10 Easter Ideas For Bored Kids

If Easter has come around sooner than expected, don’t worry. The weather is mostly nice, but more importantly, there are plenty of outdoor activities that kids can get involved in safely.

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1. Easter egg hunts – Via Geocache

Mark down a location’s co-ordinates using Google and hide an egg there. Allow your kids, under supervision to use your smart phone or GPS device to locate the easter eggs, teaching them about navigation- and resulting in them being a bit worn out (until they consume the chocolate.)

2. Archery

If you want your kids to learn a great skill and for them to have some fun as well, then an archery course is an ideal day out. Get kids trying their hand at Robin Hood skills with a bow and arrow, with expert guidance from a tutor who can help them perfect their aim.

3. Swimming

Swimming pools are brilliant for kids who need to get rid of their energy and to cool down in the hot sun. Why don’t you check your local council’s website to find your nearest pool, and even book in for lessons if your children haven’t learnt yet.

4. Zorbing

If your kids are old enough and deserve a treat, then they will be thrilled with zorbing or water walking. This fantastic sport can help them with balance on the water, but really, it’s just a bit of fun!

5. Multi Activity Days/ Activity Centres

For young and old kids in the same family, choosing activities can be hard. We love Activity centres at GO Activities because they can offer something for mum, Dad, and kids alike. With high ropes swings, zip lines and more, these multi activity courses can also offer quad biking, clay pigeon shooting or kayaking, dependent on location.

6. Indoor Climbing

If the sun stops shining, rain needn’t stop play with a day on an indoor climbing wall. Book in and an instructor can show your kids the ropes, literally, so they can tire themselves out and have a really good go at climbing or bouldering.

7. Ball Games

If you have a local park, there’s nothing better than a few ball games, a picnic and a walk around the local area. Go online to see local walks around you – you can even grab the kid’s bikes and take them that way. Don’t forget a pocket full of change for the ice cream van!

8. The cinema
If it’s a hot day, there’s always the advantage that the cinema is usually air conditioned, and emty! Check online for rates for kids in the holidays and see if you can get a bargain on the latest blockbuster.

9. Camping

Head to one of the national parks if you have spare time and settle down for an evening of camping. Kids love the novelty and you can enjoy some quality time together roasting marshmallows by the fire and reading stories!

10. Fishing

If the kids are still after something to do- why not consider fishing? This is a step up from crabbing that most young kids do, and if theyare old enough to listen, sit still and enjoy learning, this can be a really interesting day. As an added bonus, if they are very good, you get a free dinner!

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Ben Hatch’s Top Ten Tips For Travelling With Kids

Author Ben Hatch makes my boyfriend hate me, namely when I snort with laughter at his book “Are we nearly there yet” about, as the title says, “A family’s 8000 mile car journey around Britain’.

Going to the Pencil Museum to see the world’s largest pencil, having escapades with teaspoons that shouldn’t be read after a heavy dinner and the romance between married Dinah and Ben will keep you laughing if you love Britain and you love trying new activities. The book was made for us. Not literally. But you can buy it here. You will love it. Promise.

We asked Ben to write us a bespoke article to pass on his advice and hard earned wisdom asking the eternal question besides how socks go missing –

Just how DO you travel with kids? 

Enjoy!

Top Ten Tips For Travelling With Kids

1) Always carry treats. Travelling with children minus treats is like walking through a vampire-infested grave-yard after midnight without a wooden stake. You might survive, but why take the chance.

2) Enthuse your kids about where you’re going. Although never oversell the destination as we did visiting the Wensleydale Cheese Visitor Centre. On the strength of a Yorkshire Tourist Board leaflet featuring Wallace and Gromit sticking their thumbs up, we rashly promised life-size models of the cartoon characters wandering around. The only thing Wallace and Gromit related was a chalk outline of them on the café’s specials board. We’d driven two hours to a working cheese factory to show the kids the processes milling and tipping and for them to learn how Wensleydale cheese did in the last Nantwich International Cheese festival.

3) Not to have a sat-nav today is a bit like being a sailor in the 14th century trying to round the Cape of Good Hope without a nautical chart. It’s insane. Put it this way, if I had a choice – my brakes or the sat-nav? – I’d gladly drill a hole in the driver’s footwell and start using my feet to slow down. Having a sat-nav means brain cells required to remember to turn right or left at particular junctions are more usefully re-directed towards establishing just who in the back was the first to slap the other one round the face with the Corfe Castle activity sheet.

