplicate copies to use according to where you are.

This is our plan for what looks like a rainy holiday in the uk and the rest of summer. You could even do one for supermarkets - bananas, tins of beans, toilet rolls. And for older children add in more specifics or three, four, five of one category.

Lotkinsgonecurly Tue 03-Jul-12 19:00:05

Dens - we build dens in the garden. Plan picnics, write recipes for sandwiches ( great for getting reluctant writers to write!) Cook and eat things in the dens.

We then spend days improving our dens with plans, extensions and often furniture.!! Could easily be done in the park, garden or beach!

We regularly go to free museums, art galleries, libraries and do all they have to do. There are often children's activities on, treasure hunts and lots more.

We cycle, walk and meet friends to all the above and play.

Picnics feature very highly in everything we do!

mummy1973 Tue 03-Jul-12 19:11:59

Meeting up with friends is the best way to have a fun day. The more children there are the more fun they have!
On wet days we build a den with blankets under the table and have a picnic.
Tidying out the toys means they discover things they forgotten they had and that fills an afternoon.
Do a car boot sale and promise they can have the proceeds of their toy sales to buy new things for the holidays.

VirtuallyHere Tue 03-Jul-12 19:22:30

Feeding the ducks - a favourite with my son but if it's a nice day do it in the morning (else you tend to find a lot of very full ducks with bread floating around them)!

The cinema. The Vue chain do Kids am which is around £1.50 per person.

Shopping centres - check out your local one. They often host free or very cheap children fun sessions.

Local museums - often they have free children activities organised.

Movie in bed - we reserve this one when we really need a lazy afternoon. If you haven't got an upstairs tv make a temporary bed in the lounge from sofa cushions/duvets/etc!

PigeonStreet Tue 03-Jul-12 19:58:34

We make an activity spinner out of a round cardboard pizza base or cheese box, divide it into twelve sections and write in different activities (a mixture of outdoor, indoor, crafty, quiet and active) with an arrow pushed in the middle to spin.

My kids love choosing the activities to put on the sections and take it in turns to spin the spinner.

We add and take away activities at the start of every week.

Go foraging in your area. There are always fruit trees that overhang pavements, or street planted fruit trees that can be raided for free fruit. Often fruit tree owners are happy for you and the DCs to pick fruit from their trees in exchange for a share of the fruit (it stops them getting too many windfallen fruits, and with a ladder even high fruit can be picked.
Then cook the fruit into pies, cakes, crumbles, jams or chutneys (and give spares to friendly fruit tree owners to sweeten them up for next year).

kittycat68 Tue 03-Jul-12 20:27:51

We go to the local beach, mine all now teenagers but they change as they grow they still abolutely love to go crabbing towards the end of the day you only need a stick some sting a piece of meat and a bucket! the screams of excitement and enjoyment of who caught the most or the biggest and which crab nearly escaped is still going strong i even have ago sometimes too! its amazing how many kids have never beeen before and my kids fiends are always asking me to take them too!

kitty your kids have Fiends ?
Great autocorrectgrin

WhoompThereItIs Tue 03-Jul-12 22:17:36

We are lucky enough to live on a street where all the children can play out on the front together, so we don't have to go far to have lots of fun. The thing that they are all into at the minute is 'making potions' grin We go for a walk to the park, or through the glade, collecting various leaves, petals, pine cones, twigs, etc, then we come back to the houses, get bowls/buckets/jars and begin the potion making! Sometimes it is perfume, sometimes it is a magic potion, and sometimes it is just mud pies for the fun of it, but it is always lots and lots of fun!

Other activities include mini Olympic events including scooter races, hopping races, walking backwards races, 'gymnastics' - this is where they do forward rolls on the grass! - football, the list is endless! Then we finish it off with a picnic, weather permitting, of course!

Shouldacouldawoulda Tue 03-Jul-12 22:17:52

Throw a Florentine and the Pig picnic party! smile


Make bunting, beetroot muffins and healthy lemonade and invite people round for a picnic in the garden (or living room if it still raining).

