It’s not easy to keep children amused during the Easter holidays, particularly when outings and activities seem so expensive. Here are a few ideas that cost next to nothing, and are fun for the whole family – from young toddlers to older children and even teenagers.
You don’t have to take part in a service, or be a member of your congregation, to enjoy the activities being arranged by your local church. Youngsters are learning about different faiths in the curriculum already, and visitors are usually given a warm welcome.
Most Church of England churches are open and free to enter, and almost all of them have bright and colourful Easter displays. If the children get bored of the inside, a headstone hunt is a good way to keep them amused. Who finds the oldest headstone, and who finds the most interesting name or inscription? As long as you remember to be respectful, it’s not morbid, it’s a fascinating way for youngsters to re-connect with local history.
Picnic in the park
Picnics never, ever grow old. There’s just something intrinsically fun about packing a box or bag full of food, grabbing a blanket, and heading outside to eat. It doesn’t have to be a complicated packed lunch – a few sandwiches, some fruit and a bottle of water make a healthy change. Most towns have a park, green, or somewhere else you can spread your blanket. Just watch out for ants.
Town centre I-Spy
From Cardiff to Carlisle, Birmingham to Basildon and Norwich to Nottingham – every town centre in the UK has developed over time, to give us a fascinating mix of buildings. How often do you look up to appreciate the patterns, chimneys, gargoyles, odd windows, bricked up windows and doors?
Take the children into town for a game of above-shopfront I-Spy. Better still, take a brisk walk yourself, first, and turn it into a treasure hunt – the person who gets the most ‘ticks’ in boxes wins a wee prize. You’ll be amazed at the things you’ve never spotted before.
Learn some local history
It’s much easier to find out about local history these days, so take a few minutes out in the evening and do a quick Internet search to find out some facts about your local landmarks. There isn’t a village or town in the UK that doesn’t have some kind of interesting facts associated with when it came into being, who lives there now, who lived there earlier, and what’s going on – the history of the locality – now, and then.
Find out about the exciting battles, fights, hangings, local characters, folktales and ghost stories – and if you’re a good story-teller, keep the children spellbound with gory details!
Compare and contrast
Have you lived in the same town all your life? Has the town changed a lot in the last twenty years or so? Take your children for a local walk (it doesn’t have to be far, just round the block may be far enough for little ones) and explain how things have changed over time.
Make a real game of it: print out some old photographs – perhaps snap them with your Smartphone if you don’t have a printer – and ask the children to work out where they were taken. You could even give them a camera and get them to take their own modern version, and then spend a whole afternoon cutting and sticking them into an ‘Our Town’ scrapbook.
Check out Geocaching
It’s fun, free, and perfect for children of all ages. One main website holds the (sometimes cryptic) locations of geocaches that are hidden in obvious and not-so-obvious places right across the UK. Geocaches are small boxes, containers and messages for you to track down and ‘tick off the list’, or add to, or even create yourself. Look up your nearest geocache, put on some sturdy shoes and set out to find that hidden ‘treasure’!
The website has a short but really engaging video explaining everything there is to know about geocaching … which is bound to get the children excited about going outside for an afternoon, instead of playing computer games…
Finally… don’t forget to check your local county council’s website. A simple search using the words, ‘Whats On’ and the name of your town will bring up lists of activities in your local area – many of which will be absolutely free of charge.