As coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread around the world, families are being urged to stay home to slow down the rate of infection. It’s likely that many of us will be exposed to coronavirus. What health authorities are trying to do though is flatten the curve through isolating ourselves and social distancing when we do leave our homes so that there isn’t a massive spike in cases which can threaten the health services.
Here are 40+ ideas for family activities to enjoy in a lockdown. Just because you’re at home socially distancing your family doesn’t mean you still can’t have fun. We’ve included games and activities you can enjoy both indoors and outdoors as well as around your local neighbourhood.
If you’re concerned about coronavirus, go to reputable websites and read accurate information about coronavirus. There are many coronavirus myths out there. Find out the truth. Here’s information about the COVID-19 from the Australian Government Department of Health, World Health Organisation, US Centre for Disease Control and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The Australian Government has set up a Coronavirus Health Information Line (1800 020 080). Call this line if you are seeking information on novel coronavirus. The line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Do more reading at home. Stock up on physical kids books or sign up at your local library and download kids ebooks that can be read on computers, tablets and phones. You can also purchase ebooks through Amazon. Hint, get kids hooked on a book series. If they read one, they’ll be more likely to want to read more. Here’s a list of our favourite kids book series.
Play a board game
Spend a couple of hours playing board games. If your kids are preschoolers or in their teens, there’s sure to be a board game to suit them. There’s family classics like Monopoly, Scrabble and Settlers of Catan as well as more hands-on games like Operation, Jenga and Twister. Here’s our pick for best family board games. You can also download for free the Cards Against Humanity Family Edition.
Play video games
Indulge in some video games. If you have video systems at home like Xbox, Playstation or Nintendo Switch, you’re set. If your kids want to expand their video game collections, you can download a wide range of games on the AppStore and Google Play for iPhones, iPads and Android devices.
Play backyard games
Looking for fun social distancing games and activities that you and your family can play with friends and neighbours? Consider games that don’t require you to get too close to other people like badminton, water balloon or water gun fights, spike ball, lawn bowling, croquet, corn hole, bocce. Just have rules in place that people can only touch their own balls, mallet or toss bag to reduce germ transmission.
Solve a jigsaw puzzle
Keep some jigsaw puzzles around. They’re great to play with for a bit and then come back to when you feel like it. Choose simple puzzles (under 50 pieces) for young kids under 5. Older kids can handle jigsaw puzzles with more pieces like the 120, 250 and 500 piece sets.
Keep a lockdown diary
Christchurch artist Stephen McCarthy has created a fantastic free printable for kids to complete. My Lockdown Diary provides kids with a 28-page document to record their thoughts in the COVID-19 lockdown. There are some prompts and activities but loads of space for kids to write and draw how they’re doing and how they’re feeling.
Don’t forget about the humble pack of playing cards. There’s so much you can do with them. From playing card games like snap, rummy to building elaborate structures.
Do science experiments
Have some fun and learn! There are so many science experiments you can do at home using things that you have lying around like rulers, pencils, strings and more. Check out Cool Science Experiments Headquarters website for some great video tutorials.
Doing craft is a great activity for kids of all ages. We have a standard craft kit full of coloured paper, textas, crayons, stickers, feathers, pom poms and glue that can be pulled out for some fun. If you don’t have lots of craft supplies, just hunt around your house. Paper towel rolls, old newspapers and magazines, aluminium foil, pens, pencils can all be used to create artistic works.
Jump on to GoNoodle
A favourite with kids, Go Noodle has loads of movement and mindfulness videos created by child development experts. Your kids have probably played it at school as they partner with teachers to fuel classrooms with videos. Check out the GoNoodle app for iOS. Sorry, no Android version yet.
Go on a virtual tour
Visit Australian landmarks, zoos, aquariums, galleries, museums & world heritage sites from your home. Travel plans might be on hold at the moment due to COVID-19 but you can still explore Australia without leaving your home. We’ve found 30 virtual online tours you can do across Australia. Some involve Google Steet View tours while others let you view online exhibits. (And when we finally do overcome this pandemic, make plans to travel through Australia to visit some of these places in person to give a boost to our tourism sector and economy).
Make & play with playdough and slime.
Let the kids get messy and create with playdough and slime. This tactile activity gets kids creating and designing. Just put down old newspaper if you’re concerned about the mess. It’s super easy to make homemade playdough and slime.