4) Adapt well-known children’s stories into tales involving your children themselves. You can do this by replacing the main character’s name in a classic fairytale with your child’s name so that for us it became, for instance, Phoebe and the Three Bears (‘And then Phoebe tried the medium-sized bowl of porridge…..’) or Hansel and Phoebe (‘And the wicked witch told Phoebe, I will eat your brother be he fat or thin.’). The thrill of an ego-centric toddler hearing themselves thrust into unlikely adventures involving beanstalks, glass slippers and evil witches buys valuable time to continue the argument with your wife about where you went wrong on the A41.

5) In-car Dvd players are a must. They’re available for under £100 but don’t buy the cheapest. We did and it kept disconnecting from the cigarette lighter and returning the film to the beginning. Consequently despite watching Finding Nemo 10 times during our 8,000 mile trip round Britain, our kids are still unaware Nemo was eventually reunited with his father.

6) Colouring-in books and pens provide a welcome distraction. Although be careful – our daughter, protesting about an arduously long drive through the Pennines after a day out at Ostrich World, once employed the toddler equivalent of self-harming with razors. She gothically drew all over her face and arms in black felt tip.

7) Forget I-spy. It’s over in seconds as there’s nothing consistent to see from a speeding car window except the road, others cars and the sky. Instead play I-don’t-Spy, as in ‘I don’t spy with my little eye something beginning with P,’ where the p is then capable of being anything in the known universe unobservable from your car. Our kids once spend two hours guessing the word Gnu.

8) Lie about how far it is. As a rule of thumb under 50 miles is “round the corner.” How far dad? “Round the corner.” Over 50 miles then divide how long it will take to get there by 4. Thus an hour becomes 15 minutes. You must divide by 4 again if this stills meets with disappointment. In fact, repeat this division by 4 until your child says, “It’s round the corner.”

9) Finally, if all else fails, and it will, we suggest turning Classic FM to maximum volume and kidding yourself you aren’t muffling the kids’ din with an even louder one, but that you’re actually educating them about Haydn.

10) Good luck.

Kid Friendly Activities

Are you still having nightmares about the last half term break?  The cries of ‘please!’ and ‘why not?’ still haven’t left you have they? It’s okay. We know how hard these mini adults can be to entertain.

Maybe they don’t yet have a hobby, or perhaps they’ve already developed a love of DeathRevengeGore3 on the X-Station.  We all know the benefits to be had if your child is raised with a life of adventure and regular activity so we want to coax them outside. A chance to try things earlier can take away and fears they might otherwise develop, and makes helps them to stay fit, healthy and socialized.

A lot of the events that you can book for yourself can also be booked for the kids. Outdoor based, skill based activities are often perfect for kids and young adults,  such as biking, walking, learning bushcraft skills, fishing and even archery or shooting, all combined with camping as a family. Sadly, it’s up to you to get them off the sofa and doing these things, sotear off that earpiece they’re sporting, lob their mp3 player in the bin and get them outside enjoying the outdoors before they submit to a lifetime of chubbery with this guide to kid friendly activities.

Guided/Group Walks With Kids

Most companies who offer guided walks will also be happy to take out children of a certain age. With a group walk, sometimes kids can come, as long as the group are happy with that. The age varies but is dependent on how long the walk is and how much experience your own child has had with walking. However most walks that are kid friendly wont be that 2 day trek around the peaks, but would be something more child friendly.  Getting outdoors on the hills means that kids can run free, but it’s also a great opportunity to instill the theories behind Leave No Trace, respecting the outdoors, navigating and keeping safe outdoors as you walk or climb.

The ramblers also have a list of local walking groups (with kids) that you can get involved with, for regular, local activities. See the list here.

Pushchair Walks:

Costing £1 to cover costs, you can download routes from Pushchair Walks, a fantastic site that lists all the walks that’s are pushchair friendly all over the UK, (or you can buy a whole book for your region.)

Started by two stay at home mums, these are fantastic for active parents with young children who want to get walking away from roads, traffic and congestion.

These walks are great for giving you some resistance as you walk, so if you want a bit of excess weight off, this can help build up those muscles in your arms.

They also review buggies, so if you’re about to pop out a child but don’t want to be trapped in with the TV on looking folornly outside, you can pick a pushchair for a local route. (Turns out 3 wheel all terrain pushchairs are best on gravel and rocky routes.)

I spoke to founder Bec about how it works.

“The walks have been popular with both parents and grandparents across the country but, in addition to this, we have had a great response from less abled people and dog walkers.

