Even though it comes around every year at the same time, thinking of things to do in the summer holidays always stumps me at the start. So I figured it might be a good idea to collate some ideas of things we love to do in the school holidays so you can have some ideas when you’re feeling stuck.
My big tip for you is to go through this list and write down the ones you want to do over the holidays – print or write it out and stick it on your fridge. that means you’ll always have the ideas to hand, your kids can look too and feel involved and it will help to banish the ‘I’m bored’ that might rear it’s head.
- 1 Our guide to over 30 things to do in the summer holidays!
- 2 Garden activities
- 2.1 Build a den in the garden
- 2.2 Sleep out under the stars
- 2.3 Learn how to start a fire safely
- 2.4 Have a water play day
- 2.5 Have a picnic
- 2.6 Do some cloud spotting
- 2.7 Make noises with blades of grass
- 2.8 Make daisy chains
- 2.9 Stack stones
- 2.10 Get some chalk and draw on the ground
- 2.11 Skip!
- 2.12 Find a shady spot and read
- 3 Nature activities
- 4 Rainy day activities
- 5 Days out ideas
Our guide to over 30 things to do in the summer holidays!
Now, these tips and ideas doo have a slant towards getting outdoors and exploring nature but rather than just being expensive activities you’ll find that many of them are completely free – go and enjoy and if you have any others to add to my list do let me know in the comments!
Build a den in the garden
This can be as simple as pegging out a sheet amongst the trees or against your fence and spending the day under it. If you have a small tent this can also be used (plus for the next idea too) but they can get quite warm if you’re having a hot day.
Sleep out under the stars
Summer is the best time to do some garden camping and spend some time under the stars. Later in the summer the nights draw in earlier which are good for kids who might want to stargaze but not spend the entire night out. As well as stargazing, listen for wildlife or even watch for bats at dusk.
Learn how to start a fire safely
If your older kids are interested in bushcraft then starting fires is often a big part of that. Rather than pushing the activity away, many kids embrace doing it under supervision and learn the right and safe way to do it. Make sure you’re always present, set rules around the activity and keep it contained – an old barbeque can be a good place to start it.
Have a water play day
All kids love to play with water – little ones might like a small tub of water to splash with or perhaps just a squeezy bottle full of water. Anyone remember doing that as kids? Of course water guns, sprinklers and paddling pools are great too – make sure if it’s a super hot day to set up some shade for the kids and make sure they are protected from the sun.
Have a picnic
Invite all the teddy bears and toys for a special lunch outdoors and enjoy lunch in the fresh air. Add in a stack of story books and it could easily keep kids happy for a couple of hours!
Do some cloud spotting
A cloudy day is great for laying back in the grass and spotting shapes in the clouds – perhaps you can find enough to make a story of what you see happening in the clouds!
Make noises with blades of grass
Perhaps not one for when you have a headache, but learning to make noises with blades of grass is a super fun activity for in the garden. Simply find a large piece of grass and place it between your two thumbs so the sides of your thumbs are holding the blade of grass. Bring it to your mouth and blow – if you get it right the vibrations will make a kazoo kind of sound that is really fun!
Make daisy chains
Daisies are found really easily in most gardens – why not see who can make the longest chain? Or you could make daisy flower crowns for all the teddies at the picnic!
Grab some stones from your garden if you have them and challenge your kids to see who can stack the highest amount of stones without them falling over! Nature’s jenga!
Get some chalk and draw on the ground
Most kids love spending time drawing big pictures on the path. Some ideas to expand on this are to make a hopscotch grid and also to draw around your shadows at different times of the day to see how they change.
Skipping ropes were my childhood! I used to spend all day practicing using them and learning songs to go with them. It’s a skill that can keep a child amused for hours! It’s also a fun activity for friends or siblings to do and gets them to work together.
Find a shady spot and read
Shady spots made comfy with some cushions and a picnic mat are excellent places for kids to while away some time reading a book or two and are great for when they just need to calm down and be by themselves.
Build a bug hotel
Bamboo sticks or old dead and dried up bits of shrubs all tied together in a bundle can make a really simple bug or bee hotel. You can hang it in a tree, in a bush or down by the ground. There are plenty of commercial kits available too.
Go pond dipping
If you have your own pond then take a look at the life that’s teeming inside it. If you don’t then see if a neighbour has one or if there are any local ponds you can explore. You don’t need any specific equipment, although it can help – a bucket to dip in and see what comes out might be sufficient. If you can get a small net that’s even better or just be content with looking over the edge!
