Kids, eh? Where would we be without them? Probably enjoying more evenings out and much better holidays, but that’s beside the point. Isn’t it?? Half term is upon us and when the weather’s as crap as it’s been recently, the prospect of having to entertain young children FOR A WHOLE WEEK can be quite scary. As you know, we don’t do listings on this site for reasons mostly connected with sheer laziness; however, the nice ladies at award winning local website For Sanity’s Sake aren’t lazy. Far from it. In fact, they’ve only gone and produced a handy list of ideas for children’s half term fun, haven’t they? Bad luck! Now you’ve absolutely no excuse for sticking the kids in front of the TV while you while away the hours in front of Facebook. Here it is. Right here…
Have you got activities planned for the children in half term, or still looking for some inspiration? We’ve looked around the local area and further afield to bring you a few ideas….
1. Feast on Chocolate
Chocoholics will love the Chocolate Kitchen at Hampton Court, the only surviving royal chocolate kitchen in the country, where you can take part in live chocolate demonstrations in the actual spaces where drinking chocolate was prepared for George I and II. Or join the Chocolate Tour of London, tasting seven different chocolates around Mayfair – including a visit to Fortnum and Mason’s. This runs until the end of the year.
2. Children’s Theatre
In case the weather is atrocious and you need indoor entertainment, try the local theatres. Polka Theatre, Wimbledon is hosting Ugly Duckling from Wednesday 19th – Saturday 22nd in a show that combines puppetry, music and storytelling to give a new flavour to a well-known tale. From Thursday 2oth, the Olivier award-winning writer Mike Kenny’s brand new adaptation of Red Riding Hood comes to Polka, with original songs.
At Watermans, Brentford on Sunday 16th, enjoy the “delicious mix of wit, humour and inventiveness” of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice with puppets, mime, and magic. On Sunday 23rd, Norwich Puppet Theatre presents The Frog & The Princess, a re-telling of the Brothers Grimm tale.
At the Lyric, Hammersmith on Saturday 15th, A Roo in my Suitcase celebrates friendship through poetry, song and plenty of joining in, while The Little Red Hen on 20th – 22nd features a host of animal puppets, sing-along songs and mad-cap comic routines.
3. Arts & Crafts Workshops
There’s plenty to keep creative kids busy with Orleans House Gallery running a series of workshops, including Plaster Casting for 4-5 year olds on Monday 17th and Printed Portraits for 4-7 year olds on Tuesday 18th. Happy Potter in Teddington is running half term workshops from Monday 17th – 21st where children can choose from pottery painting, tote bag or T-shirt design, button canvas design, or Decopatch. Artyard Handmade’s Holiday Roadshow at Pop Up Art Studio in East Sheen takes kids on an explorative journey through a variety of different crafts, including felt, foil, wire, clay sculpture, papier mache and more! Runs each day from 17th – 21st February. The Landmark Arts Centre in Teddington is also running arts and crafts workshops.
4. Getting ready for spring
At Create and Grow Half Term Fun, Squires Garden Centre in Twickenham. From Monday children can decorate their very own terracotta bird house to attract the spring birds to your garden. Runs all week and costs £5. There are also free activities, including squirrel colouring competition and the spring bird treasure hunt, with prizes for the winners and a sticker for all entries.
5. Find out how birds and animals cope in winter
While we can snuggle up inside during the winter, what do birds and animals do? This is the question answered at WWT London Wetland Centre, Barnes this half term where children can follow their migration vs hibernation trail to discover how some animals survive by sleeping through the cold months while others migrate to warmer climates. Takes place from Saturday 15th.
6. Drama workshops
Looking for some Superhero action? Look no further than Superhero Adventures, a half term workshop from Storytelling Adventures which combines arts, crafts, dance, singing, storytelling and performance. Based in Twickenham, you can book for just one day or the whole week.
Polka Theatre, Wimbledon is running Actor’s Bootcamp Workshop on Wednesday 19th where children aged 7-11 can spend the morning working with a professional actor. On Tuesday 18th children will learn how to make their own Dancing Dragon puppets and create their own puppet dances. For ages 6-8. On Thursday 20th, Gorilla Magic Workshop gives kids aged 3-4 yrs the chance to bring in a treasured toy to bring it to life in a special story.
Perform Drama, Dance and Singing workshops are recruiting 4-8 year old children to travel to Narnia and help Aslan the Lion defeat the Wicked White Witch. At Kew Community Centre from Mon 17th to Wednesday 19th Feb.