The majority of the walks have been undertaken by myself and my colleague Zoe Sayer, however, we have received walks from other pushchair walkers and always welcome more as there is only so much walking two families can do!

The walks vary in length from 1 to 6 miles and are graded in three categories, easy, medium and hard, so there really is something for everyone. The easy walks are ideal for new mum’s just regaining their fitness and perfect for their babies too as the terrain is nice and even. These easy walks, are in most cases, also recommended for wheelchair users however we do recommend contacting us to check this before purchasing a walk.

We have always found that the best way to entertain kids is to make sure there are plenty of snacks on board – see our food reviews page for recommendations! As the children become older pointing out animals and plants and encouraging them to use all their senses to explore the world around them provides a wonderful way of parent/child interaction.

The website is inclusive of all carrying methods. All walks have minimal obstacles so that they are easy for adults with pushchairs of papooses to undertake. There are advantages and disadvantages to all carrying methods but the pushchair does allow the parent to carry items for every eventuality! Some of the walks are suitable for wheelchair users and we have had some great feedback concerning this. We would recommend that these users look at the walks with an easy grading and contact us to make sure they are suitable.   ”

Family Walks:

Family walks are a great way to spend time together without distractions (Shops, TV and Confectionary being top offenders.) but you need to keep them fun.  We have a few walks with pubs en route in this blog here,  so you can stop off for (child friendly) refreshments. Give kids some gadgets and tasks, like a head torch, the map and a pencil, a map case, a compass or GPS system. There are plenty of walks but a great idea is to try include nature trails or woodland routes. There kids can get involved building dens, spotting insects or even snail racing.

The Woodland Trust has plenty of downloadable resources found here you can use to get started.

It’s also really key that you have the right shoes for you and the kids- even growing feet need walking boots with good ankle support so don’t forget to get them kitted out and worn in before you attempt the Eiger.

Geocaching:

Geocaching is the method of using a GPS to navigate to some set co-ordinates. Register online at geocache.com (it’s free), and search for caches near your location.

Get the co-ordinates- sent to your phone or enter them into your GPS. Then go find the cache, which is a small prize in a watertight container. Sign the log book on arrival and take the prize, leaving your own for the next geocacher! Read more on it here.

Camping with kids:

Surely you aren’t already skipping this paragraph? Wait! Come back! It’s not like the old days!… Oh well.

Some people just can’t be convinced that camping won’t have you digging a cat hole at 3am and showering under a leaky, rusty tap in a hut.

But luxury (and not glamping) can be achieved and there is a happy medium between ‘might as well be a hotel’ and ‘rough and ready camping’.

I spoke to a regular camper and mum of two under tens, Alison Bates about how to ‘do’ camping with kids.

“Some campsites have underfloor heating, an onsite coffee shop, gourmet dinners a washing machine, tumble drier and even hot tubs! These are a fantastic way of getting a luxury break, for cheaper than a break abroad, and you’re sure to use the washing machine, but in other senses, even though it takes brave camper to go camping without electricity or for a more ‘real experience’ it can be done.The key is the electric hook up.  With these you can actually take, if not the kitchen sink, then at least the kettle, the toaster, the radio. With kids I would always personally choose a lesser sized pitch and the choice of an electric hook up! If you can’t afford to go abroad camping is ideal. It’s always has been a cheap option and it is much simpler than you imagine.”

How do you make it easy to camp with kids and keep them happy?

“Children love freedom so they tend to run around and entertain themselves. Get them pitching the tent with you; they will soon get into it. The set them free! The best advice from me is to make sure the kids are dressed in shorts and t-shirts that can be worn from bed or put on themselves, so they can have a cereal breakfast (keep UHT milk handy) and then they can go play on site.  Choose the right site and they can make friends, wear themselves out, walk, bike, kayak, canoe, and head onto the lake, try climbing and just get some fresh air. Some sites have rangers so they can go with them pond dipping, on bat walks, if not on the campsite, then near it. I would also recommend District Association meets for campers which a side of the Camping and Caravanning club, these are local events for people from the same area with the same sort of interests. The benefit is you get many of the same kids coming to them so they are great for shy children.”

