While our YMCA Childcare and Day Camps services are closed, we wanted to inspire you with some engaging activities to enjoy with your children during the holidays. Just because you’re staying at home, it doesn’t mean you can’t fill your days with the rich and life-shaping learning activities that we love so much at the YMCA!
There are lots of things that you can do to make your family time in self-isolation special, without having to spend a penny. Our Nottinghamshire YMCA team has compiled the below list of 40 fun-filled activities that you can be doing with your children during this time! We hope that they serve as a step toward engaging your children in deeper conversations and strengthening the bonds that you share.
- Indoor camping
Make a tent out of bed sheets, fill it with cushions, blankets and toys, and snuggle up together and tell stories “campfire” style.
- Take turns reading to each other
Find a new book to share with your children and take turns reading it together, encouraging your children to keep on top of their reading skills whilst encouraging a love for creativity and imagination.
3. Look through old photo albums together
Cherish the fun times you have had as a family, laugh over funny memories and remember things you may had forgotten while looking through photos together, in an album or on your computer. New, fun memories will be made later this year, but it’s also important to remember all the good times you’ve had!
4. Watch your child’s favourite TV show or film together
Learn about your child’s favourite thing to watch and why they enjoy it so much. You might even learn a lesson or two.
5. Exercise together
It’s important to keep active, and you can do this by following a dance video on YouTube, practicing some yoga together, or even jogging around the garden. If you have a Nintendo Wii or other console, you can also find fun exercise games online. Exercise doesn’t have to be boring!
6. Do a puzzle or play a board game together
Time to whip out those games that you only play at Christmas, get offline for a bit, and get down to some competitive board gaming. A game of Monopoly can last a good solid fortnight…
7. ‘Are you sure that’s a game, Mary Poppins?!’
Transform the chore of tidying your child’s room into a series of entertaining challenges the whole family can enjoy! The first one to fill an entire box full of soft toys wins a chocolate. The last person to fold their bedsheets has to wear it as a cape and sing a song (etc.). Taking responsibility for your own possessions is a fantastic life skill for children to develop and you can help to instil his in your children by showing them how best to tidy and organise their personal space. Show them how best to store certain things like clothes, toys, stationary etc. This will help them in the future when they start to gain more independence.
8. Rearrange their bedroom furniture
Help them to organise their room in a fun new way, changing up the furniture and giving the room an exciting new look and feel.
9. Pull out a box of toys they haven’t played with for a while
There’s always a bunch of toys are the bottom of the toy box that haven’t been played with for a while, how about getting them out and playing a new game with them? They might feel like brand new toys!
10. Build Legos together
Any building block toy, Lego, playmobile, bionic etc can be used to create imaginative structures that help to build a child’s creativity and imagination, as well as their motor skills and coordination.
11. Go to the park
Going outside to your local park is encouraged – you can get some fresh air, stretch your legs, and also leave your house for a bit. Take a stroll around your local park, walk your dog, and maybe play some frisbee. Take precautions not to come into contact with groups of people, stay in the open space with 2 metres between you and others.
12. Go for a bike ride
Just like walking in the park, riding you bike is safe as long as you don’t visit crowded areas. Take your bikes around the park and go for a quite ride. This is a great way to get some exercise and take part in an exciting sport while also getting some fresh air. Remember to wear your helmets!
13. Sit outside and look at the stars
Star gazing is a fun and educational activity, it can also feel like you’re on holiday! Pick a clear night, set up a blanket outside with some snacks and warm clothes, and see if you and your children can pick out constellations in the sky and name them.
14. Cook a meal together
Teaching your children how to cook is an important life skill, one they will appreciate for years to come. Teach your children how to cook some of their favourite meals, and teach them something they have never tried before, opening their taste buds to new combination of favours and styles of cooking.
15. Take a walk in the woods
Just like the park, local woodland is great to explore at the moment, as you can do so without coming into contact with large groups of people.
16. Plant seeds from something you’ve eaten
Take seeds from your fruit and vegetable and plant them in the garden, teaching your children how to sow seeds and care for a vegetable garden. Teaching young people sustainable environmental skills like this will hugely benefit them in the future and help them to reduce food waste.
17. Make your own treasure map and have an indoor treasure hunt
Hide some fun items or prizes around the house and make a treasure map for you children to follow! You can even make this Easter themed for an Easter egg hunt.
18. Listen to your favourite songs together
Teach each other about the music you love by listening to your favourite songs together. It will give you a chance to hear what the youth of today are listening to and give them a chance to hear the kind of music you loved when you were their age! It’s a cultural exchange for all ages.
19. Teach your pet tricks
Have you been putting off training your dog/car/bird/hamster for a while because you’ve just been too busy? Now is the time to have some fun and spend some quality time with your animals, too! You can teach them new tricks, set up obstacle courses for them to complete, and make little medals to reward them for doing a good job. (This may be slightly trickier if you are a goldfish owner!)
