23rd October 2023
Children taking part in a Rewild Hastings session. Photo taken by Claire Thompson – Project Rewild CIC
Top 20 activities to get children active this season
Whatever the weather, there is always something for children to explore and enjoy in our parks, out in nature, in the woods or along the coast in Sussex.
Inspired by National Trust’s ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’, here are our top 20 activities.
1. Explore a tree
Whether it is climbing (when it is safe and it is not flagged as an ancient protected specimen), exploring its nooks and crannies, or playing a game of hide and seek, there is plenty of fun you can have with trees. Maybe you could see what minibeasts have made their home in the tree, or make a bark rubbing.
2. Make a huge leaf pile
Ready, set, go – how big a pile can you make by collecting all the leaves together? This is great fun for all ages. As you run around scooping up the leaves, encourage the child to count how many they have or describe the colours. Plus don’t forget the joy of kicking the pile and scattering them once the time is up!
3. Build a den
Use your imagination to create an epic wigwam-style den from fallen sticks and branches you gather from around the wood or garden. Then once your ‘home’ has been crafted perhaps you can roll in some log furniture. Dens are a great place to let your imagination run wild.
4. Fly a kite
You can often pick up a kite very cheaply and this is a great way for youngsters (and adults) to get fit as you run along trying to keep the kite flying high in the air. Who can keep the kite flying the longest?
5. Play Pooh sticks
This is simple fun, first invented by the lovable Pooh bear in the A.A.Milne book. All you need is at least two people, a stick each, and a bridge over running water. Check which way the water is flowing and on the count of three drop your stick one side of the bridge and run to the other to see which stick arrives first.
6. Climb up and roll down a really big hill
There are plenty of hills around in Sussex and hiking up a hill is a great way for the whole family to get fit. But what is also fun is finding a nice grassy hill you can either roll down or run. Just make sure you avoid cow pats and patches of nettles on your way down!
7. Try Geocaching
Join the world’s largest treasure hunt. This will help develop your navigational and searching skills as well as helping you get active as you set off for your adventure. This is free to sign up, but you will need a smartphone or GPS device. Find out more about Geocaching here
8. Skim a stone
For this you will need fairly still water, such as a lake, pond or calm sea. Find a good flat stone and then practise until you crack the technique. One of the satisfying parts about this activity is hunting around for that perfect stone.
9. Muddy puddle time
Children are instantly drawn to the biggest, and often muddiest, puddles, so don your wellies and waterproofs and have a splashing good time hopping from one puddle to the next. How big a splash can they make? Can they jump between puddles?
10. Visit the skatepark
There are skateparks dotted all around the area and these are great for skateboarders as well as roller-skaters and bikes. The majority of skateparks are free and are suitable for various levels of ability. You can find out more about your nearest skatepark here.
11. Make a home for wildlife
Your child may want to make a small and simple bug hotel, a home for birds, or something a bit bigger for larger wildlife in the area. Encourage them to run around to seek the material they need for their architectural masterpieces and get them to think about the shape and size of the animals they are building for.
12. Explore your local playground
A playground is basically a fun and free gym for children. Here they will learn and develop their climbing techniques, strength and coordination. Other benefits include the fact it nurtures brain development, improves social skills and group interaction, and develops their imagination.
13. Go nature spotting and start a nature diary
A great way to keep children interested on a walk is to encourage them to take note of what they see as they go on their adventures. Perhaps they have spotted an unusual footprint or track, did they hear something scurrying in the bushes and what could it be? If they have found an unusual looking leaf perhaps they can document it in their book.
14. Explore a rock pool
As the tide goes out, what is left among the rocks and pools of water is a glance into another world. What has found sanctuary in the rock pools? Clamber across the pools, squat down to see what is hiding, and enjoy exploring.
15. Get on your bike
There are plenty of bike trails across the county and this is a perfect opportunity to get out on the quieter routes, build up your child’s confidence and explore further afield. Head to the National Cycle Network on the Sustrans website for ideas of where to cycle.
16. Create some wild art
Let your imagination run wild as you create your own masterpieces. This is a lovely way to see nature in a different light, looking at the colours, size and texture of the items collected on your wild walks.
17. Play catch with a ball or a frisbee
Whatever type of ball you have and whatever game you want to play, this is a great way to get your blood pumping and your heart racing as you have fun outside. Challenge yourself and those you are playing with. How far can you throw or kick? How many times can you catch the ball or frisbee in a row?
18. Have fun with sticks
Children have the best imaginations and a stick can become all sorts of things in the hands of a child. Maybe they are a pirate brandishing a sword, or maybe it is a telescope, walking stick, or navigational tool. Who can find the biggest stick on your next adventure?
19. ‘Culinary’ muddy delights
There is a reason mud schools are so popular. Whether it is in your garden, at a local park, or in the woods, this is a chance to get messy while developing your imagination. What can your child create in their ‘outdoor kitchen’. Be prepared for buckets of sloppy mud pies that are your ‘dinner’ and ‘ice cream’ made from sticks, mud and leaves.
20 Take a friend on a nature adventure
It is easy to forget at times the wonderful nature we have right on our doorstep from the coast to the countryside. Instead of meeting up with friends at home, arrange to go on a nature adventure as a group. Perhaps you can take it turns in deciding where to go and leading the way.
Alongside our #GettingSussexMoving campaign, the public health team at East Sussex County Council had launched their #GettingEastSussexMoving campaign.
The council’s campaign page includes plenty of useful links, from recommendations of local facilities and sites to visit as well as links to online resources that will help you get fit and active.
To find information on great locations in East Sussex to try 20 outdoor activities, head to the Getting East Sussex Moving webpage.