When it comes to things to do in Essex with kids we’re always happy to welcome visitors to Hopefield Animal Sanctuary, but we also know that as children are expensive, sometimes you also need some ideas to keep your little critters busy closer to home. As such we’ve come up with some ideas that are not just fun, but will also help engage your kids with nature too… Perfect for summer holiday activities in Essex (and beyond!).
One thing we’re not short of in Essex is woodland and forest areas! Head over to your nearest one and start looking for some big sticks and branches and build your own fort or den. Zero judgement for how it turns out – it’s all about having fun! For a basic den find two trees relatively close together and put a long branch between them to connect them. Then use sticks and branches to prop all around and use bendy small sticks to weave in and out the support sticks to create a structure. Finish by putting lots of leaves, moss and grass all over it for some camouflage.
Children love whipping up their very own bug box, so dig a box out of your recycling bin and fill it with stones, pine cones, twigs, grass, sticks, broken plant pots: whatever you can get your hands on that might make a nice hidey hole for a bug or two. Leave it in your garden, on your balcony or even on a window box, and see what crawls in! If you want to up the bug box ante by a few levels, and you have a handyman or woman in the fam, then we’re loving this project by Gardener’s World. Have you seen our bug hotel at Hopefield Animal Sanctuary yet? It’s quite popular with humans AND bugs!
With, according to the British Ornithologists Union, 574 different bird species to spot around the UK, there’s no shortage of feathery friends to look out for on a bird spotting expedition. Whether you do it in your garden, park or woodlands (where you can use that den you built as a bird spotting den!), download a free mobile app such as BirdNET to help you identify everything you see.
Whether your garden is a window box or acres of land, a fairy garden is easy to make no matter how much space you have (or don’t have). Collect twigs to make fences, stones to make paths, get busy with ribbons and glitter and then transform either a space next to a tree or wall in your garden, or even use a box or old ice cream tub to weave some fairy garden magic. We’ve seen fairy gardens made from tea cups, plant pots, and even old boots! The only limits are your imagination. We really like this plant tub idea by The Magic Onions if you’re looking for some inspiration, and while fairies are not strictly nature-based, we’re also big fans of boosting imaginations so this is a win anyway.
Grab your phones or cameras and set up a family challenge to snap the best wildlife photo or video. That woodland den might come in handy again for this one!
A Geocache or ‘cache is a small, waterproof box hidden outside, and the name of the game is to go on a digital treasure hunt, using a handheld GPS to track down the goodies that are inside that box. It’s a HUGE worldwide community, so not only will you find some awesome adventures, but you might even find a few friends as well as lots of nature spotting opportunities. Our friends at London for Kidz have a great guide for beginners to get you started with.
We’re heading into Blackberry season and picking these delicious berries not only gives scope for a conversation about self-sufficiency and sustainability, but is also a great way to introduce youngsters to foraging.
Now you’re all set for a summer packed with activity fun! Don’t forget to #hopefieldanimalsanctuary in any adventures you go on inspired by this blog – we love to see what you’re all up to! And also don’t forget to come and visit us at the sanctuary – we have a special offer running at the moment whereby if you buy a ticket you get a FREE return ticket valid for the rest of our season (certain dates restricted).
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