100 things to do with your family in Norfolk - part one
PUBLISHED: 09:00 06 January 2012
ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC © 2010
Don't let your children grow up too quickly, enjoy every spare minute you've got with them and take them on a journey which all the family can enjoy. Over the next two weeks, STACIA BRIGGS finds 100 things you should do with your children before they grow up.
1 Challenge your family to a doughnut-eating competition – there’s only one rule: no lip licking.
2 Visit Norwich Cathedral and head straight for the memorial to Thomas Gooding, an impressive skeleton tombstone which is sufficiently (but not too) scary for young children.
3 Organise an Easter Egg hunt. It can be ambitious and outside, or small-scale and inside. Have your children deposit all their discovered eggs in a basket and then share them out equally.
4 Fly a kite
5 Feed the birds – try popcorn threaded on to string and hung in trees, fat balls which you can make with your children or good old-fashioned bird seed.
6 Throw a surprise party for someone in the family – have your children help you plan, plot and help organise a party for a friend or family member without spilling the beans. Let them help with invitations, decorations and activities – children love keeping secrets, especially if it’s a secret which will, at some point, involve eating a big slice of cake).
7 Hunt for four-leafed clovers while on a picnic in the park. They’re out there, you just need to find them! If you do strike lucky, press your clover (see number 25) to preserve your luck.
8 Have a duvet day – doubly exciting if it involves a stolen day from the school term, but as responsible parents we could never condone such naughtiness. Often.
9 Head to Carrow Road for a football match. Children, thankfully, are usually excited enough to be at a match regardless of the result (unlike adults, who tend to get quite annoyed if their team loses).
10 Toast marshmallows, crumpets or pop popcorn over an open fire or a barbecue.
11 Try a session of skiing on Norwich’s dry ski slope and prepare yourself for the piste. Visit www.norfolkskiclub.com.
12 Go and sail a toy boat on the lake in Eaton Park.
13 Have a proper teddy bears’ tea party with your children with tiny cucumber sandwiches, cake stands stacked with tiny fairy cakes and plenty of tea for grown-ups and lemonade for toddlers and teds.
14 Host your own version of BBC1’s Car Booty. Give each member of the family a budget (from £2 to £5) and send them off to find the best bargains around.
15 Plant a tree.
16 Take the family ice-skating.
17 Visit Britain’s most easterly point, in Lowestoft, to see the sunrise before anyone else in the country does.
18 Make family silhouettes. Use a slide projector or a bright lamp to project the head profile on a blank wall. Hold paper against the wall and trace the silhouette. Cut out and glue it on a contrasting sheet of paper or poster board.
19 You don’t need six-foot thick snow to make a small snow hedgehog or snow angels on the ground (it helps, but it’s not essential). The next time it snows, forget snowmen and create snow animals instead.
20 Ride a rollercoaster. More to the point, ride the Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach wooden rollercoaster, which is one of the longest wooden coasters in the world and oozes nostalgia from the brakeman riding the train to the magnificent sea view from the top.
21 Take the family to the theatre. Specifically, go to a pantomime – regardless of how old your children are.
22 Train journeys can be a real adventure for children. Instead of taking the car to the seaside, take a train to Cromer, Sheringham or Great Yarmouth. If you do visit Sheringham, try a trip on the North Norfolk Railway and sit back as the countryside and the decades fade away into the distance. Contact 01263 820808 or visit www.nnrailway.co.uk.
23 Make a miniature garden. Half fill a plant tray or plastic bowl with earth and then let your children pick small sprigs of leaves, daisies, grass and so forth. Arrange on top of the soil like a garden and use small pebbles as walls and paths. Use tin foil for a pond or stream and populate with small toy animals or people.
24 Climb a tree or visit a treehouse.
25 Press some wild flowers between some sheets of absorbent paper and then use them to make cards and bookmarks by sandwiching them between layers of cardboard and sticky-backed plastic.
26 Give each of your children a treasure box – it can be a cardboard box or something more fancy – and encourage them to fill it with their own “treasure”. It could be their first pair of shoes, their first babygrow, their school reports, pictures with family and friends – whatever they think they would like to remember in years to come.
27 For children, there’s not much that’s more exciting than the anticipation of a midnight feast. Eat by torchlight for the full effect.
28 Go blackberry picking.
29 Arrange the sleepover to end all sleepovers. Friends, pizzas, DVDs, midnight feasts, manicures for the girls – capture the best bits on video.
30 Get lost in a maze. Try Somerleyton Hall’s yew hedge maze on the Norfolk/Suffolk border
31 Assemble your teams, and your pillows. On the count of three...fight!
32 Learn how to cartwheel.
33 Pack a proper picnic, in a basket, and take it to the beach, where you can enjoy your food from proper plates and with real not plastic cutlery. Keep bottles cool by leaving them in rock pools.
34 Make your own wrapping paper and gift tags using plain brown paper and tags and potato prints. Simply halve your potatoes, carve a simple design into them and then dunk them in poster paint before positioning them on your paper.
35 Getting your clothes dirty is part and parcel of the joy of being a child. Let your children jump in puddles.
36 Climb a mountain. This one might require a degree of planning, what with the low-lying nature of Norfolk, but think of your Julie Andrews moment. In the meantime, Mousehold Heath will have to suffice!
37 Encourage the children to paint self-portraits and then hang them in a newly-created family gallery.
38 Visit a wood in autumn and kick up the fallen leaves.
39 Set up your own pizza parlour at home. Take home-made or shop-bought bases, add sauce and then give your children a selection of bowls full of toppings to create their own bespoke pizzas. This is a great way to entertain your kids when they have friends round.
40 Look for shooting stars and when you find one, all make a secret wish on it.
41 Hold a sale in your front garden, or on the pavement outside your house, to raise money for a charity which the children support.
42 Keep a record of your children’s growth with height charts (door frames are great if you don’t mind a bit of graffiti) or Plaster of Paris moulds of their hands or feet. Carve your child’s name, age and the date you took the imprint into the back of the mould.
43 Make paper snowflakes – instant window art.
44 Bring out the Stella McCartney in your children by getting them some plain white t-shirts, fabric paints and plenty of paper. Once your offspring have sketched out a design they like, you transfer it on to the t-shirts to create exclusive, original pieces.
45 Look out for meteor showers or shooting stars.
46 Take the children camping – it can be in the back garden if time and finances don’t allow for a more exotic trip.
47 The next time snow falls, have your sledge primed and ready to go. Tea trays will suffice if all else fails, but try to avoid sliding down hills on bin bags unless you fancy a wet backside and ripped clothes.
48 Explore rock pools. Look for brown seaweeds such as spiral wrack, bladder wrack and knotted wrack and green seaweeds such as sea lettuce. There may also be red beadlet anemones, barnacles, mussels, coloured flat periwinkles, crabs, sea slugs, marine worms, sea squirts, cowries, starfish, urchins and fish including blennies, gobies, suckers and wrasse. Try West Runton for superb rock pools.
49 Send postcards from the seaside and buy rock.
50 Whip up a batch of gingerbread men and ladies, chocolate crispy cakes, fresh bread or fairy cakes with your children. Let them decorate the cakes with whatever takes their fancy, and help them form their own unique bread rolls. Perhaps they could spell out their name in bread letters, or make bread hedgehogs with a few well-placed scissor snips and some raisins for eyes.
See next week’s Life Matters for another 50 fabulous things to do. In your Norwich Evening News on Wednesday January 11.