20. Make a family tree
Family history is super interesting, so why not take the time to start making a family tree, teaching your children all about your own family, and learning about your roots and where your relatives have come from. Why not gather leaves and branches from the garden to make your family tree even more authentic!
21. Scrapbook together
Scrapbooking is another fun way to preserve memories! This doesn’t just have to be photos – you can fill a box or a photo album full of items that remind your child of past fun times. You can even create a ‘future fun’ page and ask your child to draw what they want to be when they grow up (and, if you are really brave, ask them to draw how they picture YOU will look when you grow up!).
22. Help your child send an email to a grandparent, aunt, or uncle
If you are unable to see extended family at the moment, help your children to write emails to them, keeping in regular contact. This is a great way of connecting with friends and family without seeing them face to face or sending post.
23. Write encouraging letters to each other and then read them in a few months
This has been a strange experience for us all, and it’s bound to have some negative impact in our mental health. Try and encourage your children to write encouraging messages to their future selves, thinking about all of the positive things that they have to look forward to. In a few months’ time, read the letters again and think about how much you have to be thankful for.
24. Draw caricatures of each other
A silly game that’s just for a laugh, draw some caricatures of each other and stick them to the fridge…if they aren’t too mean that is!
25. Write a story together
Exercise you children’s writing and creative skills by writing a fictional story together. Pick a topic or theme and have their imaginations run wild by setting them a word/page limit every day until the story is complete. You can use writing schemes like NANORIMO for inspiration: https://www.nanowrimo.org
26. Have a picnic outside or on the living room floor
Spread out some blankets inside or in the garden and have a mini picnic! Make some sandwiches, some tea, some healthy snacks and sweet treats and make it a special occasion.
27. Make homemade play-doh
Play-doh is very easy to make and only requires a bit of flour, water, and baking soda. Create some of your own play-doh and have fun for hours on end creating
28. Teach one another some new dance moves
Learn a new dance together from YouTube or TikTok and perform it together in a mini ‘talent show’ in your front room.
29. Tell your child three things you really like about them
Talk together about qualities that you really admire in your children, encouraging them to build more on what makes them unique and special. Often, we don’t have the time to sit and talk to our children about how much we value them. Take this time to really reflect on just how awesome your children are.
30. Make swords out of rolled up newspaper and have a pretend sword fight
It’s important to keep children active and keep their imaginations flowing – pretend you’re a knight, a pirate, or another fantasy character and engage them with a sword fight. You can even bring role play into the mix, LARP style! https://mylarpworld.com/how-to-start-larping/
31. Build something out of recycling items
Recycling and upcycling are important in today’s world, as we try to stop population and reduce plastic waste. Teaching children that everyday items can be recycled into something new and exciting. Here are some upcycling projects that you can do at home LINK
32. Pick flowers and put them in a vase
Carefully select a few flowers from your garden to trim to make a small bouquet to arrange in a vase indoors. You can teach your children about flower arranging and which flowers bloom in the different seasons.
33. Make bookmarks
A chance to get crafting by creating some bookmarks! These can be made out of various materials, from carboard to felt to string. It might also encourage your children to read more while they are at home.
34. Watch the birds in the garden
You don’t have to go to a nature reserve to spot some pretty amazing wildlife – just head into your back garden! You might see more varieties of birds than you’ve ever seen before. If you have some birdseed, scatter some on the ground and you can expect sparrows, goldfinches, blackbirds, pigeons and even blue tits to make a visit.
35. Collect leaves and then try to identify them
Go into the garden or your local park or nature trail and pick up some specimens of leaves, seeds and other natural materials. Use books or the internet to try and identify everything you find; you can even put them in a nature scrap book!
36. Let your child teach you about something they know or do well
We are so often teaching children about things that we know much about, but what about the special interests of your child? Let them teach you about something that they are interested in, this can help build your bond with them and allow you to understand them better.
37. Create memory boxes for your child’s favourite memories
Memory boxes or time capsules can act as fun way to keep hold of fun and meaningful memories. The fun also come from decorating the box and deciding what kind of memories to out inside. They can have themes like holidays, parties, best friends etc. The box can hold artwork, photos, letters, small items and anything else that means something to your child.
38. Create a special place in your home for displaying your child’s artwork or crafts projects
All those craft projects that come home from school need a special place to live! Build a special place for these projects to go, encouraging your children to be creative and boosting their confidence and pride by showcasing their hard work.
39. Help your child fix a broken item or toy (DIY STEAM session)
STEAM is an interactive approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics to guide young people towards critical thinking, creativity, and exciting career prospects.
You can practise STEAM activities at home by teaching your child how to mend and build things. Teach them how to assemble some simple furniture, do some woodwork together, fix a broken object, anything that show they how to use the STEAM elements for something particle. Skills like this will be useful to them throughout their entire lives.
40. Play catch or football in the garden
Getting fresh air is important, even in isolation. Get outside into the garden as much as you can, play catch, football or another active sport to combine physical activity with your daily dose of vitamin D. Playing outside will make you feel less cooped up and give you some space to breathe.