Things to do over February Half Term 2021

Things to do over February Half Term 2021.

Take a break from the 'groundhog days' and find holiday fun in the New Forest and beyond.

Things to do half term in the New ForestSo, the February half term is upon us. If you're feeling stuck at home with nothing to do, read on! We may not be able to physically 'go away' but there's still plenty to do - and not all of it online. We've gathered here a selection of ideas for inspiration. 

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1) Chinese New Year: Friday 12 February.

It's the Year of the Rat! Celebrate in style with a Chinese meal and why not make some Chinese lanterns out of paper or card (follow the Kidspot instructions here on Youtube) Find out more about Chinese New Year on BBC Newsround.

2) Valentine's Day: Sunday 14 February.

Encourage the kids to think out of the box this Valentine's Day and make something for those who might be feeling isolated during the pandemic, such as grandparents and neighbours. Draw a picture, design a card, write a letter, craft a collage... to put a smile on the face of someone near and dear and let them know that your're thinking of them. A favourite idea here is baking cookies, then sticking favourite sweets on top - such as love hearts, wine gums or minstrels... (find a useful chocolate chip cookie recipe here - then just add the sweets!)

3) Pancake Day: Tuesday 16 February.

child and dad making pancake togetherThere are so many ways to have fun on Shrove Tuesday! First of all test your flipping skills and take part in Oakhaven Hospice's #flip5donate5 challenge - flip your pancake 5 times (or flip 5 pancakes!), then donate £5 to our great local hospice and challenge 5 friends to do the same. A fun way to celebrate pancake day whilst helping a very worthy local cause. Then, of course, there are pancake races, pancake flipping races... and deciding what to eat on or with your pancakes...yum!

 4) Make the most of where we live!

Ok so maybe we're all a bit tired of 'going for a walk' right now. This half term, challenge yourselves to walk somewhere new. Find local footpaths or parts of the New Forest National Park that you've not yet explored. We're so fortunate to live where we do, let's make the most of it!

Although many of us are rather fed up that our normal sports cannot happen at the moment, try something new. Go for a family jog. Get out on bikes if weather permits. Wrap up warm and do spend some time each day outside, you'll definitely feel more invigorated for it. And you never know, we may get real snow...

new forest carparks

5) Cooking challenges.

Ok so in this house, Mum is totally and utterly fed up with cooking. Enter, therefore, the family challenge! With the three teens off home school for a week, it's time for them to brush up on their culinary skills! So, they've been given the choice: 'Come Dine with Me', 'Masterchef' or the 'Great British Bake Off.' With a bit of luck, their competitive nature will prevail and they'll go for all three. I just need to figure out some way of encouraging them to clear up after themselves too!

6) Dig for Britain! Plan your vegetable garden.

planting seeds in a pink plant potThe Beast from the East may be here right now, but it won't be long before our wonderful local climate becomes milder. February is a great time to plan your garden - and in particular the vegetables you could grow this year. Remember that local garden centres, such as the wonderful Fairweathers in Beaulieu, are open, so head over to find seeds, onion sets and seed potatoes and start planning a vegetable plot or pots!

7) Go on a bug hunt and make a bug hotel.

The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) has lots to do on their website, including downloadable fun stuff such as a garden bug hunt, scavenger hunt, colouring sheets and origami. Plus a load of excellent 'make it' activities which include making a bug hotel, a bird feeder and even a Lego bird table! 

8) National Nest Box Week: 14-21 February.

The whole of half term is National Nest Box week. A great excuse to make a nest box and to work out where would be best situated in the garden. Find lots of Nest Box Week resources here! It's also the perfect week to take part in the RSPB's Big Schools' Birdwatch, where you can submit details of what you spot by 22 February. Find all you need here, including birds to look out for and survey sheets.

9) Try stargazing.

stargazingWe all need a bit of stargazing in our lives right now and with a bit of luck, the clouds will clear and bring us starry skies this half term. Winchester Science Centre has monthly downloadable stargazing guides for beginners that will help you pinpoint what's up in the sky right now. Find February's here. They also have lots of useful information about observing space, including a parents' guide to helping younger children.

Older kids can find a virtual escape with astronomers, photographers, poets and adventurers at the Dark Skies Festivals taking place in Cumbria and Northumberland this month. Book in advance for the children’s planetarium show and to follow Dr Martin Kitching’s Zoom nocturnal wildlife presentation.

10) Get arty.

Lymington's very own St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery is hosting an online family craft session on Thursday 18 February at 10am. Register by 5pm on Wednesday. Learn a different way of painting pictures! Find out more here.

