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How to entertain your kids when the schools are closed

As schools across the country have now closed their doors, many parents are looking for ways to entertain their kids at home for several weeks. With many families also facing reduced or no hours at work, planning the time can seem somewhat daunting.

One thing that can really help is creating structure that might have a similar feel to the one they are used to and can help make the days run more smoothly. A simple flow with tasks that can be completed, rather than a strict timetable can take the stress out of this new and evolving situation for you and your little (or not so little) ones. We’ve put together this list of free ideas to help keep everyone occupied!

 

Home studying

Most schools are providing packs to keep up with the learning, but you may want to add to this, or help them understand a topic a little more. Here’s our top tips of free education resources:

  • BBC Bitesize - BBC Bitesize has a wealth of lessons, quizzes and interactive learning activities to help your child through every school subject they have. Closely linked to the current curriculum, Bitesize activities could be really useful for those who miss school due to closures or advised isolation.
  • Fun Brain - This website has everything for children aged 1 to 13, including educational games, entire books to read and interactive videos. If you’re struggling to get your children to use educational sites, this one may just be fun enough that they don’t suspect a thing!
  • Shaun the Sheep Game Academy- This well-designed game by Aardman Animations teaches children how to code games using Scratch software. It’s completely free and aims to give children a strong foundation in coding, which is quickly becoming a fundamental skillset.
  • org-Supported by some of the largest names in the tech industry this website provides resources for parents to help teach computer science, with a variety of projects for kids of all school ages.
  • BBC Teach- Aimed at parents and teachers this website has thousands of free curriculum-mapped videos, arranged by age-group and subject, to help you build out any topics your children are studying.
  • Science Museum - This site has loads of fun activities and games and videos on various curriculum topics that can be used at home.
  • The Dad Lab - This site is packed with fun things to try, complete with videos so you can be sure it works before you try it with your kids! From science to craft and play there’s something for everyone.

 

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It’s not all about schoolwork though, so here are some ideas for more general fun and to help you provide your kids with some fun activities, some for the whole family and some that might provide a distraction while you carry on with everyday tasks.

  • Baking – if you have supplies baking can be a great way to entertain a family, here are some child friendly recipes.
  • Treasure hunts – although they require some prep an at home treasure hunt can provide hours of fun.
  • Create an obstacle course – with a small amount of work you can create a great way to help your little ones burn some energy. Remember safety first!
  • Sort through old photos and create scrap books or memory books.
  • Create your family tree – tell them what you know and skype your relatives to find out more.
  • Make puppets and put on a show – you can create different fun scenarios and invite an online audience of extended family and friends.
  • Performing plays – you can create your own script or download one, as well as dressing up, this can provide hours of fun and you can even skype extended family to watch.
  • Family book club - all read the same book and talk about your favourite characters.
  • Building indoor forts – once its built, you can even have a camp out in your new fort!
  • Playing games online with extended family – switch allows a family membership so you can keep in touch and still paly with your cousins or aunts and uncles.
  • Exercise activities – kids have a lot of energy, here are some tips to help use some of that in your home!
  • Origami – from cute animals to more complicated folds this can provide hours of fun.
  • Make your own games – lets use some of that creativity and make your own games that become your new family traditions.
  • Gardening – if you’re lucky enough to have a garden you can let get your little ones to help as spring is approaching.
  • Build an insect hotel – this is a great time to bond with nature and really help our six-legged fauna.
  • Build a rocket – this guide is from NASA no less! Make sure to launch in an outside space!
  • Hold a singing competition – who doesn’t love to sing! Again, a great one for skype and family and friends!
  • Create a fashion show – create a catwalk and rummage in your wardrobes to create amazing looks.
  • Make paper boats and see if they float – the floating part is harder than it sounds. Get everyone to create their own boat and launch them in the sink the winner is the boat that floats the longest
  • Rock painting – find rocks from the garden and paint them! Anyone else remembering pet rocks?!
  • Bird watching – with less people on the streets, wildlife is easier to see. Download the activity pack and see what birds you can see from your home.
  • Stargazing – This one is always fun! Turn the lights off and see the stars and the wider universe.
  • Hunt 4 leaf clovers in your garden – this can keep little ones busy for a while!
  • Learn to juggle – this one needs some space and some soft items to learn with.
  • Learn to line dance – another great way to use up some energy and a fun activity for the whole family – a great excuse to get some Dolly on too!
  • Make a comic book – utilise your kids’ creativity through a comic book, this can be added on daily so is a great longer-term project.
  • Write a new song – why not change the lyrics to your favourite song, it’s a great way to get everyone working together.
  • Paper airplane flying competition – there are so many different ways to make a plane, get your family to work out the best. You can challenge friends and family as well.
  • Create a house of cards – this requires patients and a steady hand, but the sense of achievement is great.
  • Host a talent show – again your extended family will love it and they can join in too.
  • Blind food taste testing – let your kids choose something for you to try and then swap over.
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While we might have limited access to the outside, the world can still be explored virtually! A number of museums and art galleries offer free virtual tours, listed via Google Arts & Culture. While zoos and aquariums are offering web cam access. Here is a selection of our favourites:

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We hope that you have found some useful and entertaining websites to add to your list of things to do over the days and weeks to come. While there’s no knowing at this point how long the outbreak is likely to last, it’s important that we’re all prepared to deal with the challenges it may bring.

Here at H&T, we’re doing everything we possibly can to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. While our stores are currently closed we are still supporting our customers, via our dedicated Coronavirus page, which has a live chat option.