Make your own fun in Devon

We’re all looking for things to do with the kids on holiday. But not just anything … ideally, you want to fill their time with activities that are wholesome, absorbing – and preferably free! Sound a tall order? Not in Devon – we’ve some ideas for things to do that tick all those boxes, plus links to more of the same on our partner sites.

Make your own fun summer 2014 devon appledore regatta

Make and follow a treasure hunt
Get together with another family – or split your family into teams. Then, each team compiles a treasure hunt of ten questions that give simple directions to a spot, then a question about something that can be seen there: “Go up the High Street then left into Long Lane. What shape is the weather vane on top of number 5?”. Plan to end each treasure hunt in the same place – perhaps a park – but take different routes. Then swap treasure hunts and follow each others’ (perhaps another day). At the end, award points for correct answers, and another mark out of 10 for how good each treasure hunt was – with a prize for the ultimate winner, and a picnic for everyone.
If you like this you’ll love … geocaching, or following the Discovery Trail Gara Rock 2014, quiz/treasure hunt – there are prizes to be won.

Create sand art …
We all know how to build a sandcastle, but add in a few scavenged accessories, like shells, driftwood, and bits of net and you can end up with a masterpiece. You don’t have to make a building, either – try sculpting animal shapes, or faces. If you do go for castles, bring ‘buckets’ in a a range of sizes and shapes – from egg cups to mixing bowls – for variety and creativity. And if 3D sculptures are beyond your little ones at the moment, try drawing pictures or patterns in the sand, and again decorate with treasures found nearby.

… Or wild art
This is a great way to provide a focus for a lovely long walk, and to encourage children to take in their surroundings. Start by finding four sticks snapped to the same length (or two pairs the same) and bind their corners with wool to make a frame. Then wrap more of the wool around the frame to make a sort of web around it (but leave plenty of gaps). Then as you’re walking, look for beautiful treasures – such as leaves, grass or flowers – and ‘weave’ them into the wool stretched across the frame (clean hands after picking, and make yourselves aware of poisonous or endangered plants before you go). Finally, use a bit more wool to hang your wild art somewhere to be admired.
If you like this you’ll love … a free visit to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery (RAMM) in Exeter

Put together a nature scrapbook
Another good way to encourage screen addicts to get outside is with a scrapbook. Take a sturdy, unlined A4 scrapbook out with you, and a roll of sellotape (the aim of this one’s not necessarily to be pretty!). Stick in any plants or flowers that you don’t know the name of (clean your hands afterwards and be aware of species, as above), and look them up on the internet and label them when you get home.
If you like this you’ll love ..Occombe Farm in Paignton

Catch a crab
You can’t come to (or live in) Devon without whiling away at least a few hours crabbing off the quay. From Teignmouth in the south to Tunnels Beach in the north (or Appledore – see main pic), we have some of the best spots in the country for this time-honoured pastime, and all you need is some string, a bucket and some bait (preferably bacon). Read this guide to crabbing in South Devon for some tips and to find some of the best spots.

Go rockpooling
An oldie but definitely goldie … all children (and plenty of adults) enjoy poking around in rockpools and seeing what they can find. All you need is a net, ice cream tub or bucket of seawater, but it is more fun if you have an idea what you’re looking for, so check out a rockpooling guide such as this before you go, and see this video for inspiration.
If you like this you’ll love … Paignton’s Seashore Centre

Build a den
Find a wooded spot and a Y shaped living tree, and prop the longest stick you can find against it to act as a frame. Lean more branches and sticks against it, remembering to leave a gap for the doorway. Then fill the gaps between the sticks by tucking in large leaves. Once built you can gather logs for tables and seats, decorate the den with wild art, write a stick sign outside saying ‘Our den’ … and let their imaginations run free.
If you like this you’ll love … Lydford Gorge, where the National Trust rangers run events for children such as den-building and wild art

If you like all of these then you’ll love …
Have you seen the National Trust’s 50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4 campaign? It’s full of great ideas for outdoorsy fun for kids, and all of them can be done in Devon.