Alison’s Unique Packing Essentials For Happy Kids

  • Hot water bottles for safe tent heating (never use a BBQ or stove, even if it’s gone cold, because of the fumes)
  • Beakers- Keep drinks in these to stop wasps settling.
  • Headtorches for the kids at night
  • First aid kit – complete with wasp spray for stings, Arnica for bruises and plenty of plasters
  • A bucket with lid for toilet waste with kitchen towel in for silence!
  • A bucket with water for a fire bucket or for washing muddy feet in
  • BBQ skewers duct taped to long sticks to put in the fire to cook marshmallows safely
  • Mini fire extinguisher for in car use taken to the tent
  • Mobile phone charger  which is solar powered or wind up
  • String – you can make washing line or you can tie your kids oars to a canoe- there are plenty of uses for string!


Guided Cycling Routes For Kids

Ever tried to cycle with a map in hand? That’s why you got that injury. What you needed was a guide who could have let you kick back on the bike, whilst they did all the hard work on the trail and teaching front.

Guided cycling routes are extremely easy to get into- all you need is a kid friendly route and a provider who can take you all out. The best routes to look for are based around bridleways and steam trains or on a dedicated course outdoors with a cycling professional guiding the way. A professional will teach you how to maintain your bike before and after the ride, what to look for, and how to handle it.

We spoke to Steve from Adventure Cycling about different ways to get your kids biking.

“There are family friendly routes of course, but we offer guided trails or even the mobile skills park, which we can bring to a school to teach kids as young as 8 about cycling, brakes and handling the bike. We can take families out and we would say that a family of 5 with a 8, 10 and 12 year old would be able to feasibly cycle up to 10 or even 18 miles in one go. We can supply bikes, helmets, so nearly anyone can come.  You may find that many places say ‘bring your own bike’. This is for logistical reasons, but it also shows that they are already able to cycle. If your child is unsure, then you should book in a special cycling lesson first, so always ask the provider.”

And what about fitness? Can anyone cycle?

“We do say that kids should be relatively fit, but cycling is great because you get a out of return on what you put in and it’s actually good for some problems children have, which might be asthma or maybe a weight issue. There’s little strain on the knees and it’s really fun too. ”

These tours can then progress to cycling holidays as soon as your child is confident on the bike, although for legal reasons this might have a higher minimum age.

Family Cycling Days

I have fond memories of being cycled around by my mum on a child seat only to show my appreciation by saying  ‘Mummy, why are you making that wheezing noise.’ Luckily she decided not to insist I walked the last mile.  Happy memories.

Steve tells us that the great thing about cycling is it can be a whole day experience, or an adventurous blast! “Getting out on a route down the Eden Valley in Penrith is great for little and big kids- usually dad- and days like this can combine together a picnic, a cycle and scenic routes so everyone’s happy.”

To get into cycling look for a bike. Kid’s bikes come in a variety of different sizes but are sold by age, so they are relatively easy to buy.

Indoor Climbing For Kids

Getting out on the rock face with a young adult is easy if you have had the relevant training and experience but if you are also a beginner then you need some guidance.

Long gone are the days of school climbing frames that swang away from the wall and resulted in horrific bruises- nowadays climbing can be fun. And you can wear more than a ‘gym slip’.

We always recommend a local climbing wall before you go away on a climbing trip to allow your child to get used to unfamiliar accessories like the harness, the helmet and the wall itself.

I spoke to Mike Lloyd from the Harrogate climbing centre.

“Kids can pick up quickly and we offer a mixed ability course, days for Mum, Dad and kids to come together, or kids clubs for 3 different age groups. The youngest we can get climbing are 5 year olds, and that’s for insurance reasons really! We are seeing a real busy period, and we have also been offering outdoor days on crags around Harrogate this year that have been great, so we have plans to do those next year in Manchester.” But what about that fear of falling?

“The only way kids can tackle these fear of heights is to try it, and we start off slow. We have bouldering walls, we can get them top roping, lead climbing, and the feedback is always great once they are actually doing it. If it’s the parent’s fear, we are CRB checked, all trained on site, regardless of how trained the staff already are, and we are monitored by the National Mountaineering Centre, so there are full checks at every stage.”

You can choose as Mike mentioned, to take kids to their own club, or to come for an hour or two with a personal guide. “This works out better with more people, with a family of 4 it can be £15 a head for an hour of instruction. This is often enough for younger children, where a whole day of climbing is probably a bit much.”

Kids need to bring their own comfy clothing, and the wall will supply shoes, and all the safety equipment.

(And bring socks as “the shoes are worn by quite a few people!””)

 High Ropes Courses For Kids

King of the swingers (not like that) in training can chimp about in one of the many high ropes courses in the UK. There are plenty of climbing activities on high ropes courses as which are perfect for adding more height for adventurous kids who have outgrown the indoor wall, with the addition of there being a safety harness for security as well as karabiners and all the other gear. The other plus is you can hire, without having to buy it.

