The summer holidays are nearly here! An exciting prospect if you’re a child (or a teacher), but at this time of year adults face the challenge of keeping little ones entertained for six whole weeks.
Luckily there are plenty of affordable activities around London and the team here at Apples & Pears has selected six fun, free ideas to help inspire, entertain and educate children this summer.
There’s a real mix of theatre, walks, workshops and music, so pack a picnic and get exploring!
The City Farms across London hold Summer Open Days where families can get involved with vegetable growing, animal care, pottery, cooking and art.
During the last weekend of July, Stepney City Farm gives children the opportunity to learn more about where their food comes from and Hackney runs a mini-farmers club which is a great way for younger kids to learn about nature, make arts and crafts and get to know the animals.
Check each farm’s website for opening times and events.
Summer Reading Challenge
Over the holidays it’s easy for children’s reading tobe side-lined in favour of video games and YouTube, so this is the perfect excuse to get them into libraries to keep up their reading skills and boost their confidence.
It’s really simple: children read six books of their choice throughout the summer and gain rewards along the way. This year’s challenge is called “The Big Friendly Read” in honour of the 100th Anniversary of Roald Dahl’s birth.
Libraries will be running art workshops, book clubs and treasure hunts themed around Road Dahl’s brilliant tales. See your local library for details.
Join Draco the Dragon as he leads you on a range of self-guided walksaround London’s best attractions. Make sure to take a notebook and pencil with you on the Blue Trail to sketch some skyscrapers!
For slightly longer legs, there are routes themed around The Great Fire of London, Shakespeare and the Romans– perfect for school homework projects!
For a little bit more greenery, Victoria Park is hosting Tree Trailsand wildlife safaris this summer where children can walk and talk with park rangers to identify the 4,000 varieties of tree in the park.
Books Brought To Life
Canary Wharf is hosting a Family Summer Festival, a celebration of free outdoor music, dance, song and live performance for all the family to enjoy.
It’s well worth the trip as their free programme includes: a celebration of the stories of Beatrix Potter; puppet shows in an iconic double decker bus; and a performance of a Roald Dahl classic.
All of the national museums run free activities for families across the holidays, but if you find the larger museums a little too crowded, why not try some of the smaller ones to glimpse treasures with fewer crowds?
The V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green is hosting a colourful summer festival in July. While you’re there make sure to pick up one of their family packs which include a map, activity suggestions, storybooks and toys.
Over at the Museum of London Docklands their free summer programme includes the archaeology workshop “Ancient Poo and You”, hat-making and a carnival!
Grab your hat and sun cream, as once again The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will be transformed into Beach East for families to enjoy sandcastles, a gigantic paddling pool and a funfair.
This year there’s a Rio theme in celebration of the Olympics, with big screens on from Aug 6-21.
There are lots more opportunities to learn and play with your family for free this holiday. If you’re looking for more inspiration, TimeOut has a guide and local libraries have listings boards.
We’d love to hear how you get on so tell us about your experiences in the comments section or share your photos on our social media channels.
Have a wonderful summer!