PissyDust Tue 03-Jul-12 23:08:20

Make daisy chains, collect daisies all morning from around where you live (long walk needing a DVD/duvet afternoon after daisy making)

We are lucky enough to live in a square around a big green, the local children have decided to throw a "green party" they drew invitations and posted them through each door. Every family will provide 1 plate of food and the children are all going with a bottle/flask of water/juice. I said they could play some music out the living room window from the pc. They have arranged it all and have invited every child in the street. smile

TheTempest Wed 04-Jul-12 09:02:35

Picnic adventures. We hardly ever eat indoors during the school holidays, we have a special supermarket trip in which all the children pick one thing each, and we all make the picnic together.

I normally make us pirates, so we make hats/eye patches etc, and a treasure map. I then customise it to our local park, and the picnic is the treasure.

Then we get to the park and I run off and hide the picnic. Lots of fun and there's a yummy lunch at the end of it!

Luckystar96 Wed 04-Jul-12 11:05:49

gat some cheap chunky chalks and tell them to graffiti the paito -hours of fun and it washes off in the rain (eventually!)

AKMD Wed 04-Jul-12 13:15:56

Give your DC a small patch of garden, a grow-bag or a large plant-pot so that they can dig, plant and water to their hearts' content without ruining your vegetable patch.

Buy a butterfly farm and order caterpillars so your DC can watch them grow, form chrysallises and emerge as butterflies. This is great for toddlers and younger children who love The Very Hungry Caterpillar and there are loads of related activities - crafts, a butterfly-spotting walk with an I-Spy book, even flying kites!

CJfromTheWestWing Wed 04-Jul-12 13:39:55

On a hot day fill a paddling pool and add rubber ducks, buckets and a bubble machine. Kids are guaranteed to have fun.

Silverlace Wed 04-Jul-12 14:13:49

Use your local library (if you still have one!).

Our library has a summer reading scheme where the children get rewards each week for taking out and reading books. It is a great motivator for them (and me!).

Secondly you can hire story CDs for free which are great for keeping children entertained on a long journey.

Thirdly, the library has a really useful noticeboard listing activities around the area, many free ones run by wildlife trusts etc.

Also, I am an avid token collector so gather up any vouchers for kids go free and bogof etc to allow us to go to places we usually couldn't afford.

One of our favourite activities is to take the scooters to the park, have a good scoot and get an ice cream. Good exercise, cheap and fun.

StellaMarie Wed 04-Jul-12 15:35:57

Outdoor ideas - Stargazing, spotting shapes/animals/objects in the clouds, orienteering, picnics, shell collecting at the beach, planting veggies, salad, herbs, sunflowers etc, foraging for blackberries, apples, sloes etc

Indoor ideas - flower pressing and then make cards/bookmarks, make puzzles from old wrapping paper (laminated is easier), handmade paper using the blender, fine mesh and and old photo frame then decorate with dried flowers/ glitter etc, cooking with the veggies, salad, herbs, fruit that has been grown/foraged, make paper beads and turn them into jewellery/keychains etc (long thin triangles from old magazines wound tightly round a toothpick and glued)

Whatever we do, I try and get the DCs to keep a journal/scrapbook. This means they can look back at all the things we did and it helps to keep the literacy and numeracy skills in check over the holidays. Numeracy is kept in check by budgeting their pocketmoney earned from chores.

Triggles Wed 04-Jul-12 18:35:51

We try to line up a lot of small activities over the summer for the children to do.

Gardening (and hopefully picking and eating some of it!!), going to pick your own fruit farms locally (as well as some friends that have fruit trees with plenty to spare), making/baking with the fruit. Growing some flowers in some pots we are going to make from tins we can paint and decorate.

Paddling pool, washing car, washing dog grin (probably quite a lot!), going for walks, taking the dog for walks, picnics, trips to local library and parks, walking in the rain, jumping in puddles, making mudpies (2yo is especially keen to do this grin), visiting friends and family.

