The lives lead today by modern parents can often resemble a haphazard circus act, with juggling and plate spinning making up the majority of the acts. First there’s work. Many people are able to work from home on flexible hours, which is easier when the kids are at nursery or school, but near on impossible when they are home in the holidays. Why is it, when you need an important half an hour to wait in a phone queue to talk to your utility company, that the children start an argument or decide to practice the recorder right next to you? Then there’s housework, shopping, cleaning, cooking, laundry, taxi running about and watching to make sure no-one falls out of a tree or causes injury to themselves or others. No time to think about things to do or places to go.
Thankfully, there are pacifying screens to distract children for a while – phones, iPods, Xbox, tablets, TV – a huge range of devices, but overwhelmingly, parents know that these are not good in the long run. Anyone who’s Wi-Fi has suddenly gone down will understand the manic dependency today’s children have on the internet. The first questions children ask when they go on a sleepover are ‘Where can I charge my …’ and ‘Excuse me, what is your Wi-Fi password?’
So, where do parents tap in to find new, relevant and local things to see and do? Or how do they divert children’s attention from screens and get them doing things they’ll enjoy – either at home or outside somewhere. Obviously, there’s GoMunkee, but there are also some wonderful books to help plug the gaps in the holidays and at weekends.
101 Things for Kids to Do Outside by Dawn Isaac (Published by Kyle Books) ISBN 9780857831835
Packed with games, projects, crafts, experiments and gardening inspiration, 101 Things for Kids to do Outside will have your children racing out to try something new. The huge selection of ideas covers all four seasons and ranges from quick 10-minute activities to a full day of fun. From party games and treasure hunts to simple gardening projects, each idea is simple to follow and illustrated with colour photography, so you can’t go wrong! Activities include building a human sundial, creating an outdoor collage, setting up a wormery, planting a potato tower, making natural inks, flying a homemade kite and playing torch tag. This hands-on guide will help children get the most from being outdoors, and you don’t need a big garden – a local park or small area will suffice. 101 Things for Kids to do Outside is sure to get your kids away from the computer and provide hours of entertainment for the entire family.
100 Family Adventures by Tim, Kerry, Amy and Ella Meek (Published by Frances Lincoln Limited) ISBN 9780711236615
Childhood obesity is increasing year on year. Happiness and well-being levels in children are on the decline too. Children spend less time outside and more time in front of screens: computers, phones, games, television.
100 Family Adventures provides a valuable resource bank of tried and tested outdoor activities to enjoy with children, swapping ‘screen time’ for ‘green time’. Particularly inspiring for people who want to get started, but don’t know how, the book shows how any family, anywhere in the country, can enjoy time together outdoors.
Activities are grouped into themes: Woodland, Water, Close to Home, Hills and Mountains, Exploring, By the Sea, Extreme Weather. Within each section is a range in difficulty, from making a rope swing to scrambling up a stream, from spending a day without electricity to going on a charity bike ride, from exploring a rock pool to camping on an uninhabited island.
‘The adventure ambassadors our current generation of cotton-wool kids urgently need’ Daily Telegraph
365 things to make and do by Fiona Watt (Published by Usborne) ISBN 9780746087923
This is a bumper activity book containing something to do on every day of the year. Featuring all-new activities including a flag chain, fabric collages, leaf printing, spoon-people, door signs, gift tags, dangly cowboys and many more things to make, draw and paint. All activities are explained by step-by-step instructions and colourful illustrations.
Fodor’s Around London with Kids by Alex Wijeratna (Published by Fodor’s Travel) ISBN 9781400007448
Fodor’s Around London with Kids provides both visiting and local parents with 68 fun family activities to do in London, from exploring the London Dungeon and all its gruesome thrills, to learning about brass rubbing (and making your own) at the Brass Rubbing Centre, to getting a bird’s-eye view of the city from the London Eye. Each activity features practical tips and suggestions for nearby places to eat. Plus, there are games for the kids.
Keeping the Little Blighters Busy by Claire Potter (Published by Featherstone Education) ISBN 9781408176245
Bursting with ingenious, inspiring, refreshingly different ideas that parents will enjoy as much as their kids! Does the idea of making a crocodile out of an egg box or fairy cakes with smiley faces leave you cold? Does the thought of another trip to the soft play centre or the swimming pool with a wave machine make you groan? Then this is the book for you!
With 50 unique ideas for parents of children age 3 to 13 (and way beyond!) this book will energize your family life and engage your children’s heads, hands and hearts. Take them on a Straight Line Walk or set them a Supermarket challenge. Try Lucky Dip Cookery or Pin in a Map Sketching. Turn even everyday routines like hair washing or laying the table into mini-adventures. Tried and tested on real children, these ideas encourage a sense of exploration, accomplishment, challenge, creativity, boldness and outside-the-box thinking. They’ll cost you nothing – or next-to-nothing. All you need is a playful attitude, a sense of adventure and perhaps just a tiny hint of mischief here and there!
Mad Dogs & Englishmen – A Year of Things to See and Do in England by Tom Jones (Published by Virgin Books) ISBN 9780753541746
England is a country which requires more than a second look, an amazingly diverse place, offering almost-unlimited landscapes, culture and history, and a diversity of opportunities which is unrivaled anywhere else in the world. Tired of London, Tired of Life author Tom Jones, has come up with another gem. In Mad Dogs and Englishmen he presents us with a seasonal snapshot of things to do in England at any time of the year, come rain or come shine – with plenty of things to inspire and amaze children of all ages.
Using a mixture of unique seasonal events and interesting places to visit (all presented in attractive bite-sized entries), Mad Dogs and Englishmen is a browsable gift book aimed at those who are interested in getting to know their home country better as well as tourists seeking to make the most of their stay in England. In more than 220 pages Tom Jones demonstrates the diversity of England as a country; presenting interesting, unusual and thought-provoking things to do which also enlighten the reader, and convey the message that England is a great place to live and explore all year round.
Little London – Child Friendly Days Out and Fun Things to Do by Kate Hodges and Sunshine Jackson (Published by Virgin Books) ISBN 9780753555293
Little London is full of fun and fascinating things to do with little adventurers in the big city. Get out and about and inspire your children’s imaginations! Full of the capital’s best-kept secrets, just waiting to be discovered, Little London contains over two hundred things to do all year round, all over the city, and best of all, most of them are free. Bursting with activities, day trips and a few games, recipes and craft makes, there’s lots of ideas to keep tiny toddlers and older boys and girls entertained, and plenty for the big kids to enjoy too!
With so much to do and so much to see, Little London’s handpicked activities are combined with handy tips and all the essential information you need to make planning family days out fun and fuss-free. Get creative at the National Gallery’s family Sundays; experience a Victorian school day at the Ragged School Museum; explore the exotic plants and animals in the Barbican Conservatory; mess about on the river at the Canalway Cavalcade, celebrate Chinese New Year with your own homemade spring rolls; take part in The Big Garden Birdwatch; go behind the scenes with The National Theatre backstage tours; discover London’s top city farms; make your own pin-hole camera; dress up for the Day of the Dead celebrations; enjoy the festive fun at the Scandinavian Christmas Market.
The Wild Weather Book by Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield (Published by Frances Lincoln) ISBN 9780711232556
Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield are back with more wonderful ideas for fun outdoors even in the most challenging weather. When it’s wet, or windy or cold, there’s no need to stay cooped up indoors; it’s a great opportunity to rush outside for some fun.
– Go on an animal hunt and find the creatures that come out in the wet.
– Fly a kite in the wind and catch falling leaves.
– Take your camera into a white world and see how many different icy patterns and shapes you can find.
© GoMunkee 2015
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