Consider these options.
1. Go rock-pooling ...
Poking around in tide pools on the beach is one of the best parent-child shared experiences. Coaxing your little one to press a finger into ruby anemones and feel the corresponding suction, discovering skittering crabs hiding in seaweed, making a fabulous collection of strange-shaped, sea-smoothed stones, pretty shells and, if you’re lucky, fossils, these are just some of the fabulous finds awaiting you. And then of course there’s the pure physical joy of running in and out of surf and leaping down sand dunes.
2. Or pond-dipping ...
Streams, rivers and ponds hold an endless fascination for children. (Make sure you give little ones your full attention.) You can spend hours making a dam together, playing Poohsticks, chasing darting minnow and pond-dipping. All you need is a net and a bucket to examine underwater creatures scooped up, including pond snails, frogs, toads, water beetles and perhaps even a newt.
Shockingly, one in three children have never heard a real cow go “moo” or a sheep go “baa”. That’s according to a poll of 1,000 children by farming group LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), which organises open farm days throughout the UK every year. The annual Open Farm Sunday was on 11 June 2017 this year, and will be on the 10th June in 2018. Each Open Farm event is unique with activities ranging from machinery displays, tractor and trailer rides, through to demonstrations and opportunities to collect eggs, see cows being milked and feed animals. The picture below, although taken a while ago, shows two of our grandchildren having fun when they went down to the farm ...
You don’t need to be near countryside to get a taste of life on the farm, with city farms making a great family summer trip. Many have a variety of tame animals to pet such as chickens, pigs, goats, sheep, ponies, rabbits, guinea pigs and donkeys and children can help at feeding times too.
Den-building came out as parents’ favourite childhood memory in a recent survey, which makes perfect sense. There is something magical about creating a special hideaway, and even better if it’s in the woods. You could make a den from branches and logs laid against a bigger tree, with bracken on top, or find a perfect climbing tree to claim. The picture shows one of the grandchildren enjoying his den, it was pouring with rain when he was sitting here, he didn't mind one bit.
Simple really can be best with kids, especially if they’re basking in your total attention with all the time in the world, no school runs or homework. Here are some suggestions: teaching them to skim stones or blow a grass whistle, making daisy chains while you loll in the sun chatting, lying back and cloud-watching with big debates about what the different shapes are, catching grasshoppers or watching ants feverishly shoring up their nests.
If you want your children to have a curiosity and sense of wonder in the natural world, encourage them to look under and above. Turning over stones and logs or peering into hollow tree trunks will uncover a crowded mini-world of millipedes, centipedes, slugs, snails and, if you’re lucky, a frog or toad looking for cool shelter. Help your children learn to climb trees to enjoy the challenge and thrill of being King of the Castle with a whole new viewpoint of the world below.