Making cut/paste pictures, drawing/painting/colouring, scrapbooking with pictures, trying new meals using "in season" vegetables. Chalking on pavement, riding scooters. Learning to write letters to send to grandma that lives abroad. Listening to different types of music(on radio), and dancing/singing to it. Reading books together (from library).

Making forts inside with blankets and outside with sheets or blankets clipped to garden chairs. Bubbles with washing up liquid. Making costumes to dress up and play out of old clothes (superheroes with a blanket cape and toilet roll armbands is 2yo's current favourite). Water fights in garden.

I'm hoping there will be some local community activities as well, so will check online for them.

Whenthetoadcamehome Thu 05-Jul-12 21:22:39

Chalks, a wall, your kids. draw round the outline of each child against the wall (or they can lie on the patio) and let them do a self portrait in the outline. ours love doing this and once it rains you have a blank canvas.

cjbk1 Thu 05-Jul-12 21:25:59

My tip is to always to get in a walk to the park (15mins each way) as soon as the dishwasher is on after breakfast, it won't be too hot then and if it's rainy we just walk the perimeter of the park instead of going into the play area, then if it clears up later we can get out some more and if not we can play wii dance safe in the knowledge we'v had plenty of fresh air already wink

Punkatheart Thu 05-Jul-12 22:25:30

We have just fostered a gorgeous labrador from Labrador Lifeline. They cover food and of course any vet fees, so there is no cost. But it is encouraging my lazy teenager to walk, care and look after a dog. The dog is so sweet and's a perfect way to introduce children to keeping animals..trying out and then with an option to keep at the end, or to keep on fostering. It's lovely!

Katieswimmer Thu 05-Jul-12 23:01:35

We just love sports. And the beach - in any weather!! Just being outdoors in the woods or hills is so good for kids (and it tires them out!). Our favourite place is Glencoe in the Scottish highlands. Absolutely heart-wrenchingly beautiful. The drive up there always gets the kids excited (and you know the scenery is good when it's enough for kids to notice!)

choccyp1g Thu 05-Jul-12 23:53:16

My plan this summer is to "make jobs fun". We will be redecorating at least one bedroom, cleaning out the garden shed, and painting it, and doing some healthy meal plans and budgetting and cooking. My theory is that instead of calling them chores, I'll be bigging them up as "projects".
Not sure if it will actually work with an eleven year old boy but the stuff has to be done, so either I do it while he sulks, or we do it together with a smile on his face. (or a resigned hang-dog expression on mine)

bumpy06 Fri 06-Jul-12 13:30:31

I have discovered the fun of high tech treasure hunting in geocaching ( using my iphone. The kids love it. It is outdoors and it is free once you download the app. Ideally I go out the night before to check the geocache is where it is supposed to be and to ensure there is something in it. If not I can improvise something to ensure they are not disappointed. I always bring my two and at least one other school friend/neightbour's child etc. involving an extra child is in fact my best trick for any activity hoildays or not. They keep each other entertained and take the focus of sibling rivalry and because I would hate them to go home and say she did nothing with us or she shouted at us all the time I find it makes me creative and surprisingly calm

NeverAgain2 Fri 06-Jul-12 13:54:40

I ditch the car and take the bus. The dc (5 and 7) love the bus and we always try and find a new park to visit. We have a look on neighbouring borough websites (most have a list of their outdoor spaces and parks) and decide together which one to visit.

Some have not met our expectations, but the fun of choosing a park, getting snacks ready to take, drawing out a map/bus routes/changes actually getting the bus (top deck, at the front if possible!) and exploring somewhere new is fun itself.

