The school holidays are just around the corner, which means it’s a great time to kit your kids out in wellies and waterproofs for a spot of autumn leaf-kicking at the park, colour-spotting in the countryside or collecting indestructible Horse Chestnuts for a round of conkering. Here are just some of our favourite things to do in half term to keep the whole family occupied this October.

Walk And Talk

Walks with the family are a great way to catch up with each other and re-connect after a busy summer. Ask a local charity if they have any ‘great outdoors’ events coming up - like sponsored walks and hikes that the whole family can get involved with - or set up your own mini-event with neighbours or community groups if there’s nothing already planned in your area, and have some fun as you fundraise for a good cause. The National Trust has hundreds of walks at its locations around the UK with trails, parkland paths, coastal climbs and historic grounds for everyone to enjoy.

We’re Going On A Bug Hunt

Get the kids looking for creepy crawlies with a Bug Hunt sheet downloaded from The Woodland Trust and make an afternoon of it with a picnic on a sunny autumn day, or just a quick foray into the garden on the damp ones.

Make Your Own Fun

Literally, make your own fun with a ‘kitchen’ day. Bring on the breakfast with a pancake-making session, enjoy a light bite at lunchtime thanks to our sandwich ideas, whip up some easy bakes for afternoon tea at home, and top it all off with a DIY pizza supper.

Visit Your Wild Side

When you’re not searching for insects under mossy logs and stones, keep your eyes peeled for funny-looking funghi, flocking birds and spiders’ webs (you could make your own spidery decorations for Halloween too) - as well as Conkers (more on that in a moment), toadstools...and opportunities for den-building.

Go Bonkers For Conkers

Get the neighbours involved and award prizes for the shiniest or biggest conker, so everyone can take part. One way to prepare your conker is with vinegar and a quick roast in the oven to toughen it up.

You will need:

  • A good sized, sturdy-looking conker
  • A spare/old shoelace - around 30cm in length
  • A quarter-pint of vinegar

Soak your conker in malt vinegar for two minutes, no more and no less. Then place the conker in the oven for one-and-a-half minutes. Allow to cool, then get an adult to drill a hole through the middle of the conker (a corkscrew should do the trick, but be very careful whatever you use) and thread your lace through - tying with a good knot. Check worldconkerchampionships.com for the traditional rules.

Leaf The Indoors Behind

Autumn is all about colourful, falling leaves. Younger children will love a leaf-kicking expedition (get them to see who can make the biggest flurry), while older kids might like to make collage masks (simple eye and mouth holes in a piece of cardboard and stick leaves to it for a forest monster look) - and you can test your older brainiacs on which leaf is from which kind of tree...after they’ve finished climbing them of course.

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Remember that the clocks go back (Fall back, Spring forward) at the start of Half Term...overnight into Sunday 28th October.

Visit A Halloween Haunt

Grown-ups and older kids who fancy a frightful Halloween should check out a local ghost walk for a scary stroll. For younger children, local beauty spots, family attractions and theme parks often hold spooky events with fancy dress, pumpkin picking, creepy crafts, enchanted trails, scary storytelling and other fun activities to get you all into the spirit of 31st October. 

Big Screens (and screams?)

If you fancy seeing a film but the weather’s too nice to stay in, open-air screenings can be great fun - and many put on nighttime Halloween showings in spooky surroundings like abbeys and dark, dark woods.  The Luna open-air Cinema (thelunacinema.com) and the National Trust also has some screenings (great for after those walks we mentioned earlier).

Hide And Seek

Geocaching is the modern day, high-tech, outdoor treasure hunt where participants use a free smartphone app to find hidden boxes scattered across the country. Most caches have a logbook and sometimes little treasures too – you can take one if you leave another in its place. Log on to geocaching.com for more details and to find your nearest cache.

Get On Your Bike  

Jumping on your bike is a great way to get some exercise on sunny autumn days, and you can also make your way along lots of the trails and woodland ‘walks’ that you come across on your days out.  Sky Ride Local (goskyride.com/skyridelocal) can help you on your way, and offers free rides along scenic routes with a trained guide leader for everyone aged five upwards.