23 activities to try during half term

Keep your children busy during half term with these 23 ideas for fun outdoor activities that are suitable for all ages.

1. Wildlife spotting

Autumn is great for spotting birds, squirrels, rabbits, deer, badgers and loads more. Stake out the garden or head out to the local woods and see what you can find.

Encourage children to take note of what they have spotted, so they can keep a wildlife diary or draw pictures later. Older children can try animal tracking or nocturnal wildlife spotting.

Discover how you could find wildlife that you might not expect to see in Britain.

2. Take part in a night race

Over the coming weeks the National Trust are hosting night run events around the country. The events will be fun and there are varied routes so it's suitable for all the family. Find out more here.

3. Go for a ride

It's a great time of the year to get out on the bikes before it gets too cold and dark. Whether it's around the local park or some serious off-roading, most kids will jump at the chance. There are lots of safe bike routes available once you get off the busy main roads. Why not use the 7 day free trial for OS Maps and discover some great routes online.

4. Head on a spooky Halloween walk

Take some torches and head out to the big dark forest, a ominous local ruin or even a graveyard. Try not to get too scared when one of the kids sneaks up behind you. Get started with 6 of our favourite spooky walks in the UK.

5. Feed the ducks

Head to your local pond and you will often find local ducks and swans as well as migratory birds who would love to steal your sandwiches. Healthier options for most birds include oats, grains, fruit, vegetables or bird food from your local pet shop. Feeding bread to ducks is not recommended.

6. Fossil hunting

There are some fantastic places to find fossils around Britain, find out about them, what to look for, and get tips for equipment to take with you here.

7. Find the end of a rainbow

It's probably the best time of the year to spot rainbows, and wh en you do see if you can run, ride, or drive to where the rainbow lands before it disappears. It's not as easy as it looks!

8. Visit a historical site

There are thousands of historical sites, which vary from the barely visible remains of old settlements to historic monuments, Many of these are free to explore, so why not get out a map and look for something near you? Read our #GetOutside Champion, Mary-Ann Ochota's, guide to becoming a landscape detective and get 6 easy tips on getting started.

9. Build a den

Get out into your local woods (or even the garden) and try and build a den. Start out with a frame made from branches, and then cover with smaller sticks and leaves to create a cosy hidey-hole. If the kids can lie down in it without it falling over, it counts as a success.

10. Collect blackberries

There are still a few wild fruits around, so head out with a small bucket and look for wild blackberries or other autumn fruits. Keep an eye on younger children to make sure they don't pick anything inedible, and avoid fruits next to busy roads as the traffic can be dangerous, and the fruit tends to collect exhaust fumes.

11. Find local council events

Many local councils will have free events for children during holidays, so check their website. Activities will vary by place and facilities, but it's a great way to meet other local parents.

12. Create a family quiz

If there's a rainy day during half term, a quiz is guaranteed to keep the kids (and older members of the family too!) interested. It could multiple-choice, picture based,or even a crossword or word search. Have a look at some existing quizzes online for inspiration, choose a theme and start bamboozling the family.

13. Home cookery classes

Most boys and girls of all ages enjoy cooking, although the results can vary from the amazing to the amazingly messy. Even young children can follow a simple recipe that uses measurements in cups or spoons, while older children can try more complex cooking - or even make you dinner! Set aside plenty of time as it will take longer than you think, both for the cooking and the tidying afterwards.

14. Discover one of Britain's best views

From The Shard to Ben Nevis, and Loch Ness to Lake Vyrnwy, there are some stunningly beautiful sights to enjoy up and down the country, and autumn is a great time to visit. Check out our blog on some of Britain's best views to find one near you.

15. Mushroom hunting

The damp cool weather brings out all sorts of weird and wonderful fungi, from classic red spotted toadstools to impressive bracket fungus on old wood, and most children will be fascinated in these odd, hidden growths. However, avoid touching or eating any mushrooms unless you are able to positively identify them.

16. Have a navigation race

Pick some points - around the garden or park for smaller children or a larger area for older children, draw or print a map and see who can make it around the route in the quickest time. If you are feeling sneaky, remember that the fastest route between two points is not necessarily a straight line if there is more difficult terrain or a landscape feature such as a river in the way.

17. Make a hedgehog hibernation house

Use an upside-down crate or pile of logs and cover it in some fallen leaves to encourage a hedgehog to hibernate in your garden (see how to build your own house here). It's best located in a quiet spot out of drafts, but don't worry about filling it with bedding - hedgehogs prefer to do that themselves.

Image: Gardener's World.

Image: Gardener's World.

18. Star gazing

With earlier nights it's the ideal time to go out star gazing. Ideally, you need a clear night with few clouds, a new moon and a place as far from artificial light as possible. It can take quite a while for your eyes to adjust to low light levels, so allow at least 10 minutes. It can become surprisingly cold when you are not moving, especially if you are lying down, so bring warmer clothing than normal and a waterproof rug or tarpaulin to lie on.

19. Leaf piles

We're not sure why, but all toddlers seem to love kicking through piles of leaves. Rake some into a pile in the garden, or go to your local park or woods where they will have been blown into piles by the wind (but avoid the most popular dog-walking sites).

20. Give an old household item a makeover

Redecorate a lampshade, book or any other flat surface with a paper map. Not only does it give the item a new lease of life, it also makes a really interesting decoration when people come over and check it out.Organised tidy-ups - You will find local groups that organise cleans of parks, nature reserves, beaches and similar areas by searching local council and community sites. This can (surprisingly) be a great day out, and be doing something useful as well. You may even find your children are less liklely to drop litter themselves!

21. Conkers - Classic British sport!

Collect conkers, drill a hole and thread one per string, and then see which one survives. Coating in varnish, soaking in vinegar or baking them is cheating! If you get really good, you may even be able to take part in the Conker World Championship!

If you don't fancy battling it out with your conkers, you can always use them for crafts!

22. Climb a tree

As trees lose their leaves it can make climbing easier, so choose one with easy to reach branches and get climbing. If you want to go higher, many national parks have tree climbing events where safety ropes and skilled instruction are available.

23. Plan a treasure hunt

Hide a treat somewhere in the local area - you can even use this easy to set up mappy treasure hunt, or the beginner's guide to geocaching.


We hope this gives you some ideas, if you've got more to add then simply write in the comments below.

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