Top activities for self-isolation and lockdown

Schools have closed in the UK for all children except those of key workers for the foreseeable future. Self-isolation, social distancing and home working mean that you might be after ideas to keep children (and yourselves!) active, happy and engaged throughout the next few weeks and potentially months. 

We’ve done our research and have asked the parents in our teams for their ideas of what they’ll be doing to keep their kids entertained. From educational tips to fun activities, read on for our ideas for enjoying staying at home. 

1. Create a schedule and embrace school resources

For school days, our team parents are all creating schedules for their little home schoolers including slots for free-time to keep a similar regime to school. We also saw this fantastic (and very neat!) example from Kim Kenlay on Twitter whilst using the #homeschooling hashtag. She’s included HWB which is a Welsh homeworking website for school pupils but you could use your children's school homework website or even BBC Bitesize for screen-based revision. 

Timetable Twitter

Add in help for household chores and schedule in their favourite movies and TV shows in the evenings so that days feel as ‘normal’ as possible and they have lots of chill out time.

2. Boost rewards

During this period at home you may have to increase good behaviour rewards as everyone, kids and parents alike, will start to tire of all the staying at home. 

Ask the kids for the rewards that they would really like to have from a selection - such as getting a takeaway, playing their favourite family game, baking a cake, upgrading a game on their tablet, renting a new movie or ordering a new treat from an online shop. Use whatever rewards they will react to from stars to points out of ten – be creative or work with what you already have!

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3. Keep fit 

Everyone’s favourite online personal trainer, Joe Wicks has created daily #PEWithJoe sessions on his YouTube channel live at 9am all ready to get your day started with some exercise. The videos also save to his channel so you can complete them later on in the day or go back and re-do some of your favourite workouts.  

4. Maths time

To help with mathematics, as well as the worksheets and resources from schools there are a lot of really great apps, websites and non-screen based activities that you could try. 
  • Times Table Rock Stars are offering full time free access to their service for 60 days and are both an online and printable resource to help kids with their times tables and mental arithmetic. They provide daily practice and each week concentrates on a different times table plus a rehearsal period every third week 
  • NRICH Maths and Wild Maths are two more great online maths resources for kids to work through during their screen-time 
  • Encourage Sudoku puzzles for numbers learning with a difference
  • Play Monopoly as a family and try to teach children about money with earning and spending as main topics
  • Check out our 9 money lessons to teach your kids now article for more ideas on how to impart wisdom when it comes to pennies and pounds. 

Money Academy

We believe that everyone should have the skills to manage their money and that you are never too young (or old) to start learning. We launched Money Academy in 2016 to teach young people all about earning, saving and spending money which was conducted within schools by our branch staff. In 2020 we launched our online Money Academy and virtual classroom which is packed full of lessons for ages 4 all the way up to 14 about managing money, scam awareness, saving money and those all important needs and wants.

5. Reading and writing 

As well as reading textbooks that school have provided and your child’s favourite stories we have a list of great reading resources and ideas for you to try. 
  • One of our community partners that we worked a lot with in 2019, the National Literacy Trust, have created a family zone web portal on their website to support parents with content such as simple activities, writing resources, audiobooks, videos, competitions and reading challenges split up into age groups from 0 to 4, 5 to 8 and 9 to 16 years old
  • Why not print out blank comic book strips and encourage children to create their own story series over the course of the weeks that they’re at home?
  • The Global Digital Library is another free website with stories from around the world for children to access and read at home. The website also contains games linked to some of the stories
  • To incorporate an element of history into your reading, literacy and storytelling time try creating a family tree. Plan it out together and then draw their favourite tree with the branches as family members.

6. Creative makes

Arts and crafts can be a great way to pass the time for children of all ages as well as adults. 
  • Colouring can be really therapeutic and enjoyable for all ages (even adults!) and you can find a colouring book based on any interest at all online. From wizards to pretty patterns and everything in between, grab your pens or pencils and have half an hour of colouring. 
  • Create a name monster with a piece of paper. Fold a piece of paper in half and ask your child to write their name in large letters against one edge and then cut around it. When it’s unfolded they’ll now have a monstrous shape to colour in and write a story about!
  • Get crafty with DIY salt dough and paint it once it’s set. You could even create some awards or trophies together so that children are even more engaged with their reward charts. 
  • Check out our DIY Robin Hood Hat tutorial on YouTube for a Nottingham themed creative activity. 

7. Animal magic 

If your kids absolutely love animals then Emily from our Customer Insights team has an amazing tip for you. “See how many animals you can spot at San Diego Zoo with their live cameras in certain habitats.” Plus there’s loads more activities about animals and their habitats on the San Diego Zoo website

8. Play time

Home schooling doesn’t mean that home turns totally into school, there’s still plenty of time for play and we love these ideas. 

  • Building a den or a cushion fort is always so much fun all you need are sheets and soft furnishings and some pegs to hold things together
  • Board games and card games are always winners
  • Use smart speakers to play games such as music quizzes and general knowledge games, check out the app stores for the full list of games on your device. 
9. Edible activities
Creating something you can eat has to be one of the most fun activities for kids and it’s also teaching them valuable life skills such as measuring, cooking, using appliances and baking. 
  • Bake and decorate cookies
  • Try creating no-bake healthy protein balls 
  • Whip up smoothies for breakfast
  • Ask kids to plan the meals for the day with what’s in the cupboards, fridge and freezer. As a bonus activity for older kids, give them the prices of the ingredients and ask them to work out the price per portion for added maths skills! 
10. Communicate 
Communication and talking to people as we all would usually is going to be one of the most difficult parts of our social distancing but there are still lots of different things that kids can get involved with. 
  • Create a video message to send to grandparents or other family members. For older children, you could introduce some IT and media skills and find tutorials online for them to edit the videos and create mini films like vlogs for their friends to watch
  • Make cards and letters to send to local care homes for the residents who are self-isolating or even just write notes to elderly neighbours and pop them through their doors
  • Create pockets of time in schedules for children to chat to their friends over gaming devices or set up play dates for younger ones over video calls with their parents. 
11. Outdoor fun
Getting fresh air in the outdoors can be fun and part of social distancing and self-isolating too! 

  • Kayleigh from our Partnerships team recommends ‘water painting’ during sunny spring days! “All you need are clean paint brushes and water. The kids can paint pictures on the patio or the house bricks for hours of fun. My boys love this!”
  • Get green-fingered and try mowing the lawn, doing some weeding, planting some new flowers or even growing vegetables such as carrots if you have the space.
  • For your daily exercise, try going for a bike ride from your home to a rural area and remember to stay over more than 2 metres from other people.
  • If you’re friendly with your neighbours, why not play charades or have a dance off over the fence? Keep score over the weeks to create your own mini tournament. This definitely counts as getting active too! 

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Do you need even more ideas and activities? Check out Pobble’s list of simple and fun non-screen activities including starting a nature diary and creating your own secret code. If you’d like us to keep updating this page with more and more helpful ideas, send us your tips, activities and fun games on social media. We’re on both Twitter and Facebook!

Kids Activities

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