9 ways to transform a trip to your local park
Any seasoned parent knows that a trip to the local park can be monotonous and boring (yep - we said it!), even if it is a pretty good one. You tend to take the same route in, know exactly what the playground has to offer and probably the order in which your kids are likely to tackle the equipment - why is it always the swings first?
So, what if there was another way… a way to make a trip to the park a bit special and a bit more exciting, especially if you’re tackling a visit during a school holiday and want to pad out the experience as much as possible. Or if you’re heading there with friends and want to make a day of it.
We’ve collected a handy list of 9 simple ways to make a trip to the park fun, unexpected and dare we say it, more enjoyable than normal, both for you and for the kids!
1 Afternoon tea picnic
Hands up who takes a picnic to the park? Yep, same. But what if you shifted the focus and made it an afternoon tea picnic? Think scones with jam and cream, slices of cake, tarts, some finger sandwiches and of course a bubbly fruit based drink in place of some champagne.
None of this has to be homemade and can be bought super cheaply and at the last minute. If you are prepping at home, make sure that anything that needs to stay cool is close to an ice block or similar. It’s also fun to take fancy paper plates and a nice blanket to sit on, just to spruce up the experience.
This is a great one to try out if you’re meeting up with family or friends and can divvy up the food and drinks.
2 Kite flying extravaganza
Let’s go fly a kite… did you sing that in your head?! Kite flying is a brilliant sport to play on a day with a bit of wind and you can experiment with different techniques for getting the kite to sail into the air and stay there. There are lots of kites to buy to suit all budgets and our top tip is to store them in the back of your car, so that when inspiration hits and you’re out and about, you have it to hand. They’re also light to carry around and if you’ve not bought a kite before, just make sure that you do any setting up or putting together at home first.
3 Shady board games
On a hot day, it can be tempting to sunbathe or play in the sun for long periods as it is such a treat to be in the sunshine. However it can be tiring and even dangerous to be in the heat or sun for long periods. So playing board games in the shade can be a really nice way to break up your time in the park or just have some organised down time.
Pick a nice big tree with lots of comfy shade underneath, set up a blanket or mat, lay the games out and away you go. And before you think about packing your giant box or monopoly, card games such as Dobble or Uno, or travel board games will save on space and weight.
4 Mini Sports Day
Sounds silly but we tried this out and it was actually a bit of a hit! Time your kids running a lap, take some wooden spoons and things to balance on the for an egg and spoon race (real eggs if you’re feeling rebellious!) and bring some material to tie around ankles for the three legged race. You can buy sports day kits online which vary in price if this sounds like an idea your kids would enjoy!
5 Nature scavenger hunt
This is a really great one for small and bigger kids alike, as everyone likes to think they’re good at finding things! Download a copy of our Nature Scavenger Hunt here in club downloads and either print a copy off or let your kids access it on your phone - no printing required! Doing this will encourage exploration, discovery and a break in the usual things you might get up to in the park. Although don’t blame us if they come back holding a spider to show you that they found one!
Geocaching is a brilliant and really rather underrated activity which involves finding (and hiding) ‘geocaches’ or ‘caches’ in specific locations, marked by coordinates, using the Geocaching app or website. There are geocaches all over the world to discover and when we logged on, we were amazed at how many there were where we live! You very simply create an account and start your treasure hunt. Enjoy!
7 Friendship bracelets
The great thing about making friendship bracelets is that the equipment you’d need is as light as a feather and the making part can be a brilliant time filler, without any mess. Pack some coloured string, small scissors and download some friendship bracelet making worksheets that are easy to find, or watch a YouTube tutorial. We like this one here:
8 Ice cream factory
For anyone who has been to the park with multiple children, you will know that buying them ice creams can become eye wateringly expensive. One really fun way to cut costs is to bring a tub of ice cream (yep - we mean this) with you, in a cool box or bag, with cones and some toppings. After a short amount of playtime, whip out the ice cream, cones and toppings in the shade and get creating. You’ll need to bring a scoop and it is worth pointing out that this really does work best with a larger group of kids rather than one or two as you want to use your ice cream up, not watch it melt!
9 Tree spotting with the Woodland Trust
Chances are that any park you’re in will have a variety of different trees to look at and admire! The Woodland Trust have a brilliant free app which scans trees and tells you what they are, almost instantly. It is a great way to learn new tree names, identify what makes trees different and also get them involved in nature. The bonus for the grown ups is that all you need is your phone and an outdoor space! Here’s a video to get you started!
If you have fun trying these out, we’d love to hear about it over in our 1.2 million strong Facebook community, FAMILY LOWDOWN TIPS & IDEAS!