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How to keep children entertained over the school holidays

Our pick of the best attractions and activities this summer

How to keep children entertained over the school holidays
Esther Coombes
Content Lead
Updated: 25 July 2023
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With the summer holidays approaching you may well be wondering how to fill the coming weeks with activities to keep the kids occupied. Whether you're looking for an educational day out, a trip to one of the country's best free attractions or a DIY activity for a rainy day, we've compiled our favourite recommendations. 

Explore the UK's best museums

Budding anthropologists will love South London's Horniman Museum and garden with extensive collections of taxidermy, skeletons and fossils. Entry is free, with a range of outdoor trails and activities for children to try, including the Dinosaur Trail, a Tree Folklore Trail and nature challenges to spot squirrels and their nests. 

The Horniman Museum© Instagram
The Horniman Museum

Counting Princess Kate as its royal patron, The V&A in South Kensington is home to the largest fashion collection in the world. Aspiring designers will be enthralled by couture creations from Balenciaga, McQueen and Dior as well as jewellery, ceramics, photography and sculpture from across the globe. Entry is free and the museum is open seven days a week. 

The V&A© V&A
The V&A

Other recommendations include the earthquake simulator at the Natural History Museum, (free admission) Manchester's National Football Museum (free for residents of the City of Manchester and under 5s) and The Eden Project in Cornwall.

The Eden Project© Instagram
The Eden Project

Get crafty

Encourage children to put on their own play or dance show, creating tickets for you and preparing home-made refreshments to be served at the interval. Alternatively, cultivate their artistic side with a craft set.

Take a walk on the wild side

Little ones will love playing explorer spotting the lions, tigers and penguins at London Zoo, birds, otters and amphibians at the WWT London Wetland Centre, deers in Richmond Park or monkeys and meerkats at Battersea Park Children's Zoo. For those outside of London, try the West Midland Safari Park, Cornish Seal Sanctuary, Port Lympne Safari Park or Edinburgh Zoo and Highland Wildlife Park.

Port Lymphe Safari Park and Wild Animal Reserve© Instagram
Port Lymphe Safari Park and Wild Animal Reserve

Add schooling to their screen time

To commemorate World Environment Day, the popular Talking Tom & Friends game has been updated with an eco-friendly twist: gamers can now learn about the Amazon Rainforest. Talking Tom Gold Run sees players participating in a 'Grow & Go' event collecting water droplets to nurture their own tree. As the tree grows, endangered species of the Amazon will appear on screen, with players rewarded for their conservation efforts with in-game coins. Meanwhile, Talking Angela 2 fans can help the lovable cat grow flowers on her balcony to attract bees to encourage biodiversity and help sustain the ecosystem. Download the free games from the App Store, Amazon Appstore or Google Play.

© Talking Tom & Friends

Enjoy a family-friendly staycation

Avoid the stress of airport security,  delayed flights and currency exchange by exploring the UK on a summer staycation. The Four Seasons Hampshire is set within 500 acres of land and offers a luxury getaway with the option to add horse riding, fly fishing or falconry lessons as well as private canal boat hire, archery and tennis or a meet and greet with the hotel's adorable Shetland ponies Milo and Dougal. Make the most of the hotel's lush grounds with a Winnie the Pooh picnic of Nutella brioche rolls, jam and peanut butter sandwiches or book a deluxe family barbecue with lawn games, freshly cut flowers, dining furniture and a private chef, finishing the evening by toasting marshmallows on an open fire.

Meet Milo and Dougal, the hotel's mischievous ponies© Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire
Meet Milo and Dougal, the hotel's mischievous ponies

Sharkie's Reef swimming pool is a favourite with little ones with its umbrella fountain, slide and bubble jets while adults can relax in the indoor heated or outdoor vitality pool and spa or 24 hour gym. All children receive a Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire passport with a map of the property and fun challenges to complete (with a star prize from the Front Desk up for grabs!) while the concierge team will ensure you are looked after with nappies, changing mats, additional cribs and a personalised surprise in the room for mini VIPs.

Get back to nature in the stunning grounds© Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire
Get back to nature in the stunning grounds

Make a journal

Children can create their own holiday journal or sketchbook documenting their favourite memories of the summer. It'll make for a cute keepsake once they're older too.

Take them on a history trip

Landmarks such as The Cutty Sark, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre and Hampton Court Palace are bound to impress history buffs. At the latter, walk around the Haunted Gallery, where the ghost of Catherine Howard is said to roam, and explore the famous Puzzle Maze, the world's oldest and set within 60 acres of gardens. 

Hampton Court Palace© Instagram
Hampton Court Palace

Invent some al fresco games

Move your activities outside for a change of scene. Games such as alphabet relay work well in the garden or park. Place foam letters in one bucket then call out a word, letter by letter, for the child to spell by finding the letters and running to place them in another bucket. Skittles with empty plastic bottles and taking turns in goal will also prove a hit. 

Hunt for buried treasure

Ask kids to sketch out their own treasure map of the rooms in your house or the garden and hide their favourite toy for you to find with the help of their clues. Or test their map-reading skills by creating your own themed treasure hunt with questions leading to a prize - either a special day out or their favourite snack.

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