Image Credit: Narcis Ciocan
As the school holidays drag on it can be hard to think of things to do with the kids, especially if you want to get outside and get some fresh air and exercise. It can also get pretty expensive if you spend your time going to your local cinemas, theme parks and play centres.
So for a change, here are some unusual ideas for things to do with the children during the holidays.
They all involve getting out and about into your local community and looking at your home town with new eyes. And they don't cost as much as a day at a theme park either.
Image Credit: Michal Jarmoluk
First you need to find some old pictures of your town, city or village. Search the internet, try your library's local history section for a book of old pictures. Britain in Old Photographs is an extensive series of books for towns all over Britain, and many local history groups publish their own books of old photographs.
Next, see if you can find the places in the old pictures, and try to photograph them from the same position. Warning! Many pictures were taken from the middle of the road in days when there wasn't so much traffic to worry about as there are these days!
Don't wander into the road trying to get just the right angle..
Image Credit: Alastair Newton
Go on a Wildlife Safari. Go to your nearest park, woodland, pond or river and see just how many different types of wildlife live there. Ponds and rivers will have fish, frogs, voles, ducks, insects and maybe geese or swans. You don't have to be an expert, just be able to spot the different types.
Even your local park will have different types of birds, squirrels and insects, as well as lots of breeds of dog!
If you are lucky enough to live near woodland you might see deer as well. Visit Natural England, the Scottish Wildlife Trust or the Irish Wildlife Trust for more information on wildlife in your area. English Nature also has some ideas for a wildlife safari in your own garden.
This is a variant of the last idea. Look above the level of the shop fronts in your local high street. You may be able find extravagant architecture, carvings, date plaques and chimneys all of which are reminders of your town's past.
Even many buildings from the 1960's modernist era are being torn down and replaced, so take the opportunity to photograph them now.
Maybe you will be able to guess a previous use of the building. In the 1970's many beautiful Art Deco cinemas were closed down and turned into bingo halls or supermarkets, so if a building looks rather grand for it's current use, it may have been a 'picture palace' in the past.
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Go and make a record of your local war memorials. You could photograph or draw them. The Imperial War Museum is building a database of all the war memorials in Britain. Memorials include outdoor ones, usually with crosses or a sculpture of a soldier, and indoor 'Rolls of Honour'.
Sadly many memorials are being lost as churches are deconsecrated and others are simply falling into disrepair. Make a record of those who died for our freedom.
Visit the Imperial War Museum's UK National Inventory of War Memorials.
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Local graveyards and cemeteries are fascinating. Are any famous or historic figures buried in your local church? What is the oldest readable stone? Which is the most interesting design, the most beautiful angel? My local church has a collection of stones with skulls on them.
This is also an opportunity to teach the children not to run over the graves, and to remind them that other people will be there for quiet reflection, so even if it's out of doors they must still be quiet. A donation to the church funds would be nice if you decide to do this.
About eParenting: eParenting was started by Jacqui O'Brien in 2004. At the time her kids were 1 and 4 and kept her nice and busy. Now they are teenagers and still keeping her pretty busy!