Ideas for Half Term

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Half term is here and the old age question ‘what are we going to do with the little darlings?’ has raised its head again.

While looking for inspiration, I came across various sites with ideas to occupy the children during the holidays. Here are just a few ideas I’ll be trying out during half term and the best bit, some of them are free.

 Find a free local event

Get creative

  • Loads of fun can be had making things.
  • Visit Britain has a great list of free art galleries on its website that are sure to be holding some affordable workshops.
  • At the National Portrait Gallery for example there is a free art workshop called T-shirt Selfies  running through the holidays where kids can create a self-portrait t-shirt.
  • Elsewhere at some B&Q stores there are Kids Can Do It classes run on the weekends for those aged 7-11 where children can learn basic DIY skills. These normally cost £5 but you can get them free if you join the free B&Q Club.
  • And at IKEA locations around the country there are free half-term activities like face painting, craft workshops and lamp shade decorating.
  • Don’t forget to check out your local council’s website for details of any creative activities being put on for families over the half term too!

Enjoy the outdoors

  • Weather permitting you can have plenty of fun outdoors.
  • The National Trust has various locations around the country that have special half-term activities for kids and its running an extra fun series of 50 activities based on things to do before you are 11 ¾.

Do something educational

  • When it comes to museums, don’t rule out that museum in town you’ve probably ignored for years – most hold activities or exhibitions that children find fascinating.
  • If you want to visit the big hitters in London, most of which are free, Visit London has a guide. Meanwhile, National Museums Scotland has a list of family activities at its museums here.
  • At the V&A Museum of Childhood for example an exhibition called War Games is on which looks at how toys have been influenced by warfare from 1800 to the present day.
  • Visit Britain also has a great list of free museums on its website.

Go to the movies

  • Most kids love films and new releases like Mr Peabody & Sherman, The LEGO Movie and Tinker Bell and the Pirate Fairy are sure to entertain. But with some cinemas charging up to £9 per ticket it can be very expensive.
  • Vue Cinemas has a saver scheme called Kids AM where you can see children’s films on Saturday and Sunday mornings and every day in the school holidays for just £1.75 per child. The accompanying adult pays the same price while 3D films are £3. Meanwhile teens aged between 13 and 18 can 20% off the adult ticket price, though this offer applies all year round.
  • Most Odeon cinemas have Odeon Kids, which includes films on Saturday and Sunday mornings and over the school holidays, with prices starting from just £1 – adults pay the same price as the child.
  • Meanwhile, Cineworld runs Movies for Juniors at many of its cinemas on Saturday and Sunday mornings as well (it hasn’t extended this to school holidays), where adults and children pay £1 apiece. If you’re a My Cineworld member, you’ll only pay 90p and no booking fee.
  • And if you’re an Orange or EE phone customer, you can take advantage of its two-for-one deals every Wednesday at most cinemas. It also gets you a two-for one deal at Pizza Express before or after you’ve seen your film.
  • Alternatively, you could hold your own cinema event. Download a free film (legally!) from one of these free movie websites, get the kids to draw some tickets and posters, buy or make your own popcorn and snacks and settle down to watch the film!

Get them reading

  • Check out your local library as most will hold at least one storytelling and/or music session during half-term which, of course, is free (you may need to book in advance).
  • Let the kids choose some books while they’re there, use the free internet provided and hire a DVD or two and the morning or afternoon will fly by.
  • Don’t forget to check out your local bookshop as most are also geared up for half-term. Or browse a book swap site like readitswapit.co.uk or bookmooch.com and get some new books you can enjoy together for free.
  • If you’re in London there’s a Children’s Book Swap on Saturday 15th February. Little ones can bring along books to swap at various venues including the William Morris Gallery and the Museum of London. Meanwhile the Imagine Children’s Festival is on at the Southbank Centre in London and will be jam packed with cheap or free literary events and workshops. There’s a vintage reading library being held every day over the half-term and authors like Jacqueline Wilson and Malorie Blackman will be holding talks.   

Try a bus or train adventure

  • While it may sound dull to you, young kids that travel mostly by car find bus or train journeys unbelievably exciting.
  • If you live somewhere (such as London) where kids under 11 can travel by bus for free this can be a very reasonable day out.
  • Pack some lunch, drinks and snacks, hop on a bus and buy an adult daysaver ticket – you can choose to hop on and off as often as you like. If you pick up a route map (or print one off from your council’s website before you leave) you can all choose a few places to visit.
  • Energetic grannies and grandpas aged 60 or over and on babysitting duty could find this a good way to entertain as most are entitled to free bus travel anyway.
  • If you fancy hopping on the train, don’t forget that children under the age of five travel for free. And if you’re travelling in and around London or the South East, your train ticket can open up a host of two-for-one offers via the Days Out Guide website at attractions and restaurants.

Cook up a feast

  • A great activity that many kids love is cooking, so why not keep them busy in the kitchen?
  • Depending on how old they are you’ll have to be prepared for some serious mess, but it’ll be good fun. Check out the CBeebies’ site for recipe ideas for younger children.
  • Older children could be challenged with creating their own, healthy takeaway food (you can find recipes for burgers, sushi, pizzas and fajitas on the BBC Good Food website).
  • If you’re really brave you could have a cooking party and invite some of your child’s friends to join in the fun. lovefood has some handy tips on children’s cooking.

Get active  

  • If you’ve got a budding David Beckham in the house, why not see if you can sign him (or her) up for some free football coaching with the Tesco Holiday Skills Sessions (in England only, sadly).
  • Or you could take them to the free National Football Museum in Manchester, where for a small fee you can also try challenges like scoring a penalty at Wembley.
  • There’s also free tennis two-hour coaching sessions available nationwide. See if there are any near you on the Tennis For Free website.
  • If you live in Wales, children 16 and under can go to your local swimming pool for free during the school holidays – there’s more details at the Sport Wales website. Some local councils in England and Scotland also offer free swimming – check your local council’s website to see if it’s one of them.
  • In fact, even if you’re not up for a swim, it’s a good idea to check out your local council’s website anyway as many will be running reasonably priced half-term sports courses.
  • Go on a woodland walk or head to a nearby lake or river for some fresh air. Challenge the kids to take photos with your digital or phone camera of anything of interest they spot.
  • If you live near the coast, go for a winter seashore walk. All sorts of interesting creatures and driftwood wash up at this time of year after storms at sea.

Closer to home…..

  • Windy day? It’s perfect kite-flying weather! If you don’t have one, make a simple one with basic everyday and craft materials. Visitwww.dadcafe.co.uk/resources/easy-to-make-kites.php
  • Team up with your kids’ friends and arrange a scooter/bike rally race in the local park.
  • Have your own cinema afternoon – hire or borrow a DVD, make your own popcorn (simple to do in a pan with a lid), along with ice cream scoops during the ‘interval’. So draw back the curtains, dim the lights, the movie is about to start!
  • Check your local authority website to find a park that isn’t too far away but one you’ve never been to before.
  • Sort out unwanted toys and books and have a tabletop sale outside the house – and spend the money on new ones!

Have fun, until next time.