Playing at home
Last updated: 02/02/2021
You’ve heard of rainy-day activities for kids – well, now many of us will be wracking our brains for “social distancing day” activities.
In light of school closures and advice around limiting the spread of the coronavirus, most of us will be spending more time in our home and many of the go-to options for activities with the kids will be closed. It’s always good to have ideas for things to do at home when you can’t get out or want to save money – and there’s no reason your kids can’t have fun in the process.
To help make things a bit easier we’ve gathered some useful links with suggestions for home-based activities and thrown in some of our own for good measure.
If you have any of your own ideas or interesting links to share, comment on our social media posts for this page so that other parents can see them too.
Remember Art Attack? Well, now might be the time to take a trip down memory lane.
There’s lots you can do with items you’ve got around the house without even spending an extra penny. I mean, the cardboard from all that toilet roll you’ve been stockpiling might as well be put to good use (just kidding, of course: don’t be a hoarder, do be a recycler!).
Here are just a few of the great resources online with crafty ideas you might want to try:
- Starcatchers in Scotland is regularly updating its #WeeInspirations page with creative ideas for young children during the lockdown.
- 50 ideas for DIY craft projects from Good Housekeeping.
- 36 ideas for upcycling from Hands On As We Grow.
- 15 more upcycling ideas from Parent Map.
- CBeebies’ Let’s Go Club craft activities.
- Art for Kids Hub drawing tutorial videos
Unleashing musical talents
We may have moved on 55 years but there are still a few lessons we could take from Maria Von Trapp and the inspiring power of music. I mean, we might not be making dresses out of curtains any time soon but if someone can keep seven kids of all ages entertained in a world without iPads, they must be on to something.
Here’s some ideas to get you well on your on way:
- How to make musical instruments from household items
- More creative ideas for household musical activities
- Birmingham Contemporary Music Group – Ideas on how to make music at home without an instrument
Of course, nowadays we have easier access than ever to the ‘sound of music’. Why not turn on some music through the radio, TV or your phone and let your kids show off their best singing voice and dance moves!?
And, if you don’t quite fancy all that noise, pop in their headphones for a “silent disco”.
If you search on YouTube, you’ll find loads of music videos with lyrics, including cartoons specifically aimed at younger kids.
Imagination is the best, cheapest and most long-lasting resource that any of us has at our disposal, and this is even more true for children.
Encouraging your kids to use their imaginations could be as elaborate or as straightforward an activity as you – and they – like. Simply playing with each other, with toys, or with whatever safe objects they have in front of them and creating scenarios and worlds in their minds will help build on their creativity and their ability to entertain themselves. Making a den together can provide hours of fun.
If you want to take this a step further, they might want to delve into the world of drama. Encourage your kids to create a play, practice their lines, and even develop a set and props. When they’re ready, they can act it out for you.
There’s no reason this can’t be a one-person show with multiple characters – some stuffed animals, dolls or even adult family members could be enlisted as cast members if needed.
If they’re struggling for ideas for a story-line, why not suggest they put their own twist on one of their favourite books, films or TV series?
And if they’re ready to read from a real script, there are even free plays and excerpts online that you can try.
There are also lots of cheap and easy ways that kids can learn about science and have fun in the process with stuff you’ve most likely already got in your house.
Unless you have been advised to be in self-isolation as a result of you or someone you live with having symptoms of the virus, you can still get outside for some fresh air each day.
The government guidance allows for one form of exercise away from your home per day (if you can, try to find somewhere where there are likely to be fewer people around), so your kids should still be able to enjoy nature and stay active. If you have a private garden, you can also use that whenever you want.
Just about anything you can do inside you can also do outside, plus the added wonders of plants, bugs, mud and more (as long as they wash up afterwards, none of this should be a worry):
- Gardening with children (you can do lots of these with a planter inside or on the windowsill).
- Visit Woodland Trust’s website for lots of nature themed ideas designed to fit with social distancing.
- RSPB website has lots of activities that you could try in your garden or when out for a walk.
- 80 fun outdoor activities for kids.
- 50 simple outdoor activities for kids.
As children’s sports and activity clubs are cancelled and their chances to play with other kids are limited, this might make getting them their much-needed exercise a bit trickier. But being at home doesn’t need to mean sitting still.
There’s lots of ways your kids can release their energy indoors – and hopefully keep the walls and furniture intact in the process!
- The NHS has some suggestions for family-friendly indoor games that can get those muscles working and the heart rate jumping.
- 15 Ways to keep kids active indoors even if you don’t have much space.
- And yes, there is a really YouTube section for everything. There are a whole range of exercise videos for kids. Why not try Cosmic Kids Yoga, Just Dance, or Jumpstart Jonny?
One of the best activities for relaxing, learning and using your imagination at any age is reading.
You can register online to become a member of the libraries in your area for free, and some councils now have a range of digital books and audiobooks which you can access from your own home. There are also free and very cheap e-books available from other websites.
- Find your local library’s website.
- Top 100 free children’s Kindle books.
- Top 100 free teen and young adult Kindle books.
- Download Scottish Book Trust’s Bookbug app for kids.
- Scottish Book Trust age-specific book recommendations.
- Watch children’s stories be read by Hollywood actors at Storyline Online.
Of course, there’s no harm in curling up and watching the TV (or tablet) sometimes too.
- There’s lots of content from CBeebies and CBBC available on demand.
- There’s even an app you can download with all the BBC’s content for kids.
- And there’s a YouTube kids app, so you don’t need to worry when you leave your kids to search for what they want to watch.
- Check out Play Scotland’s Boredom Busters website and app for kids.
- See Parenting Across Scotland’s advice page on play and learning at home during the school closures.
- And you might want to consider using Pinterest as a place for finding countless more ideas for “things to do” and how to do them. Warning: looking for ideas may become a hobby in its own right!
Keeping a routine
If children need to stay home for an extended period, it’s important to remember the benefits of having a routine. Having structure to the day helps children manage their expectations and enjoy a sense of stability and security, and in turn this is likely to help with your child’s behaviour, emotions and their development of essential life skills.