When you're planning activities at your club, it is easy to slip into a routine of churning out the same crafts and games for Hallowe'en, Fireworks Night, Christmas, Mother's Day etc. And then some months of the year seem to have no particular festivals to base activities around at all. To combat this planning paralysis which strikes us all from time to time, we have assembled a calendar of unconventional festivals and little-known anniversaries, all with suggested activities to help inspire you with fresh ideas for activities to do with the children at your club around the year.
We aim to constantly update this calendar with new festivals and activities, so do check back regularly.
We all think of it as the coldest and darkest month, and everyone is grumpy about going back to school or work. But did you know 1st January is the anniversary of the first BBC broadcast, way back in 1927? Or that AA Milne was born on 18th January 1882?
9 January: Static Electricty Day
We have found a variety of (hair-raising) activities using static electricity. Try these:
Three static electricity experiments (from Science Made Simple)
11 January: Anniversary of the first TV weather forecast
Instead of looking out the window at the weather, why not measure it, or create your own weather indoors with one of these projects:
Seven weather experiments (from the Met Office)
Download our Bottle Rain Gauge activity factsheet
16 January: Australian Open Tennis Tournament begins
What better incentive do you need to get sporty indoors?
Download our Balloon Tennis activity factsheet
We've all made a thousand Valentine's Day related crafts. But here are some ideas for the other special days in February. And I bet you didn't know that the traditional game for February is free-for-all football — but you might not want to mention that to the children.
4 February: Homemade Soup Day
When the weather is chilly I crave thick, tasty home-made soups. So I won't need much excuse to join in with Homemade Soup Day. There are hundreds of recipes out there so you can find one to suit even the fussiest eaters at your club. These recipes from the BBC show you the preparation and cooking time so it's easier to choose one that suits your session times too!
42 soup recipes (from bbcgoodfood.com)
7 February: Send a Card to a Friend Day
Everybody loves to receive a card, especially when it's not their birthday. Get the children to make a card for a friend at the club. You could even make a post box to post them in and assign some delivery people to hand them out. Card blanks and envelopes are readily available from many suppliers on-line, or the children could make them completely from scratch.
Card blanks (from Crafty Crocodiles)
8 February: Kite Flying Day
Blustery weather is perfect for kites. Which is an excellent excuse to have a go at making and flying one. Or if you don't fancy making a kite, what about a wind-catcher?
See our We love kite kits! product review
Download our Wind Catchers activity factsheet
11 February: Thomas Edison was born in 1857
He is famous for so many inventions, including the phonograph, the incandescent light bulb, alkaline batteries and the kinetoscope. In fact he made so many inventions that we have put together a selection of Thomas Edison-themed activities.
See our collection of Thomas Edison-themed activities for your club >
13 February: World Radio Day
Radio has been around for over 120 years. Today, with access to music and news and entertainment available via internet, radio is not nearly as important to youngsters as it was for previous generations. Celebrate World Radio Day by encouraging the children to listen to a local radio station. Get them to role play being DJs, radio journalists, newreaders etc. (If you have a techie type you could even mock-up a radio station at your club, or set up an on-line station.) Have a look at some these websites for more ideas and information.
Information on events and how to get involved in World Radio Day
How to make a radio in 10 mins (from sci-toys.com) This would be for older/keener children
19 February: International Tug of War Day
Tug of war is probably the oldest sport known to man. It was an Olympic sport until 1920. This day is celebrated around the world with, of course, tug of war competitions. While it's fun to watch grown ups attempting to pull the opposing team into a river or muddy puddle, you probably want to avoid that with your kids! A rope, a scarf and a chalk circle are all you need.
23 February: Banana Bread Day
Here are a couple of easy banana bread recipes to try out with the children:
Banana bread - using English measures (from the BBC)
Banana bread - using American measures (from Simply Recipes)
If you have time for other activities in between making the usual Mothers' Day cards and gifts, you could have a go at some our alternative activities below. Or you could suggest the children try skipping or marbles, both of which are traditional games for this month.
See our round-up of all things skipping
5 - 11 March: Celebrate your Name Week
Each day this week looks at a different aspect of names, including Fun Facts About Names Day and Discover What your Name Means Day. There are lots of opportunities here for research into the children's names, finding out what they mean, and how some names exist in a wide variety of languages. Plus it's a great excuse to play Teeth or Hidden Names from our Ice-breaker activities.
