Skip to main content

The charity making life better by water

Boating with kids

If you're taking to the waters with children, there are plenty of ways to get them involved and keep them entertained. Here are five activities you can do, whatever the weather.

Child wearing a life jacket reaches for a bell on the back of a narrowboat

1. Get snapping

Create a picture diary by encouraging children to take lots of photos. Our waterways are abundant with wildlife, as well as historic bridges, buildings, tunnels and locks.

2. Take games

Prepare for a change in the weather and take both indoor and outdoor games with you.

For sunny days, download our Wildlife Bingo card and see how many animals, birds and fish can be spotted and matched. To make things more interesting, include a small prize for the winner.

For rainy days, you could settle down to a classic board game, or perhaps get creative. There are plenty of activities on our Explorers website. You could also make a margarine tub boat to sail alongside your holiday boat.

3. Get hands-on

Involve the whole family in planning your holiday route and explain that everyone is a valuable part of the boat's crew.

After teaching children the safety rules, give them specific tasks to do, such as casting off, mooring, operating locks and, when strictly supervised, steering.

Younger children could be in charge of spotting oncoming boats, landmarks, tunnels and canalside wildlife.

4. Be a pirate

Yo ho ho! Let imaginations run wild with a pirate day. Make flags, pick new pirate names and hide some treasure onboard.

Bring dressing-up costumes, eye patches and fake moustaches to ensure maximum fun for your little buccaneers. Obviously, walking the plank is not a suitable finale.

5. Roses and castles

Go back to basics and unleash the pencil cases. Using paper plates, decorate the deck with traditional folk pictures of roses and castles.

Kids can even make their own postcards to give to friends and family when you get home.

Suggestions from our friends on social media

"Give them little jobs to do. Chat to the other boaters and learn about the canal, as well as bird-spotting. Take photos of the bird life, especially the baby birds. My kids love that." Lucy Binney

"Learning about the history of canals, feeding the ducks and understanding the country code." Neil Macdonald

"Useful knot-tying, painting roses and castles, and playing butterfly bingo." Martyn Brown

Free guides for fun days out

Looking for a perfect place to relax and unwind? Download your free regional guide today


We'd love to tell you more

Our newsletter is packed full of exciting updates and stories of how our charity keeps canals alive.

Last Edited: 19 November 2021

photo of a location on the canals
newsletter logo

Stay connected

Sign up to our monthly newsletter and be the first to hear about campaigns, upcoming events and fundraising inspiration