27 things you can do at home this summer in Kent

Find out what it would have been like to live in Leeds Castle and write your own story about it (pho

Find out what it would have been like to live in Leeds Castle and write your own story about it (photo: Manu Palomeque) - Credit: Archant

Try these Kent-themed ideas for the ultimate ‘stay-cation’ – without having to move further away from home than the garden gate

Nature detectives

Try these top tips from The Woodland Trust to enjoy connecting with nature at home. For tree-themed fact sheets, interactive quizzes and puzzles, visit treetoolsforschools.org.uk.

1. Go on a minibeast hunt

You’ll be amazed at the variety of wildlife that calls your garden home. Look in the grass for a worm emerging after a shower of rain, or hunt down a snail exploring a dark, damp spot. Look up to see butterflies and bees darting about, looking for nectar.

2. Make a loo-roll bird feeder

Save the inner cardboard tube of a loo roll and smother it in peanut butter (no added salt and sugar versions are suitable for birds). Roll it in bird seed and thread some string through the hole. Hang it up and see how many birds you spot feasting on it.

3. Create some butterfly symmetry art

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Splodge some paint in different colours on one half of a sheet of paper. Fold it in half while still wet, so the paint spreads on both sides. Carefully open it up to reveal colourful butterfly wings. Add in a body and antennae, then hang it up for a cheerful decoration when it’s completely dry.

4. Build a Lego forest

Dig out your Lego blocks and make your very own forest, complete with trees, animals and flowers. Work together on a massive project, or see who can make the biggest, most imaginative or most colourful model.

5. Write a story about woods or trees

Inspire those creative juices with a story challenge. Start your budding writers off by providing them with an opening sentence with a tree-based theme. Or set a rule that the story must start, end or completely take place in a forest. Share your stories together at bedtime.

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6. Life in a Kentish castle

Kent is home to several fascinating castles. Find out what it would have been like to live in one. Would you have liked to have been a knight? A Queen? A servant? Write a diary about what you would have done each day living in your chosen Kentish castle.

7. Literary links

Several well-known authors have strong links to Kent, either having lived here or finding inspiration from a visit or holiday. Charles Dickens, H.E. Bates, Jane Austen and T.S. Elliot were all influenced by their experiences in the county, as were several more modern authors. How many mentions of local places can you find in their books?

8. Theory of evolution

Father of evolution, Charles Darwin lived at Down House in the village of Downe near Orpington with his family for 40 years. His theories on evolution by natural selection, as laid out in his book, On the Origin of Species, has shaped modern studies into the subject. While we wait for places such as Downe House to reopen to the public, why not see what else you can find out about this renowned scientist online?

9. Art at the Turner Gallery

Follow the social media channels of the Turner Contemporary art gallery in Margate for artistic ideas, inspiration and engagement while its physical doors remain closed. For news of competitions, articles and things to make and draw at home, check out the gallery’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages, turnercontemporary.org

10. Beach modelling

Missing sunny days at the beach? Us too. Kent is blessed with miles of stunning coastline, inviting sand and invigorating seashore fun. Stay ‘beach ready’ by making your own model of your favourite Kent beach using rocks and stones from the garden, seashells gathered during previous visits and some sandpit sand.

Get competitive

11. Scavenger hunt

Many people will be familiar with scavenger hunts, where participants are charged with finding a list of items as quickly as possible, but why not add a modern twist? Use the internet for an online hunt – but you are only allowed to look for items on websites with a link to the county of Kent. Who will tick off all the items on their list first?

12. Local word play

How many words can you make out of CANTERBURY, ROYAL TUNBRIDGE WELLS or ROCHESTER? Have prizes for the winners and forfeits for the runners-up. The person with the fewest answers has to wash up or make everyone else a cuppa.

13. Sports Day

For many children, one of the things they will miss most during school closures is their annual sports day; the chance to compete against their friends and enjoy some healthy competition in the open air. Plan your own family sports day with a programme of fun races and obstacle courses in the garden or around the house. Make medals for the winners and hold an elaborate medals ceremony that would be worthy of the (sadly postponed) 2020 Olympics.

