Community Engagement and Volunteer Support Worker, Julie Pike from one of our Holiday Hub services, shares some tips to ease the pressure on parents entertaining children over the summer.
Our Holiday Hubs works with families across the UK to provide support to those who need it, using opportunities for families to bond through eating, learning and play over the school holidays. This often helps to ease the pressure some parents face when needing to provide childcare, entertainment and food during the summer or other school holidays. At our Holiday Hubs our specialists often need to develop ways to entertain children on shoestring budgets so, here’s some of these tips/activities that may come in handy for us parents – who need to save money over the summer too.
Although Holiday Hubs are a great place to get support with meals over the summer, we also work to reduce social isolation by bringing families together for activities, crafts and games.
The holidays are a bit of a flashpoint for families, as you have to keep children entertained whatever the weather. So, here are just a few things we’ve done for very little money which have been really popular with the children.
Puppets and robots
One thing that’s proved very popular at our Holiday Hub has been making models out of household waste and recyclable materials. We’ve made puppets, robots and even models of family members – finding lots of the children and young people really enjoy the chance to get creative. It’s a lot of fun and doesn’t cost much at all.
The creative aspect is really useful for helping children develop their imagination; and after we’ve made puppets we’ll often tell each other stories about them. This is also a great activity for parents, who we find really get into it.
One quick tip: don’t throw away lolly sticks as they’re very useful for puppets!
“really popular with the children”
We’ve also used permanent markers to decorate rocks. It’s very cheap, as you can buy a set of permanent markers from pound shops, or even sets of googly eyes from craft shops if you want to make rock “pets”. What’s even more fun is when you finish, your children can take the rocks out into the garden and decide where to place them! You can also use them with my next suggestion…
On a dry day it’s really easy to devise a nature treasure hunt. Just print off or draw some pictures of objects you would find in nature – such as feathers, rocks, pine cones, flowers, grass etc. – and when your children spot them, they can either collect them and put them into a paper bag or tick them off the list. It’s a great idea if you’re out for a walk and doesn’t need lots of effort! Top tip: be careful not to pick wild flowers or those from someone’s garden!
Free entry museums
One final great option for getting out and about really cheaply is free entry museums. Lots of cities across the UK – such as London, Glasgow, Newcastle, Leeds, Lincoln, Portsmouth, Edinburgh and Manchester – have museums and art galleries which are free to enter. Museums might not always seem like the most child friendly locations, but many of them are now set up with children in mind. One example, The Discovery Museum in Newcastle, has a “hands on” Science area and soft play section; lots of the other exhibits are interactive too. You can find similar attractions that young people will enjoy at museums across the country. Simply search for ‘free museums’ online and you might be surprised what you’ll find right on your doorstep. Museums are also perfect for rainy days!
We hope you and your children feel sufficiently inspired to try out one or two of Julie’s suggestions above. For more ideas on things you can do together this summer – as well as further information and support – have a look at the many family tips we’ve collected as part of our Family Monsters Project.