So you’re suddenly faced with the prospect of being at home for the foreseeable and your kids being off school, and for many parents, this is a pretty daunting reality. (It is for me, anyway!) Keeping children busy and happy – and making sure they’re not plonked in front of a screen too much – seems like a big task to me. Especially when we weren’t expecting it, and haven’t had long to plan.
Whether you’re self-isolating due to the Coronavirus outbreak or you’re social distancing, there are loads of activities – educational and fun – that you can plan into your day.
So here are 58 ideas activities you can do – split up into age – because a toddler isn’t going to be interested in the same fun stuff as a ten-year-old.
But before we get to the list – a top tip! It’s good to have a structure. Divide the day up into a timetable and stick it on the fridge so that everyone can see it. Daisy aka Five Minute Mum shares her pre-school structure here. She also has this GREAT golden rule about doing activities with kids.
Have time set out for educational tasks and break it up with fun activities (and actual breaks!) to keep your kids engaged and happy.
AND one other tip – don’t stress about filling every moment of their day. And don’t stress if they do end up watching a bit more telly or playing computer games. This is a tricky time for all of us, and it’s all about balance, right? So, on with the activity ideas!
Playing with pots, pans and wooden spoons – encourage them to make as much noise as they can! (You might want to wear ear plugs)
Water painting the patio – just get a pot of water, some paint brushes and (assuming it’s a dry day) let them paint!
Or just do some water pouring! Get different sized containers and jugs, pour some water in each and let them pour from one to another.
Listen to the CBeebies podcast…
…or get moving with the Wiggle Waggle series.
Build a den – it’s as simple as pulling together two chairs, putting a blanket over the top and popping cushions inside. Everything’s more fun in a den…
Make a sensory box – this is a pretty excellent guide showing you the basics you need to get started.
Throw newspaper balls – scrunch them up into balls, and play catch!
Catching bubbles that you blow – everyone has a bottle of bubbles in the cupboard, right? Let your little ones try to pop as many as they can.
This is such a clever and easy idea – make your own indoor objects puzzle game.
Work your way through reading The Book Trust’s 100 Best Books. (Each Peach Pear Plum is there – love it!)
Do some sock mopping.
Create a back garden (or indoor) scavenger hunt – make a list of things that you have in your garden (or hide some things!). For smaller ones, you can search online for ready-made lists with pictures.
Make cloud dough to play with.
This recipe for banana sushi is one kids will love getting involved making. And you might enjoy helping them eat it!
Watch Oliver Jeffers read his amazing stories – on Instagram Live at 6pm GMT daily.
Do this cool science experiment in your kitchen….
…or this longer-term science experiment using just a carrot top! (Kids need a bit of patience for this one though.)
Set them a task that helps you out like watering the plants! Love this list of age-appropriate chores.
Download some free colouring printables – you can Google for and get these on pretty much any theme. Disney! Dinosaur! Space! You name it…
Listen to Fun Kids Radio and have a kitchen disco.
Make a house from a cereal box. Here’s how!
Get your kids to do this 30 Day Lego Challenge and get creative, building cool stuff.
These free activity sheets from Orchard Toys look brilliant.
Snuggle down and listen to free stories on the Storynory website or podcast.
Go garden camping! Pitch a tent on your lawn, get your camping stove going and toast some marshmallows.
Bake some muffins (there are some easy recipes here).
Download some free resources from Twinkl (used by school teachers all over the UK). You can access them by school year and topic.
Earn a Blue Peter badge. How cool is this? There are instructions here on exactly what your kids need to do, to earn different Blue Peter badges.
Learn Spanish with BBC Bytesize. Si!
Arrange a Facetime/Skype game with one of their friends who is also at home – they could play Hangman or Charades from a safe distance.
Reading Eggs is a brilliant way to improve kids’ reading skills with activities and games – there’s a two week free trial.
Have a family board game tournament. Our favourites are Cluedo, Game of Life, Monopoly and Labyrinth.
Or play card games! We love Uno, Rummy and Monopoly Deal.
Make a cardboard tub construction set.
Have a daytime movie night. Pull the curtains shut, eat popcorn and put on the kids’ favourite film.
Mathletics have free downloadable workbooks – or you might have full access via your child’s school.
Plant some seeds in little pots on the window ledge and see how long they take to grow.
Get active in front of the telly with The Body Coach Kids workouts on YouTube.
Make an indoor hopscotch game.
Ace children’s picture book author Rob Biddulph is doing Draw With Rob, every Tuesday and Thursday on Facebook and Instagram. Grab some paper and a pencil and get drawing with him. See his first one here!
If you have an Apple device, let your kids play around with free app Garageband to create and mix their own music.
Make a stop motion animation video – these looks so cool and they’re easier than you think (plus! They take a long time to make!)
Let them make a Spotify party playlist. Then…
…Run the bath, switch off the lights and have a bathtime disco.
Get entering some kids’ competitions! This is a great round up of current ones here.
Subscribe to The Phoenix comic – they have an offer to get four issues for £1
Do some junk modelling with the contents of your recycling bin – this egg box dragon is pretty cool.
Purple Mash has loads of activities – you usually need a school log-in but there’s info here on accessing it without one.
Finger knit a snake with this YouTube tutorial.
Design your own board game – here’s how!
Learn to juggle with this step-by-step guide.
Make fajitas for dinner with this recipe that shows what the kids can do, and what the grown ups can do.
Make colourful milk explosions with this science experiment.
Put on a fashion show – ask your kids to create outfits for each other using items in their wardrobes. Give them a theme like “Yellow” or “Robot” and see what they come up with. Then get the music playing while they walk down the catwalk to show off their creation.
Learn cool stuff about sloths that play sports and domino designers with the free Scholastic material.
Have a kids’ yoga session – great to calm them down after an high energy activity. Cosmic Kids on YouTube is great and free!
Download a free children’s audio book from Audible with their one month trial. They have Harry Potter, David Walliams, Roald Dahl, all the greats! (Just don’t forget to cancel the trial if you don’t want to sign up for a monthly fee!)
Do you have any more ideas of fun – and educational – activities for kids?
If you found this blog post helpful, check out this post on 10 Feelgood TV Shows Perfect For Escaping Reality.