AS THE October half-term approaches, parents may be wondering how to occupy their children while school's out.

Most schools are now operating a two-week half-term, but if you are not flying off to sunnier climes, there is plenty to do on the Isle of Wight.

Below is a list of suggestions, compiled by the County Press.

Although not an exhaustive list — and it by no means covers everything that is available on the Island — hopefully it will give parents some ideas.

Best of all, most of our ideas are low-cost and easily accessible.


Donkey Halloween is coming to the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary on Wednesday, October 23, from 11am to 3pm. The best thing is — it's free to enter. Where else would you get the chance to decorate a carrot, search for ghoul donkeys and carve your own pumpkin, all in one day?

There's a newly redeveloped playground to explore in Newport. Take the kids to see the improved play park on Nelson Road. The area is equipped with brightly-coloured toddler and junior play equipment, inclusive swings and roundabout and play panels.

How about doing a spooky run around Parkhurst Forest in the dark — and all for charity? The event is hosted by WightAid and takes place on Friday, November 1, starting at 7pm. The 5km run will have a few scary surprises, but the brave souls who take part will get a medal at the end, plus a bite to eat. Fancy dress is enthusiastically encouraged too. Entry is £12.50 for those aged 17 or older, and £5 for juniors. Enter

The classic musical about a magical flying car, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, is on at Shanklin Theatre. The fabulous Island Savoyards are putting on the truly scrumptious show from Thursday, October 24, to Sunday, October 27.

Have you ever met a creature that's hundreds of years old? You can at Newtown on Friday, October 25. From the tip of the highest leaf, to roots buried deep in the ground, trees have so many tales to tell. They're also homes to lots of other things too. The National Trust is hosting a wander through the meadows and woods of Newtown, with family activities along the way. Booking is essential, on 741020 or £3 per child.

Get ready for Halloween by carving your own pumpkin. There's no need to pay out at a special event, simply get a sharp knife and a pumpkin, and with adult supervision you can have some cheap fun at home. Make a day of it by roasting the seeds in olive oil and mild spices — the children might enjoy it as a different tasty snack. Don't throw the flesh away either, pop it in the slow cooker and make a pumpkin curry, or on the hob and create a soup. There are plenty of recipes online.

Hedgehog Island is a new campaign organised by The Wildheart Trust at the Isle of Wight Zoo and local voluntary hedgehog rescue group Save Our Hedgehogs Isle of Wight, to see how many hedgehogs there are on the Island. You can register any sightings, and find out more at the zoo's Hedgehog Day, on Saturday, October 26.

Children are incredibly enlightened about the environment these days, and concerned about the impact we are making. Help them do their bit by joining a beach litter pick. There are often beach cleans taking place on the IW, and local group Planet Aware has recently launched a new project, The Solent Beach Hub ­— giving people a web-based information hub outlining beach cleans and other events celebrating the coast. Look at

Check out your local library. While you're choosing a few books, find out about their activities too. For example, there are magic shows, Lego clubs, film nights and competitions regularly taking place, and many of these are free.

Frightfully fun things are happening at Newport Roman Villa, with a range of craft activities to keep your little monsters occupied. The venue is open for three activity craft days and for visitors to see the remains, Roman bath suite and the garden. No booking is required, the entry fee is £1 on each activity day and includes all activities. On Wednesday, October 23, make your own unique puppet toy, inspired by Roman toys and games. Make a working catapult on Monday, October 28. Or there is a clay day on Wednesday, October 30.

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