99 ideas to celebrate name week (from namesuniverse.webs.com)
14 March: International Ask a Question Day
A perfect excuse for role playing journalists and popstars/celebrities. Or what about playing Alibi?
Instructions for Alibi (from EFL Theatre Club)
21 March: Memory Day
This day is to help raise awareness of dementia. Some evidence suggests memory games are beneficial, and of course, fun. There are loads of on-line memory games for children to play, but we like this site the most:
Brain-trainer games (from brain-games.co.uk)
There are lots of off-screen memory games for the children to play together too.
26 memory games (from whatwedoallday.com)
10 memory games (from activityvillage.co.uk)
22 March: World Water Day
If the weather is warm enough you can have loads of fun outdoors, but if not, some of these activities could work just as well indoors if you have a big tray to catch the water.
Download our Water Fun activity factsheet
Walking water activity (from Coffee Cups and Crayons)
27 March: Spanish Paella Day
There are a million different recipes for paella, with varying levels of difficulty or spices. You could try making two or three with different ingredients to suit the children at your club.
Here is a child-friendly recipe (from More Than Toast)
31 March: Anniversary of the opening of the Eiffel Tower in 1889
You could have a French-themed day or week, with typical foods, costumes etc. Set the children on making a replica Eiffel Tower with whatever resources come to hand. And then have a "grande" opening!
See our collection of French-themed activities for your club >
April seems to be a month of famous birthdays; with Queen Elizabeth II (21st), Buddha (8th), and William Shakespeare (23rd) to name but a few! There are also lots of anniversaries and traditional festivals this month, but if you do fancy a change, take a look below:
2 April: Hans Christian Anderson was born in 1805
A good excuse to role play one of his fairytales.
A biography and list of his stories (from Scholastic.com)
12 April: Anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's first space flight 1961
Over 20 space related craft activities (from DLTK)
17 April: Kickball Day
Kickball is a cross between football and baseball. All you need is a "kickball" (a soft football) and some markers for the bases. In theory there should be nine players in each team, but I think it can be flexible depending on the number of children at your club.
An explation of how to play (from kids-sports-activities.com)
22 April: Earth Day
Earth Day is about doing something to help the planet, so you could focus on encouraging the children to recycle or you could try some of our activities.
See our collection of Earth Day-themed activities for your club >
26 April: Pretzel Day
Soft pretzel receipe (from bbc.co.uk)
27 April: Samuel Morse was born 1791
Morse code is such a fun activity because you can play it in the dark with torches! You could put the children in teams (mixing ages) and give them the same message to transmit to see who is quickest. Or let the children use their own imagination!
Morse code activity (from Education.com)
Traditionally May seems to be a very unlucky month to get married or be born in, however if the weather is bad now, it should be hot in June! If there aren't enough May Day activities going on in your area, you could have a go at making your own ribbons here:
See our Twirling Ribbons activity factsheet
5 May: Amy Johnson flew solo from England to Australia in 1930
What about making paper aeroplanes? With huge scope for competitions to find the longest/straightest flyer and best decorated plane, etc.
Ten paper aeroplane plans (from 10paperairplanes.com)
12 May: Limerick Day
Edward Lear made these silly poems popular almost 200 years ago. But they are still fun to recite and create today.
Some child friendly examples (from brownielocks.com)
How to write a limerick (from poetryteachers.com)
Lear's Book of Nonsense (from Amazon.co.uk)
19 May: Pizza Party Day
Pizza recipe (from Simply Recipes)
Try our easy mini pizzas recipe - no rising needed
25 May: Pinocchio's birthday
The Adventures of Pinocchio was published in 1883, so he's had an awful lot of birthdays since then. Why not celebrate his birthday with some the activities we have collected for you?
See our collection of Pinocchio themed activities for your club >
Summer is coming, the nights are getting longer, and it's easier to encourage the children outdoors to burn off some energy. 12th June is also the Queen's official birthday.
5 June: World Environment Day
I'm sure the children have recycling drilled into them enough at school, but here's a great idea for something to make with all that recycled stuff.
