Keeping children occupied during half term and the holidays can be a challenge. Even if the weather is favourable, not all children are able to amuse themselves like Enid Blyton’s Famous Five. So here are a few ideas we hope will help, based around the type of space you have available.
Lawn. Aside from the obvious ball based games, there are lots of ways for kids to enjoy a lawn which will not destroy your garden:
- Sack races. A low cost, perennially popular game. Our sacks are the perfect size for children, which means they provide a useful handicap to adults, particularly those who try too hard!
- Jenga. Building towers is always fun, as is watching them fall down. If you want to add a twist, why not add notes to some of the jenga pieces? These can be questions, forfeits or points. Of course you only discover which once you have extracted your piece successfully.
- Golf boules. Golf balls make a good game of boules for little hands. And if you have a couple of putters, why not get them out too?
- Picnics. Not technically a game, but a good use for a lawn and kids enjoy the preparation. Sandwiches taste so much better on the grass! If you want to go further afield, then Visit Britain has some lovely picnic spots.
- Firepit. When I said ‘will not destroy your garden’, I meant it. Unless you have a perfect putting green lawn its easy to remove a few sods of turf (keep them rolled and moist, in the shade), to dig a firepit and to do some bushcraft firepit cooking. Once the ground has cooled, simply replace the turf and water well.
Trees. If you’re fortunate enough to have a garden with trees, then there is more scope for garden games.
- Swings. The outdoor garden toy which has remained the most popular for generations is the garden swing. If there is a branch strong enough then all you need is some rope and a disc of wood. Single rope swings have the advantage too of not needing to be hung from a horizontal bough, which makes life much easier. If you would like something a bit more exotic, then a tyre horse swing is also a popular choice.
- Hammocks. If you don’t have two trees a few metres apart then you will need to sink a post into the ground to anchor one end of the hammock. This is easily done and can be done with a sleeve so that the post can be removed in winter. If the distance between trees is too great, hammock ropes will help. Children’s hammocks are good for children up to 6 years old. A full sized hammock is best for older kids.
- Rope ladder. Really nice quality rope ladders are hard to find these days, so you might be as well to make one. Hang a rope ladder from a tree and you have a climbing frame!
Borders. Children and flower beds are often regarded as incompatible, but I disagree. There are plenty of ways to adapt borders to make them work for kids without losing their flower power.
- Shrubs will provide more robust year round play areas than herbaceous plants. Our lilac and philadelphus satisfy both the adult and the children camps.
- Ornamental grasses cope well with little children and provide great hide and seek places.
- There are plenty of wild or cultivated plants that are edible. Marigolds, dandelions and even nettles. Why not give the children their first lesson in foraging?
Wildlife gardens. In most cases, a wildlife garden is not as grand as it sounds, it is simply a neglected corner that is too shady/weedy/dry/wet to cultivate. These offer lots of potential for learning as well as creative play. Our tops tips are:
- An insect hotel, if you have the space. In advance you’ll need to find 5 or 6 old pallets and lots of filling materials (bamboo, drinking straws, cardboard tubes, bricks, tiles, mud etc). Hours of fun, guaranteed.
- A midnight safari. When its dusk or dark, sneak round the garden with your children listening quietly for any noises. They’ll be amazed how many creatures come out at night.