Free activities to keep children entertained over the summer

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During the summer holidays, parents and others looking after children are often on the lookout for engaging activities to keep them entertained. In this article, we'll explore a range of free activities focused on nature, fitness, and food that will ensure your children have a memorable and enjoyable summer break. 

Exploring Nature

Encourage your children to embrace the beauty of the great outdoors by organising nature-focused adventures. Take them on hikes in local parks or nature reserves, where they can marvel at wildlife, spot different species of birds, and observe fascinating insects. You can also embark on a nature scavenger hunt, where kids can search for specific leaves, rocks, or wildlife. This not only promotes an appreciation for the environment but also provides an opportunity to learn about ecosystems and conservation. 

Here are a few ideas on places to visit -  

Yorkshire's Top 10 Natural Highlights - Welcome to Yorkshire 

Nature Spotting In Hartlepool ( 

Fitness Fun

Keeping children active during the summer is essential for their physical and mental well-being. Engage them in fitness activities that are both enjoyable and free. Set up a backyard obstacle course with items like hula hoops, cones, and jump ropes. You can organise friendly competitions or relay races to make it more exciting. Look out for sporting activities taking place in local parks and sporting facilities. 

Cooking Adventures

Encourage your children to explore their culinary skills and develop a love for healthy eating. Plan a day where you involve them in preparing a picnic lunch or a homemade pizza party. Allow them to choose and pick ingredients from a local farmers market or your own garden, if available. This activity not only enhances their creativity but also helps them understand the importance of nutrition and where food comes from. You can even try simple recipes like fruit smoothies or homemade ice pops, using fresh and seasonal fruits. 

Visit the BBC Good Food website which has 35 summer food activities for kids - 35+ Summer activities for kids | BBC Good Food 

Gardening and Planting

Engaging children in gardening activities can be a rewarding and educational experience. Help them create a small garden patch or a few pots for growing their own vegetables, herbs, or flowers. Teach them about the different stages of plant growth, the importance of sunlight and water, and how to care for their plants. Watching their plants grow and flourish will instil a sense of responsibility and appreciation for nature. Also involve them in tasks like composting, which teaches them about recycling and sustainability. 

10 Gardening Projects for Kids | BBC Gardeners World Magazine 

Hope you find these ideas useful – we would love for you to share your images and experiences via JRHT social media channels. 


Other free activities in York

New Earswick Holiday Activities for Families - Folk Hall, New Earswick

Thursday 03 August, 12.30 - 2.00pm - play action games, craft and learn about nature at this introduction to Woodcraft Folk session. Small craft table and pre-school toys available too.

Thursday 10 August, 12.30 - 2.00pm - a fun fitness session with a brief introduction to kickboxing. Small craft table and pre-school toys available too.

 All activities are free and suitable for ages 3+. All family members are welcome for food and activities. Free pack up lunch and a cooked meal to take away, pre-book only.  All children must be accompanied by an adult. 

Limited places available, please book your space by contacting the Folk Hall reception in person or on 01904 769 621.

York Holiday Activities and Food Programme (HAF)

York’s Holiday Activities and Food Programme (HAF) offers fun activities for keeping active, being creative, and trying something new over the Easter, summer, and winter school holidays.

Children and young people in receipt of benefit-related free school meals can receive up to four sessions of free activities and nutritious food during the Easter and winter holidays and up to 16 sessions during the summer holidays.

Each day will include: a healthy meal and a selection of activities ranging from sports, drama and creative workshops, nature activities, and much more.

Find out more and book a place - Holiday Activities with Food (