Half term is finally upon us, leaving many of us wondering how on earth we can keep children entertained for a whole week while the schools are shut! To make things a little easier, here are a few fun activities you can do at home with the kids.
1. Woodland walks
Autumn is the best time to go for a long leafy walk. Discover your nearest park or woods, and go on a scavenger hunt for pretty pinecones, conkers, sticks and leaves which you can use later for fun crafting projects, or find a stream to play Pooh sticks in (just throw the sticks in and race them)! The kids will love collecting forest treasures and kicking piles of leaves.
2. Decorate pine cones
Once you've foraged for some pine cones, why not turn them into a pretty garland for the mantelpiece? You could also put down some newspapers outside and let the kids have a go at painting and decorating the pine cones with spray paint and glitter. Or use the pine cones and other autumnal objects to create a beautiful autumn wreath for the front door.
3. Make an autumn tree
You're familiar with the Christmas tree and you may have heard of an Easter tree, but why not make an autumn tree as the seasons change? Arrange some long sticks and twigs in a tall vase (you could let the children help you paint them first by spray painting them silver, white, or gold), and decorate the display by hanging pine cones, colourful leaves (you could just cut leaf shapes from paper and have the kids paint them), and even a few autumnal baubles!
4. Visit a pumpkin patch
Visit a pumpkin patch and let the children pick out their own pumpkins, then take them home and make Jack O' Lanterns! To avoid any accidents you could let them draw the pattern or face they want on the pumpkins in marker, then you could do the cutting yourself, or you could encourage them to just decorate them by painting them!
5. Bake a bread wreath
One of the easiest fool-proof and fun recipes to try with the children is making bread. Make sure you get the measurements right, then let the children help knead the dough. Watch the look on their faces as the dough magically doubles in size after proving! Once the dough is formed, you could try making a pretty bread wreath by rolling the dough into a sausage shape, bending the sausage into a circle and using scissors to snip a leaf pattern into it.
6. Go apple picking
Find an apple orchard and go apple picking – then try making one of our apple recipes together!
7. Make sloe gin
If you have any blackthorn bushes in your area, let the children help you pick and collect sloe berries – then make your own sloe gin once they've gone to bed. You'll thank yourself later!
8. Build a fort
Indulge your inner child and build a fort with the kids – but go all out this time. Make it as big and as fabulous as you can. You could even put down mattresses inside it, and decorate it with fairy lights. Why not spend the night in the fort as a family? Your kids will love it! Although it might be a pain to tidy up the next day, it will have created some lovely memories....
9. Build a wigwam
Don't want to make quite as much mess? With a few big tall sticks and a big sheet you can help your children build a garden wigwam!
10. Make a 'feather' headdress
To go with the wigwam theme, you could cut feather shapes or leaf shapes out of plain paper and let the children paint and decorate them. Once they're dry, you could either thread them on a string and turn them into a pretty garland to decorate their bedroom or the mantelpiece, or you could staple them vertically to a long strip of paper and make some 'feather' headdresses.
11. Visit a petting zoo
For kids who already love animals, visiting the petting zoo is always a treat. For those who still find some animals frightening, the petting zoo is the perfect environment to introduce them to new animals and get them accustomed to handling furry friends.
12. Go camping
Camp out in the garden one night; pitch up a tent, light a fire (in a brazier, chiminea or firepit), roast marshmallows and tell them stories - all wrapped up in duvets and blankets of course! Keep an eye out for hundreds of shooting stars between October 20 - 22!
13. Make butter
You can't really go wrong with a recipe that only requires one ingredient! Try James Martin's butter recipe and let the kids help strain it, and flavour it with herbs, lemon, salt or nuts.
14. Watch old Disney classics
How well do they know the original Cinderella, Beauty and The Beast, 101 Dalmatians, Bambi, The Lion King, or the Aristocats? There are so many great original Disney movies that they're bound to love – and you'll love re-watching them too!
15. Make pompoms
Pompoms are surprisingly easy to make, all you need is some wool! Make a pile of multi-coloured pompoms together, then use them to decorate their cushion covers, bunting, or even tie them to a string of fairy lights to decorate their bedroom!
16. Host a spooky sleepover
Invite their friends round for a spooky sleepover – the parents of the other children are bound to appreciate it and might even return the favour one day! Prepare some spooktacular Halloween-themed snacks, decorate the house in Halloween style, and let them watch a Halloween film like Casper. Why not make it a fancy dress affair?