As every parent with school age kids will be acutely aware, the school holidays are not far away! If you’re anything like the parents in the Pebble team, you’re probably filled with a mild sense of panic about how to juggle work and entertaining the kids over the summer break. To help, we’ve compiled a list of things to do in the summer holidays, along with some top survival tips for good measure!
Summer activities for kids to do at home
With six weeks to fill, and the cost of living crisis squeezing our entertainment budgets, it’s inevitable that some days will be spent at home. Between the screen time and the cries of “I’m SO bored”, being at home is the ideal place for a host of low-cost activities (with a little creative thinking!)
Back garden adventures: All you need is a back garden and some camping equipment for one of the summer’s biggest adventures! Pitch a tent in the garden, eat some good food, play some fun games, and take a break from normal life!
Water piñatas: Far better than the full-of-sweets type piñata, simply grab some water balloons, fill them up, and peg them to your washing line. Get the kids to blindfold each other and try to pop them. Great for cooling down on a hot day – and fun too!
Gardening: We’ve covered the benefits of gardening for kids in our last blog, but getting the kids out in the garden can be great for their mental and physical health and can be a fun way to keep on top of the weeding!
Graffiti challenge: If you have a patio, grab the kids some jumbo chalk (Poundland or The Works) and get creative! As well as games like hangman and noughts and crosses, being able to use the patio as a giant art canvas will keep them entertained for hours!
Art attack: If you’re phobic of mess, look away now! One of the Pebble team uses water-based paints and gets the kids to create body art by walking, jumping, and slithering their paint-covered bodies along stretched-out wallpaper. This is a garden-only activity – and you might want to keep the hose handy!
Turn your trampoline into a den: Although made for jumping, trampolines also make a great tent frame. Throw over some old sheets, get the kids to crawl underneath – voila, a simple den for hours of fun!
Home summer activities if you don't have a garden
DIY science: Kitchen cupboards are great for home experiments. From making volcanoes erupt out of a water bottle using bi-carb, to creating slime using cornflour, the Bright Sparks website has loads of fun, easy and educational ideas.
Recycling challenge: If you have any boxes lying around – from old cereal boxes to bigger, climb-inside-type boxes – gather them together and get building! From robots to vehicles, and anything in between. Raid the recycling for a great way to get crafty while also teaching kids about the environment.
Dancing in the rain: Who says you need to stay indoors when it is wet? The kids will think you have lost the plot, but there’s nothing more liberating than dancing in the rain. The relaxing noise of the raindrops and the feel of the rain hitting your skin are sensory experiences known to relax – and jumping in puddles, screaming and singing are great fun too!
Dress-up relay race: Set up a dress-up relay race where the kids have to delve into their fancy dress chest (or just your old clothes will do), run to a designated point, and then pass the costumes to the next player. It's a hilarious and energetic activity.
House and garden Olympics: Household items can be great for creating an obstacle course to entertain the kids. Get the kids engaged and wear them out by getting them to build as much of the course as possible. Get them to crawl under blankets, over cushions, and through tight spaces. And, don’t forget, the floor is lava!
Summer activities for kids near me
There’s no doubt that there are loads of creative, free summer activities for kids if you stay at home. But, after days at home, sometimes it can be good (necessary even!) to get out!
National days out for families: When it comes to finding activities for kids that are close to home, there are lots of national organisations that have a wide geographical spread. The National Trust has properties all over the country, and a big focus on offering activities for kids. English Heritage has a number of castles around the UK – many of which have events over the summer months – great for running off some energy, and engaging in role-play. The Woodland Trust lists nearby woodlands, giving you plenty of opportunities for exploring the great outdoors!
Visit a city farm: City farms do what they say on the tin – a slice of country-living, in urban surroundings. Londoners can choose from 12 city farms, but Spitalfields City Farm, just off Brick Lane, is a brilliant example with a lovely atmosphere, complete with friendly animals, a farm shop, and a cafe. BBC’s Discover Wildlife website highlights some other great city farms around the UK.
Finding activities for kids near me: If you haven’t already, consider signing up for websites such as Pebble, which has a database of approved suppliers of activities and classes for kids. The Pebble website allows you to search for activities by location, age, day of the week and activity type – allowing you to instantly browse and book 1000's of activities & classes for your children from trusted providers.
Educational fun for kids: London Science Museum is one of the capital’s largest tourist attractions. The activities range from free interactive galleries to immersive VR experiences and hands-on demonstrations. With a large proportion of the museum free of charge, it is a low-cost, high-value day out. Not in London? We The Curious (Bristol), Discovery Centre (Leeds), Science + Industry Museum (Manchester), Oxford University Museum of Natural History (Oxford), Techniquest (Cardiff), Magna Science Adventure Centre (Yorkshire), Thinktank (Birmingham), Eureka (Halifax), and many more exist around the country.
Splash pads: The perfect antidote to hot and bothered children when the temperatures soar, outdoor splash pads are often found in local parks. These water playgrounds are free to visit, great fun, and in close proximity to amenities such as cafes, toilets, playgrounds and ice-cream vans. Take their swimming gear and some sun cream and watch them run in and out of water jets screaming with delight!
Free family-friendly festivals: If the Glastonbury coverage has made you hanker after a break with a festival vibe, then this one's for you. There are loads of free family festivals happening up and down the UK this summer, from Greenwich+Docklands International Festival, Plymouth’s Firework Championships, Birmingham’s Commonwealth Festival ‘23, to Liverpool’s Biennial.
Family-friendly bike rides: More active families, who enjoy cycling, should check out this article listing 50 family-friendly bike rides. Great for burning off some energy, getting some exercise and exploring unknown territory. Pair it with a family-friendly pub and you’re on to a winner!
Survival tips for the summer holidays
We’ve thrown a few ideas into the mix which we hope will help you to find plenty of things to do with the kids this summer. However, as a parent, planning to fill six weeks can be a tough call – especially if you’re juggling work commitments too. We’ve compiled a few of our favourite survival tips for the summer break.
Planning in advance helps (in moderation!): Before the holidays start, it can be helpful to plan. What does everyone want to do (within reason!)? When are their friends away? What are your work commitments? Are there clubs, summer camps, or childcare commitments that need to be considered? Don’t over-plan though: a rigid schedule can result in disappointment!
Downtime is necessary: While keeping busy is great for active minds and bodies, it is important to build in some downtime. Plan in some chill-out so that your children can play, daydream, draw, write, do arts and crafts, or even just get comfortable with being bored every now and then! The Child Mind Institute says boredom can be good for kids.
Summer holiday playdates are your friend: There are bound to be other parents in your kid’s class who are struggling to fill the days. Inviting playmates over for a play date can give you some respite while they entertain each other – make it a reciprocal arrangement, if you can, to give you some child-free time too!
Take time out: Holiday clubs and activities for kids can be a great way to get the children out of the house. As well as giving you time to yourself – to work, rest or socialise – clubs and activities are great for building self-confidence, making friends, and learning new skills.
Try to relax and enjoy time with your children: Sometimes it can feel like you're not doing enough, that they're bored, or that their holiday is not as exciting as their friends. Try to relax, and enjoy the time with them. Often, it's the little things they remember.