When staying at home the best fun we have is with an ordinary hosepipe sprinkler - one of the 'fan' types.
DC jump over it, run around it, play blindfolded to see how close they can get without getting wet when the spray comes over their way, get their brollies out and try and stay dry...
DS was so upset when we told him of the hosepipe ban - his first thought was "what about our game?"

melodyangel Fri 06-Jul-12 13:57:52

This year we are getting together with the other kids, and parents, to make a zombie movie! So making props, writing scripts, filming, editing, adding a score and finally the opening night!

defineme Fri 06-Jul-12 15:46:37

I don't direct any of their outdoor play, 7 yrold twins and 10 yr old.
Things they do at the moment:
Our area is flooded today(last week too) so they have been sent home from school, road is cordoned off and they have been trying to swim/make waves/make biggest splash/photo calls at flood sign for various neighbours/riding scooters through it.

Collect snails and slugs and make 'worlds' for them in ice cream tubs/on trays.

Have races (against themselves with stopwatch if on own)-can be running or on scooters, obstacles and so on.

Get across the garden without touching the ground-using their giant domino set and anything else they can find.

Digging in mud, making mud pools with watering can, swimming action men in mud.

watering the garden.

Making patterns on the ground/side of garage with watering cans, water pistols and so on.

Endless picnics/gang meetings in tents/shed/blankets over washing line/garden chairs.

Recording ladybirds and number of spots in their special note pad.

We do have a lot of neighbouring kids in and out of garden/house too so we'll have tentative plans and then they'll be off down the road with them and I'll start getting on with jobs again!

So on days that we're not away/going swimming/meeting friends/at the park
that is what they will be doing as well as 'helping' me decorate/clear out garage/clear out entire house really!

BerthaTheBogBurglar Fri 06-Jul-12 16:05:05

Keep all the boxes that heading for the recycling, and use them to build towers / mazes / sculptures / whatever.

Choose a favourite short story and then make a film of it

If it's raining, go out in wellies and puddle jump and get very wet. Then come home, get dried off, light a fire and have hot chocolate and stories in front of it (NB you need a fireplace for this one ...)

sas1879 Fri 06-Jul-12 18:10:08

We geocache Modern day treasure hunting that is virtually free.We visit all the local parks for the first week with picnics and if its raining we still go.We take flasks of soup and rolls and we take a tent and books and blankets and have a lovely time. We join the summer reading challange at the local library and go once or twice a week. Take advantage of the kids swim for free at the local swimming pool.We have a pj day all the duvets and pillows come down we make popcorn and use the soda stream and just watch our family favourite movies and chill. Messy day we just get everything out of the art cupboard and paint and have fun making a mess.
We dont spend much at all but we have a lot of fun.

planetpotty Fri 06-Jul-12 19:39:59

At the beginning of the summer holiday get a huge piece of paper, some paints and some crafty bits and sit and talk about all the things you as a family have to look forward to and things you would like to do. It can be good for inspiration as the holidays go along. For example last year I was a bit stuck for something to do with the kids so I looked on the picture and there were lots of ice creams, so off we went to get one at the park smile. It's nice to look back at the end and the kids can see that they achieved things they set out to do smile

smokinaces Fri 06-Jul-12 20:25:52

Look for annual passes - places you pay once and keep going as many times as you like over a year. Like country park vouchers for 25 or dockyard for twenty - initial outlay is higher, but aim for one a month and then by the summer you'll have a pile of choices on wet days.

JugglingWithTangentialOranges Fri 06-Jul-12 20:44:25

We've used those annual passes quite a bit over the years for places we really like - and are nearby. One for a farm, one for weekend car-parking at park, and one for an indoor soft-play. Rain or shine - sorted ! Just have to remember you have them, and make sure they're fully used smile

realssm Fri 06-Jul-12 22:29:23

Lazy morning in pj's make a camp with sheets and towels, get all the toys in and have a mid morning snack with stories.

Plop all the recycling on the table and make a paper mache structure, cover whatever you want with strips of newspaper and water and pva glue mixed (i think 3part water and 1part glue), when dry paint and decorate with glitter and stickers etc.

Let the children do the washing up after lunch and make a messsmile

Take a bag of wrapped sweets/chocolates to the park and hide them for the children to do a treasure hunt or leave clues for a big surprise at the end.

