I’m not massively organised or into lists. And since this lockdown started everything seems to have slipped in our house. I rarely manage to load the dishwasher until the end of the day, and don’t get me started on the housework! Schedules and routines are far more flexible for us now that we are all at home 24/7.
But once a day I try to make sure we do two things. One is to do a fun little activity together and the other is to all drop everything and have a daily boogie! I feel its the best bonding activity out there for us! Once I’ve got the dinner on, we all stop what we are doing and turn on some of my favourite tracks. The only rule is to get off your bum and do some free style funky dancing. Swishing silk scarves and bad singing are optional! This has definitely become our lockdown tradition!
Here are some of our activities…
These fun, original activities take very little time and effort to set up, which is crucial now that we are juggling so many things from home. Even if the activity only lasts 20 minutes I find it really boosts us all and the children seem happier for the rest of the day.
I try to do activities that I enjoy taking part in as well, and that don’t involve getting the children or the house too mucky, covered in paint or drenched in water.
On the whole these activities just use what you are likely to have around the house already, or you can order online for little money. I should also note that I’m terrible at art and I’m not naturally crafty!
1. Happy Banana Pancakes
Why not start the day more leisurely and make some happy pancakes!
2. Tin can throwing game
This is my husband’s favourite game to play, as I think it reminds him of our days, pre-kids sat on the beach with a beer, mindlessly chucking pebbles at a bucket with pals.
Take an empty can, place at least a metre from where you’re sat with the children. Get a few sheets of paper from an old magazine or newspaper, rip up and roll into little pea sized balls. Simply take it in turns to see who can get their paper balls into the can.
3. Bring out the balloons!
Who said balloons were just for birthdays! Blow up a few balloons and let the fun begin. Also its great fun, if you’re eight at least, to blow up a balloon, and instead of tying it, let it go and watch it whizz around the room making farty noises!
4. Set up a Stop Motion Studio
This is a big hit with my eight year old, but works with younger children as well if you give them a hand. There are several free apps to try, we like ‘Stop Motion Studio’. It’s easy to use and we have made some great little stop motion animated movies without having to invest in any of the in-app added extras.
You basically photograph the steps of a small animation sequence using for example Lego, teddy bears, toys or cars. And then the app brings it all to life for you. Its good fun!
5. Sit in the car
This is another firm favourite in our house. Well we’ve been in lockdown a while now and I miss driving! Hang out in the car on the driveway, play music and go for an imaginary drive. Maybe even play I spy! Just watch out you don’t drain the car battery in the process…
6. Scissors, Paper, Stone
The classics are the best! “Scissors, paper, stone, one two three…” Don’t forget rock breaks scissors, scissors cuts paper and paper covers rock.
7. We’re going on a bear hunt
Everyone closes their eyes whilst you go hide a little teddy bear in the room. The kids have to find it, then we all close eyes again whilst someone else hides it. Repeat 100 times! If need you can use the phrases ‘freezing’ ‘cold’ ‘warm’ ‘hot’ ‘boiling’ to help guide the seekers to the treasure.
8. The Lego challenge
There are tonnes out there just now making the rounds on social media. We love the ’30 day Lego challenge’. At the beginning of each day our Lego mad son will do an audio message to a Whats-App chat group we have running for his best mates, to tell them the Lego challenge of the day. Once the masterpiece is complete, one of us films our son giving his friends a virtual tour of said Lego construction! The kids go mad for this and love watching each others videos.
9. Peas and Toothpicks
This isn’t one isn’t for eating, unless you like raw peas. But its a fun way to create little structures. We recommend using partly defrosted peas. Also works with marshmallows, but my kids can’t resist eating them before their structures are finished!
10. Fancy dress
You dress in their stuff and they dress in your stuff. Guaranteed to get everyone giggling!
11. Face painting and hair gel
No more explanation needed really, just to say this is more fun if everyone gets involved and paints each others faces and gels each others hair. Follow it up with a hose down and you will have covered bath time as well!
12. Build a den
Think cushions, sheets, blankets and maybe a clothes horse! Draw the curtains, turn off the lights and read a book or play by torch light.
13. Board Games
Basically any board game that you can tolerate for more than 5 minutes! Favourites in our house are Top Trumps, Dobble, UNO and bingo.
14. One, two, three, four, I declare a thumb war
This should be an Olympic sport! No further explanation needed really! If things start to get too heated you might need to check out the official rules online!
15. A drawing tutorial for kids
There are some great videos on YouTube to show children how to create a fun picture step by step. I’ve never been very good at art, but I have to say I really love these little tutorials as its pretty easy to get the picture to pass for what you are supposed to be drawing!
16. Glue gun and a bag of recycling
Think robot or wacky fantastical animal! Alternatively make a fairy house or dinosaur cave. Recycled rubbish works a treat for this activity, but also twigs, pine cones, pebbles and moss if you have access to them. Obvious health and safety reminders around hot burnable glue near kids. In our house the children design the creation and an adult holds the glue gun.
17. Create a toilet roll marble run
You might need to build up some used toilet rolls and kitchen rolls first! Once you have roughly six you can tape them to a bedroom door to create a DIY marble run!
18. Coin rubbing
Another classic, but sometimes forgotten. You only need crayons, paper and your loose change. For the older kids coins can be arranged into shapes, people, robots etc. Remember it also works with leaves and bark!
19. Make and fly paper aeroplanes
Don’t forget YouTube is your friend if you need a quick lesson on how to make some super speedy jets. And once they are folded and coloured in you can try some races!
20. Air dry clay modelling
Plastercine and play dough time is good, but far more satisfying is getting a block of air dry clay and creating something like a little bowl for your trinkets. Plus it’s a fun way to pass some time together.
21. Garden bug hunt
Going outside for some fresh air makes everything seem a little better. If you have some outside space and a suitable container with air holes to temporarily house creepy crawlies, why not go on a bug hunt. Then you can come inside and try drawing them.
Just please don’t forget to take the little beasties back outside to release them. Apart from anything you don’t want to find an escaped slug climbing up the back of a kitchen chair (true story!).
22. Outside toy animal play
Get out the toy farm animals, dinosaurs, ponies or little people and set up a farm, zoo, dinosaur reserve or play park in a corner of the garden. Takes imaginative play to another level.
23. Teddy bear’s tea party
Most houses have a toy tea set. So get out some kiddie sized tea cups and saucers and create a tea party for the teddies and dolls! Even more fun is to use real snack food and a tiny bit of real water!
24. Marshmallow chocolate crispy cake
Based on the traditional rice crispy cake idea but without the fiddly cupcake cases. We pretty much follow this recipe:
We make a version using dark chocolate and we leave out the butter to be a bit less fatty. Also I just use a regular baking tray lined with grease proof paper. Its fool proof and the kids love getting involved.
25. Fruit or Salad faces on a plate
Cut up mixed fruit and get the children to help lay it out into face shapes on a plate. Then eat!
A face shaped side salad is fun to prepare with the kids too! Stone-less olive eyes, tomato nose, cucumber mouth, grated carrot hair and lettuce ears. Be sure to remember to make one for the adults in the house too, everyone needs their five a day!
Image credit: Lisa Bertin
For more play ideas see this brilliant list of suggestions from The Motherload®.