Recycling sculpture (from Tinkerlab)
12 June: Queen's Offical Birthday
Help Her Majesty to celebrate with some of these ideas.
Our paper lanterns activity worksheet
Red, white and blue hats (from ichild.co.uk)
Recipe for Queen Cakes (from the-gingerbread-house.co.uk)
15 June: King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215
How about having a go at making paper or wax seals?
See our collection of Magna Carta activities for your club >
18 June: International Picnic Day
If (like me) your picnic repertoire usually only runs to sandwiches and crisps, take a look at these collections of picnic food recipes for some inspiration:
Sweet and savoury picnic ideas - American measures (from allrecipes.com)
100s of picnic ideas, including gluten- and egg-free options - English measures (allrecipes.co.uk)
This month sees the anniversary of the Apollo moon landings 1969. It is also picnic month and anti-boredom month so have a look at the suggestions below to keep your gang out of mischief.
1 July: Creative ice cream flavours day
8 home-made ice cream recipes (from Realsimple.com)
A no-churn recipe (from BBC Food) (please note this recipe uses raw eggs)
10 July: International Town Criers Day
What better excuse do you need to let the children shout their heads off? You may want to warn your neighbours though, especially if the weather is good enough to be outside.
See our collection of Town Crier-themed activities for your club >
20 July: Moon Day
The day to celebrate when man first landed on the moon in 1969. Get your tin foil and fish bowls ready for some dressing up!
See our collection of moon-themed activities for your club >
25 July: Grotto Day
You will need a large collection of stones and shells to make a traditional one, but you could let the children use their imagination in choosing the materials too.
See the history of building and decorating grottoes (from a history of Mumbles)
27 July: Walking on Stilts Day
Bucket stilts are available for around £3.99 a pair from places like ELC or Toys R Us. But you could have a go at making your own with old buckets, tin cans and string. If you have more adventurous children, wooden stilts are available for around £20 a pair:
Walking stilts from (flamesngames.co.uk)
Wooden stilts from (edventure.co.uk)
28 July: Fingerprints first used for identification in 1901
If trying to guess who the fingerprints belong to isn't enough fun, we also found a quiz on the topic of fingerprints that you could use or adapt.
Fingerprint activities (from Buggy and Buddy)
FIngerprint science (from Creative Chemistry)
Fingerprints quiz (from funtrivia.com)
August is traditionally Olympic Games month. If you like the idea of holding a mini Olympic Games at your holiday club Activity Village have everything you need to know.
Olympic Games activities (from Activity Village)
In the (hopefully) unlikely event that you can't spend every day outside, there are a couple more activities below which can be done indoors.
1 August: Lamas Day
This is a traditional, but often forgotten, British festival. It's all about bread.
Simple bread recipe (from Kids Activities Blog)
2 August: First roller-skating rink opens in the UK, 1875
Tell the children to bring their skates and/or scooters. Turn your outside space into a roller rink, set up a "disco" and let the kids choose the music. Get the older more experienced skaters to give lessons to beginners. If you have the funds/facilities take them to the local roller-rink or skate park.
18 August: Bad poetry day
The day for forcing your friends and family to listen to your (bad) poetry! Have a look at these sites for inspiration and some tips on how to get children writing poetry:
Instructions for writing poetry (from Gigglepoetry.com)
Top ten poems for children (from Fizzyfunnyfuzzy.com)
If you can't face listening to their efforts, you could read them some Edward Lear or Spike Milligan and get them to act out the poems
A collection of Lear poems (from nonsenselit.org)
24 August: Mount Vesuvius erupted and destroyed Pompeii, 79AD
Make your own volcano! Adding glitter to the lava mix gives added sparkle!
Volcano experiment (from kidspot)
30-31 August: Notting Hill Carnival.
This is the biggest street carnival in Europe. A colourful, vibrant celebration of Afro-Caribbean culture, held in London every year.
See our collection of carnival activities to try at your club >
The traditional game of the month is conkers. If you don't fancy the injuries that come hand-in-hand with playing conkers, you could try using the nuts for various craft ideas instead.
Conker facts (from the Woodland Trust)
Six conker crafts and activities (from becomingastayathomemum)
6 September: First free public lending library opened in 1852
Why not try a role-play library? You could encourage the children to bring in their own favourite books, but let them decide if they are happy for other children to borrow them for longer than a club session. Sparklebox have some great printables for creating a library feel.