Take turns with friends to have a film/popcorn afternoon so you can have a break each smile

Get on your bikes with a picnic and map out your journey for an adventure, get the kids to help map read to find the way. Or take a ride along the canal.

If weather is bad, check to see if your local church hall is available for hire, usually £10 - £15 an hour or less outside London and between a group of you hire it for a few hours and use for children to run around and play group games, etc.

aristocat Fri 06-Jul-12 23:33:58

My DD likes to make story books (often with pictures) but sometimes just words. She will write her own story and staple the pages together.

When DCs were younger we used to play schools hmm one large teddy was the Head and other teddies were split into various groups just like their classes at school We had lessons in Literacy/Spellings/Maths and Circle Time. There were lunch breaks and teacher(usually me!) had to call the register smile
This is great fun and as a parent you can be as involved as much or as little as you like!

I am in awe of so many educational ideas - researching/writing/drawing etc etc. We just kick back and see what happens. My dd hasn't yet said she's bored! Holidays aren't long enough though...

One of our favourite free activities is to visit the local museums. They all seem to have activities on over the holidays and the children love seeing what is new and the Mummy old favourites.

We pack a picnic as a matter of course so we can stay out for as long as we're having fun - it's always a shame to have to head home because we're hungry/thirsty etc.

TroLoLoLo Fri 06-Jul-12 23:49:38

Arrange a 'midnight walk' in the woods. It doesnt need to be midnight but the darker the better. Bring torches for everyone and flasks of hot chocolate. Even better if there is somewhere safe to light a fire where you can toast marshmallows.

We have lots of free museums in our nearby city, we take packed lunch and spend the day at e.g. The art gallery or the science museum. All it costs is the transport fares and the DCs are generally exhausted by the end of the day.

maples Sat 07-Jul-12 11:03:39

Paddling pool!! If you wanted to add cheese I like the idea of picnic lunch in the paddling pool with cheese sandwiches!! grin

ouryve Sat 07-Jul-12 16:08:34

Both of my boys have ASD and are difficult to for me take out anywhere, together, but we find every excuse to go for an interesting walk as many days as possible. Our local council is doing a bee survey, which I'll use as an excuse for a free activity with no travelling involved.

We grow lots of fruit and veg which (usually!!!) ripen during school summer holidays (courgettes, blueberries etc) and DS1 loves to help me pick them and plan what to make with them. It's almost always cake! (Courgette cakes are delicious!) Both of the boys like to help me eat them, of course.

gazzalw Sat 07-Jul-12 18:36:07

Go blackberry picking - they are very late this year because of the grotty weather so will probably be ripe at the end of July/beginning of August and then make jam/crumbles/tarts with the children...they love picking them and you can easily do it for a couple of hours at a time ;-) so free entertainment, educational and with a yummy outcome - what's not to like?

Piggychunk Sat 07-Jul-12 19:42:06

Bit late for this summer but I save Aug - Dec for Xmas and then Dec-July for school holiday trips. If you can save even £10 a month it really helps to have some spare cash to do activities .. Other wise it feels like you need an extra salary for 6 weeks as everything can be so £££ even for the smallest of trips.

Piggychunk Sat 07-Jul-12 19:43:54

Forgot to say the money saved can buy arts and crafts materials or food for a pinic in the park it doesn't have to be for big things

ComplexityAndFecundityOfDreams Sun 08-Jul-12 10:58:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

magnolia74 Sun 08-Jul-12 11:04:58

Having 5 children and not a lot of spare cash I am always thinking of ways to keep them occupied especially in the summer holidays.

Best ones are:

Pavement chalk, we do hopscotch, snakes and ladders, number/letter trails and then a bucket of water and a broom to wash away later is fun for my 5 year old smile

Local park with fallen down trees for bug hunting, we take a magnifying glass, a book, camera and a picnic. On a sunny day it can take the whole day smile

Camping in the garden is a firm favourite.

On rainy days we set up our own beauty salon and give foot massages, paint nails, face masks etc....

