Why having fun is child’s play!

This wee fella loves his films
This wee fella loves his films

SCHOOLS are on holiday this week and scores of youngsters will be looking for activities to keep boredom at bay.

Well let’s just forget about them - they can look after themselves.

Play Stations, Wiis, bikes and footballs will keep them occupied and, let’s face it, if they are old enough to go to school they are old enough to come up with ideas of their own to battle boredom.

What about the under fives though? Those little people we commonly refer to as toddlers are looking for things to stimulate them and expand their horizons every day – not just during school holidays.

At this early age youngsters are often at the mercy of the imagination, time constraints and disposable income of their parents and/or carers.

However, even if you do not have a lot of cash or free-time to spend there are still plenty of activities to take part in, locations to visit and things to do in the Falkirk area.

Soft play areas are always the first thing that springs to mind when thinking of things to do with the little ‘uns but, while there are a few good ones in Falkirk like Cadwinkles, they are not the “be all and end all” when it comes to keeping children amused.

When the weather is on your side there are a ton of cracking walks in the area, including Falkirk’s Dollar Park, with its lovely gardens, Callendar Park, with its picturesque pond and visually stunning grounds, and Zetland Park in Grangemouth.

Continuing with the outdoor theme, there are places you can go locally to let your children see the true beauty of Mother Nature.

There’s always something interesting going on at Grangemouth’s Jupiter Urban Wildlife Centre, which is growing bigger and more popular every year. Friendly and informative Jupiter Rangers are always on hand to guide visitors through the wonderful world of plant, insect and birdlife.

If you are up for some travelling then Five Sisters Zoo in West Calder, with its non-Russian speaking Meerkats and cool as a cucumber reptiles, and World of Wings centre in Cumbernauld, with its high flying eagles, owls, falcons and vultures, are perfect places to show youngsters that animals exisit outside the confines of the television screen and are not always accompanied by narration from David Attenborough.

If the days become dull, wet and windswept then indoor activities are on the cards – but that does not mean you have to resort to the old fallback of the soft play area.

It’s never too early to give the young a taste of the old days and there is a whole world of history right on our door step at the aforementioned Callendar House in Falkirk.

Or you could head for Grangemouth Heritage Trust, just off La Porte Precinct, where young ones will revel in the amazing model airfield and the friendly company of trust members.

History can be combined with travel at Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway, where the Scottish Railway Preservation Society offer people more than just a peep at the past – they provide a shrieking whistle, a rail museum and a trip on an actual working steam train.

Parents of toddlers may think of the cinema as a forbidden zone or somewhere they only dare go at night when there is a willing babysitter on hand. So the weekend baby-friendly showings at Falkirk’s Cineworld are like a noisy, heaven-sent haven to celluloid-starved mums and dads.

If the film is good enough – as in Johnny Depp’s animated spaghetti western ‘Rango’ -– then your little one should sit transfixed for a good hour and and a half. Even if the film drags and your child starts to act out his or her own drama in the aisles, no one really minds because they know there but for the grace of a packet of gummie sweeties go they.

For people who want their child to take part in healthier pursuits, then there’s nothing better than a warm dip in a pool. Giving wee ones the chance to get their feet wet is a vital part of their development and Camelon’s Mariner Centre is a good place to start waterborne adventures.

Grangemouth Leisure Pool also offers up free swimming sessions for parents and toddlers which sees mums, dads – mainly mums though – and children bouncing and splashing along to nusery rhymes.

Whatever you choose to do with your child, make sure you have fun doing it because it won’t be long before they are old enough to head out on their own and enjoy themselves without you.