February and October Half-terms are one of the hardest holidays to fill because it’s still/getting pretty cold.
There are lots of paid activities you can do (we are running Descendants Halloween Workshops), but if you are looking for something free, read on:
Instead of being cooped up in your home, why not embrace the cold and go out there prepared and ready. We’ve all heard the old saying; ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing’ so let’s find a way of getting our kids outside and making sure they have so much fun they want to do it again and again (despite the cold)
Here are some ideas to get you out and about during February & October half-term:
Building camps and dens:
A classic outdoor activity and something the kids just love to do inside and out. There are artificial den building areas in many of Surreys parks and play centres (Wisley, Claremont, the Lookout) but you don’t need to pay to do this activity. There is plenty of opportunity to create dens in our local parks too (Hurst, Bushy, Richmond, Esher commons)
Create nature pictures and collages:
Encourage your children to collect different materials (pine needles, acorns, sticks, bark, Holly leaves, Ivy and stones. Draw them out a ‘canvas’ somewhere in the undergrowth and create a picture. You could make the outline of a Hedgehog, for example, and then fill in its nose with a pinecone, its spikes with pine needles etc.
Stalking wildlife – aka ‘the Fox walk’:
You can make a game out of trying to sneak up on a bird or squirrel, or whatever other creatures you’re lucky enough to spot. It’s really fun and basically impossible so can go on for ages!! I use an exercise like this in one of my classes to teach children how to be light on their feet. It’s called ‘The Fox walk’ (because it is how foxes walk) and helps to gain a good sense of balance and be really nimble.
The Fox walk:
- Lift one leg high and let the foot flop and be relaxed;
- Without putting any weight on the foot, gradually lower it to the ground
- Try to make full contact with the ground silently.
- Transfer your weight onto the foot
- Repeat on the other side.
Sitting on a picnic blanket eating cold sandwiches when its 6˚ outside is not very fun. By shaking it up a bit and embracing the cold weather you can turn it into something exciting and new. Finding the perfect clearing amongst the trees with plenty of logs to perch on (preferably in a circle so you can get warmed up by your (pretend) camp fire!!)
Here are some holiday camp food ideas of things you can eat without having to take your gloves off:
- Baked potatoes (wrapped in tin foil)
- Hot chocolate in a flask
- Marshmallows (put them on sticks and cook them on your imaginary fire in your den)
- Hot soup in a flask
For something less hands on (for you), you could try a scavenger hunt. Click here to print off my free download of things which you can collect at this time of year. (autumn/winter scavenger hunt in pictures and words)
This is probably my favourite, although worth doing at the end of your trip (just in case you fall in!) Find a stream or bog and use logs and stick and stones to build a bridge across it. Places which are great for this: Bushy Park; Isabella Plantation.
Where can you go?
Most of these activities work best in woodland areas. Hurst park, in Molesey is great as there are lots of coppices and trails through the trees. Bushy Park can be quite exposed, but if you go into the Pheasantry or Woodland Gardens it is more sheltered. Richmond park is also great and Isabella plantation is fab because the rhododendron don’t lose their leaves in the winter so is also quite sheltered.
What do you need?
Gloves and a hat and lots of layers with waterproof trousers on top. These are essential for a park trip during February or October half-term and are great (for you too!) as they provide a wind block as well as being waterproof. If you don’t have waterproof trousers a few plastic bags to sit on will work nicely.
Looking for more ideas?
There is so much more out there and I have just included the really low maintenance things to make life simple, but if you are looking for more ideas there are some wonderful resources out there. One of my favourite books on this subject is ‘Learning with Nature‘ by Marina Robb. Which includes details on how to tap a Silver Birch tree!!
Thanks for reading,