The summer holidays are great to enjoy some time with your children, but after a long period of lockdown and home schooling it can be difficult to find new fun activities to do together. With the warmer weather officially here, we caught up with Vicki from our Lincolnshire Behaviour Outreach Support Service and Holiday Hub Programmes for her top tips on enjoying nature and the environment with your children this summer.
This summer has seen us grapple with some exceptionally hot weather and, during one particularly sweltering day, a friend of mine told me she wished she still had a kiddies’ paddling pool which had long since departed (along with her adult son!).
Her wistful thoughts of the past were infectious and got me thinking about both my childhood and the period when my children were young. Each summer felt unique and special, but this year is truly unlike any other for the families experiencing it.
By the time most schools in England were due to break up for summer, some parents had been home schooling their children for 17 weeks; pretty much the length of three back-to-back summer holidays and all before the “usual” ones were due to start in July!
I’m not at all envious of parents trying to keep their children entertained and maintain their own sanity over this long period of time away from the normal routine – particularly with all the social distancing rules to follow as well.
One thing which our services tell us constantly enthrals children, however, is getting out and exploring nature and, thankfully, this can found whether you live in the countryside or in our towns and cities. The latter may take a bit of detective work, but there is lots to be found.
In fact, lockdown has allowed nature to partially reclaim some of our built-up areas, with a lot of birds and animals embracing the new-found quiet in towns and cities without so many humans and vehicles to frighten them off.
If you and your children have discovered a love of nature over this time, or if you want to find some interesting activities to keep them occupied and learning, why not try some of these activities which my family have enjoyed doing together!
- Head out and do some blackberry picking – a free and very tasty activity. Just make sure you wash them before eating!
- Put out a bird feeder or a few crumbs to attract birds to your garden. Which ones can you spot? A shallow bowl of water will be especially popular in this hot weather.
- Can you spot signs of the changing weather and seasons in the garden or a local park while on a walk?
- Spend a relaxing half hour or so cloud spotting – watch the patterns and then look online together to find out the different types of clouds you’ve seen.
- At various times every year there are meteor showers when you can see shooting stars. We have found the autumn and winter ones are good because the sky is usually darker.
- What trees can you spot in the local park? Try your hand at some bark rubbing – or make a piece of artwork from fallen leaves or from conkers and seeds, for example, a leaf person.
- Try your hand at drawing a flower or insect very close up. Did you notice anything new about the flower/insect?
- If you’ve got a camera or a phone, have a family photography exhibition. Each take some photos – experimenting with filters to see what exciting effects you can create. Which photos did you all like the best?
- What can you find on your walk – maybe a feather, a colourful leaf, a small stick, or an interesting pebble? Pop ten items in a box – can you remember the next day what’s in the box?
- Eating outdoors can make a simple lunch feel much more exciting – make up a picnic and enjoy lunch together al fresco.
Find out how Family Action is supporting families to engage with nature and the environment, through activities as varied as mini beast hunts, making bird feeders and bug hotels, through our Eco Explorers Holiday Hub project.