Along with a couple of Mums from school, we arranged to take our children to a local park and have a picnic - we walked there and took blankets, a football, bottled water and plenty to eat - including the BN Biscuits I was sent to try when I signed up to this project.
This is Manchester - it always rains. We'd expected rain or drizzle when we arranged it, we couldn't have ever realised just how amazing the weather was going to be!
I'm not sure why my youngest carried his biscuit round for half an hour before he ate it, but he was happy!
After lunch, which started approximately 6 seconds after we arrived at 10.45am and the chorus of "what's for dinner?" started from all 10 of the children we had between us, the children played with the ball while the adults sat on blankets and just relaxed.....it was bliss. Then something amazing happened....
Staff from our local Children's Centre arrived with of bats and balls, hoops, chalks, a couple of tuff spots for sand and water, and set up a 'free for all' play session!
It was brilliant! We were on the verge of going home - but with the children all playing in the shade and enjoying every second, we stayed....
At one point there were more than 30 young children all playing and laughing in the sun together. There was even a big blanket and books for calm moments, but 5 year old and his friend found most fun spraying each other with water!
I've always given my young children a washing up bowl of water and assorted cups and kitchen implements to play with on hot days when the paddling pool hasn't been so handy, and I think the Children's Centre got it spot on with this. A group of older children even went over to the local Co-Op and got refills when the water ran out!
Somewhat unexpectedly the piece of equipment which got most use was a length of pipe that the children could talk into and use as a 'telephone'.....or just make daft noises at each other.
A fabulous day was had by all, we stayed on the park all day, when we'd intended to go home around 1pm. Sand and water play are brilliant for children and teach them so much about the world around them and what they are capable of. Playing with other children, especially unfamiliar children, increases confidence and social skills. It teaches about turn-taking and rules of play, and it keeps you active.
We're currently really lucky with our weather, and it is forecast to stay a little while, so outdoor play is looking like a distinct possibility for the next couple of weeks at least. Just don't forget the picnic! And if you're incredibly fair like me, even if you've applied factor 50 - make sure you take a t-shirt, just in case you stay 3 hours longer than intended!
Sure Start Children's Centres are mainly for families with children under 5, but they welcome children up to 7 to a lot of school holiday time events, and occasionally also cater for older children. You can find your local centre here. Most events and activities are free or very cheap.
Your local council will also have all kinds of free and cheap events for children of all ages that you can join in with local to you.
Local museums are usually FREE and have some fantastic events and activities for children. We've checked out the Summer events at the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester.
This post is an entry for 42 Days of Summer Linky Challenge sponsored by McVitie’s BN. Learn more on their website. We shared our biscuits between all of us, there were plenty to go around (3 times) and they were a huge hit!
To see other great ideas for entertaining your children over Summer look at some of the other posts in the 42 Days Of Summer Linky Challenge!