Aah, the summer holidays of childhood. Endless hours playing in the park, jumping down sandy dunes on the beach, water pistol fights with siblings in the garden, picnics and pitching tents, blackberry picking in the countryside… whatever your memories, the chances are they involve fun in the sunshine, and you feel all warm and glowy inside when you think about them. It’s no wonder, then, that a recent survey by The Children’s Society found that for nearly three-quarters of us, our fondest memories involve playing outdoors in the summer.
We’re on a mission to help you recreate those treasured summer holiday vibes with your family. While we know it’s not easy to unplug the kids from their devices these days, once they’re outdoors and racing around with friends and siblings, they’ll feel happier and healthier – and so will you!
Whether you’re in the garden, the local park or on an exotic beach, we’ve got some easy suggestions for getting your kids enjoying themselves. You’ll be rewarded with entertainment and some beautiful memories.
And the best thing of all? Those wonderful photo opportunities. There’s nothing like a happy childhood moment captured on camera to be enjoyed for years to come.
So the next time the kids say “I’m bored”, here are 15 ideas for things to do. Let the games begin…
… or the hose, the water bomb, the watering can, the wet sponge, the water pistol – you get the picture! Water games are guaranteed fun. Darting around with a water pistol or jumping under a hose will not only get them giggling but is a great way to cool down on a hot day. Even the dog can join in! Just make sure you have dry clothes and towels at the ready.
If you have a garden, make a fun obstacle course with anything that comes to hand: hoops, skipping ropes, bean bags, balls… Then challenge your kids to complete all the obstacles, and time them. They could build a tower out of flower pots, bounce a ball on a racket ten times without dropping it, throw bean bags into hoops, blow bubbles – anything to challenge them! If you don’t have any outdoor space, take your clobber and set up in the park. And if it’s raining, you could make a mini-obstacle course in your living room or hallway instead.
Take a step ladder or runged clothes horse and set it up on the patio or in the garden. Compete to throw tennis balls between the different rungs for points. The lowest step could be five points, the highest 50, for example. This one is guaranteed to bring out their competitive streak!
Hide a collection of objects around your home and garden, and challenge the kids to find them. Alternatively, pick a theme or give your kids a list of random things they need to find, then get them to collect as many items as they can from the list.
If you really can’t drag your precious ones away from their phones, set them a photo challenge. Give a time limit – say, an hour – and ask them to take snaps of something beginning with every letter of the alphabet. An apple tree, a bird, the cat, the dog, an egg timer, a flower, Granny… you get the idea.
Ramp up the fun at family get-togethers or outdoor parties with a classic game of rounders. Kits with bases, bat, ball and carry bag can be bought cheaply, or simply use an old cricket bat, any small ball and piles of clothing for posts.
Give your kids a magnifying glass and send them searching for creepy crawl-ies in the garden or park. They could even make a bug journal as they go. You’ll be amazed at how many creatures there are around. To make things more educational, go to the library and borrow a book about insects.
Relay races have endless possibilities – from egg and spoon to three-legged, fancy-dress changeovers – and are perfect for a fun afternoon when you have family and friends around.
Have your kids snap a photo of something they’ve done each day, print it and place in an album or scrapbook along with a few notes. Jessops photo books are perfect for kids – try a mini-photo book about a particular day or trip, or an album depicting every moment of their precious school holiday.
When was the last time you had a spontaneous family picnic?
It doesn’t have to be extravagant or meticulously planned – you can just grab what you have in the kitchen and take a rug into the garden or local park. Get the kids to help you make their favourite sandwiches, grab some fruit and go! Eating al fresco works wonders when you need a change of scene, and is a fun way to break up the daily routine.
Take your child’s toys outside and encourage them to arrange a scene or tell a story – with their teddies or a set of Lego, for example. Then try to guess what’s going on from the scene they create. Or make a story with photos of the toys in different settings – this will help to develop their communication skills and can provide hours of fun.
For a calm, sedate outdoor ball game, boules (when you aim to hit the small ball with the bigger balls) or croquet (hitting balls through hoops with a mallet) are both winners, and easily transportable to your local park. Games sets are widely available.
If you have a sloping garden, this is great fun. Get some camping tarpaulin or plastic sheeting (available from hardware shops) and lay it out over the slope. Then all you need is a hosepipe to spray it with water, and some shampoo or washing up liquid to squeeze onto the surface to make it slippery. Hey presto – hours of endless fun (but keep it safe!).
The whole family will enjoy this one. To have a dance off, all you need is a boombox and a (child-appropriate) dance playlist. Get the kids to form a circle and, as the music plays, have them take turns entering the centre of the ring to show off their best dance moves. Encourage everyone to cheer for the moves they really like – the person with the most applause wins.
This is a lovely way to collate all those special summer moments, and it’s easy to do. Print some of your child’s most memorable summer photos and combine them with their drawings, favourite stickers and tickets from special events to create a unique memento of their summer. Many Jessops stores have ‘Creation Stations’ with everything you need to make a scrapbook, al-lowing you to sit and have fun while making your unique book of family memories. You can print all your Instax-style photos off instantly at Jessops kiosks, too. Have fun!
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