Build with LEGO
Spend some hours playing LEGO. If you need some inspiration or projects, google “LEGO challenges”. You’ll find tons of projects that your kids can work on. If you want specific STEM projects, check out the Educating Young Engineers website. It contains lots of fun engineering and design projects.
Make a movie
Get your kids making a movie. It’s super easy with the iMovie app on iPads and iPhone. Kids can spend time filming themselves doing things and then edit a final video for the whole family to watch.
Have a family movie night
Now more than ever, it’s the time for a feel-good family movie. Laugh, cry and get distracted from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Newy with Kids team has brainstormed together (virtually of course) and have come up with an extensive list of family movies that you can watch with your crew while in lockdown. We’ve got something for everyone: classics, animals, sports, sci-fi, fantasy and comedies, even some cringeworthy gems from the 80s and 90s.
Read the book & watch the movie
Read the book and then watch the movie or watch the film and then read the book. Whatever suits your family best. Reading books that have been made into movies is a great way to get kids engaged in books. Here is a selection of children’s books which have been adapted for the screen. Sometimes the book is better than the movie but there have been some great movies resulting out of these books.
Cardboard box fun
Got some empty boxes. Give them to your kids to have fun. They can colour them, jump in them, use them to build cubby houses and more. The bigger the better. Fridge boxes are especially fun.
Colour it in
Stock up on colouring books, crayons and pencils for the whole family and enjoy a family colouring session. There’s fantastic mindfulness colouring books just for parents as well.
Write a letter (or email)
Get your kids writing. Either let them go old-school and write a physical letter which can be mailed or dropped off to a friend or relative or get them writing an email. Extra points if you’re writing to a friend or family member in another country!
Sign up to streaming services
With all of us being urged to stay at home and socially distance themselves, we’re all looking for things to do. This includes streaming movies and videos at home. Unlike the old days that you could quickly run out of DVDs to watch, streaming services provide your family hours and hours of entertainment. It seems the number of streaming services has exploded in the last few months, particularly after Disney and Apple announced their streaming platforms late last year. From Netflix and Foxtel Now to Stan and Amazon Prime, we researched the best streaming platforms available in Australia, what they offer and how much they cost. We’ve also included free options that offer some shows for family viewing.
Enjoy a movie marathon
With all this time at home, invest the hours into a movie marathon. You can watch the Toy Story movies, Shrek series, Harry Potter movies, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Star Wars movie franchise or enjoy a Disney Princess marathon. Just make lots of popcorn to enjoy with the movie!
Keep in touch with friends
If your kids are missing hanging out with their friends, let them hang out virtually. Set up Facetime or Skype sessions so kids can communicate with their friends. Skype and Google Hangouts lets them have group video chats if you want to add more than two to the conversation.
Write with your kids. Here are some writing prompts from ThinkWritten to get kids and yourself thinking and then writing. There are some really interesting prompts. Use them as short story or poetry writing prompts or just to tap into your kids creativity.
See what they are doing in space
Check out the NASA website and see the earth from far away. You can also watch STEMonstrations. These are STEM demonstrations on the space station.
Cook with your kids
If you’re home with the kids, have some fun cooking. Bake cookies, cupcakes or get them involved in making dinner. They learn something and you get some help in the kitchen.
Have a dance party
Get the kids to create their own Spotify playlists and then get dancing. Choose different genres for a dance party like boy bands, K-pop or disco. Extra points if the whole family gets dancing.
Take a virtual tour of a museum
You might be opting to skip the museum but you can still do online tours of museums around the world like the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Guggenheim Museum in New York, British Museum and Musee d’Orsay in Paris. You can also visit Australian landmarks, zoos, aquariums, galleries, museums & world heritage sites from your home. Travel plans might be on hold at the moment due to COVID-19 but you can still explore Australia without leaving your home. We’ve found 30 virtual online tours you can do across Australia. Some involve Google Steet View tours while others let you view online exhibits.
Enjoy a virtual event
Check out the line up of virtual family events in Australia this week. As live events have been cancelled, virtual events have been popping up online for you to enjoy with your kids. There are some great offerings by Australian Reptile Park, University of Wollongong Early Start Discovery Space, Museum of Australian Democracy and Little People Nutrition.
