Summer holidays: outdoor activities for kids
The summer holidays are probably a bit different for many of us this year. But whether you’re planning a UK holiday or staying close to home, we’ve got plenty of ideas to help your family get out and explore the natural world together.
Visit a wood
Summer is a wonderful time to explore a wood with your family. Whether you prefer a peaceful stroll and a picnic in the sunshine, or an energetic hike with exciting wildlife encounters, our woods provide the ideal setting for a family day out.
We care for more than 1,000 woods across the UK. They are free to visit, but please remember to enjoy them responsibly and follow the Government’s social distancing advice.
Credit: Jill Jennings / WTML
Watch out for wildlife
Woods hum with life in the summer months – trees and plants flourish while animals make the most of the warm weather and abundant food. It’s a fantastic time to take children out for a bit of wildlife spotting. Keep your eyes peeled on your next adventure for:
- dragonflies darting above ponds and streams
- busy pollinators bobbing from flower to flower
- a line of speedy ants marching back and forth
- reptiles basking in the sunshine
- swallows soaring high in the sky
- developing tree seeds – autumn’s still a long way off, but look closely and you might spot green acorns, prickly conker cases and bunches of winged seeds growing already.
Go on a scavenger hunt
Kids love scavenger hunts (and so do grown-ups!). They are a great way for children to develop their observation skills, so before you head out on your adventure write a short list of items they'll need to look for. Think about the area you'll be visiting and what might be there - like trees, plants, textures, and colours.
If you're a bit stuck, you can find plenty of ideas in our scavenger hunt blog. And for a real challenge try to find something beginning with each letter of the alphabet. Good luck with x and z!
Credit: Michael Heffernan / WTML
Use your senses
Immerse yourselves in nature’s sounds and smells with a sensory adventure the whole family can join in with.
Why not challenge each other to find five different sights, sounds, scents or textures? You can work together as a team, or turn it into a fun competition to see who can find them first. Afterwards, share them with the rest of your family so everyone can experience them.
Pick wild blackberries
Blackberry picking is a great activity to do with kids in late summer. Bramble bushes can grow almost anywhere and are commonly found in woods and hedgerows. The fruits start to ripen in late July and are best eaten when they’re plump and black. They’re delicious fresh, but you can also turn them into smoothies, sauces, or bake them in pies and crumbles. Remember to watch out for the sharp thorns when picking and wash your berries before eating to get rid of any bugs.
Badgers, mice and small birds all eat blackberries, so please make sure you follow our tips for responsible foraging and leave plenty for wildlife.
Investigate! Can you find white bramble flowers, green and red unripe fruits, and juicy ripe blackberries all on the same bush?
Credit: iStock.com / Valbar
Explore the treetops
You won’t need any special climbing gear for this activity – in fact your boots stay firmly on the ground!
Have you ever looked up at the tree canopy? I mean really looked? It’s so easy to focus on what’s happening at ground or eye level that we often forget about the amazing world right above our heads. Pick a comfy spot and lie back on the ground, then look up at the treetops.
- Watch the breeze moving the leaves around – can you tell the direction of the wind?
- Trace the shape of the tree trunks and branches with your fingers.
- Compare the shapes of the leaves from different trees.
- Look for shy creatures hiding among the leaves – busy birds, butterflies flitting in and out, or squirrels scampering along the boughs.
You can also do this with a small handheld mirror – simply perch it on your nose and tilt it to see the trees above. Try standing underneath different trees and comparing the view. Just remember to watch where you're going so you don't trip up, and make sure kids handle the mirror carefully.
Get arty outdoors
If your kids love getting creative, gather your art materials and head outdoors to get inspired by nature. Encourage your children to look closely at the vivid colours of leaves and wildflowers, use their fingertips to discover different natural textures, and take a magnifying glass to get a closer look at really tiny details.
Once they are inspired it’s up to them what they create – a painting, a drawing, a rubbing, or even a collage using fallen leaves or petals.
Top tip: weigh paper down with a couple of rocks or heavy items so your child’s artwork doesn’t get blown away by the wind!
Credit: Danielle Wesley / WTML
Make a family of stick people
This activity is lots of fun and makes a lovely memento to remind your family of your day together. Challenge your family to create each other in stick form (don’t forget to recreate your family pet if you have one!). You’ll need some coloured thread and scissors.
How to make
Gather some twigs that have fallen to the ground – please don’t break them off trees. Look for Y-shaped sticks that will become bodies and legs, then find smaller sticks for the arms. To make your stick people, place the arm sticks on top of the body sticks and wrap thread tightly around them to fasten them together. It can be a bit fiddly, so younger children might need a bit of help. You can use more thread to create clothes – experiment with shorts, t-shirts and dresses. When you get home, paint on some eyes to finish them off.
If you do crafts in the woods please remember to take all your art materials and makes home with you to help us protect the natural environment.
Get a summer activity pack in the post
Have you enjoyed these activities? If so, take a look at our family membership for things to do all year round.
When you become members, we’ll send you activities every season to help you and your children learn more about wildlife. You’ll also receive a welcome box with a guide to all our woods and a pocket-sized leaf ID book – perfect for identifying trees when you’re out and about. And if you join before 16 August and you'll receive a bonus summer activity pack so you can get started straight away.
Your membership will help your family enjoy even more special moments together. It will also help us protect our precious woods for future generations, saving the trees and wildlife you love.