Summer holidays: outdoor activities for kids
Discover fun things to do on days out and at home with our outdoor activity guide for the summer holidays.
It's bursting with ideas to get kids active in the fresh air while enjoying nature. From woodland walks to scavenger hunts and yoga to crafts - there are plenty of activities for all ages. And the best thing? They're completely free.
Credit: Jill Jennings / WTML
Days out with the kids
Day trips don't need to involve costly admission fees and long queues. Instead, pack a picnic and head for one of the UK's fabulous forests. They're thrilling natural playgrounds for kids who love to explore, and you can plan your own activities to suit your family.
Visit a Woodland Trust wood
Summer is a wonderful time to explore a woodland. 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're free to visit and open all year round. Find a wood near you and get inspired with our ideas for things to do.
Go on a scavenger hunt
Scavenger hunts are fun for all ages and they're a great way for children to develop their observation skills. Before you head out on your adventure, write a short list of items 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!
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. Look out 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.
Credit: Michael Heffernan / WTML
Go foraging - pick your own blackberries
Blackberries grow on bramble bushes which are often found in woods. They ripen from late July onwards, so they're a yummy summer treat. Keep your eyes peeled while you're exploring to spot the glossy black fruits. You can use them to make pies, jams and smoothies - delicious!
Remember, only pick them if you're sure you've identified them correctly - you can check with our bramble guide. And please leave plenty for wildlife - blackberries are an important food source for birds and mammals.
Compete in the forest Olympics
Challenge your family to take part in your own Woodland Games. It's a great way to get your blood pumping! Try these events, or make up your own:
- Pine cone shot put - find a woodland clearing away from others, then hurl a pine cone as far as you can and measure the distance in strides.
- Gymnastics - vault over a sturdy stump, twirl atop a log beam, then spring into a handstand against a tree trunk. Rate each competitor’s routine and award bonus points for extra flair.
- Triple jump of joy - this is ideal for athletes with boundless energy. Channel your favourite woodland creatures then hop like a jay, skip like a squirrel and jump like a hare – longest leap gets the gold medal.
- Sylvan slalom - save this for your grand finale. It's a thrilling relay race that’s ideal if you’re meeting up with other families. Nimbly dash in and out of a line of trees before sprinting back to the starting line and handing over the baton (a stick, of course) to the next runner. Victory goes to the fastest team.
Celebrate your overall champion with a glorious crown of leaves, presented to them on a grand tree stump podium.
Credit: Michael Heffernan / WTML
Fun things to do closer to home
Beat boredom with these screen-free activities. They'll fire up your kids' imaginations and encourage them to be curious about the natural world.
Hunt for minibeasts in your garden
Even tiny gardens can be home to thousands of creepy crawlies, so go on a bug hunt and see what you can track down. Peer into plant pots, turn over tree leaves and gaze at the grass to find ladybirds, ants, caterpillars and butterflies. Use a magnifying glass or bug pot to get a closer look, and identify them with our minibeast swatch book - a pocket-sized guide to 30 invertebrates.
You can help little ones make a simple chart to count how many they found. Older children could start a nature diary, adding detailed drawings and descriptions to record their discoveries.
Get creative with summer crafts
Many children love art activities, so take your paints and crayons outdoors and get inspired by nature's colours, textures, sights and sounds.
Your kids can even collect natural items to use in their artwork. But remember, only gather things that have fallen naturally to the ground don't break things off trees and plants.
- Create a tree using sticks.
- Use fallen leaves and petals as 'stampers' - paint them, then press onto card to create a print.
- Make a natural collage or sculpture of an animal that lives in your garden, like a bumblebee or a grasshopper.
- Make a repeating pattern using leaves, petals or pebbles.
- Make mud paint by mixing soil with a little water.
Try yoga outdoors
Yoga is a brilliant way for kids to exercise their body and mind. It can be calming and relaxing, or help them feel full of energy. And it's even more fun outside!
Lots of poses are inspired by nature, have a go at these:
- Tree - stand tall and stretch your arms above your head like branches. Pull one foot up and rest it against your other leg. Sway gently in the breeze.
- Butterfly - sit on the ground with your feet together. Slowly lift your knees up and down like a butterfly flapping its wings.
- Squirrel - squat down, using your hands to steady yourself. Hold the pose for a few seconds, then leap up and bounce like a scampering squirrel.
- Bird - stand on one leg, then lean forwards and stretch the other leg out behind you. Spread your arms wide like the wings of a bird soaring through the skies.
- Hedgehog - kneel down, with your bottom resting on your heels and your forehead on the ground. Lay your arms down by your sides, and rest like a sleeping hedgehog.
Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most memorable. This activity is a lovely way to enjoy quality time with your children, while bringing books to life.
Grab a blanket and some pillows, then set up a comfy reading corner in the shade of a tree or hedge. Choose a book set in a forest or garden and imagine you’re part of the action - you can even use toys and props to help tell the story. The gentle breeze and rustling leaves provide a soothing backdrop that's great for calming excited youngsters before bed too.
Camp out in your garden
Have the ultimate summer adventure without leaving home - just pitch a tent in your garden, or sleep out under the stars! It's a fantastic way to discover nocturnal wildlife - you might encounter moths, bats, or even a snuffly hedgehog.
For more ideas, check out our camping activities for kids.