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Our Ten Favourite Summer Activities for Children - Part One



As the cheers finally die down and the country becomes accustomed to its first Wimbledon men’s champion in seventy seven years, mums and dads are starting to look forward to the summer and the six week holiday and think about how to keep the children occupied in the sunshine. Here at WoodenToyShop we have been reminiscing about our school summer holidays - it takes a little bit of head scratching to think back that far – and have come up with the following suggestions for fun outdoor activities with the family, all of which assume, optimistically, that this wonderful spell of sunny weather stretches right through until September!

  1. 1.   Paddling Pools – in our house it was always Dad who had to inflate or even assemble the frame for our paddling pool. Then, while we waited impatiently in our trunks and cossies, he would roll out the hose and start filling the pool. Why did it always take so long? We’d be running around like blue bottomed flies while the water seemed to trickle into the pool and there was no way Dad would let us get in before it was nearly full to the top (he knew it would evaporate, you see). Of course, when we were finally allowed to get in we had forgotten (as we did every time) that the water would be freezing and we’d jump in without a care in the world before turning blue in, well, maybe ten minutes. Water temperature aside, paddling pools remain a firm favourite and if you are lucky enough to also own a water slide, you have a world of fun on your (back) door step.


  1. 2.   Sandpits, sand castles and sculptures – our sandpit was a square pit (again, which Dad had dug) reinforced with bits of old fencing. It was filled with golden sand from our local beach as well as the soil we would chuck in from other parts of the garden. Nowadays, of course, there are plenty of more sophisticated sandpits available as well as (something that did not exist back in the day) play sand. Regardless of the shape, size and construction of your sandpit and the origin of your sand, children love messing about with buckets and spades and making sand castles or even sculptures. A sandpit in the garden also means a sand-free car, although the house may become a little more, well, earthy.


Plum Square Sand Pit

  1. 3.   Bird watching and nature walks – as a very proud member of the Young Ornithologists Club (YOC) in the late 70s and early 80s, dawn expeditions and sponsored bird watching were regular activities with school and with the Scouts. Children love learning the names of our feathered friends and never tire of identifying a familiar bird when playing in the garden or at the park. At the same time, seeking our bugs and creepy crawlies is a time honoured tradition that cannot and must not be ignored. Even though the grownups might not like being presented with an earthworm, beetle or earwig at the dinner table, you’ve got to encourage their curiosity haven’t you?


  1. 4.   Beachcombing – our beaches are cleaner than ever before, so there is every reason to take the children to the shore and wander along the tide line to see what the sea brought in. We used to find starfish, anemones, razor clam shells, lug worms, fishing nets, plastic bottles, and pieces of coal, rounded bricks and all sorts of weird and wonderful things. There are few things better than smelling the sea air, gazing out to sea and allowing yourself a little daydream while the kids play marine detective.



  1. 5.   Den building – do you remember how to build a bivouac? I can picture the diagrams from an old scouting manual and I bet I could still build a waterproof shelter from a fallen branch, some ferns and lots of leaves and grass. Children love building dens and damming streams. They always have and they always will.


There comes a point when you’ve been playing out all afternoon and you are so thirsty you feel as though you could drink a bath full of ice cold water, or even the sandy solution in the paddling pool! Although when you are young, all you want is pop…and here’s a quick recipe* for homemade lemonade that we tried last night and can say with some assurance that everyone will enjoy.


Home made lemonade Extremely east to make and extremely thirst quenching.


Makes over one litre of lemonade which should be enough for everyone! When you have made this once or twice, you will probably want to adapt the recipe to your taste.


6 medium sized lemons (Lots of recipes call for unwaxed lemons, but we used whatever we could find in the shop.)

100g caster sugar

1100ml cold water

3 bunches of fresh mint


Slice two of the lemons into chunks and blitz in a blender with the juice of the rest of the lemons, the sugar, and a small amount of the water.


Blitz for around one minute or until you have a smooth and frothy mixture.


Add the rest of the water and then blitz again.


Taste your mixture and add a little more sugar if it is too tart and more lemon juice if it is too sweet.


When you are happy with how it tastes, you may wish to pass the mixture through a sieve (if would rather avoid the ‘bits’) and then decant into a large jug. Add two bunches of mint and then chill your lemonade until you are ready to serve.


Serve your lemonade over plenty of ice and with a mint leaf or two.


If you prefer something fizzy, top up your glass with soda water.



*We adapted a recipe by Felicity Cloake which we found in the Guardian online.



The second part of our favourite summer activities for children will be uploaded later this week.

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