A role-play library (from the Imagination Tree)
Library printables (from Sparklebox)
9 September: Teddy Bear Day
Encourage the children to bring in a teddy from home, and then organise a teddy bears' picnic.
Some great bear themed craft ideas and games (from kidactivities.net)
13 September: Roald Dahl Day
Roald Dahl's birthday is celebrated every year around the world, but 2016 was extra special because it was his 100th anniversary. He is one of our favourite children's authors and was a very interesting person (read some random facts about Roald Dahl). Most of us have a favourite book or character of his (check out his full bibliography).
There are lots of things you could do at your club for Roald Dahl Day. Visit the Roald Dahl day website.
Make costumes for your favourite characters:
A Fantastic Mr Fox mask (from Activityvillage.co.uk)
Mr Twit's beard template (from Roalddahl.com)
16 September: Play Doh Day
You probably don't need much excuse to get the play dough out at your club. But in case you have run out of new ideas for inspiring the kids here are some we found for you.
Make your own play dough from our activity factsheet
Make some jelly-play dough (from Learning4kids.net)
Make Minions with play dough (from Learning4kids.net)
75 things to add to play dough (from notimeforflashcards.com)
30 September: Penicillin was discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928
We've found two grow-your-own-mold experiments, which are equally fascinating and shriek-inducing.
Lemon mold experiment (from Hub Pages)
Bread mold experiment (from Education.com)
You might be aware that October is Fair Trade Month, but the children might like to know that it is also Pizza Month! The 16th is the anniversary of the first broadcast of Blue Peter, way back in 1958.
5 October: Balloons Around the World Day
There are a million videos on You Tube for balloon twisting, we found this one for a sword is easy enough for even the little ones at your club to try. I recommend using a pump though!
Balloon twisting (by Michael Floyd)
Download our Balloon Bouncy Castle activity factsheet
6 October: World Smile Day
We all feel better when we smile. Here is a list of ideas (inspired by tinybuddha.com) to make the children at your club smile, laugh and generally be happy.
Download our collection of ideas to make you smile
11 October: Universal Music Day
We have found some ideas for children to make their own musical instruments. But you could also ask the children to bring in instruments or favourite music to share with the others.
Eight musical activities (from howstuffworks)
Making a kazoo (from Buddy and Buggy)
21 October: Count Your Buttons Day
Treasure hunts with buttons, guess how many buttons are in the jar, or counting races. Take your pick.
25 October: Punk for a Day Day
Most children like dressing up and this theme is sure to inspire even the oldest, coolest kids at your club who would not normally be seen dead in a costume. Dress up and do your hair like a punk, and put on some classic punk tracks. Do be sure to get parents' permission if you decide to funk up the children's hair!
Here are some websites to give you inspiration for costume and hair (but use with discretion as a couple of the suggestions are not appropriate for children):
Ideas for how to dress like a punk (from wikihow.com)
Home-made punk costume ideas (from hubpages.com)
How to punk your hair (from fashionising.com)
27 October: National Tell a Story Day
There is nothing quite like listening to a story from a talented storyteller, it's way better than the cinema! If you don't feel confident about doing it yourself, you could invite a theatrically-inclined parent or even a professional storyteller to entertain the children for you. Or some of the older children might like to retell a favourite story to the younger ones.
A list of storytellers (from the Society for Storytelling)
There are plenty of traditional festivals and notable days in November, Guy Fawkes, Remembrance Day and Children in Need, to name but a few. But if you've been there and done that so many times already, here are some more unusual days to keep your children busy:
2 November: All Soul's Day (Day of the Dead)
This day isn't generally celebrated in this country any more, but how about making some Soul Cakes? They are quick and easy.
Soul Cake recipe (from Lavender and Lovage)
11 November: Origami Day
This is a great activity for groups of different ages and abilities because there are so many different origami designs to choose from. Plus the kids can have a small (and clean) object to take home with them.
Over 30 origami designs (from Origami Instructions)
Over 100 origami designs (from Origami Make)
13 November: World Kindness Day
The idea is to encourage people to be kind to each other. The Random Acts of Kindness site has loads of ideas that you could adapt for your club. You could even use all those origami animals (see above) as gifts for strangers.
