With so much rapid change around the world and the increasing likelihood of widespread lockdown, I thought a list of activities to keep the kids entertained at home might be useful.
Amongst the ideas you’ll find a bunch of activities that have a connection to travel. In my experience half the fun of planning a trip is the pre-work. Collecting ideas and loads of research. This belief, and the fact that 8 years ago there was very little out there to engage kids in the travel planning process, were the reasons I started Family Travel.
So if you’re in lockdown this list of activities to keep the kids entertained at home will hopefully give you a few new ideas. The list is in no particular order and includes some great suggestions from members of the Family Travel community.
Keep the kids active
Just because you’re in lockdown at home doesn’t mean all exercise has to stop. If you’ve got an athlete amongst your tribe you’ll likely have some great training ideas coming in from your sports club or team. But for those still wondering how to help the kids stay active and burn off some extra energy, here are a couple of suggestions.
If you’re done with the downward dog, how setting up an obstacle course? You could do this either inside or in the garden. Birute has 25 low set-up obstacle course suggestions on her blog Playtivities.com
Or try a virtual workout class (HIIT, Barre and the 7 minute workout) offered on the Down Dog iOS and Android app. The classes are free for school kids through until 1 July to support kids stay active at home during this period of social distancing. For younger kids, try movement videos like at www.gonoodle.com/
Get into the garden
Getting outside and into the garden combines play time, learning and exercise. And it gets the kids out from under your feet for a while.
Depending on the season and the size of your yard, there are different activities to keep the kids entertained at home in the garden. If mowing the lawn, weeding or preparing the veggie patch seem too much like chores for your kids, why not try some more creative activities like making garden art from recycled cans, making a bird feeder, or doing rock art.
If your kids like pizza you could get the kids to plant a pizza garden with tomatoes, basil, garlic, onions and other veggies to make pizza. Or consider other garden designs like a butterfly garden, dinosaur or fairy garden.
Hike trails in a neighbourhood nature area
We’re lucky in Australia that there are so many natural spaces where we can social distance easily. Luckily during COVID-19 social distancing time, we’re still allowed outside for exercise. Whilst most of our parks and playgrounds are closed, and most of the National Parks camping and campgrounds, visitor centres, high-visitation areas, and historic sites around the country are closed in response to the COVID-19 emergency, there are still plenty of places you can take the kids for a walk safely.
For the up-to-date information on what’s open in your state, check out the relevant national parks website
Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service – as at 31 March 2020, all Tasmanian national parks are temporarily closed in response to the COVID-19 emergency
Cooking ideas to the keep kids busy at home
Why not use the time to try a recipe you’ve been wanting to try? Or how about teaching the kids to make their favourite meal?
You could run a chef challenge. Set them up with a selection of ingredients and get them to create an interesting dish.
Or you could ask the kids to go through some of your childhood favourite recipes and pick something that they’d like to try. If you’re anything like me there are loads of old-school dishes that evoke strong childhood memories. For example stewed apple and rice custard always make me think of my nana.
If you’re stuck for inspiration, here’s a list of retro Aussie foods to get you started
What about getting the kids to pick a country and research the food from that place. Either try cooking a meal from there (if you’ve got the ingredients). If you can’t try the cooking part of this, how about researching a restaurant where you try that food and either ordering UberEats or planning a trip there once you’re able to get out and about again?
STEM activities to the keep kids entertained at home
We love this list of activities to keep the kids entertained at home. And what’s more, they’re educational.
Stream a live performance or concert
If your kids love concerts and music now is a great time for them to get their fix, digitally. Watching a recorded concert or live streaming a show is a great activity to keep the kids entertained at home.
So many artists are now giving virtual concerts, that you really need to check in regularly to find out who’s on when. The Guardian has a list of Australian and international acts that updates regularly.
One series we’re particularly excited to watch are shows from New York City’s Metropolitan Opera. After canceling all performances due to concerns around the coronavirus outbreak, New York City’s Metropolitan Opera announced that it would stream a performance from its archives for every night through the duration of the closure, starting Monday, March 16. The Nightly Met Opera Streams, which start at 7:30 p.m. (EST), which is 10.30am Sydney time, so it’s a pretty good time for older kids to tune in. The recordings will be available to view for free on the Met Opera homepage for 20 hours after they’re streamed.
For the ballet lovers, the Australian Ballet has launched At Home with Ballet TV. David McAllister’s The Sleeping Beauty is showing now. The reworked classic is set to Tchaikovsky’s celebrated score and blessed with breathtaking set and costume designs. Enjoy this cinema quality 2015 recording of The Sleeping Beauty for free until Friday 17 April. Don’t forget your popcorn!
Now is as good time as any to dig to the bottom of the toy box and rediscover old toys. Here are a 20 other ideas to inspire play time:
- Build the greatest pillow fort EVER (then build an even BIGGER one)!
- Play airplane by setting up chairs in a room, serve snacks, kids watch a TV show or do activity (thanks to Charles McCool of McCool Travel for this one)
- Put together a trivia quiz and have friends play via live stream
- Have a handball tournament outside
- Make a time capsule of this time to be opened in 10 years
- Learn how to fold different types of paper airplanes
- Do a treasure hunt
- Create a play for your parents in 30 minutes – then the parents have to create a play for you in response to yours, but they only get 10 minutes
- Pull out the old fashioned games like scrabble, Monopoly, Cluedo, snakes & ladders
- Learn cup stacking
- Create a day spa at home – do a manicure, pedicure, face mask
- Play cinema – make tickets, popcorn, give your guests a rug and watch a movie together
- Cut out pictures from magazines / newspapers and play celebrity head
- Using Lego characters or other small toys, make a stop motion movie (download the app Stop Motion to your phone or Ipad)
- Have a dance party
- Organise your Lego and then have a building challenge. Who can build the best house, hotel or shop?
- Outdoor games like egg and spoon race, tag team races, three legged races, or play stuck in the mud
- Learn how to knot friendship bracelets
- Turn a shoe box into a diorama
- Put on a magic show for friends and family (and live stream it if you dare)
Janeece Keller is the founder and editor of Family Travel. She mostly travels with her husband and two young kids. She has a large blended family that lives in Australia and Europe. She has visited 52 countries and lived on 3 continents. From camping to luxury resorts Janeece tries to make sure her family has diverse holiday experiences each year. She is an avid hiker and ocean swimmer who loves good food, margaritas and heading off the beaten path.