When summer rolls around, it can bring with it a lot of wholesome pleasures. Firing up the barbecue, heading to the beach, or just relaxing in the garden with the cold drink of your choice.
But what about the grandkids?
Filling six weeks with fun activities for the little’uns can be a challenge, especially if your children are working parents who also have to navigate the demands of their job and childcare. Perhaps you’re stepping in to help out, even just for a few days over the summer, and need some inspiration for easy activities with your grandchildren. Take a look at some of the ways you can keep them entertained for less.
The costs could quickly add up if you’re out at the cinema and soaking up culture every moment of the six-week holidays. Do you remember making your own entertainment with friends and adventures? Maybe now the time to pass on the message to the youngest generation.
Why not teach them to cook? Simple recipes under close supervision, or even super-easy makes like Rice Krispie cakes let them get their hands dirty, have fun, and end up with something tasty.
Encourage them to learn some gardening. Not only does this encourage a healthy respect for nature, it counts as exercise, and lays the groundwork for the day when they’ll be able to give you a hand cutting the grass.
You could go camping in the garden. All the fun and games of sleeping under the stars without the travel time and awkward bathroom arrangements. You can even set up a campfire and tell spooky stories.
Stage a treasure hunt or a scavenger hunt around the house. Leave clues and prizes dotted around the place, or set a challenge to collect a certain number of items, maybe one starting with each letter of the alphabet.
Arts and crafts are a perennial winner. From finger-painting to kite-making, anything that lets them get messy and creative is great fun. Just remember to put some newspaper down first!
If your grandchildren are creative types, help them stage a performance. Some old clothes as costumes, a creative use of props, and a few hours rehearsing are all they need to realise their budding dramatic ambitions.
Or what about a water fight? If the sun’s out, get the water guns out, fill balloons with the wet stuff and let rip. Be sure to keep everyone a warm, soft towel for when peace is declared.
Let them develop their minds with a trip to the library. Taking a break from technology and reconnecting with good old paper and ink can be a good chance for you to bond over your own favourite children’s classics.
If you’ve got the luxury of time to spend with your grandchildren, here are some activities and initiatives being run across the UK, as well as some ideas to inspire your own plans.
Explore the great outdoors
The National Trust has been protecting and preserving the nation’s heritage since 1895, and they know how to have a giggle while they’re doing it. They run events for families up and down the UK, usually with a low entry cost.
The Woodland Trust offers downloadable activity packs which kids can use to become bona fide nature detectives! Coupled with a ramble in some of the UK’s gorgeous countryside, this is a fun and educational option.
National Rail’s 2-FOR-1 offers cover London and the South East, providing savings on hundreds of attractions, from zoos and historical landmarks to galleries and museums.
Geocaching is a relatively new phenomenon which uses GPS technology on your phone to host a giant global treasure hunt. Kids will love roving around the wilderness looking for caches, and with luck, their adventures will tire them out ready for a good night’s sleep!
Of course, there’s always a walk in the park, which is absolutely free and organising one is… well… a walk in the park. The Green Flag Award Scheme can help you find your nearest suitable green space for a relaxing time spent in beautiful surroundings.
Let’s not forget a day at the beach. Pack a picnic, a few towels, and you can have a classic summer outing without splashing out too much. We’re lucky in the UK to have a whole bonanza of beaches, from secluded coves to vibrant tourism spots, so you can pick a location that suits your tastes. The Beach Guide can help you make your mind up.
Don’t forget to pack hats and sunscreen for all your outdoor activities!
If your grandchildren aren’t the outdoors type, or the weather isn’t playing ball, what about the cinema? Chains like Vue, Cineworld, and Odeon provide cheap tickets for kids on certain days of the week. You might need to plan this option in advance to make sure you arrive on the right day. Here are some other ideas to keep them busy.
Maybe you prefer a spot of culture? Museums and galleries up and down the UK offer free entry year-round, and some run special events during the school holidays. TimeOut has a list of museums in London which are perfect for kids, while highlights from the rest of the country include:
If you’re not located near any of these picks, a quick google will reveal something going on near you. Be aware of things like accessibility if you need easy pushchair access, and keep an eye on timings. Not all museums run their flagship events all week long.
Do you have a favourite family show you all sit down to enjoy? Why not become an audience member? The Applause Store is an interesting variation on a ticket booking site where you apply to be part of the audience in some of the UK’s biggest hit shows like Britain’s Got Talent. Best of all, some of these tickets are offered completely free of charge on a first-come-first-served basis.
A day out to a theme park is, for many kids, the ultimate summer treat. Parents and grandparents, meanwhile, are burdened with the knowledge that entry doesn’t come cheap. Even once you’ve paid in, the cost of ice-creams, drinks and merchandise soon add up.
Thankfully, there are various schemes out there which might help lower the cost:
Kids Pass is a membership scheme which offers discounts on theme park entry, as well as a bunch of other kid-friendly activities like cinemas, bowling, and family meals. Best of all, they offer a trial month for as little as £1. This is a subscription service, so remember to cancel if you end up not using it.
Days Out Guide, in association with National Rail, has a range of offers for all the family when you travel there by rail. The offers and attractions included vary wildly and they change from time to time, so it’s worth keeping an eye out to see if anything pops up which might tickle their fancy.
The Merlin Annual Pass is a little pricier, but if you’ve got a full summer lined up packed with locations covered by the pass, you could unlock quite a saving on entry, and discounts on food and drink.