We know that the Coronavirus crisis can be a source of anxiety for many and puts a lot of pressure on families, who have to juggle looking after the housework, home schooling and often working from home. Lucy Shaw – one of our Stay & Play organisers shares a few ideas for families with young children. We’ve included some ideas for older kids at the end of the list too!
Being in lockdown with my daughter aged 2 and a half, heavily pregnant and a husband working from home I’ve tried a few different activities so far to mix up the days and keep her occupied. A lot of these ideas have come from Pinterest posts, inspired by something or other mummy friends. With the baby arriving soon I’ve made a plan for the next few weeks to help get us through the early days with a baby and toddler in lockdown so watch this space for updates on what we have tried!
Here’s a few ideas to get started:
If you haven’t already done this- the rainbow is a symbol of hope, brightening up the front of your house and bringing smiles to passers by. Plus children love to get all the colours out and getting creative. Me and my daughter used lots of paper stuck together and a few paint colours. I encouraged her to do the sweeping arch shape but she just did it her way, and added some sequins and sparkles too! We also enjoy going rainbow hunting when we are out on our daily walks.
Home made cards
These have been a hit especially in connecting with neighbours and friends. We’ve sent birthday cards, cards of encouragement and get well cards.
My daughter especially loves using paint and stencils so we made good use of our play doh cutters. We have also used other things in the cupboard like egg cups, spaghetti and cupcake cases to make flower cards.
My little girl really enjoys baking- mixing everything together and then eating it together after! I tend to try and minimise the mess and keep her attention span by popping the ingredients into little bowls ready for her to pour together and mix. Our favourites: Rice-crispy cakes, biscuits and ‘Elsa and Anna’ coloured fairy cakes!
Making musical instruments and using them for a sing song later is a great way to get them being creative and encourage them in music and singing. We made this shaker together simply using a plastic cup, paper, rice and sprinkles. We plan on making more instruments soon!
Muddy Puddles with Peppa
Most toddlers go through the love of Peppa Pig! For this activity I mixed some cocoa powder and water in one big bowl and fresh water in another. She enjoyed playing with her Peppa figures jumping in muddy puddles and bathing them afterwards on the kitchen floor listening to Peppa pig songs whilst I did some jobs around the kitchen.
Animals in the ‘Sand’
As a quick garden activity I grabbed a baking tray, poured out a mountain of flour, stood plastic animals and utensils in it, grabbed a quick cup of tea for me and sat next to her while her imagination ran wild. I saved this activity and she played with it every now and then over a few days.
Kinetic Sand / Sand Pit
Speaking of sand… my mum sent me some Kinetic sand in the post. It was a huge hit! It’s not messy and there’s something weirdly therapeutic about it. We spent ages sat at the table together playing with the stuff. My daughter also has a sand table for the garden, which she loves. If you have one, try adding a bit of water to make the sand mouldable, hide rocks as ‘treasure’ to excavate with spades / brushes and encourage your little one to make shapes and castles!
This is a firm favourite in our house! We seem to have loads of it in from birthdays and Christmas’ but if you don’t have it, here’s the recipe I use to make my own. If you keep it in a sealed box it’ll last hopefully a couple months!
During lockdown we have discovered slime! I ordered some of the ‘Elmers’ kit off amazon. The first time we made slime, no word of a lie, she sat playing with it for 2 hours!!
I’m keen to try mix up play with some learning activities so when I saw this on Pinterest I thought I’d give it a try. It’s easy to put together at home. It took a bit of persuasion (or biscuit bribery) to get her to sit and match the peg letters to the cardboard name tags but once she completed it she was so proud of herself. We’ll keep practicing this one.
A simple scavenger hunt around your house or garden using familiar items is so easy to pull together. My daughter will do this fairly independently if I’m needing to sort washing or something but she really loves going on the hunt together. We use the washing basket to collect the items in and a pencil to tick things off so we can rub out the ticks and do it again another day. I really recommend this! You could also do something similar but with hunting for nature for when you take a walk.