Go on a nature walk
Nature walks are free so they always are added to my activities list! If you always go for walks to the same spot why not change it up a bit during the holidays – perhaps go on an urban nature walk and challenge your kids to find as much nature as possible!
Build a small pond
Small ponds can be easily built using an old washing up bowl, some rainwater and pond plants. They are great for encouraging wildlife, especially in the summer months since it provides a place for them to drink and as it matures you’ll start to get more and more life in there and you can do your own pond dipping!
Create a nature journal
Nature journals are a great way to slow down and really look at nature and the great thing is that kids can enjoy doing it at any age. You can simply use paper or you could get a dedicated notepad for drawings. Most kids love art! Collecting things like flowers to press or feathers are another way to fill up your journal but it can be as simple as just drawing something that interests you or adding a rubbing of a tree trunk.
Kids who love nature might like to add something to their journal every day of the holidays!
Catch bugs and study them
If your kids love bugs then encouraging them to take a closer look is often a good activity. There are many small bug catcher kits available or you could make one simply from a small plastic tub (add some airholes) for free. Arm your kids with magnifying glasses and encourage them to find similarities, count the legs or eyes and identify what they catch.
Make some nature art
I love to see the experiments and artistic flair that kids have when you ask them to make art with bits of nature they find around. Twigs can be a person’s hair or the walls of a house. Maybe see if you can make a rainbow picture with as many colours as possible!
We have a whole heap of nature based activities that we’ve written about on our blog so take a look here if you want to see more!
Rainy day activities
Splash in the puddles
Just because it’s raining it doesn’t mean the fun needs to stop. In the summer it’s still often warm enough that kids can enjoy the play outdoors without any special rain gear and they can warm up easily enough afterwards. Who can make the biggest splash?
Make a rain guage and measure the rainfall
Time to get scientific! We live in the UK and you can bet we’ll have some rain over the summer. Why not make a simple rain guage and measure the rain that we have each day over the summer. Older kids that are interested could also calculate averages and even make a graph to add in to their nature journals.
A simple way to do it is to take an empty fizzy pop bottle and cut the top off about a third of the way down. Invert the top part and slot in to the bottom so it becomes a sort of funnel for the rain to flow down. Then either measure it every day or add a scale on the side so you can easily see it.
Listen for thunder and count how far away the storm is
Summer rain often brings storms which can be scary for some kids. My advice is to spend time in the storm together and enjoy listening to the sounds of the rain falling and also counting how long it is between the lightening strikes and thunder claps. So many wonderful memories can be made from watching storms!
Look for slugs and snails
All sorts of damp and rain loving bugs come out when it rains from slugs and snails to worms! It’s a great time to go exploring and counting how many you can find.
Bring flowers indoors and dissect them
Nature can come indoors too and it’s a great way to keep any nature study going even on rainy days when you’ve had enough of puddles! Either find some flowers from your garden or even get some from the florist or supermarket and have a go at taking them apart to see what each of them have. Keen kids could also take a look at them under a microscope if you have them.
Days out ideas
Visit a Pick Your Own farm
Strawberry farms are the most common of the pick your own farms but often you’ll find them where you can pick all sorts of soft fruit. I love these days with the kids to get them out the house, show them where local food comes from and also gets them eating healthy fruits too!
Go to the nearest beach
What is summer without a trip to the beach? Even if all you do is build sandcastles all day, it’s a great cheap day out that kids just adore. If your chosen beach has some rockpools you can go searching for crabs and sealife too or just wander round collecting different shells.
Visit a nature reserve
Nature reserves are all over the country and some are free while others, generally where there is a visitors centre, might charge a small amount. We always got a RSPB membership which meant we could enjoy days out for free near us – we’d go for nature walks around the reserves, go bird spotting and often make the most of any events they ran too.
Local areas might still have free places to go with bird hides too so don’t discount them!
Visit a maze
Maize mazes are popping up all over the country nowadays – sometimes they are open all through the summer holidays but sometimes they are best towards the end when the maize has had time to grow more. They can be super fun and a slightly different day out for the family.
Now, we don’t have anyone in our family who likes to fish so it wasn’t a big activity for us, but if you do have someone with the knowledge it can be a fun day for the kids to try their hand at it.
Go on a boat trip
If you live near the coast or are going on holiday by the sea then you’ll often find boat trips for kids which can be a great way for them to explore sea life away from the seashore! You might find dolphins or seals on the journey and you might find a whole heap of interesting sea birds too.