School's out! 20 ways to keep kids happy this spring
Stuck for ideas to entertain your brood? Simone Kane looks at a selection of events around the UK this spring
Sunday 06 April 2008
1. The Science of Survival, the new paid-for exhibition at London's Science Museum, launched yesterday. It uses games and build-your-own activities to explore effects of climate change and dwindling resources on our future. Aimed at children aged eight years plus (survival.scienceof.com).
2. Families can have fun with falconry at Kielder Water Birds of Prey Centre in Northumberland, which runs a range of educational courses and activities. Its Family Hawk Walk (£120 for two adults and two children) includes a country stroll with a Harris hawk. Book ahead (kielderwaterbirdsofpreycentre.com).
3. Build a rover robot and take part in science workshops with Gallery Buskers at Mars Yard, the new visitor experience at the National Space Centre, Leicester. It replicates the surface of Mars, and will be used to test the British-built ExoMars rover robot, Bridget (spacecentre.co.uk).
4. The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge, Gloucestershire has introduced a new Canoe Safari, a unique way to follow its wetland trail. Visitors can also learn about bird surveying, or take a Land Rover Safari in search of the brown hare. Canoe safaris cost £3 on top of the usual entrance fee (wwt.org.uk).
5. More than 70 clubs will be exhibiting hundreds of scale replicas of aircraft, ships, cars, bikes and trucks, as well as Doctor Who models, at the Scale Modellers Show at RAF Museum Cosford in Shropshire today (raf museum.org/cosford).
6. The Dumfries & Galloway Wildlife Festival in Scotland continues until next Sunday. Nightly Stars & Stripes sessions at the WWT Wetlands Centre, Caerlaverock, allow children aged from five to 12 to watch wild badgers feeding from the observatory. Booking essential (wildlife festival.org.uk).
7. Head to Dinosaur Isle on the Isle of Wight, Hampshire, to take part in a special Fossil Walk along local beaches to hunt for pieces of the past. An all-weather museum, Dinosaur Isle has plenty to keep visitors busy with animatronic dinosaurs and its own fossil displays. Fossil walks are held daily from 7-11 April and 14-18 April and cost £12 for a family on top of the usual entrance fee. To book ahead go to dinosaurisle.com.
8. Potential pirates passing The Tall Ship at Glasgow Harbour in Scotland can climb aboard for some swashbuckling storytelling. Resident raconteur Lulu Black will have adults as well as children spellbound with her legends of the sea. Sessions at 11am and 12 noon, 7-11 April and 14-18 April (glenlee .co.uk).
9. Kids can pair up with a 2,000-year-old Celt to learn about life in an Iron Age fort at Castell Henllys in mid-Wales. The centre's Celtic Fun Activities for Children lets them try their hands at bread-baking, spinning and dyeing wool, building a traditional round house and training to be a warrior. Celtic Fun Activities twice daily on 8, 10, 15 and 17 April. Booking advised (castellhenllys.com).
10. The Shiny Scales and Lizard Tales Festival takesplace at Seven Stories, the Centre for Children's Books, in Newcastle, and includes a host of dragon and dinosaur-themed events. Author sessions, storytelling, puppet-making and animation workshops are just some of the diversions during the festival, which runs until 27 April (sevenstories.org.uk).
11. Looking for foodie fun? Head to the Exeter Festival of South West England Food & Drink, which takes place in Devon from 11-13 April. In the Food Is Fun Marquee kids can get active with Exeter City FC players, help chef James Chubb cook up some seafood or learn how to create the ultimate Cornish pasty (visitsouthwest .co.uk).
12. Budding chefs can book on to La Petite Ecole, a one-day cookery course at Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons in Oxfordshire. Students can explore the gardens to learn about vegetables; seasonality; free range and organic foods; nutrition and health; before experimenting in the kitchen. There are courses available for different age groups, from £225 to £695 with prices including tuition, both morning and afternoon tea and lunch (manoir.com).
13. There's a treat in store for grans and grandpas next weekend when they can travel free on the Kent and East Sussex Railway during Grandparents Weekend. Take a train along the picturesque route between Tenterden and Bodiam Castle on 12 or 13 April and grandparents go free when travelling with a full-paying child under 11 years' old (kesr.org.uk).
14. Chester Zoo is holding two Sensory Awareness Days next weekend to help people with sensory disabilities to get more out of their visits. Animal talks will be interpreted in sign language and special tactile sessions will allow visitors to touch animal skins. Carers are admitted free. (chesterzoo.org).
15. There are lots of traditional crafts and skills to be tried out at the regular Green Dayz – Big Weekendz, organised by the Fedw Hir Eco Centre near Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales. Local experts will be on hand next weekend to help children master such skills as lathe turning; willow weaving; pottery making; dry-stone walling; wood carving; hedge laying and chainsaw carving (southernwales events.com).
16. The Museum in Docklands, London, is celebrating Bangladeshi New Year on 14 April with a day of events for families. There's storytelling, silk painting, rhythm workshops and a variety show by the Kobi Nazrul children's group (museumindocklands. org.uk).
17. Hop to it and join in the Froggy Fiesta at Walton Lake in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, on 17 April, when rangers from the Parks Trust will introduce children to some amphibious antics (theparkstrust.com).
18. There are lots of events across the National Forest over the spring holidays. The Rosliston Forestry Centre, Derbyshire is holding a Five for a Fiver day on 18 April when children can choose five active pursuits including archery, laser combat and the climbing wall, for just £5. Runs from 12noon until 5pm (roslistonforestrycentre.co.uk; nationalforest.org).
19. Welcome the blossom at Low Farm in Cumbria in a traditional festivity on 19 April. Damson Day marks the arrival of tons of white flowers on the fruit trees in the Lyth and Winster Valleys and is marked by demonstrations of damson cookery, orchard walks, sword-fighting, archery, music and traditionalcrafts(lythdamsons.org.uk).
20. Early birds will catch the worm – and the best birdsong – on the RSPB Dawn Chorus Walk at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Co Down, Northern Ireland, on 19 April. There's a special scavenger trail for children. Book ahead (uftm.org.uk).
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