And you can't beat baking mixed with dvd/pj day smile

magnolia74 Sun 08-Jul-12 11:06:00

Oh and cycling!!!! Best way to wear out kids grin

3duracellbunnies Sun 08-Jul-12 15:53:37

Let them become reporters for the day. Go on a day trip, and buy a postcard/ take some photos, bring notepads. The next day, either on paper or the computer they write up their report. They might also want to include a restaurant critic column if they ate out/recipies if taking a picnic, a style guide if they saw interesting costumes etc.

The pictures and text can then be scanned/ edited on the computer, and made into a newsletter to send to grandparents/ godparents and one for their new teacher.

Apart from any costs for the day out and maybe a postcard, the only costs are for printing.

tassisssss Sun 08-Jul-12 16:01:47

Brilliant list, we do loads of those too.

Only one to add...painting stones. Great outdoor or indoor activity. This week on the beach. Nice.

Boysboysboys Sun 08-Jul-12 19:16:32

Wait for a wet spell and then take them to play in the park at Leigh woods. Apparently its the best day ever!

rufus5 Sun 08-Jul-12 22:08:02

Have 'colour' days - for example, if you decide to have a 'green day' go round the house and collect up all the toys you can find that are green to play with, eat lots of green food (great way to get veg-phobic kids eating healthily!) or go to the supermarket to find green food, do green art/craft activities, go for a nature walk to spot green things (again, much easier with green than some other colours!). You can fill a whole week with easy colours no problem!

The ideas that keep my children amused
Picnic inside a huge homemade tent, indoors or outdoors, the larger the better.
Cinema day: dvds back to back with homemade popcorn in a giant bowl
Cupcake decorating: get the kids to muck in make 2 different flavoured bowls of cupcake mix, either homemade or shopbought, give them icing, sweets and sprinkles and let them have fun decorating and eating them.

Like the idea of in home beauty parlour magnolia, my 6 yo would love that smile

EllenParsons Mon 09-Jul-12 00:48:45

Make a summer scrap book as a little diary of all the activities you do throughout the holidays - making the book is a fun activity itself.

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 09-Jul-12 14:42:16

Thanks for all the amazing suggestions. Am pleased to say ChildrenAtHeart has been selected at random as the winner of the Merlin pass. Will email you now.

WRT to the cheese - will post more once I know what tips MU are using in the booklet. grin

ChildrenAtHeart Mon 09-Jul-12 16:06:17

Wow - thank you. I am in total shock grin)

KatieBMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 24-Jul-12 14:22:13

Congratulations to the following MNers whose comments were used in the "Make everyday a Mu Fun day" booklet. You've each won a month's supply of Mu cheese!


The free booklet can be downloaded here:

ICutMyFootOnOccamsRazor Tue 24-Jul-12 14:50:25

Thanks very much!

gazzalw Tue 24-Jul-12 16:45:52

What a lovely surprise -can't even remember what I wrote hmm! Thank you! Will make feeding the DCs a little less costly over the hols!

goingtoofast Thu 26-Jul-12 09:25:11


MrsB1234 Thu 26-Jul-12 20:22:17

Hi there, 1st time on Mumsnet and logged on to see if others have experienced events of today. Only son playing out with a friend only to be told off by neighbour who said that he wasn't to set one foot on the pavement outside her house or touch the lamp post - bizarre! Very quiet area, no noise so not a problem I thought for him to walk and play quietly but apparently so. Spent all afternoon with child, normally very resilient, who is worried about playing out?

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 27-Jul-12 07:52:42

MrsB1234 - you may be best off starting a thread in chat here - thanks!

Helenagrace Sun 09-Sep-12 14:07:55

Did everyone else actually receive their cheese? I'm still waiting for mine.

EllenParsons Wed 24-Oct-12 00:15:53

Helenagrace I did not receive my cheese either!

ICutMyFootOnOccamsRazor Wed 24-Oct-12 19:17:16

Yes, I got mine. It came in late July or early August, I think?

In a little cool box with a coldpack inside.

It was a LOT of cheese, but all gone now smile.

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