TV presenter Helen Skelton’s shares her favourite activities to keep kids entertained at home this summer

42 ideas to keep kids entertained all summer
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  • If you are struggling to come up with things to do with the kids at home this summer, TV presenter and broadcaster Helen Skelton has teamed up with Smart Energy to create a list of 42 activities to help keep the kids entertained at home.

    Related: Alison Hammond’s favourite garden games, from Boules to Wubble – as seen on This Morning

    Research by Smart Energy GB found that 7 in 10 parents are worried that keeping children entertained this summer will be harder than usual. While sticking your kids in front of the TV or games console is an option, it isn’t the best way to spend a glorious summer day. Especially when a quarter of parents are concerned about the increase in energy consumption over the summer holidays.

    As a mother of two young boys, Helen Skelton is no stranger to struggling to find ways to keeping kids entertained at home. She has put together 42 activity ideas that you can do at home with your children. They are all sustainable and energy-free to help avoid that surge in your next energy bill.

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    Image credit: Helen Skelton

    42 things to do with kids at home this summer

    1.42-day time capsule

    See if you can put something in it for every one of the 42 days ahead to create a memory box of an unforgettable summer. 

    2.Construct a marble run

    How will you keep the marble moving so it makes its whacky way from start to finish? Be as imaginative as possible!

    3. Learn some sign language

    Learn how to introduce yourself – and then challenge a friend to do the same.

    4.Freeze leaves & flowers

    A fun way to enjoy the beauty of flowers: freeze them in ice cubes to add a splash of colour to a glass of water. Just make sure to check with an adult that the flowers are safe to eat.

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    Image credit: Polly Eltes

    5. No lights for an evening

    An energy saver and a chance to have your bedtime story read by torch (or outside!). If you have a smart meter, take a look to see what difference turning the lights off makes.

    6. Conduct a sunlight experiment

    How will plants grow in darker spaces compared to sunlit places, like on a windowsill? Choose two different environments and track your progress over the rest of the summer holidays. 

    7. Local food meal

    Can you find shops or a community farm that sell food grown near your house? With the help of an adult can you make these high quality and fresh ingredients into a tasty meal!

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    Image credit: Jon Day

    8. Go on a rainbow hunt

    Go for a walk with your family and find something in nature from every colour of the rainbow. Take photos along the way! 

    9. Grow herbs at home

    Herbs such as parsley, mint and basil can all easily be grown in a pot on the windowsill – get an adult to help you plant them and don’t forget to top up the water! Do they taste different from the herbs you buy?

    10. Collect rainwater for plants

    See if you can catch rainwater in a bucket and use it to water any plants you have. This is a simple way to save on water.

    11. Host a green-themed tea party

    Serve green food and come dressed in green to celebrate our connection to nature.

    12. Make a seed bomb

    Mix some daisy seeds with peat-free compost and water – roll into a ball – let them dry – and bombs away! Remember where the bomb landed and see if your flowers grow. 

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    Image credit: David Brittain

    13. Create a sundial

    A time telling trick as old as time. Perhaps you could also create a time-lapse of the sun’s shadow making its way around the day on someone’s phone?

    14. Paint the moon cycle

    Follow the lunar movements! From full moon (3rd Aug) to new moon (19th Aug). Paint the shapes of the moon as they develop. 

    15. Make a paper aeroplane

    Fly like the wind! Whose plane will be the most aerodynamic and travel the furthest distance?

    16. Try helping out by washing your clothes by hand

    This is how people used to wash their clothes before washing machines were invented. Washing machines can use a lot of energy and be expensive to run – but they certainly save on time!

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    Image credit: Simon Whitmore

    17. Play ‘float or sink’

    Get a bowl of water and find some household items, food or things from the garden. Then take turns guessing which will float or sink to the bottom.

    18. Make a temporary dam

    If you have a stream nearby, collect twigs, branches and stones to stop the flow of water. Just remember to remove the dam afterwards. No stream? Improvise at home!

    19. Send a Haiku postcard

    A Japanese poem formed of 3 lines with 5, 7, and 5 syllables respectively. Send it to someone you are missing over the summer.

    20. Go foraging

    Local woodlands are perfect for encouraging the inner forager – so go explore with an adult. If you can’t forage outside – play a foraging style scavenger hunt at home.

    21. Make a nature mobile

    Nature is your resource for materials: twigs, leaves and dried flowers will look great hanging in your home or garden.

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    Image credit: Polly Eltes

    22. Dance in the rain

    Embrace the rain! Dancing in the rain is a liberating experience you are unlikely to forget. 

    23. Become an energy waste detective

    Organise a family scavenger hunt to find unused appliances in your home that can be unplugged to save on energy waste. You can also monitor how much energy different items in your house use with a smart meter. Ask your parents who their energy supplier is and encourage them to request an installation.

    24. Make a pinwheel wind farm

    Put your craft skills to the test and build some paper windmills. All you need is paper, scissors, a stick and a pin! 

    25. Keep a balloon off the floor

    A simple challenge that awakens joy in a person any age. How long can you keep the balloon in the air? 

    26. Make an obstacle course

    Let your inner architect run wild and see how quickly you can complete the course.

    27. Make an outdoor orchestra

    Strike up the band and experiment with turning items from your kitchen and nature into instruments.

    28. Paint a self-portrait using no hands

    Embrace imperfections and enjoy the silliness! Once you’ve done yourself – try another family member! 

    29. Write a love letter to Mother Nature

    If you could tell Mother Nature anything, what would you say? 

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    Image credit: Polly Eltes

    30. Make a domino rally

    Use everyday objects to build it and start an epic chain reaction.

    31. Help hang clothes outside to dry

    If we have a sunny spell, why not skip the tumble dryer and help hang your clothes outside? If you have a smart meter compare your energy use to see what a difference it makes when the sun does all the work. Plus, the hanging clothes also make for a great game of hide and seek!

    32. Identify 5 different birds

    First, use your eyes to identify different species and then take note of their different bird calls. 

    33. Make a costume from anything but clothes

    Recycling gone wild! Everyone creates a different outfit and you can put on a fashion show. 

    34. Make pencil rubbings

    Look for patterns, shapes & textures in nature and turn your surroundings into art. 

    35. Have a picnic

    Take to a local park or the garden and enjoy the simple joy of eating outside. Remember to pack some games too! Don’t forget to put your rubbish in the bin or recycling. 

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    Image credit: Polly Eltes

    36. Paint a watercolour with rain

    As stormy skies gather – put some sheets of paper outside with drops of water colour paint on them. Let the rain do the rest of the work! 

    37. Recycle your clothing

    Find out how many clothes you’ve grown out over the summer! Help an adult bag them up and take them to your local second-hand clothes shop.

    38. Watch a sunrise & sunset

    Do sunrise and sunset feel different? Are the colours the same? Take some art supplies with you to capture the moment. 

    39. Be a street artist

    Paint a stone and leave them for others to find! 

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    Image credit: Polly Eltes

    40. Climb a tree

    Start small and get more ambitious as you go. Can you see any nests or animals while you’re up there? You’re climbing in their home after all! 

    41. Create pavement art

    Use stones and chalk to create your star maps for passers-by.

    42. Create an exhibition from your time capsule contents!

    What a summer it’s been! Open your time capsule and create a mini-exhibition of your summer memories.

    Related: Kids doing THIS at home could cost be costing you up to £3,000

    Will you be trying out any of Helen Skelton’s activity ideas with your children?

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