Keep your kids occupied over the school holidays with inexpensive fun days out and new experiences:
Have fun learning at an exhibition
Exhibition centres around the country host different events all year round, appealing to all interests – both fun and educational (or both). The Christmas holidays are an ideal time to get hands-on and visit one.
The NEC in Birmingham (www.thenec.co.uk) is showcasing a number of exhibitions over Christmas, with something to suit any child, including a championship dog show, a toy collectors fair and an autosports show, complete with an indoor racing track!
Or if your youngsters are developing an interest in the environment, or are studying urban design, technology or global trends at school, give them a head start with a visit to The Crystal in east London (www.thecrystal.org), where there’s a permanent cutting-edge exhibition about sustainable development. There’s also currently a major (temporary) exhibition about the future of train travel.
Get creative in a crafty café
Does your child have an inner Picasso bursting to get out? Then head to one of the cafés that offer kids the chance to get creative. They’re a fail-safe rainy day option, even for children who don’t have much artistic talent, as they’re such fun. Springing up in towns and cities all over the UK, arts cafés offer parents a chance to natter over a latte or a bite to eat while their offspring get busy creating their masterpieces.
Top of the list are ceramics cafés, where kids can choose their favourite piece of pottery or crockery, and paint it with their own design. The café then glazes and fires the item in a kiln, and you return to collect the finished item a few days later. And if seeing your kids getting creative fills you with envy, don’t worry – grown-ups aren’t banned from having a go!
Visit www.paintpottery.net to find a ceramics café near you, or search online for ‘arts café’.
Get active indoors
Kids love bowling, and once you get going, your competitive streak is bound to emerge! Bowling is a great indoor activity for all ages – younger children are given a special ramp to roll the ball down, and even sulky teenagers will get caught up in the fun! Visit www.tenpin.co.uk to find a bowling alley near you.
Alternatively, why not head to your local swimming pool? Many pools lay on special kids’ sessions in the holidays, with inflatables and slides. Contact your local leisure centre to find out what’s on and when.
Head to a marvellous museum
If the mention of a museum prompts cries of ‘Boring!’ from your kids, it’s time to think again. There are plenty of museums that will keep your children entertained for hours. You’ll end up having to drag them away!
Getting interactive is key. London is packed with museums where kids can press buttons, dress up, enjoy storytelling sessions or ride on the exhibits. Top for interactive exhibits in the capital are the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum.
The trick to a successful day at a museum is to pick one with a subject matter that your children are fascinated by. For example, what child doesn’t love Roald Dahl? Former winner of Enjoy England’s Best Small Visitor Attraction, the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Buckinghamshire will delight children and adults alike. Kids can take part in puppet making, get scientific with George’s Marvellous Experiments, and even join a drama class to showcase their acting skills.
Most museums run special activities during school holidays, offering you the chance of a well-deserved rest while your kids are learning through fun. For more ideas, visit www.funfamilydaysout.com
Escape into a book
There are a thousand exciting adventures awaiting your child between the pages of a book…
Your local library is a haven for kids. Over the Christmas holidays, there are likely to be special activities and storytelling sessions – or simply let the kids while away an hour or two browsing the shelves. Pick out a few thrilling reads for your kids to enjoy over the holiday, and next time it rains, they might be happy to sit and escape into a book – if only for a short time!
at home guest editor, Jo Frost says…
‘I loved days out with my family as a child. Going to a theme park can be such a great experience. I’ve taken children I’ve looked after to Legoland and Thorpe Park, and they’ve really loved it.’
Words: Eve Sinton Image: Shutterstock