Ideas for kind acts (from Random Acts of Kindness)
12 November: Tongue Twister Day
Tongue twisters are brilliant for getting all the children involved, they are are fun and challenging at any age. If you have any bi-lingual children at your club, ask them for some tongue twisters in other languages for all the kids to have a go at. We have a few English ones to get you started:
19 November: Guiness World Record Day
Everybody loves a world record. Think of the craziest idea you can and someone, somewhere will have attempted a world record at it. There are loads of records you could try with the children at your club; furthest distance to blow a pea, most skips in a minute, fastest time to peel an orange, or get them to invent their own. Check out the official website for more ideas.
Guiness World Records
28 November: French Toast Day
What better excuse do you need to make French Toast? You could make it healthy(ish) for the children by serving with fruit and yoghurt instead of maple syrup.
French toast recipe (from bbcgoodfood.com)
29 November: Square Dance Day
The best part about holding a square dance is having a caller to tell you what to do, so you don't have to worry about your lack of dancing ability. There are lots of YouTube clips of square dancing to give you ideas, but probably the best place to start is the British Association of Square Dancing's web site which has loads of useful information:
An introduction to square dancing (British Association of Square Dancing)
A list of callers (from the Square Dance Callers Club)
If that all seems too complicated, what about putting the Hoedown Throwdown song from the Hannah Montana movie in the DVD player (or watching it on YouTube) and getting the children to try to copy the moves. (Yes, it's line dancing rather than square dancing but let's not be picky!)
Hoedown Throwdown (YouTube)
Slowed down Hoedown Throwdown dance steps (YouTube)
Apparently there is a really big festival at the end of this month. But if you need some alternative ideas to the traditional tinsel and Father Christmas activities, have a look below.
December: Sagra dell'Olio Nuovo (Festival of new olive oil)
In Italy they have many festivals during December to celebrate the olive harvest and the pressing of the new olive oil. We have searched out a variety of activities involving olive oil which will be perfect for out of school clubs.
See our collection of olive oil activities for your club >
4 December: Dice Day
Dice have been around for thousands of years, originally made from bone. Today they are most often made from plastic or painted wood. Celebrate Dice Day by playing dice games. There are so many games based on dice such as Yahtzee and Tenzi (this is great for little ones, no adding required), and hundreds that use dice to control players' moves - Snakes and Ladders, Ludo, Frustration, Backgammon, and Monopoly to name just a few. If you don't want to spend money on a new board game, here are a couple of ideas for games that just need dice (and possibly paper and a pen):
Catch Up! (from Activityvillage.co.uk)
Stuck in the Mud (from Activityvillage.co.uk)
4 December: Feast of St Barbara
St Barbara is the patron saint of thunderstorms, fire, gunpowder or sudden loud noises, so I'm thinking fireworks, popping balloons, squashing empty drinks bottles or an explosive science experiment would be good ways to celebrate.
Three exploding science experiments (from eHow)
8 December: Brownie Day
Yes, the edible kind! Celebrating Brownie Day simply involves eating some. Brownies have been around since the late 1800s so you can imagine how many different recipes have been tried out over the years. In case you don't have a favourite recipe of your own, we have found a couple for you to try out. You could even share them with the children at your club - if you are feeling generous:
Best ever brownie recipe (from bccgoodfood.com)
Gluten free brownie recipe (from realfood.tesco.com)
10 December: Annual presentation of the Nobel Prizes
You could run your own competition in the preceeding week. Get the children to invent categories and then nominate each other as potential candidates. Also get the children to make the awards. Then have a fancy presentation ceremony.
14th December: Monkey Day
Monkey Day is a day to celebrate your love of monkeys. There are no special parades or ceremonies, but you can create your own, as long as they are monkey based. Here are a few ideas to get you going:
Try our pipecleaner monkey activity
Monkey pancakes (from kitchenfunwithmy3sons.com)
Printable monkey masks (from FirstPalette.com)
Paper-plate monkey mask (from Activityvillage.co.uk)
18 December: Bake Cookies Day
You probably have plenty of tried and tested biscuit recipes, but we found this one for Millie's Cookies.
Millie's Cookie recipe (from BBC Good Food)