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Things to do in half-term 2021: free and cheap lockdown-friendly activities

Things to do in half-term 2021: free and cheap lockdown-friendly activities
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And…breathe. Half-term is upon us, which means a welcome break from the pressures of homeschooling – hurrah! To keep the kids amused (and off your back), here’s a rundown of things to do. Best of all, they’re free (or very cheap).

The National Trust

You don’t have to be a National Trust member to find loads of outdoorsy stuff for the kids to do this half-term break. Their website has a number of free activity ideas you can do at home or on your doorstep. For instance, fancy some quiet time that doubles up as a fun game for the children? Then download the ‘Sounds of nature‘ bingo cards and get them to tick off what they hear (prizes at your discretion).

There’s also a list of things you can do in your garden and some delicious-looking, easy-to-cook recipes. Visit the National Trust website for more. 

Learn to code

Microsoft has a series of free (yep, free) online workshops and activities for kids this half-term and beyond. There are all sorts on offer, but one we can vouch for is the coding tutorial to make your own video game, aimed at kids aged eight and upwards.

Our ten-year-old did this the other day and was chuffed with her finished game (Chase the pizza). Kids don’t need any previous coding experience at all. Sessions run throughout the week. Go to Microsoft’s virtual training and workshops page

Try decoupage

Decoupage is great fun so long as you don’t mind the mess. If you want to be all technical about it, you can buy special decoupage paper and fancy glue, but watered down PVA will do and so will any old wrapping paper.

You can also buy decoupage bases (for example, animal shapes, letters and boxes) but you can just as easily use the technique to spruce up wooden trinkets and ceramics.

Simply rip your chosen paper into bits, smother them in the glue and then stick.

So far, we’ve decoupaged a flamingo and a miscellaneous insect. Getting your hands completely covered in squelchy glue is incredibly satisfying (even for grown-ups). If you want proper instructions, take a look at Hobbycraft’s ‘How to decoupage’ page

Read free audiobooks on Audible 

This isn’t just a half-term activity. Kids of all ages can listen to a wide range of audiobooks for free through Audible (part of Amazon).

Kids can listen on all sorts of devices including a phone, so it’s not limited to those with tablets or laptops. Just make sure that the latest version of whatever browser you use (Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Edge) is installed.

The service really is free and you don’t even have to be an Amazon customer to use it. For instructions on how to sign up, take a look at Amazon’s how-to guide or to start listening, go to the website

Take an interactive tour of Ellis Island 

Any kids that are into history should find this interactive tour fascinating and insightful. Start the tour and see history brought to life with photos and audio extracts that showcase US immigration through the ages.

The website also has a virtual field trip of the island (it’s a bit dated but no less interesting) that lasts about half an hour. Plus, there are some lovely first-hand stories from kids that have emigrated to the US.

To explore, head to Immigration stories of yesterday and today by Scholastic. 

For more things to do this half-term  

If you’re after even more half-term inspiration, take a look at these ideas to keep kids entertained in lockdown and these six other activities that won’t cost you a thing. (You’re welcome.)

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