“Mum, I’m bored.”
It’s the school holidays and keeping the children entertained without resorting to hours of screen-time a day or forking out a small fortune, can be a challenge. Siân Hammerton-Fraser, Visitor Experience Manager of Chiltern Open Air Museum, has some ideas for outdoor activities to get them off the I-pad and into the fresh air.
Build a shelter: Set off for the woods at Chiltern Open Air Museum and let the children forage for natural materials to build a lean-to shelter. If you’re at home, you may want to provide them with some man-made materials such as ropes, blankets and planks too. Divide them into teams and award prizes for the best, sturdiest, biggest, wonkiest shelters.
Go on a bear hunt: Your little ones will love going on a bear hunt with some of their friends to look for bears hiding in the woods and sweets to share at their very own teddy bear’s picnic.
Hide a few cuddly toys and sweets in the woods (or garden) – and off you go.
Obstacle course: Collect old tyres, ladders, chairs and whatever else you can find to build the ultimate obstacle course for them to climb on, jump through and sail under – again in teams to fuel that competitive spirit
Around the campfire: let them help to build a fire (if you’re at home) and collect sticks to toast marshmallows. If you’re brave, you can let them have a go at lighting the fire – one at a time – this activity obviously needs to be closely supervised. Take turns to tell some stories while you’re at it.
Who’s the best shot? Make a few slingshots in advance (or buy some cheap ones if you don’t have the patience), line up a row of tin cans or plastic bottles and let the teams take turns to see who can shoot down most cans. (Again this activity needs to be carefully supervised by an adult)
Play some traditional games for some guaranteed giggling sessions and lots of outdoor running around – for example
- Treasure hunt
- Musical statues
- What’s the time Mr Wolf
- Hide and seek
You need a clear container with some waxed paper and a rubber band.
Sprinkle brown sugar over an overripe banana and leave it outside for a while before spreading it over the bark of a tree.
Grab a magnifying glass and check to see what bugs you may have attracted. Use a torch at nighttime, if you’re brave.
To watch one of the bugs up close, put it in your container with a bit of water in a bottle cap and some green leaves. Cover the jar with waxed paper and poke some small holes into it.
Return the bug to the place you found him after a few hours.
Take some clear containers and fishing nets to the nearest pond – sweep your net in a figure of eight movement, before turning it inside out into a container. See what you got and use your magnifying glass for closer inspection.
Put everything back where you found it.
Make mud pies – in the rain.
Kids love to play cooking – and baking mud pies is an old-time favourite. Use old buckets and recycled containers and let them explore a muddy area in the garden to their hearts’ content. Have some old towels ready to dry them off.
For some supervised outdoor fun, find out more about the Chiltern Open Air Museum’s Terrific Tuesdays.
The museum also offers a variety of children’s party packages, which includes themed outdoor and indoor activities and access to the adventure playground.