A Clitheroe debt counselling charity is offering ten top tips to parents on how to keep their children entertained for less during the summer break.
The tips come from Clitheroe's Christians Against Poverty, run by St James’s Church.
Centre manager, Graham Haldane, said: “With the school holidays approaching, lots of parents with tight budgets are worrying about what they can do to keep their children entertained over the long summer break. It really helps to have a bit of a game plan so that families can enjoy the holidays together without feeling too stressed about the expense.”
Here are CAP’s ten top tips:
1. SCART Club: Lancashire Libraries summer reading challenge runs until September 28th and is aimed at children aged 4 to 11 years old. There are weekly challenges themed as science, culture, active, reading and technology. Collect your SCART booklet and stickers from your local library, and receive a prize and certificate when you complete all 5 challenges. The school with the most completed challenges will also receive a prize. The booklet includes free entry to a local museum, such as Clitheroe Castle or Helmshore Mills.
2. Holiday clubs: Check through your local library or school for holiday clubs that may be in your area. For example, St James’s Church, Clitheroe, is holding "Mega-Mondays" on August 5th, 12th and 19th, from 10-30am to 12-30pm. This family fun morning is for children aged 0-12 and their family/carers. There will be a different theme every week and lunch is included. Activities include bouncy castle, face painting, board games, craft, baby and toddler zones, quiet areas and outdoor fun.
3. Free places to go: You will be amazed how many places you can go for free. Check out this list of free (and low cost) museums, galleries and festivals
4. Explore outside: Go outdoors! Have a nature walk or build a den, see what bugs you can find or make art in the woods with what you discover. Try walking or cycling in Gisburn Forest, or birdwatching at Brockholes, near Preston. The Wildlife Trust has more than 2,000 nature reserves nationally – see if there’s one near you. The majority are completely free of charge.
5. Meal planning: Planning meals ahead always helps to control the pennies, but this could be an activity in itself to get the children planning what they want to eat. This may result in some difficult conversations if they only want to eat less healthy options, but it could also lead to some clever creativity in the kitchen. Get them to plan a menu, make a shopping list of ingredients and cook. They will also learn some great skills for life. The BBC Good Food website has a special children’s section filled with simple cheap recipes. www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/cooking-projects-kids
6. Declutter and make cash: Most children hate tidying their bedrooms and getting them to do so can be a real headache, but a financial reward could be a great incentive. Decluttering and selling their unwanted toys and books on eBay or at a car boot sale could make money for summer treats and activities. Want another money spinner? How about older kids doing some supervised car washing for neighbours?
7. Games night: Dust off the board and card games and have a themed night in with family or friends. Games not your thing? Get some popcorn in, grab some DVDs and hold a film night instead.
8. Create a scrapbook: Diary your summer together, including keepsakes of times spent together. Alternatively, make a scrapbook about your favourite topics. Grab a shoebox and start filling it with bits and bobs ideal for scrapbooking. Whether it’s magazines, foil or loose bits of string, keep it all. That way, when a rainy day comes and extinguishes all your plans, you’ll have a go-to craft box for creating a unique scrapbook to keep the kids entertained!
9. Gardening and planting: Watching something grow that you’ve planted can be really inspiring. Make an egg head with cress seeds, grow dried pea shoots on kitchen towel for a quick tasty salad or plant wildflowers to help bees. Low cost seeds can be found on eBay or in supermarkets. Have a look at www.wildlifetrusts.org/gardening or www.friendsoftheearth.uk/bees/donate-
10. Picnic: Don’t wait for a sunny day to have a picnic. Spread out a picnic blanket indoors and have a carpet picnic, or dress for wet weather and have your packed lunch in the car or on the bus to the park and jump in puddles afterwards.