11) Get reading.

reading a book with a torch in an inside tentKids finished all their books and desperate for some new reads? Did you know you can order a pile of books from your local New Forest Library? Register for the 'Ready Reads' service online here and the library team will handpick you a selection of books, according to your preferences, ready for you to collect from your local library. You can sign up for Ready Reads by using the Ready Reads request form.

Meanwhile, visit the Wolverhampton Literary Festival online! Three days of virtual literary talks, performances, readings and workshops. Family events on Saturday 13 February will include writing tips from award-winning children’s author Ben Davis, a musical dance journey, Roald Dahl storytelling and Professor Black from the Wolfsbane Wizard Academy investigating if monsters are, in fact, real.

12) Fun science.

Winchester Science Centre have a large section of Science at Home resources on their website, including activity sheets, links to useful websites such as Dadlab (science experiments you can do at home) and Micro.bit (free coding lessons). Meanwhile, the National Maritime Museum Cornwall has a host of free activities online during the week. Plus visit the Science Museum online, where you can do a virtual tour, watch curator guides and play online games.

13) Film

Creepy crawlies including loving ants, musical earthworms, and slimy slugs are on the family film club menu, streaming at the Barbican this half term. Embrace your inner bug hunter!

Sparks offers holiday camps that give children experience in everything from scriptwriting to acting and directing - and has created a lockdown-friendly half-term film camp that can be attended from home, and it’s not all screen staring. The theme? Beyond Tomorrow: futuristic movies that include special effects. Find out more here.

14) Learn about letters.

Journey of a letterOver at the Postal Museum you can take a virtual journey by train through hand-dug tunnels learning about decades of life in London’s hidden postal railway and also learn about the journey your letters take from being posted to arriving at their destination! Plus letter writing activities and all about stamp collecting.

15) Visit London virtually!

Children are fascinated by the London Underground! The London Transport Museum is offering virtual tours of hidden London. An expert Zoom guide will take you to small corners that wouldn’t be possible in person, and there will be a post-tour question-and-answer session.

Meanwhile, Somerset House is highlighting the important connection between Britain and France in the post-Brexit era, with an online project that covers all art, from painting and drawing to music and film. All works submitted, whether amateur or professional, will be shown in an online gallery, giving the perfect nudge to get your budding artist/musician to express their thoughts on the British-French union. Find out more here

At the South Bank Centre's Inside Out online festival, you'll find film, events and spoken word. Saturday 20 February will see a series of family mini-events on Zoom, including Kaleidoscope (for ages three months to 18 months) with live musicians, and a Dysco workshop, for all ages - who doesn’t love to dance? 

15) Virtual Travel

Get holiday vibes at home by dressing up and cooking feasts from other countries. Many world attractions and destinations have created virtual tours during the pandemic including Queensland's Barrier Reef which has a new children's microsite with games including one that involves clicking on as many plastic bags as possible in 30 seconds, while not disturbing the jellyfish. South Africa’s Thanda Safari website has game drive films, stories and the opportunity to listen to live bush noises!

Slightly closer to home, Edinburgh Zoo and Marwell Zoo have live webcams and Chester Zoo's virtual zoo days have, so far, amassed 17 million viewers!

16) Hunt for treasure!

Town Trail map

Take a different walk around local towns with the Geocaching app or download a Treasure Trail - both bring adventure and challenge to a local walk. Or challenge yourself to make your own treasure map - follow our historic walks around Lymington and create your own colourful story of smugglers and saltpan workers in days of old! 

17) 500 words competition.

The BBC's 500 words competition has been running since 2011 - now in its 10th year, the 2021 competition will be launched this spring. If your children are anything like mine, they'll be full of good intentions and then life will get in the way - so get ahead now, write 500 words this half term ready to submit when the competition opens! Find out more here

18) Photography

It may be bitterly cold but there are some fabulous photo opportunities out there at the moment! Beautiful snowdrops, dramatic icicles, fabulous frost formations. Keep an eye on our Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter next week as we set photography challenges each day. 

19) Watch our local sailors!

The Prada Cup final - the qualifier series for the America's Cup will be taking place in Auckland, New Zealand from 13 - 22 February, with Ben Ainslie's Ineos Team UK racing in Britannia against Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli (Great Britain v Italy). The GB boat, Britannia, well and truly has its roots in Lymington. Did you know that Britannia was built by Lymingtonian (ex-Lymington Junior School and Priestlands pupil) world-renowned boat builder and professional yachtsman, Jason Carrington and his Hythe-based boatyard. Find out how to watch the America's Cup here.

20) Chill out!

Learning at home is hard and our kids have been doing so well. Make sure this half term that they have plenty of time out to relax, chat with friends (be that one-to-one on walks or online) and sleep... 



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