How to keep kids entertained & educated during the coronavirus shutdown

Moms, we know how scary it is right now, and how worried you might be about entertaining the kids at home for the next few weeks, especially when you can’t take them to the movies, holiday clubs and kids’ play centres.

We’ve rounded up some ideas and strategies to help you all get through it. Most of the ideas are for toddlers and preschoolers, but figure out what works best for your child. We advise that you work around one bigger activity each day, and the rest of the day be made up of smaller ones.

Preparation

Explain to your kids what’s happening and why, and that you all need to work together to get through the next few weeks. Tell them there will be a mix of fun, learning, chores, physical activity and quiet time.

Stock up

Ensure you have everything ready for the next few weeks from popcorn for movie day, baking ingredients and stationery for crafts. Your stationery list could include koki pens, crayons, paint, building clay, glue, activity paper, cardboard, beads, fabric paint, stickers, fun stick-ons, colouring-in books. After use, put aside things such as tins, toilet rolls, cartons and boxes, which you can use for crafts.

Now’s a good time to buy some age-appropriate board games such as Junior Monopoly, Snakes and Ladders, cards and Twister.

Three children baking inside during COVID-19 shutdown

Create a daily schedule

Routine is a good idea and if you all know what’s coming up, you can make sure you have the right supplies, and that you have your kids’ buy-in if they’re old enough. You can plan the night or week before, and you can divide these into segments, with a set activity for each one. For example:

  • Wake up
  • Breakfast
  • Physical activity
  • Learning
  • Craft
  • Lunch
  • Chore
  • Quiet time
  • Entertainment
  • Evening fresh air
  • Bath
  • Supper
  • Quiet time
  • Bedtime

Preschooler doing a puzzle indoors during coronavirus shutdown

Subscribe to Netflix or Showmax. There is a time and a place for TV, and this might be it. Subscribing to a service doesn’t mean your child will be glued in front of a screen for 10 hours. Entertainment and educational shows can be mixed up and balanced with a range of other planned activities.

“Entertainment and educational shows can be mixed up and balanced with a range of other planned activities.”

  • Craft boxes: You can order fantastic craft subscription boxes, which save you time and the hassle of thinking of new activities, and shopping for them. We like Girltivity and Moxie Kids.
  • Go “travelling”: You can tour museums, parks and more from the comfort of your home. With Google Arts & Culture, you can do virtual tours of incredible places such as the largest temple complex on Earth, Yellowstone National Park, Champs-ÉlysĂ©es, the gardens of Versailles and more.
  • 30-day Lego challenge: There are some fantastic Lego activities – click here to find one.
  • Pick your favourite animal, research it and create a picture and fact sheet.
  • Bake cupcakes and biscuits. Play around with different coloured icing and fun biscuit cutters.
  • Act as if you’re on a cooking show and create dishes for the family, from sandwiches to breakfasts.
  • Make a story or comic book.
  • Play board games – snap, Snakes and Ladders, Bingo and Junior Monopoly are fun, and great family bonding exercises.

Father and children playing Monopoly board game

  • Have a competition to see who can collect the most charity from items that are no longer needed.
  • Colour-code books on the shelf.
  • Create fun science projects – we love Kitchen Pantry Scientist for great projects.
  • Go camping in your garden.
  • Have a tea party in your garden with sweet treats that you’ve made.
  • Put together a family play.
  • Host movie events – take turns choosing movies.
  • Start a herb garden in pot plants, or a veggie patch.
  • Collect rocks on a walk, and paint them at home.
  • Learn a new chore – it could be loading the dishwasher, washing dishes, sorting out laundry, or folding clothes.
  • Do puzzles.

Toddler boy doing numbers puzzle

  • Make music videos.
  • Create a storybook – kids can either tell or illustrate it, or both.
  • Create a scavenger hunt in your house or garden.
  • Play dress-up at home.
  • Learn new places on the world map.
  • Using fabric paint, decorate socks, old T-shirts and anything you’re happy to part with.
  • Create an obstacle course at home for some exercise.
  • Learn how to do kids’ yoga or martial arts via YouTube.
  • Make jewellery – paint pasta shapes and string them, or use an assortment of beads.
  • Wash all toys in a bath or washing bin – add bubbles, sponges and cloths.
  • Have a pyjama party and make all the food for it.
  • Print out the photos from your phone and create a physical photo album.

Preschooler children making pizza indoors

  • Have a pizza day. Make your own dough or buy it from the shop, roll it out and create pizzas using a range of toppings. Don’t forget the sweet options too (minus the cheese, of course).
  • Make playdough.
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