Ten ideas for a screen-free half term

We’re spending more time in front of screens than ever right now, so this half term why not switch off and try some of our screen-free activities as a family.

Mini Canal Adventure

If you don't have a canal or river local to you to visit at the moment, let our indoor activities bring the magic of our waterways to your family at home. If you are visiting a local canal or river for your daily exercise please follow government guidance and keep a safe distance from moored boats. 

We'd love to see your family enjoying our activities over on the Explorers Twitter and Facebook pages. 

1. Go on an adventure without leaving home

Canals are brimming with juicy stories just waiting to be told and our Mini Canal Adventure activity is a great way for children to bring those stories to life. Children can make characters with the templates provided, find an interesting location to set the story and you can watch their imagination run wild as the story unfolds. 

2. Make a memento of a special family walk

Collect leaves, twigs, flowers, feathers and anything else natural that you find on the ground to make a secret map of a towpath or riverbank with details that only you have noticed – build a journey stick.

3. Get creative with LEGO

Playing with LEGO helps children to be creative, experiment and solve problems whilst having lots of fun. Use our step-by-step instructions to build your own LEGO canal scene complete with lock gates, bridge, narrowboat and some of our favourite canal wildlife. So grab that box of LEGO out of the cupboard and start building!

4. B.I.N.G.O

Turn a trip to a local canal or river for your daily exercise into a fun family competition with a game of Waterside Bingo. Rivers and canals are great places to explore and are full of interesting things to discover. Who can get a full house first? Stay alert because new discoveries can be lurking anywhere!

5. Navvies and engineers wanted!

Roll up your sleeves and get to work on building a mini canal at home. You’ll need a large plastic box or sand tray, play sand, a jug of water, toy animals, trees, people, buildings and boats - you could even make them out of cardboard boxes and other items you have at home. Eliza from the Learning & Skills team shows you how in the film below. 

6. Design a protest poster

Each year an estimated 14 million pieces of plastic rubbish end up in and around our canals and rivers. Plastic litter can be dangerous for both people and wildlife so we urgently need to keep up the fight against plastic. Support the Canal & River Trust Plastics Challenge from home by designing a protest poster to say what you care about and put that message out into the world.

7. Build a bird feeder

Canals are a great place to spot birds. Your back garden is a good place for bird-spotting too. Make a feeder from recycled materials and help our feathered friends through the winter months. 

8. SketchCrawl

All you need for this activity is paper and a pencil. The idea of a SketchCrawl is to walk around stopping at various places to capture the things you see around you, there are no rules, you can draw whatever catches your eye and we think you’ll find lots of drawing inspiration along our canals and rivers. Learn more here.

 9. Hop to it

Hopscotch was a favourite game of boaters’ children because they could play it on the towpath when the boat was tied up for the night. Organise a family hopscotch tournament in your garden.

10. Be a bird spotter

During the long winter months, many of our water birds pack up and migrate to warmer locations. See which birds stay behind and make a tally of the ones you spot at your local canal or river using our water bird spotter sheet.