Painting with Nature
Our daily walks are so key right now. Helping us get the exercise and fresh air we need. Often when we go out walking it’s in character as Elsa and Anna and we explore the enchanted forest! Around where we live the children are painting rocks so we love to hunt for these. We also collect things in buckets too like twigs, rocks, interesting leaves. Things we can paint or craft with later!
For this activity I used a big tray. I washed some coins and covered them in orange lentils (you could use flour, sand, oats as alternatives) and gave my little girl paint brushes and a purse so she could brush out the money and save it in the purse. We then played shops afterwards so she got to spend her money!
Setting up a tea party with a kids tea set is lots of fun for imagination-play. She watched the tiger who came to tea first, whilst I set up the tea party on the kitchen floor with towels and water. She really enjoyed pouring water offering me cups of ‘tea’. You could do this in the garden for less mess. And other mummy friends have used food colouring with water too! We will try that another day.
Setting up a shop using either play food or real bits and bobs from your cupboard is good fun, easy to put together and you can take it in turns to be shop keeper / shopper! If you don’t have any play money you can easily make as a craft together too!
I love pottering in my garden so getting my little girl to help dig weeds, water the flowers and brush the decking has been a way to get her engaged in something I enjoy.
For a colder lazy day we have enjoyed making dens, grabbing snacks and watching films or cartoons. The dining table works well or blankets and pillows in the living room is nice and cosy!
Washing Car / Toys
Water-play is always good fun and getting something that needs washed cleaned at the same time is a win for me! My daughter really enjoys washing her little tikes car in the garden.
On warmer days the paddling pool has been such a win.
Painting the Fence
Giving your toddler a bucket of water and a paint brush and getting them to paint the fence is something I saw on a mummy-friends’ social media. It’s easy to throw together and some children will spend a while doing this, for my daughter she lost interest quite quickly so probably won’t bother with this again. But it might entertain your little one!
Chalk drawing on the drive and in the garden is easy, washable and fun for most kids!
There’s so much content available online some of our favourites have been the following on YouTube: Jumpstart Jonny (workout for youngsters), cosmic kids (yoga for kids using stories) and sticky kids (fun action songs).
Arts & Crafts
There’s lots of things we can do with our kids that don’t require us to spend lots of money on outings and toys. Just turn the most ordinary of household items into an imaginative craft. Here’s a few of the crafts you can make thanks to Safi Newton one of our friends at Home for Good:
If you have older kids. Here’s a few ideas that might work for them too and get them away from the TV or games console for a few minutes.
Board Games Tournament
Play your favourite board or card games with your family 2-3 times a week and keep the tally of the scores for the whole lockdown period. Stick a big sheet on the wall so you can be reminded of it daily. For smaller children we recommend: Frustration, Pictureka, Top Trumps or even a race on who can finish the puzzle first (puzzle difficulties could be matched to the ages of kids and the hardest ones for the parent). With older children we enjoy playing Uno, Monopoly Deal, Pass the Pigs and Pictureka Card Games.
Kids Science Experiments
YouTube is full of videos of things you can do at home with science. Just search “Kids Science Experiments” and you’ve got ideas for days. Just make sure you follow the advice given on supervising young kids and don’t let them use anything dangerous!
Older kids love to bake too. Make cookies, cupcakes, brownies, rice-crispy cakes. This one is also fun for the parents… afterwards with a cup of tea. Yum!
Home Cinema Night
Cosy up on the sofa together with popcorn in a blacked out room and watch your favourite movie.
Living Room Sleep Over
Set up camp in your living room for a night. Instead of dinner have an evening picnic and tell funny / scary stories (not too scary) in the torch light, then camp for the night.
Go for a Walk
It’s important during this season to get some fresh air and exercise. So do take your kids out for a short walk, especially if you have a park or other green area near to where you live. Take a ball or other outdoor game with you. Just remember to adhere to social distancing rules and avoid anywhere that seems too busy.
If you have done any fun memorable activities with your children that can be done at home please add to the comments below.