Are you affected by the lockdown in the Greater Sydney region and looking for things to amuse your kids and keep them from going stir-crazy? Here are 75 ideas for family activities to enjoy in a lockdown. Just because you’re at home in lockdown with 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. We’ve also included some screen-free activities if you want to limit screen time but if you’re a fan of technology like we are, we’ve got fun things to do on screens.
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.
Paint with yoghurt
This is a great activity for those with young kids. You can use some food colouring to colour different bowls of yoghurt and then let kids paint on paper. If it ends up in their mouth, it’s not an issue.
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.
Print with potatoes
Do you remember stamping with a potato when you were a kid? Cut a potato in half and carve out a shape. Then use paint and let your kids stamp away on scrap paper.
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.
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 created a fantastic free printable for kids to complete during last year’s lockdown. 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.
Celebrate Christmas in July
String up the Christmas lights, decorate the Christmas tree and start watching Christmas movies. Nothing lifts the spirits like Christmas in July.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
ARTS & CRAFTS
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. You can also order a craft kit delivered straight to your home by redeeming your NSW Creative Kids Voucher? Use your $100 rebate & order an art pack or craft kit that your children can use at home. Here’s a big list of NSW Creative Kids providers.
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.
Make a scrapbook
Find an old exercise book and let kids collect and glue in treasured letters, photos and other precious things.
Make recycled necklaces
This threading activity is great for hand/eye coordination and developing patience and perseverance in young children. You can use anything you like to make the ‘beads’ of your recycled jewellery. Cut up paper straws, old beads, cardboard from old cereal or biscuit packets, coloured pasta (this can be made together another time – using food colouring and vinegar to dye the pasta), leaves, flowers, any other bits and pieces that can be made into a ‘bead’ by adding a hole.
Make popcorn strings
This is a great activity that is easy to make and that you can also eat. Pop a whole batch of popcorn then let kids string them together using needles and thread. If they get hungry, let them at the popcorn.
Make sock puppets
Everyone has old socks lying around. Draw on the socks, stick stuff to them and make them into puppets.
Decorate a t-shirt
If kids want to get creative, let them decorate a t-shirt. They can mark up a t-shirt with markers or cut them up to create a fringe. You can also sew patches on to a t-shirt and spell out a word with letters.
Find a white t-shirt and a tie-dye kit and get colourful. Need a kit? Use your Creative Kids Voucher to order a tie-dye kit. Here’s a list of suppliers in NSW who will send a Creative Kit straight to your door.
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.
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.
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.
Learn to limbo
Find out how flexible your kids really are. Get two people to hold a pole or a wooden broom or place it above top of chairs and limbo underneath by leaning backwards. Add some music to make it even more fun. Lower the height of the pole to make it harder.
If you have some chalk, draw a hopscotch on your balcony or driveway and let kids play away. If it’s a rainy day, use masking tape to draw out a hopscotch on carpet or floors.
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.
Go on a virtual tour across Australia
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sign up to streaming services
With a stay at home order, 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.
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 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.
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!
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. There’s also a variety of games on Apple Arcade. They can play by themselves or invite friends and do multiplayer.
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.
Have a sack race
Grab some pillow cases and let kids enjoy a sack race. Race outdoors or down a hallway. See if kids can beat their best times.
Bob for apples
If you have apples lying around, throw them in a tub of water and let kids bob for apples. It’s a fun way to catch your food. Note: Supervise young kids around water at all times.
Play musical chairs with your kids
Set up the chairs. There needs to be one less chair than there are people playing. Then turn the music on and let participants run around. When the music stops, everyone has to grab a chair. The person without a chair is out. Keep playing until there are only two people playing and one chair. The person in the chair wins.
Paper airplane challenge
Grab some spare paper and start making airplanes to see which plane goes the furthest or stays the longest in the air. Double Helix by CSIRO has some great designs for paper planes.
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.
Make a volcano
If you have baking soda and vinegar, make a volcano. Super easy and lots of fun. Pour the baking soda in first to a bowl and then add the vinegar to make it fizz. Add food colouring for extra fun.
Make a cubby house
Get blankets, sheets, pillows and chairs and let kids construct a cubby house inside.
Play hide and seek
See how well your kids can hide. Play hide and seek and see how long it takes to find them.
Write notes with a variety of different things like animals, movies, activities and drop in a jar. Then let kids pick out a note and act out the charade.
Do a treasure hunt
A treasure hunt is a favourite in our house. Leave a note for your kids with direction to a different spot in your house. There they might find a mini-treasure and then a note for the next spot and so on. Have a big prize at the last spot on the treasure hunt.
Chalk some pictures (#ChalkYourWalk)
Grab the kids and some chalk and get outside and decorate your sidewalk or driveway. #ChalkYourWalk was a feel-good campaign that swept the globe amidst the COVID-19 outbreak last year. It’s time to revive it for this lockdown. It’s a fun and easy way to spread positivity.
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 a backyard scavenger hunt
You don’t need to venture far from your house to find a fun activity for your kids to do while in lockdown. Get outdoors and explore your backyard with a backyard scavenger hunt. We’ve put together a list of things for you and your kids to find using a free printable.
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.
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.
Do some gardening
Get the kids outside to pull out weeds, prune back bushes or plant some seeds.
Do a Nature Treasure Hunt
Kids love a good treasure hunt and there’s nothing easier than creating your own nature hunt to encourage your little ones to look a little closer and appreciate the beauty that can be found in their own backyard. Here are instructions on how to make your own nature treasure hunt.
Create a bug hotel
Encourage your brood to be wildlife warriors by building a bug hotel from things you’ve found in the garden and in the recycling bin! Your bug hotel will act as the perfect habitat to attract a variety of mini-beasts to your garden which is wonderful for environmental diversity and also a great outside activity that will continue to spark your child’s interest as they regularly check on their big hotel for new guests! Here are instructions on how to make your own bug hotel.
If you have flowers growing in your backyard, pick them and press them on paper between heavy books. It’s a lovely hobby from yesteryear.
Plant a veggie garden
Order some seeds and gardening supplies online and plant a veggie garden. It’s a lovely way to show kids where food comes from.
Do a neighbourhood scavenger hunt
During this lockdown, take a short walk around your neighbourhood (adhering to COVID-19 rules). It provides fresh air, some exercise and a change of scenery. To keep kids occupied on this walk, we’ve come up with a neighbourhood scavenger hunt. It has lots of things that you and your family can look for on your neighbourhood walks.
If it’s a warm winter’s day, get kids 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.
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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.