Half term courses for kids
Panicking about half term? We've found the best local courses for kids, from cookery to coding, sport to science. Book em in!
Ready to get organised? It’s two weeks until half term (OMG, already?) so if you’re looking for ways to inspire your kids while you go to work or, ahem, catch some sneaky rays in the garden, here’s our guide to the very best Half Term courses. Oh you’re welcome!
Ooh la la! Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, Milton Common, is running its Young Chef’s Academy on Mon 28 May enabling your kids to be taught by some of the best in the biz. The cookery school kitchen is actually very relaxed – not starchy or superposh – so your mini Raymond Blancs will be well looked after.
The Inspired Gourmet Cookery School, Milton Keynes, is holding its Junior Masterchef cookery course for kids 8-10 years on Thurs 31 May. No sign of Greg Wallace or John Torode but here’s hoping you can leave your kitchen in your kids’ capable hands from now on.
Daylesford Farm, beloved of the weel-heeled in the Cotswolds, has a Budding Chefs course on 28 May, an introduction to cooking for children with a tour around the bucolic Daylesford market garden. Their Beyond Beans on Toast course for teens on 30 May does exactly what it says on the tin or on 27 May you can join the ‘fun’ with a Family Cooking Together option (how soon before you hiss ‘don’t touch that?!).
La Cucina Caldesi Cookery School in Marylebone (just a short train trip if you happen to be near the Chiltern Line) is holding its Italian Mama course for six to 12 year olds on Wed 30 May. If that’s too much of a schlep, you could always go to the Caldesi in Campagna restaurant in Bray for a slap up lunch.
THEATRE AND THE ARTS
Oxford Playhouse is always particularly strong over half terms and holidays. This time round it’s holding a theatre workshop for 8 to 11 year olds – Fairy Tales: Big tales told by little People 31 May – 2 June in which your starlets can learn physical theatre techniques to retell traditional tales for the modern world. You can come and ‘enjoy’ a performance of their work at the end of the second day.
Creation Theatre, Oxford returns with its ‘Play In A Week’ for 6-8 and 9 – 12 years starting 28 May, turning classic texts into plays with a creation twist. There’s also a bespoke week long workshop for 13 to 16 year olds.
Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-Upon-Avon, is positively riddled with workshops to get your kids clued up on the Bard (especially handy for GCSEs). Choose from 45 minute taster workshops and Shakespeare themed activities for super keen bean 4 to 8 year old with their families; 90 min to 2 hours for 8 -12 year olds to discover how actors work in the rehearsal room (no, you can’t sneak off for a coffee as parents/carers need to stay); and 2 hours to a whole day for 13 to 17 years olds (yes you can dump them there, hurrah!)
Sparks, London will be making a reality style dance studio drama, a la ‘The Next Step’ so your kids can learn the choreography and dance or get behind the cameras and explore reality style filming techniques, 29 – 31 May. Taking your 7 – 11 year old to their Hampstead or Balham studios is way beyond the call of duty but if you have a Brendon Cole or Karen Clifton in your midst, then this looks pretty special.
The Cartoon Museum, Central London runs various workshops all week that get booked up quickly, and we can see why. Big names this time round include Rachael Ball (who’s last graphic novel was named Best Graphic Book by The Guardian) on Mon 28 May demonstrating how to create a one page comic story and acclaimed Manga artist Takayo Akiyama on Thurs 31 May showing 8 to 12 year olds how to draw weird and wonderful Manga animals and creatures. £25 for 2 hours gives you enough time to whizz round the corner to Oxford Street or book them in for the whole day and the West End is your oyster.
We’ve heard good things about Fuze Coding Workshops and they’re in our ‘hood for 2 days only 0n Wed 30 and Thurs 31st May at John Hampden School Thame. Your 7 to 14 year old will get to design, write and code their own games, expanding what they have learnt at school from simple visual code simultors to real-world text based coding like Java (no, I don’t know what that means either).
With years of nativity plays and Easter holiday camps under their belt, does your little one lean on the side of creationism? The Little House of Science, Chalfont St Peter from Tues 29 – Thurs 31 May, is running a course on evolution for 4 to 9 year old. Sounding a bit earnest but they claim their aim is to foster a lifelong interest in science so they must make it fun. £120 for the 3 days, 10am – 3pm.
Oxford United Football camps at the Oxford Academy, Sandy Lane, Oxford from 29 May – 1 June (ages 4-13). All abilities are welcome and there’s a girls only camp too. It’s 9am – 3pm so plenty of time to pop off to Westgate for a wander.
Jonny Cater’s Cricket Academy at Buckingham Town Cricket Club runs from May 30 to June 2nd and is aimed at teaching kids aged 7 – 14 of all abilities. Jonny Cater is the current Captain of Oxfordshire CCC and has years of experience playing and coaching cricket so he knows his owzats from his googlys.
Watersports Activity Week at Willen Lake, Milton Keynes, covers the whole spectrum of water sports from sailing to kayaking to windsurfing to paddle boarding plus other fun stuff like archery. For kids aged 8+ , it’s a 8.30am to 5.30pm job, so you could actually do a whole day in the office (boo!). £180 for the week, but what price peace and quiet?!