Days out for less

One of the biggest advantages of being a childminder or nanny is the flexible routine shaping your days. Whether it’s after the morning school run, or in the holidays, you can go wherever you choose. It is often one of the reasons parents and carers choose this type of childcare, as it offers lots of activities for children to enjoy, both inside and outdoors.

The curriculum frameworks in England and Wales place great importance on outside play, recognising the role they have to a child’s overall well-being. Even with no garden space, childminders are required to regularly access outdoor areas whether this is a walk, a play at the park, or going to the woods.

When thinking about an outing or a day out somewhere you need to factor in the costs, especially in childminding settings where there are more children, and sometimes a few adults too. But days out don’t need to cost the earth. Whether you provide the excursions as part of your rates, or whether you charge extra, there are low-cost options available.

Please make sure you’re aware of the latest Covid-19 restrictions and guidance before attending any of these activities. 

Free Days Out

  • Parks, either local or further afield. You can make a day out of it by taking footballs, hula hoops, tennis rackets, books, bug hunting kits and a picnic.
  • Treasure hunt. Why not create some lists of objects children need to find. These could include leaves, sticks, stones, feathers, pine cones, a daisy, an acorn. Children can tick things off as they find them.
  • Natural Collage Walk. Get the children to create a large natural collage using items found locally or in the garden/woods. They could create a stick family, or make photo frames, or why not try and write their names using materials?
  • Explore Local Sights. There is nothing better than the local history on your doorstep. Encouraging children to take an interest in local sights has so many benefits. A local river, canal, gardens, cathedral or field opens up their minds to so much. You could aim to visit one place a week and create a checklist, this is particularly useful in the holidays when you perhaps have more children to cater for.
  • Local library. Most libraries are happy to welcome childcare settings as long as children are well behaved and respectful. This is a great time to teach children how to behave in the wider community and the importance of handling books correctly. Teaching children that some books are borrowed and must be returned is a great way of doing this.
  • A day in the woods. There is so much opportunity here to learn and play. Even on rainy days, a walk in the woods can be fun - wellies and waterproofs and away you go! Building dens, playing hide and seek, tag, building pretend campfires, collecting natural materials and enjoying a picnic will provide hours of fun.
  • Nature Reserves. Why not enjoy some local beauty hotspots with a trip to a nature reserve? With your own drinks and snacks, it doesn’t need to cost a penny.
  • Organised Community Picnic. Why not get some of the community or local childcarers together for a picnic in the park or another green space? It’s a great time to mix with like-minded professionals while the children can make some new friends. Read how some settings have been safely meeting during the pandemic in England.  Check the latest government guidance before planning a communal event.  Read the England guidance here and the Wales guidance here
  • A walk through your local town or village. It doesn’t need to be fancy or over thought. A simple stroll around your local area can enhance children’s learning in lots of ways. Why not give the children some tasks to do such as litter picking or posting some letters.
  • Council-run activities. Sometimes local councils run activities such as pop up parks, tennis, learning new skills and football sessions so it’s worth checking out your local area for such schemes.
  • Trip to the Garden Centre. A stroll around your local garden centre can encourage so much conversation with the children. Sometimes there will be activities for the children and there are always lots of lovely displays to look at, especially at Easter and Christmas.
  • Geocaching. This activity has grown in popularity among families and as long as you have access to a GPS device then you can join in. It’s a fun way of exercising and the children will love it. Find out more from the Geocashing Association of Great Britain (GAGB).

Low-Cost Activities

Even if you do like venturing further afield and going to places that cost money, there are ways to keep costs down. Taking your own food and drinks, opting for a special deal with passes, sharing costs with other childminders, looking for voucher codes on websites and looking for any special offers can make a real difference when planning your days out. Below are some low-cost activity ideas.

  • Trip to your local museum. Often these are free or many just ask for a voluntary contribution to help towards the upkeep.
  • Trip to the cafe. Why not indulge in some yummy cake, there are often children’s menus and one yummy snack can go a long way between children.
  • Countryside Centre Arts and Crafts. Often local countryside centres run craft clubs during the week where you can spend an hour or so making an array of craft.
  • Cinema trip. There are so many great deals available for the cinema and some cinemas play old films for a small fee during the week. With your own drinks and snacks, it only costs the price of the tickets.
  • English Heritage. They run a scheme where children can go free which can save you lots of money. You must, however, be a member of English heritage.
  • Cadw.  Often run events and promotions in Wales for access to Welsh heritage sites.
  • Children’s Farms. Some of these will have a cost attached, but some are free, or ask for a donation.
  • In-store Activities. There are stores around the UK who offer free activities for children. Pets at Home sometimes run animal workshops, and Hobbycraft often have free activities too.
  • Charity Shops. Take the children round the charity shops and see what bargains you find. So many wonderful resources lie in these shops just waiting to be rehomed.

PACEY members can also access our Savings and Discounts section, for money saving offers on places such as Hoo Zoo, as well as student prices via the TOTUM Card.

Giving children the freedom to enjoy some physical exercise in the fresh air is mentally pleasing. A tired or an overwhelmed child may calm down outside - this is why so many settings have taken to garden naps. Nature is there to be enjoyed, explored and encouraged.

Children use their imagination more when presented with a blank canvas, and you may see more confidence in them outside. For example, some paintbrushes and water at the park can suddenly become so many things. Some children might write their names, others will just enjoy some simple mark-making, and some will use the paintbrush to clean the equipment.

A day out doesn’t need to be all frills. A simple walk, leaf collecting, acorn spotting or a big green space can offer so much potential for learning new experiences. So much talking, questions and pointing out things of interest - the best learning often takes place on the outside of the four walls and can cover so many areas of learning.

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