7. See Newborn animals
There are up to 90 lambs due to be born at Bocketts Farm, Leatherhead from Feb 12th so you may even see one being born over half term this February. You’ll also see Bird of Prey, take part in pony grooming sessions and enjoy all the usual fun activities and playbarn. Or head to Hounslow Urban Farm, Feltham to see their animals and enjoy the petting sessions.
8. Half-term at the Children Centres
There’s still plenty going on at the Borough’s Children’s Centres this half term, including regular Stay and Play sessions from Richmond Childminding Association (RCA).
Visit Ham House and Gardens during the week for regular storytelling sessions, or visit one of the borough’s libraries, which are running their storytelling session as usual throughout the holiday – good news for all parents!
10. Treat for rugby fans
Do you have a family fun of rugby fans? Kids can meet Ruckley – the cuddly bulldog and new England Rugby children’s ambassador – on a Twickenham Stadium tour on Thursday 20th. They can check out England’s dressing room, plus find out what it’s like to run out of the Twickenham tunnel. The tour also includes a visit to the World Rugby Museum.
11. See the dinosaurs
You don’t have to go into the Natural History Museum to see the Dinosaurs this half term they’ll be at Richmond Theatre from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd when Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo brings these awesome prehistoric creatures to the stage. Get as close as you dare to see cute baby dinos and teeth-gnashing giants.
12. Follow a trail
Kids never seem to mind a long walk when there’s a prize at the end of it, so visit one of the local National Trust properties and take part in their half term trails. Taking place at Claremont and Polesden Lacy, with the latter titling theirs “Match the Polesden Pairs”, where children seek out pairs of “objects” including spot the differences, word searches, and a quiz.
13. Children’s Festival
Head to the Southbank Centre’s Imagine Children’s Festival during half term for a programme packed full of children’s literature, dance, theatre and art. Includes Dressing Up Days, Rug Rhymes for under-5s, a Bookswap, workshops and performances based on popular stories.
14. Get 2-4-1 on great attractions
If you’re planning to go to one of London’s big attractions, it’s worth checking out the Days Out Guide website, which offers 2-4-1 vouchers when you travel by trail. Attractions taking part include Madame Tussauds, Science Museum, Cutty Sark, EDF London Eye, SEA LIFE London Aquarium.
15. Sports activities and clubs
Haven’t got the energy to keep your kids active this half term? Then let someone else do it! Wings Swim School is offering for a range of ages in Twickenham, plus Best Tennis is running , which include a mix of sports from cricket to athletics.
16. Visit a museum
From Tuesday 18th to Thursday 20th, Richmond Museum is running a family workshop based on the theme of the current Explorers exhibition featuring Ball, Vancouver and Burton. If you fancy a trip into town, head to the Museum of London, which has a range of free workshops, including A Different Time And Place (Over 5s), an inspiring storytelling session which crosses time and place. The Geffrye Museum of the Home in Shoreditch has craft activities, including creating a pet ornament from clay, puppets and portraits inspired by the animals at the museum, from Tuesday 18th – Friday 21st. Build a time machine, Become a time traveller or design your own special clock at free workshops at Museum Of London Docklands in West India Quay from Saturday 15th to Friday 21st.
17. See the Orchids at Kew Gardens
It’s the Orchid Festival at Kew Gardens this half term. Mini explorers will discover how Kew specialists go about their plant-finding missions in our rainforest encampment. They’ll get to try on some explorer’s gear, get hands on with maps and equipment and take part in their own mini-expedition. Plus see the stunning flowers in a gorgeous setting.
18. Visit the Work and Family Show
If you’re struggling to get the balance right between work and family, then get to The Work and Family Show at ExCel London on 21st and 22nd. Supported by The Guardian, Sky and Stella & Dot the event aims to provide you with everything you need to create the ideal balance between your career ambitions and your family – whether you want to work flexibly, go freelance or start your own business.
19. Enjoy the great outdoors
Our borough offers so many great options for getting out into the fresh air, jumping in mud, climbing trees and building dens. Local to us are Richmond Park, Bushy Park, Crane Park, Marble Hill Park, Dukes Meadow and the grounds of Hampton Court. But you can try further afield such as Painshill Park, Cobham, Alice Holt Forest near Farnham or Bracknell Forest – which also has a fantastic outdoor play area.
So there we have it. You’ve now no excuse for letting your children get bored. And who knows, you might even enjoy some of these activities yourself. Big thanks to For Sanity’s Sake for sharing their ideas on here.
* For Sanity’s Sake