Half term ideas to keep the children entertained

The spring half term can be a tricky time for parents, largely because it is rare that spring has truly sprung come the end of February. But whether you are happy to brave the cold or are looking for an indoor activity to keep the children busy, there is plenty on offer around the country.

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For those who are prepared to wrap up warm and head outside, the National Trust provides plenty of half term activities for kids.

Bodiam Castle in East Sussex boasts a moat, turrets, portcullis and drawbridge for the youngsters to explore and during half term, it welcomes families to take part in 'Sir Edward's Quest', encouraging children to follow the trail around this stunning castle in order to claim a special prize.

From stately homes to parklands and gardens (many of which boast wildlife and nature trails), similar events will be taking place at National Trust properties throughout the country so it's worth visiting the website to see what's happening in your area.

If you prefer to be warm and dry during half term, then it's worth considering a museum. Far from the staid and rather boring reputation of old, museums these days are all about interactivity and a trip to the Natural History or Science museum in London will keep the kids occupied for hours.

Of course there are museums of all sorts throughout the country - for example, if you're near Bristol, let the children raid the dressing-up box and head to the Fleet Air Arm Museum for its 'Walk the Plank' exhibit - from pirate elocution lessons to cutlass-making, Pirates of the Caribbean fans are certain to have a good time.

For an absolute sure-fire winner, you could suggest a trip to a theme park - Alton Towers in Staffordshire, for instance, not only boasts a collection of the country's biggest and most hair-raising rides, there are gentler experiences on offer for the little ones and a Caribbean-themed water park at the Splash Landings Hotel, featuring a host of watery thrills.

Don't fancy the theme park queues? Don't forget the cinema - soon to be released are Disney's latest offering, Tangled, a new twist on the Rapunzel story, and for a fresh take on the Shakespeare classic, Gnomeo & Juliet is sure to hit all the right notes.

Parents who are unable to take the whole week off may want to consider the many half term courses available - from drama to football, single days to a full week, check your local sports centres and theatrical venues to see what's on offer.

But if you're struggling to find the money for theme parks and zoo trips, remember... good things don't always come in expensive packages.

Those who are in or near the countryside might want to investigate taking the children on a free nature walk - from snowdrops and crocuses to squirrels and even early lambs, the countryside will be on the verge of spring, so let the children's imaginations run wild as they run, explore and learn about the local wildlife.

Of why not get the kids involved in cooking or gardening - in fact, you can combine the two by planting peas or beans in indoor pots so that your children can watch their own food begin to sprout. And while you're waiting for the finished product, what child doesn't enjoy getting their hands into cake mix or cookie dough!

How do you keep the children entertained at half term? Do you have any ideas for cheap or free activities? Let us know below...