Holiday Makers: How kids tackle a desert island challenge #ad

The Year of Engineering is a Government campaign that sets out to change our perceptions of engineering. It shows parents all kinds of things that engineering incorporates, that it’s a creative, varied career that shapes the world around us.

Many children are natural engineers, using skills like problem-solving and curiosity about the world to make things. Think about what your child does when presented with a cardboard box for example. 

The Holiday Makers site, created by The Year of Engineering, is all about giving parents lots of fun ideas and activities to keep kids busy in the summer holidays. BritMums is promoting The Holiday Makers site, in a campaign sponsored by The Year of Engineering.

This awesome site includes:

  • Free, fun, eye-popping activities to do at home, in the garden or even at the beach – all easy to access via the Holiday Makers website
  • Weekly challenges with great prizes up for grabs
  • Exciting events and days out across the UK

Trying one of the Holiday Makers Challenges

I was delighted to be asked to see how my children would respond to one of the engineering challenges. Until taking part I had not fully understood just how big a part engineering plays in helping us with everyday issues in our lives.

You never know how children will react when you suggest an activity. However, when I talked about them coming up with an invention that would solve a problem on a desert island, all three of my children were instantly keen to take part. Inevitably they all had different ideas on the biggest challenges facing someone stranded on a desert island.


Child doing desert island challenge Holiday Makers on BritMums

Kate’s daughter got into the spirit of the desert island challenge. Picture: Kate Davis-Holmes


Kids’ solutions to problems on a desert island

My youngest son was keen to find out a way to use the sea water for drinking without it tasting too salty. My daughter wanted to find ways to eat and wondered what she could use to make fishing rods and nets. Imaginations were stimulated as we came up with other potential problems you might face on a desert island. How would we ensure we were safe and able to deal with medical issues such as poisoning or an accident? What could we develop to ensure we could communicate if each of us were in different parts of the island? What if we wanted to escape? This led to discussions about building a rowing boat or a raft — which we felt might be easier.

The invention — and why

Eventually the children agreed that they would do something a little different and build a rack.

I was a little intrigued as to why an apparently simple thing like a rack would be so useful on a desert island. My son explained that it would be a safe storage area away from anything that might be crawling around on the ground. He also felt it could be used as a makeshift way of cooking by having a flat surface for cooking suspended over the ground. Placing a fire underneath would enable desert island residents to make meals. He stated that his thinking was based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

We decided we would also need cooking utensils to use on the rack. We hoped we could find berries, coconuts and edible flowers until our cooking rack was ready.

Materials and design

My older boys came up with a list of materials required, with the other suggesting where these might be found. They mentioned logs, sticks, and rope and wondered what they could use for corner supports. My daughter started thinking about the different shapes the rack could be, making several drawings to illustrate her ideas.

Holiday Makers 2 girls doing a desert island challenge BritMums

The kids loved thinking about how they could make life on a desert island better. Picture: Kate Davis-Holmes

Future engineering projects

The children decided that after building the rack they would use the skills learned to build a swanky shelter for themselves in case of harsh weather conditions. It did seem that a momentum built up by engaging with the Holiday Makers project with ideas coming thick and fast.

I found myself loving getting outdoors with them and they did not mention their screens once on our desert island afternoon. They are keen gamers so this was quite a surprise to me. It was also wonderful to see them working together as a team.

Get your children involved & engaged!

The Year of Engineering is wonderful in that it provides fun and stimulating activities that will keep children engaged all summer long. You never know you might inspire your children so much that they decide to pursue a career in engineering

Check out to find activities for your child, including challenges in which they could win cool prizes!


Share Button

About Kate Davis-Holmes

Kate Davis-Holmes is a writer and blogger. She is married with 3 children. After obtaining a law degree from Cambridge University, Kate spent 20 years working in local and national organisations. She has experience of project management. media relations, events organisation, advice-giving and the facilitation of learning groups. Kate’s interests include bargain-hunting, reading, travelling and cookery. She has a passion for helping good causes and seeing women get a fairer deal in society.



  1. 17 August 2018 / 10:59

    I love that children’s minds are being challenged like this and can’t wait to get involved when my son is a little older! A rack was a very clever idea by your kids.

  2. 17 August 2018 / 12:08

    It is so cool to see what kids come up with when their creativity is fostered! My kids will love this

  3. 17 August 2018 / 13:55

    This is such a fun idea, my kids would love this. I always try to come up with new ideas for things to make them think but are also fun.

  4. 17 August 2018 / 15:07

    Never hear of the Holiday Makers site before but it is amazing. So many things my sons would love to do that I have already added a number of activities to our summer holiday bucket list to keep them entertained whilst they learn too, win win in my book!

  5. 17 August 2018 / 21:54

    Love this! Great activities to explore engineering!

  6. 21 August 2018 / 18:22

    Ah this does look so much fun and I love how you used Maslow’s theory to work out the best challenge / thing to make. What a fun challenge and great creative thinking.

  7. 21 August 2018 / 21:00

    I love the extensions you did – J is eager to try this – we had a quick go on the boat. They decided that shelter in the tropical climate was most important followed by water collection! What they weren’t happy with but thankful for was that they could collect water in the trash on the beach not great for the environment but good for survival.