With six weeks of school holidays to fill, now is the time to get out and enjoy the fresh air as a family. Not sure where to start? No worries! The National Cycle Network – cared for by the charity Sustrans* – provides a system of safe and interesting signed paths and routes throughout the UK for walking, cycling and scooting.
From weekend exploring to scenic commutes – and everything in between – it’s a network for everyone, including children of all ages. Looking for more inspiration? Go to the Asda Tour de Fun website where you’ll find lots of ideas for outdoor activities – and indoor fun if the weather lets you down.
Plan your days with free guides and downloads, and discover great places through Asda’s partnership with Sustrans. You can also enter competitions to win great days out and prizes to help you make the most of your summer. Here are some outdoor activities to get you started…
do some cloud spotting
If you're having some down-time between activities but the kids still need entertaining, give cloud spotting a go. This is a great activity if you're sitting eating ulnch outdoors, or just lying in some grass. Turn your heads to the sky, take a look at the clouds and take it in turns to ‘spot’ different animals and other shapes. What can you see?
You can also have a go at identifying different cloud types. There are three main ones - take a look at our activity sheet (click to download) to learn all about them before your next adventure.
Play 'would you rather...?'
This is a great game to play in car journeys or while walking, and is sure to raise a giggle or two. Ask questions such as ‘Would you rather be a rabbit-sized horse or a horse-sized rabbit?’. Take turns to offer other players the choice between two options – the stranger or funnier the suggestions, the better – and see which they pick! Kids will love coming up with gross or gory predicaments for the grown-ups. Don't know where to start? Here are a few suggestions... (click to download).
Make daisy crowns
Find yourself in a field with plenty of daisies? Why not try making daisy crowns! Try making hat, necklaces, rings, bracelets, or just strings. You could also have a competition to see who can make the longest chain in 15 minutes.
If you’re near a stream with a footbridge, play a game of Poohsticks. Invented by Winnie the Pooh and Piglet is A.A. Milne's book series, this simple game is great for all ages.
On the word ‘go’, each player throws a twig into the water from the upstream side of the bridge, then everyone runs to the other side to see whose stick floats out from underneath it first. Who’ll be the champion?
It may sound simple, but players will quickly get a knack for which sticks are better 'Poohsticks' than others, so except kids to get increasingly competitive!
Eat a teddy bear's picnic
If you go down to the woods today, you're in for a big surprise... Any afternoon is a great afternoon for a teddy bear picnic!
Pack some snacks, a blanket and let each child bring along a toy to join in with your lunch. But you don't have to go to the woods to have yourself a teddy bear picnic - the park, beach, or even the garden are all brilliant places to bring your furry friends.
Make a grass whistle
Although simple in theory, there's a lot of work that goes into making the perfect grass whistle - finding the perfect blade of grass is just the beginning. Then, you've got to master the technique... Click here to download our handy help sheet.
Kids will be thrilled once they've nailed the skill - if you've got a couple of music maestros on your hands, you could even encourage them to write a grass song, or form a grass orchestra!
Take a memory challenge
One of you begins by saying ‘I’m going on an adventure and I’ve seen…’ followed by something you’ve already spotted on your day out. The next player has to repeat the same sentence, remembering that item and adding their own thing afterwards. As the list gets longer and longer, each player's memory will be more and more tested. Anyone who gets it wrong or pauses for too long is out!
You're bound to see some beautiful plants while out on your nature walk - why not take photos on your smartphone of the different trees and flowers you spot. What are their leaves like? How tall are they? Then look them up when you get home so you can learn about your local hedgerows and what makes them special.
Not sure where to start? Take a look at our handy help sheet (click to download) that explains how to identify five common British hedgerow trees.
Make a collage
With all of this fun to be had, why not make something that you'll remember your summer by?
Scavenge for twigs, leaves, flowers and more, then take them home and make them into a lovely woodland-themed collage you can remember the day by. Brilliant!
Hunt for treasure
If you're popping out for a walk, make it a treasure trail!
Have an adult go on ahead to hide golden chocolate coins along the walk as treats for eagle-eyed kids to find. Remember to count the number of coins as they go down so that you can check you aren't leaving any behind or missing any on the way back. Remember: chocolate isn't good for lots of different animals - especially dogs.
Hide and seek
You can’t go wrong with a game of hide and seek! Trees and bushes make great places to hide but watch out for your shadow – it could give you away!
Look around for bushwalk bingo
A good game for kids that are likely to storm off ahead, encourage them to take time to look at their surroundings by playing a game of bushwalk bingo.
Give each child a pencil and a ‘bingo card’ (click to download) when you set off on your walk, with a list of 10 things that you’re likely to see, such as a butterfly, foxglove, oak tree and feather. The first child to tick off everything on their card is the winner.
Use your ears
Being in nature isn't just about what you can see, but what you hear, too!
Find a nice, flat spot and all lie down on your backs. Close your eyes tightly and take a few minutes just to listen to the sounds of whatever is around you. Can you hear the birds? Is that an aeroplane? What noises do the leaves make? Talk about what you can hear.
Play 'catch the colour'
This is a great scavenger hunt-style game to play with lots of people.
Get an adult to call out a colour, then everyone have to run off and find something that colour. The last person to come back is out of the game. Keep going until you have a winner! The key is to make it harder as the game goes on, so start with easy nature colours like green and yellow, then end with harder colours like blue and pink.
Sing songs and tell stories
You don't need a campfire to have a good old fashioned campfire singalong... Find a comfy spot and sit everyone down on a picnic blanket or rug. Then get creative, sing some songs and tell stories. Think of it a bit like a traditional ‘campfire’ activity – but without the camping or the fire! If someone plays the guitar, that's great. Need some campfire songs to get you started? Check out this list here.
Go on a bug hunt
Lift a stone or log and see what creepy crawlies lurk underneath – a magnifying glass may help. Count their legs, chat about what you think they eat and sketch them down. Then gently put the stone or log back in its place when you’re done.
Take leaf & bark rubbings
Pack a few crayons and some paper to try your hand at leaf and bark rubbing. It's simple - place a sheet of paper over your chosen leaf or against a tree trunk or branch, then rub with a crayon to leave a pretty nature print. You can compare the textures of different barks and the outlines of different leaves to help you learn more about the plants.
Scavenge for objects
Think treasure hunt meets bingo – make a list of things for players to find, such as a fallen leaf, round stone, item of litter to recycle and so on*. Or have each person find one item as fast as possible; vary the difficulty depending on age and ability.
Play 'who said that?!'
One person closes their eyes or covers them with a blindfold, and the rest of the group have to decide on one person to make an animal call. The nominated person then has to guess who made the noise. If they get it right, they keep being the blind-folded player. If they get it wrong, it's the next player's turn.
Take a game of hide and seek to another level. One person hides while everyone else counts to 30. Then the rest of the party split up to go and hunt the hider. When they find them they hide with them, until everyone is hiding in the same spot. The more players you have, the funnier this can be - especially if everyone's trying to squish into one tiny hiding place!
The Quiet game
This is the trump card for restoring peace to a gaggle of squabbling kids! Whoever can stay quiet for the longest is the winner. You’re welcome.
* Sustrans: This summer, Asda has partnered with Sustrans for the Tour de Fun. Sustrans is a charity** and custodian of the National Cycle Network – 16,575 miles of paths for walking, cycling and scooting, spanning the UK. It connects people and places, creates liveable neighbourhoods, transforms the school run, delivers a happier, healthier commute and provides a safe, enjoyable way for everyone to explore cities, towns and the countryside.
Words by Samantha Wood