With things being so tough at the moment we are all finding different ways to cope, but most of us have probably found ourselves in desperate need of ways to keep our kids entertained. Something that has really amazed and impressed me during this tough time has been the incredible resources, activities, ideas and virtual events popping up everywhere to support parents and keep kids occupied right now. From Twinkl offering free access, Joe Wicks leading the nation’s daily PE lesson and brands creating free printables and sharing activity and craft ideas I feel like a lot of the country is coming together to make this period in time slightly easier to survive and it’s actually really nice to see.
As I’ve said before, the world will not end if your kid/s spend their days watching Netflix and eating snacks. But they may well get bored of that, so it might make you feel better to have a few other things up your sleeve. Equally you might be a family who limits passive screen time – totally understandable and so you may be looking out for things you can do instead. Here are a few of my favourite things I’ve spotted so far, and where you can look for some more great ideas.
For help explaining the current situation to kids, check out this incredible free virtual book about Coronavirus illustrated by Axel Scheffler from the Julia Donaldson books.
The thing we’ve done the most during the last few weeks is colouring! Previously I never would’ve been up for any adult colouring, but I’ve been surprised by how calm and relaxed it makes us both feel. We’ve been printing free colouring sheets we’ve found online – you can search for your child’s favourite characters or interests. Twinkl has some colouring activities too, we’ve been enjoying the colour by numbers/addition sheets. Lots of my favourite artists and illustrators have created free colouring pages for adults and kids too – find more in my Instagram highlights.
Some other printable crafty activities or colouring that I’ve found or we’ve really enjoyed:
Paper Joy‘s toilet roll rocket and unicorn (free and she has loads of other stuff on there – all brilliant)
Abel and the Label‘s positive journal (£6.50 for unlimited printing)
The Strong Girls Club activity pack (free)
This awesome colouring sheet from Viktorija Illustration (free)
These Pixar activity sheets from Lucy’s Room (free)
These educational colouring printables from Squidgearoo (free)
These beautiful colouring sheets (great for adults or kids) from Alja Horvat (free – just sign up to the newsletter and you’ll be sent a link)
and these from Sun Lee Art (free)
Also check out Magic Cat Publishing on Instagram – as well as producing some beautiful books they are also sharing some amazing activity ideas like making your own hanging butterflies, making a phases of the moon wall chart, creating a simple bird feeder from an orange and so much more.
There are also plenty of colouring books and sheets you can order online if you don’t have a printer, or have a go at drawing something for your little ones and getting them to colour it in if you’re arty (or trace a picture of something else if you’re not a keen artist). We’ve also been saving lots of cardboard and having a go at creating things from the recycling, so why not set them up with a pile of rubbish and some tape/glue and let them go wild. We were given this brilliant book with loads of cardboard craft ideas for Dil’s birthday, and it’s currently available on Kindle for £3.99 (affiliate link).
We aren’t particularly in to worksheets and written activities (Dil is 6 and I don’t think that kids his age are built to sit still for long) but I know that a lot of parents feel really comforted by scheduling in some structured learning and I can totally understand that. Some schools seem to be providing a lot of specific work to complete, and some are leaving it up to the parents, so you may be searching for some more things you can do while we are at home. Remember that whatever you’re doing your kids will be learning without even realising it, but some might really enjoy a more formal approach.
Twinkl is a humongous database of some really brilliant resources and activities for teachers, tutors, home educators, parents, child minders and anyone else who may have an interest in supporting children’s learning. You can download and print over 500k different worksheets, activities, craft ideas, stories and more, aimed at children aged 0-16. They have a range of different memberships starting at just under a fiver a month, but are currently offering a month’s free access using the code CVDTWINKLHELPS. Even for someone like me who doesn’t do worksheets, I’ve found the resources really fantastic and we’ve printed plenty off! I actually think Twinkl is probably all you need academically.
Many brands are putting together different resources on their special subjects to help support parents right now so take a look at their social media. We’ve been working with The Royal Mint this week and trying out some of their new activities for kids which Dil has really enjoyed so always worth having a look on google if your children have specific interests.
If you’re looking for something a bit more immersive there are plenty of virtual tours and resources at your finger tips too. Here are 12 museums you can visit from the sofa, or why not check out Chester’s Virtual Zoo where you can watch animal feedings and learn more about different species. For a few lessons on topics like dinosaurs, the human body and space check out the brilliant videos by Maddie Moate on YouTube, which you can watch live at 11 every week day or catch up on whenever. Maddie has some great videos on her channel and these lives are really engaging and fun – we loved watching how to make poo and learning about our digestive systems!
There are also plenty of really educational and fun TV shows kids can watch. Things like Blue Planet are fascinating and can really amaze kids, shows like The Magical School Bus and Ask the Storybots (Netflix) cover a lot of great topics in a really engaging way. Apps and games are great too – we love Teach Your Monster to Read (the computer version is completely free) and Reading Eggs comes highly recommended (they are currently offering free 30 day access for school shutdown support). Check out my post on guilt free screen time for a huge list of shows and games you can try out.
I’m not going to pretend to you for one second that I have watched any of Joe’s PE lessons, or that we’ve been up in time to take part live even once during this whole thing started (he starts at 9am). However he still deserves a mention because thousands and thousands of people are tuning in, and he’s also pledged to donate all the ad revenue he’s making from the lives directly to the NHS which makes him a pretty cool guy in my opinion. Bumble Bee Physio have been sharing some adapted versions of Joe’s workouts for differently abled superheros.
For younger children or those that need something a bit more animated Andy’s Wild Workouts from CBeebies are also great. We have been doing some yoga – Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube is brilliant for a bit of movement as well as a few moments of mindfulness which is important for adults and kids right now, they have some great ones to do before bed.