14. Reach for the skies

Hold a sunflower or broad bean-growing competition to see whose plant grows the tallest. Or build towers out of things found in the garden, or inside the home to see who can get it to climb higher than one metre. Two… three?

15. Kent on screen

Have you been watching more TV shows and films than normal during your time at home? Why not use your extended screen time to see who can spot the most places in Kent that have been used as filming locations? From Avengers: Age of Ultron to The Darling Buds of May; Top Gear to Sherlock Holmes, Kent pops up in all kinds of unexpected films and TV shows. Check out Kent County Council Film Office’s Kent Movie Map at kentfilmoffice.co.uk/kent-movie-map/moviemap-live-2 for more clues.

Time to play

Try these top tips from Claire Russell, Early Years Specialist and founder of the playHOORAY! website to keep younger children occupied using readily available household items. Check out playhooray.co.uk for more ideas.

16. Keep cupboards tidy

Keep little ones busy for hours by sorting the items in your food cupboard by colour, size or any other classification. Practise their writing by having them make a list of what they find. You might even be inspired to come up with a brand-new interesting meal combination for tonight’s supper.

17. Make a jigsaw

Create your own jigsaw by cutting up pages from old copies of your favourite magazine (Kent Life, of course!) and sticking them onto cardboard to make them easier to play with. See how quickly it takes other members in your household to complete it.

18. Film your own TV report

Use your tablet or phone to record your own local news story or weather report. What’s happening in your home, street or town that you think the rest of the world needs to know about? Maybe record your street’s ‘Clap for Carers’ Thursday evening tribute when the country joins together to salute NHS staff and other key workers.

19. Write a letter

Take the time to write to a friend or relative, or draw them a picture, to let them know what you are up to. Or, for a twist on the theme, write to your future self, or draw some pictures about what you did and how you felt during these unusual times. Could you create a time capsule to bury in the garden, along with your letter or artwork? Future generations will thank you.

20. Furnish your dream home

Using any furniture or household catalogues you have lying around at home to furnish your dream house or bedroom. Make a scale drawing of your space and cut pictures out to see what looks good together. For an added challenge, set yourself a budget you are not allowed to exceed.

Techie tips

21. Stay in, work out

Find inspiration for a home-based workout regime from the KentSport.org website, which has collected together links and ideas for keeping fit and healthy at home from sources including the NHS and This Girl Can: kentsport.org/coronavirus/coronavirus-active-at-home.

22. Virtual countryside

If you can’t get out to see Kent’s National Trust-owned beauty spots, then they will have to come to you. Enjoy an online nature and countryside tour by starting off at nationaltrust.org.uk/kent and see where the ‘rabbit hole’ takes you as you click your way through the stunning images.

23. History keeper

Don’t just leave it to the history professionals to keep records of the extraordinary times we are living through. Write your own blog, keep an online photo diary or start a video journal. Future generations will really appreciate having your first-hand account.

24. Cook up a local treat

Look up a Kentish recipe online to try using ingredients you have in the cupboard. Delicious local dishes include gypsy tart, huffkin and Canterbury apple tart. Or, if all else fails, why not invent a brand new ‘Sandwich’ in honour of the historic coastal Kent town?

25. Plan ahead

Budding (or actual) architects could keep themselves occupied for quite a long time by designing a brand new, Kent-based town centre. Take a look at some pictures online of existing towns and their amenities and then use your preferred drawing software or a paper sketchbook to map out your dream urban paradise.

And finally...

26. Food for thought

The current situation has affected every single one of us to varying extents. Many people are struggling financially due to changes in their working circumstances or increased commitments around caring for family. If you are in a position to do so, consider buying a few extra provisions for your local food bank, or donating money to a charity involved in alleviating financial difficulties within the county.

27. Send us a smile

Kent Life would love to hear what you’ve been doing to keep yourself entertained over these past few weeks at home, either alone or with others.

Send us an email to sarah.sturt@archant.co.uk with the subject line ‘Coronavirus summer.’

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