Do a family yoga session together
Practice some yoga poses together and stretch and relax…. There are some great YouTube videos on kids yoga that you can enjoy together. Story Hive Yoga for Kids has sessions that are 25 minutes long – perfect for kids who can’t sit still for long. Cosmic Kids Yoga have yoga, mindfulness and relaxation videos designed especially for kids aged 3 that involves a story.
Record your family history
Spend some time compiling and recording family history to provide family memories to kids and their future descendants. Here is a guide which we put together to record your family’s history.
Be part of a teddy bear hunt
Put a teddy bear in your window or on your verandah. It’s part of a new neighbourhood scavenger hunt in the age of coronavirus. As a tribute to the much-loved children’s book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, people worldwide are placing teddy bears in their front windows for kids to spot. It’s a wonderful way for neighbours to do something fun for neighbourhood kids.
Put on a fashion show
Get kids to channel their inner fashion diva. Let them raid your wardrobe and old jewellery and come up with different outfits.
Listen to family podcasts
Want to keep little minds interested? Get them listening to podcasts especially during this enforced time at home. We love podcasts as kids can listen to the subject matter while relaxing, drawing or just playing with LEGO. Here are our picks for the best podcasts for kids. We’ve chosen a selection from around the world including some great podcasts created here in Australia that parents will love too! Either listen to the podcasts together or give kids some headphones.
Chalk some pictures (#ChalkYourWalk)
Grab the kids and some chalk and get outside and decorate your sidewalk or driveway. #ChalkYourWalk is the latest feel-good campaign sweeping the globe amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s a fun and easy way to spread positivity.
Have a Teddy Bears Picnic
Get out all the stuffed animals and organise a teddy bears picnic for little ones. You can even use serve “tea” and cookies.
Make a family time capsule
One of these projects is creating a family time capsule to preserve your precious family memories. Here is a guide which we put together to make a time capsule you’ll love opening in the future.
It’s so much fun blowing bubbles. Either use bubble wands or make your own or use this CSIRO bubble mix recipe. Experiment with different bubble wands. You can make some cool shape bubbles using paperclips, wire and string.
Grab some paper and teach kids the Japanese art of paper folding. There’s plenty of tutorials online to learn how to fold cranes, boxes and other cool things.
Do some birdwatching
Get outside and watch some birds. There are always plenty around. Look them on the internet. Birdlife Australia has a great catalogue of birds. If you want to identify some bird calls, watch the YouTube video Aussie birds and their calls.
Learn a new language
Have your kids ever wanted to learn a new language. Sign up for free for Duolingo an learn one of 30+ languages including French, Spanish, Italian using their mobile app or webpage. Duolingo offers short bite-size lessons that make it fun for kids to learn.
If the weather outside isn’t that great, play indoor games. Kids can play hide and seek, go on treasure hunts, play charades or dress ups or make an indoor cubby house.
Play outside in the yard
If the kids are going a bit crazy inside the house, let them loose outside. As long as they’re not interacting with other people, it gives them an opportunity to do something different. Have some fun with yard games like quoits, corn hold, tether ball, frisbee toss or just kick a ball around.
Do some gardening
Get the kids outside to pull out weeds, prune back bushes or plant some seeds.
While it’s still warm, get them out and have a waterfight in the backyard using waterguns or water balloons.
Wash the car together
Your car probably needs a clean inside and out. Get your family involved and get them to help you. Your kids probably made lots of the mess! Vacuum the inside and then have fun washing the car. Just keep in mind about any water restrictions.
Go for a walk
If you can go for a walk in a secluded area like bushland, get out of the house. Just ensure that if you do meet people along the way, practice social distancing and stay at least 1 metre (3 feet) away from them. Abide by current government social distancing rules.
Go camping at home
You might not be want to leave your home but that doesn’t mean that you can’t camp. Set up a tent inside and let them fall asleep in sleeping bags or if the weather is fine, set up a tent in the backyard. Kids will enjoy the experience of camping.
Enjoy your time at home with a variety of fun activities for your family.
You might also like:
Started in late 2012 by a local mum, Newy with Kids has grown into a thriving go-to family guide for the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie & Hunter region. Parents visit the Newy with Kids website to find things to do with babies, kids and teens. Whether it’s local attractions, upcoming events, kids eat free, school holiday activities or birthday party ideas, Newy with Kids is the best website for local parents to find local kid-friendly activities and information 24/7.