There are zip ropes, and other smaller bits of equipment for kids to use, and instructors are always on hand. Many high ropes courses have an age and a height limit, which is usually 10 years old and 4”7 in height.

Learning to abseil, playing games and keeping active stops boredom or fear setting in and will wear out kids who are full of energy.

Outdoor Climbing For Kids

For outdoor climbing, there are plenty of options. From gritstone ridges, sandstone runs and  crags and flat, grassy areas, there are plenty of places to start to climb in the outdoors in the UK that you will have somewhere if not in your county, then very nearby! Simply pack them some jam sandwiches in a map and send them off to emerge out the forest years later, growling, bearded, but amazing climbers. Only joking. For new climbers, an indoor wall is best, but there are other options. Look for a beginners crag or a specific training class for young adults. Look for a belay route with a flat bottom so you can get kids up and down easily, or a climbing route near a lake or river (Ullswater in the lakes is great for a refreshing jump into the water.)

 Canoeing, Kayaking and Sailing For Kids

The general rule is, if a child can swim, there is an excellent chance that they can take part in a version of some of these activities. Out on the water all that children need is an ability to swim or at least float. A buoyancy aid or life jacket is an essential, even for keen swimmers too, so if you’re accompanying them, prepare to don waterproofs, wellies, a big waterproof skirt and gloves.

Choose an open canoe for a whole family, or if they want to go alone, sit on top (open) kayaks are great as they don’t need to sit still inside the boat. Depending on if you want to camp as well, you can often find similar families with matching interests at District Meets. Canoeing and camping meets are geared to people with a canoe, and you can find other places for people who own a narrow boat.

Some activities might seem dangerous but can actually be exiting and safe for kids. I spoke Jason at Distant Horizons about getting kids onto white water rapids, canoes and kayaks.

“The great thing about kayak is that it can be done easily with a tandem, so you could be behind your child as they learn. You can combine this with a day of lake jumping, a picnic or BBQ, and maybe some bivvi camping at the end. It ends up being a really fun family day out and paddling can be picked up really easily.”

Rifle Shooting, Clay Pigeon Shooting and Archery for Kids

Shooting and archery are skills that can usually be picked up very early on. Archery provider John Hartog of Sporting Targets told us that children as young as 8 can get involved with clay pigeon shooting, archery and even air rifle shooting.

“We have an age minimum of 8 and we can have a group of 6 for a shooting experience. This is because to hold the bow and arrow, for example,. You need to be 4ft high. You also need to be slightly strong to hold the gear. Archery or shooting can be a great experience for all the family or for a group of kids.”

And is archery modern enough in a world of technology and indoor games?

“The feedback that we get is that they love the guns, especially the boys. They are talking about Robin hood afterwards and really buzzing! We get some great feedback. Because they are supervised and the parents are nearby, it’s safe. As for the trainers, they all have shotgun licence and are CRB checked so it’s a really great way to give your child a bit of freedom to learn a skill that will impress them. “

John explained that before kids get hold of that rifle (and you start sweating about not agreeing to that buying that trike  for them last Christmas.) they will be safety briefed and given protective gear before they lay hands on a gun.  They are often given 4.10 calibre sporting guns which are very small. This is great for all the family to do as many kids get a kick out of ‘beating mum and dad’, whilst the sport also encourages concentration.

Fishing For Kids

I spoke to Stephen Ward of Go Clay Shooting who also offers courses to kids teaching an introduction to fly and coarse fishing.

“Fishing is great for kids, and for mum and dad. We get a mix of middle aged people booking to learn the skills, and then the other day I had a group of 7 year olds, so there’s a real mix learning and they all love it. Fly fishing is all about the presentation and you use a specific casting technique to catch, specifically trout, either brown or rainbow usually. We also offer Coarse fishing, which is using the rod, line, hooks to get small carp and tench, usually about 10 or 11lb, so quite impressive for a child. You can also take the trout home for tea as well which is a nice touch.The pools we use are about 3t deep so they are quite safe and easy, and we can do 1, 2 or 3 hours at a time. As well as the actual fishing we also teach them safety skills, the basics of knot tying, and we can even advise on what to buy if it’s fishing is going to be a regular hobby.”

So there you go. With most activities having a minimum age or 7 -8 and camping,walking and biking and even climbing open to smaller children, there’s something for everyone outdoors for a wet day or half term.

What outdoor activities have you done with your little ones?