The collective squeal of delight from children across the country that heralds the arrival of the summer holidays is enough to fill many parents with dread.

While our little darlings are filled with joy at the thought of six (or this year seven!) whole weeks off school, it falls to us to keep them entertained for what seems like an endless amount of time.

But fear not, oh fellow parents, because the mums and dads here at Virgin Balloon Flights have got you covered this school holiday.

Here are some of our best (and by that, we mean ‘tried and tested on our own offspring’) ideas for keeping the kids happy this summer.

Discover The Great Outdoors

Gone are the days when the National Trust was for retired people and dog walkers – these days a National Trust membership card is also firmly on the list of ‘cool’ accessories for savvy mums and dads.

With outdoor playgrounds, organised events for children of all ages and acres of space to run around, National Trust properties offer full days of fun to keep the kids entertained this summer.

We love their 50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 ¾, with climbing a tree, jumping over waves and building a den just some of our favourites on the list. So pack up a few sandwiches and bottles of water, grab an old blanket, dig out the kids’ forgotten Frisbee from last year and head out into the fresh air.

Chalk Up Their Creativity

Unleash the artist in your kids and let them loose on your patio flags or garden wall with some pavement chalks.

You can pick up a pack from most places, with this tub of 20 pavement chalks in assorted colours from Hobbycraft one of our favourites. Children get to design a masterpiece, your garden gets an extra splash of colour, it’s all gone the next time it rains and chalk is much easier to wash out of clothes than paint or felt tip pen – what’s not to love?

But if you’re not keen on the idea of turning your garden into a full-colour canvas, a simple tub of water and a paintbrush is a mess-free way for them to get creative.

And the best part is if they’re not happy with their masterpiece, all they have to do is wait for it to disappear as it dries and starts all over again.

Teatime Treat

Those of you with children under the age of five will know what we parents call ‘the witching hour’ is anything but – it’s more like three hours from 4 pm until bedtime!

But if your children are older - or you’re one of those brave (also read ‘crazy’) mums and dads who do risk taking your children out of the house after 5 pm – and you see one of our hot air balloons preparing to launch near you, we’d love you to come and have a closer look.

Our ‘Spot The Balloon’ challenge is another fun game to play with the kids while you’re out and about this summer.

Early in the morning or on a balmy summer evening, with its lovely bright red colour a Virgin hot air balloon is easy to see against the summer sky and we would love to see any photos you take – tweet us at @VirginBalloons or post them on our Facebook page.

Bugs, Birds and Bunnies

Staying on the outdoor theme (because let’s be honest, kids with cabin fever are not fun), a wildlife walk is a great way to get active while teaching them about the world around them.

Head out on a bug hunt, armed with a magnifying glass and an old jam jar and see how many different creepy crawlies you can find where you live.

The RSPB has a great online bird guide for the young twitchers out there. See if they can spot some of the UK’s rarest birds.

Or head out further into the countryside or national park near you and see what other animals you can spot.

Bargain Hunters’ Day Out

A day trip with the kids doesn’t have to be expensive, with plenty of special offers and summer deals on a host of attractions all over the country. has hundreds of ideas for places to visit, with money-off vouchers for some of its most popular attractions.

The promise of one or two special days out during the summer holidays will give children something to look forward to (and can be a great incentive for good behaviour!).

Rainy Days

And while it can be tempting to sit them down in front of the TV for a CBeebies or CITV marathon, there are plenty of other fun things to do indoors.

These ideas pulled together from across the Internet by Rainy Day Mum are brilliant, with everything from making paper plate animals and finger painting to building a homemade den or simple baking ideas (who doesn’t love a chocolate rice crispy cake?) to keep your youngsters entertained.

And who says you have to stay indoors when it rains anyway?

Channel your inner Peppa Pig and pull on your wellies, dig out your raincoats and head outside to find the biggest puddles you can jump in.

We’d love to hear what fun things you do with your children to keep them entertained during the school holidays.

You can tweet them to us @VirginBalloons with the hashtag #SchoolsOutFun or post them on our Facebook page.