Top tips for summer activities with children

With the summer holidays fast approaching and with six weeks of time to fill, the thought of keeping the kids occupied during the long summer days, might be a daunting one. Fear not, Chroma, the UKs leading arts therapies provider, has come up with the best ways to keep kids happy during the holidays without spending a fortune.

Summer can often be an expensive time of year, with kids off school, parents are often tempted to reach for the credit card to find ways to entertain them and with the ongoing cost of living crisis continuing to take a toll, staying on budget may be even harder this summer.

Rachel Swanick, senior clinical therapist & training lead at Chroma, offers some helpful ideas to keep children amused and occupied this summer holiday:


Plan each week in advance to help children feel safe outside of their normal routine and parents can be prepared and budget financially.
Make time at the start and end of the holidays to re-bond and bring awareness back in to routines.
Make time to relax, be out with nature, and get some mental stimulation – a trip to the park with friends and a picnic is a great way to spend the day and costs virtually nothing.
Work within your child’s window of tolerance – for some families the long summer holiday are a time to relax routines and bedtimes, for others this is too much chaos.

Free activity ideas:

The Jar of Fun is an easy way to bring variety in to your week. Before the holidays start, write all of the activities the family like to do together on post it notes and put them in the jar. Each day, or allocated day, choose a note from the jar and off go on an adventure.
The local park, lake, forest, walk way, pony field are all great ways of getting out in to nature and spending quality time with children.
Online activities can be brilliant since artists and presenters honed their skills during lockdown. Youtube has some fantastic art and craft sessions to follow along with, as well as exercise and dance videos, top tips on hobbies and adventures and virtual tours around the world.
Theme some days – link cooking, crafts and virtual tours with a theme from another culture. This could be a trip to Paris, a walk through the jungle or something more personal such as train spotting and journeys.
Local libraries and community centres are great sources for activities. Look at your local council website – for plays in the park, reading, lego workshops or even family meet ups etc.
Visit friends in the area for lunch and invite them back the following week. Social experiences help children feel positive, and boosts adult mental wellbeing too.

Paid activity ideas for children:

Lots of theatres and cinemas have ‘relaxed’ performances for children who struggle to concentrate, sit still or need lots of input. Take a look at the local cinema or theatre, or if travelling, there may be a suitable venue, too.
Swimming is a great way to stimulate sensory needs, get some exercise and feel positive. This could be simply a trip to your local pool or for the more adventurous, there are water parks all around the UK with slides, and wave pools, etc.
Each summer, many charities (including the National Autistic Society) have relaxed days at Theme Parks at places such as Lego land, Alton Towers and Drayton manor. Check out the theme park‘s website for more details.
Autism Speaks website has good tips on what to do when eating out in restaurants – including a great section on what your child can learn by eating out as a family*
Animals are well known to have soothing properties for children so why not visit your local farm or zoo? Check out their website and call in advance if you have any requirements.

Rachel commented, “The summer holidays can seem overwhelming, but if you plan activities as a family, everyone will know what to expect each day/week resulting in less anxiety, better financial budgeting, and something for everyone to look forward to! Take this opportunity to enjoy each other and the weeks will fly by.”