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Free Activities This Summer

Free Family Activities for you and your children!

Free activities? What are those...? But all summer holiday activities cost something… Don’t they?

Well, they do if you include packing a picnic and driving somewhere but summer activities for children don’t have to cost a lot! Here are a few “free activities” and not just summer holiday activities (all year-round activities) that you can do with your children…

A little girl is sat on a blanket playing with wooden blocks

Oh, We Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside!

With summer in full swing and the weather promising, why not take the children to the nearest beach? A fun day out for all the family and friends. Pack a picnic (with or without the children’s help), swimsuits, and towels, get your bucket and spades, apply plenty of sun cream and off you go!

a child stands in a sand box and fills a bucket

A perfect way to spend a sunny day by:

  • building sandcastles
  • digging holes
  • carrying buckets of water to and from the sea
  • burying feet
  • hunting for shells and pebbles
  • splashing, playing, and swimming in the water
  • strolling up and down the shoreline
  • playing biff bat, French cricket, frisbee or football…

There are so many things that you can do! All of which encourage and develop children’s fine and gross motor skills, communication skills, problem-solving and adventure skills. A lovely way to pass a summer’s day laughing, relaxing, playing, and chatting, whilst at the same time working and exploring together.

children stand inside the covered sand box large

River Walks

Summer holiday activities can be cooling! Exploring a local River is a wonderful outdoor activity for parents and children of all ages. If you’re lucky enough to live near a River with shallow walking trails, take your children to it for a day’s exploration. If not, a quick Google search will show you a local, child-friendly River trail to go to. River walking trails provide a great setting for children to explore, be curious and develop their imaginative play! It’s also one of many free activities that you can do with your children, and you don’t need a lot of equipment to do it!

shutlingsloe cheshire

All you need is sunscreen, hats, rashies/swimwear, water shoes, buckets and nets, and a picnic and off you go!

Let your children wade into the shallow cool water and explore what’s within…little fish, tadpoles, water snails, and rocks… the let your children climb over and around obstacles, jump over rocks, build dams with stones, twigs and mud, and see what other wildlife is present such as butterflies, frogs, dragonflies, bees, birds whilst connecting and immersing themselves with the nature around them.

A fantastic summer holiday activity allowing your children to get wet and dirty, which develops their inner confidence, curiosity, independence, and sense of adventure!

Exploring shallow water also develops children’s:

  • balance and core stability having to walk over rocky patches,
  • problem-solving by challenging children on how to travel from one side of the river to the other,
  • communication and teamwork skills if a raft is built,
  • awareness about the life stages in nature seeing tadpoles and fish eggs in the water,
  • want to be in nature providing fond memories that they will continue into their adult lives.

Just remember to keep a close eye on them, but at the same time give them the freedom to explore, take risks and discover new things on their own!

a view of the water wall on shutlingsloe

Visit A New (To You) Playground/Park

Summer activities for children without travelling far and little research could be going to a local National Trust Park, Park or Playground for a morning/afternoon or full day out. And yes, these are free activities to do! Most of which will have a wooded area, a pond or lake, walking trails and a playground. Choose a Park or Playground that you have never been to before and let the children know that you are going on a new adventure!

If going to a National Trust Park you can take a picnic and explore and find the perfect base to lay out your blankets, whilst the children go off and roam and investigate. You could ask them to draw all the different trees, flowers, insects, birds, and animals that they see, build dens next to trees, play hide and seek, climb over fallen tree trunks, set up obstacle courses using the trees, stumps, branches, rocks around them, use sticks as swords for fantastical play… the list is endless. Thus, encouraging fine and gross motor skills, coordination and balance skills, an understanding of nature, promoting creativity, as well as communication and teamwork.

children sit under the sheet attached the den making postsIf going to a new Playground encourage children to play independently and take risks (with you close by – just in case!). Let them climb the ladders of the slide, scale the climbing frames, and swing high on the swings to allow them to follow their instincts, make judgment calls and set their boundaries.

Allow the children to make up games and play them together. You could drop in ideas and take some toys with you to help the process such as:

  • Toy Cars - Can they see which one goes the fastest down the slide? It’s a great way to introduce Speed, Weight, Distance etc into play.
  • Obstacle Courses – Can the children use all the equipment in the playground and travel over, under, across them etc? Or jump, skip, run, or roll to each obstacle the options are numerous! Promoting coordination, balance, and core strength whilst at the same time having lots of fun!
  • Finding Shapes – Can the children find different shapes in the playground? A great game for little children learning their way around shapes. Use the slide, merry-go-round, swings, see-saws etc to help them recognise basic shapes (rectangles, squares, circles, triangles etc.)

There are lots of different games that can be played and more that can be made up on the day!

The Whitworth Art Gallery- PLAYTIME

Every Summer, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, The Whitworth Art Gallery hosts PLAYTIME- a free play event for families! 

a little boy sits on the floor at the whitworth art gallery and lays with building blocks

The aim of PLAYTIME is to offer a space for families to visit where they're not required to spend money or purchase anything, and children can stillplay, make friends and have fun. 

This year, the theme is Economics. Children can learn all about the concept of economics as they invent and make at the 'making stations' and then sell at the 'market'. They will learn about different trade and exchange deals, and improve their understanding of the world. 

a child crosses the play builder invention they've constructed

Better yet, it's all FREE! 

Pentagon have donated a range of equipment, including Mud Kitchens, Tuff Spot Tables and Playhouses, to the Whitworth for this summer of play, and this is the perfect example of a partnership that doesn't involve the exchange of money! 

Drop-in Tuesdays 10.30am–1pm, Wednesdays 1-4pm, Thursdays 1-4pm throughout August.

ks1 take a nature walk in the woods

Hopefully, the above summer holiday activities have given you food for thought to keep your children occupied during the holidays, encouraging them to be creative, go outside and burn off some steam!

If you're looking for more ideas, check out our Summer Outdoor Play Ideas or our Summer Arts and Crafts Activities