Updated: Oct 19
With half term just around the corner, you may be wondering how on earth you’re going to keep your kids entertained for a whole week! Lots of the usual attractions aren’t operating this year – at least not at their usual capacity – and you may not even feel like going out and about with the current pandemic situation.
I’ve put together a list of 20 great activities you can do as a family, most of which don’t cost anything and will give you options for both sunshine and rainy days.
1. Go for an autumn walk
Get outside and enjoy the beautiful autumn colours nature has to offer. A walk in the woods or countryside is a great way to use up some energy and soak up that all important Vitamin D. If the weather allows, why not take a picnic with you so you can stop half way and enjoy the views.
2. Drink hot chocolate
When you get back from your walk, you’ll probably need warming up with a delicious mug of hot chocolate – with marshmallows, of course! I’ve been drinking oat milk for a couple of years now and it makes such a creamy, yummy hot chocolate so I would definitely recommend trying it as an alternative to dairy.
3. Movie marathon
Draw the curtains, crack out the popcorn, get cosy under your blankets and enjoy an afternoon of movie magic! Whether you’re a Disney fan, love superhero films or are brave enough to watch some scary Halloween movies, this is the perfect activity for a rainy day.
4. Read a book and draw a picture
Reading is a great way to help kids learn in a fun way. Why not get out their favourite book, have a read and then draw your favourite characters? You could recreate a scene from the book or make up your own story with some of the characters!
5. Go puddle jumping
A great excuse to get outdoors, especially at this time of year – just remember to get out the waterproofs and wellies or you’ll have a lot to clean up when you get home!
6. Collect conkers
This is a classic pastime that I remember doing when I was young. The only part you’ll struggle with is carrying your haul home (and leaving enough for other children to collect)!
7. Collect autumn leaves and make a picture
Get really arty and use autumn leaves from your garden to create a picture. Make a leaf collage by sticking them on paper or use them as stamps by dipping them in paint.
8. Make magic wands
This one was inspired by Louise Pentland who does a lot of craft activities with her daughters Darcy and Pearl. All you need to do is collect some twigs from outside (about 20-30cm in length), paint them whatever colours you like and then comes the magic! Once the paint has dried, put some glue on the end (to cover an inch or two) and dip the wand in glitter. When they’re completely dry, your children will have endless fun running around casting spells on each other!
Put on your aprons and get baking some tasty sweet treats. Cupcakes, cookies, biscuits, crumbles, brownies... the possibilities are endless! You could make some Halloween-themed treats (or are they tricks?!) such as spider cupcakes using cola laces or pumpkin cupcakes with orange buttercream.
10. Make Halloween decorations
Instead of going out and buying lots of plastic decorations this year, why not make your own at home? You could use cotton wool to make spiders webs, cut bat shapes out of black paper and stick them on string for bat bunting, and instead of buying lots of sweets wrapped in plastic, make a bowl of home-made treats to have on display and offer to any trick-or-treaters. Don’t forget about traditional pumpkin carving – make sure you help your little ones with this, as we don’t want them using sharp knives!
There are still plenty of foods you can forage at this time of year including blackberries, damsons and hazelnuts, which you can then use for cooking at home. Make sure you do a bit of research before you head out and if you’re ever in doubt about picking something, don’t – it’s better not to risk getting poorly! Also remember to leave some for the wildlife.
12. Get ahead and write your letter to Santa
Life is a little bit hectic at the moment, so you don’t want to risk forgetting your letters to Santa! Give your children a piece of paper and some coloured pens, and help them write their Christmas wish list. You could get them to tell Santa what they’ve been up to this year and any special achievements they’ve had at school or their extra curricular clubs.
13. Paint pinecones
When you go out on your autumnal walks, keep an eye out for pinecones and take a few home with you. Clean them up, dry them out and then decorate with paint and glitter to make some cute decorations.
14. Cook a healthy meal for the family
If you can handle going to the shops with your kids, why not visit a local farmers market or zero waste shop and pick up some supplies for a healthy, wholesome meal? When you get home, encourage your children to help you cook dinner – they’re far more likely to eat it if they’ve helped to prepare it.
15. Make a yummy batch of soup for lunch
In my last blog post I shared a tasty recipe for carrot and coriander soup – my absolute favourite! Autumn is definitely soup season and there are so many options out there. If you make a big batch, it will last you all week – or pop some in your freezer for an easy lunch another day.
16. Build a fort in your child’s bedroom
With just a few pillows, chairs and bed sheets, your kids can transform their rooms into fortresses! Make sure you have plenty of rations in your fort and some entertainment in the form of books, games or movies. Sleepovers with friends may be off the cards at the moment, but you could arrange a short zoom call with friends’ parents so they can talk to each other from their blanket forts.
17. Watch an alternative Firework display
Lots of Bonfire Night events have been cancelled this year, so why not try an alternative display? In the evening, draw your curtains and make your room as dark as you can, then load a firework display on your Smart TV or laptop (there are lots of videos on YouTube). This way, you don’t miss out on the fireworks, but you also get to stay cosy and warm inside rather than standing in a cold, muddy field!
*Please don’t organise fireworks in your garden – lots of wildlife and domestic animals get very distressed at the loud noises, so please only attend licensed events if they are still going ahead.
18. Toast marshmallows over a candle
Toasted marshmallows are gooey, yummy and can be very messy – the perfect combination for kids to enjoy! Make sure you help them with the candles so they don’t hurt themselves or knock over the candles.
19. Do something for wildlife
Wild animals always need a helping hand with food and shelter, but especially at this time of year when it gets colder and wetter. Make sure you keep your bird feeders nice and full, and any water containers full and free of ice so animals have somewhere to drink. You could even go as far as making a hedgehog house or building an insect hotel! There are some great step-by-step instructions for these on The Local Answer’s website.
20. Remember to turn back the clocks on 25th October!
Try to enjoy an extra hour in bed when the clocks go back at the end of the month. I know that’s easier said than done when your children come and jump on you at 5am, but perhaps you could encourage them to stay in bed a little bit longer by rewarding them with one of the fun activities above.
Above all, have fun and enjoy spending time as a family – I think we’ve all learned how important that is this year.