Hands up if you’re a parent looking for ways to entertain your children at home right now?
Fortunately there are lots of groups that have been quickly set up on Facebook sharing ideas and lots of people offering activities through online channels such as YouTube – we’ve been one of the thousands of families who’ve been joining in Joe Wicks’s The Body Coach 9am workouts for example.
Whilst learning for learning’s sake is never a bad thing and there are lots of sites that have been incredibly helpful in opening up their resources to all for free for at least a limited time, if your children would like to do something that might give them a much needed sense of community, a specific purpose or tangible achievement then here are a few ideas…
Rainbows and teddy bears
One of my favourite schemes has been people decorating their windows to cheer up their neighbours or families on their one period of exercise a day to spot. In our area its mainly rainbows with a few teddy bears added too (so children can go on a bear hunt) but there are also a variety of lists circulating that see the theme change every few days (animals, funny faces and so on) ensuring regular new craft projects for your little ones. We used crayons, stickers, paint, balloons and stones for ours and then had a walk around our area to sample the creativity of other households and there are some fabulous creations people have shared via social media too if you want to be particularly inspired.
“Our local community are putting Teddy bears in the window for a ‘we’re going on a bear hunt’ trail for those who are walking dogs, still heading out to work etc” says blogger Sarah Anguish who writes at www.boorooandtiggertoo.com.
Operation Gratitude – Write to a Veteran
The International Bomber Command Centre has launched Operation Gratitude, a fight against loneliness. “Can you write a letter or make a card for a veteran to let them know they are not alone in these challenging times?” Click here for suggestions of what you could write or draw as well as address details of where to post or email your letters to – don’t forget to include your first name and age in the card.
When it comes to uncovering the nation’s creativity you surely can’t beat joining in with Taskmaster’s #Hometasking challenges? Alex Horne is setting about three challenges a week and then it’s over to Greg Davies (via a horde of helpful viewing minions I’m sure) to choose his favourite attempts to complete it. So far the challenges have been to throw an A4 piece of paper into a bin, to host a “night out” in your bathroom and to make a dancing elephant. All tasks are obviously meant to be completed in your own home or garden with materials you already have – take a look at #hometasking on Twitter for more information and prepare for all the weird and wonderful a nation left twiddling their thumbs can provide.
Lincoln Castle and Lindum Books Short Story Competition
Lincoln Castle, in partnership with Lindum Books, are inviting people to unlock their imaginations and get creative in their short story writing competition. Lucy the dragon has been a visitor to Lincoln Castle every 100 years and has witnessed and experienced so much over the last thousand years – can you help them to tell some of her stories?
There are three age categories – age 5-12, age 13-18 and age 18+ – and each winner will receive a £20 gift voucher to spend at Lindum Bookshop in Lincoln. “Your story can be as magical, as fantastical and as imaginative as you like… there are no limits… just start your story with the title ‘Meet Lucy!’ and let your imagination do the rest!” No longer than 500 words and to be submitted on the official form, the competition is free to enter, restricted to one entry per person and must be received by 5pm on Friday, July 31st.
Newark Book Festival Competition
With three age categories – under 10s, 11 to 15 and 16+ – this is something all the family can take part in too.
For 2020’s competition, Newark Book Festival is taking its inspiration from the little manuscript made and written by Charlotte Bronte when she was only 14 years old that sold at auction in Paris for £666,970 in November 2019. Dated August 19th, 1830, it is no bigger than a matchbox and is packed with stories, pictures and advertisements.
Using materials they have in their own home, the festival wants its entrants to make their own little book too. Imaginations are encouraged to “run wild” but it must be handwritten/sewed, measure no more than the size of a playing card (3.5inch x 2.5inch) and have a maximum of 10 pages including the front and back cover.
The deadline has currently been extended until mid June, entries are to be kept at home for now and the festival will announce when drop off points/postal entries are open. Find out more here.
National Children’s Gardening Week Competion
If your children are particularly green fingered then they might want to join in with the National Children’s Gardening Week Competition if you have some grass seed to hand. The promotional week normally runs at the end of May but it’s website has a page of ideas for Things to do that you might want to have a look at now. One of those ideas is to grow your own grass caterpillar and these windowsill friends are the basis for the competition that opened on March 26th and ends on April 30th, 2020.
If your little Beaver is missing his or her regular achievement badge fix then they (and their fellow scouting/guiding group members) can still work towards them at home and our group leader has even sent us a couple of suggestions and ways to record their efforts already. However there are also online alternatives such as Pawprint Badges that are open to all. I’ve come across these before and always meant to look into them and, guess what, now I have the time. There are lots of different badges and challenges, I think we might start by looking at the St George’s Day badge ahead of the patron saint’s day next month.
Blue Peter Badge
Beth Law, who writes at www.twinderelmo.co.uk, suggests trying for a badge that might provide adults with a bit of nostalgia too. “They can try to earn a Blue Peter Badge by doing different tasks such as drawing or crafting. Us parents can take a walk down memory lane as a Blue Peter Badge was the ultimate prize when we were kids. A great way to get your kids motivated as they will hopefully receive the coveted badge for their efforts.”
Another scheme I’ve been meaning to look into for a while is the Children’s University, a national charity that is administrated through lots of local hubs. Children’s University “believe in limitless learning beyond the classroom” and many of your children’s normal extracurricular activities could count towards their graduation but, of course, like most other providers in current times they have launched a special Covid-19 page with lots of suggestions for home and online activities. I’ve already been in touch with our local corodinator and, whilst for obvious reasons she can’t send us out our passports yet, she’s happy for the minis to start completing activities and us to record their completion codes and colours so we’ll “be well on the way to collecting 30 stamps to graduate” when everyone can return to their offices.
As well as giving lots of helpful suggestions, bloggers themselves are stepping into the breach and coming up with their own challenges too.
Blissful Domestication‘s Kerry Dawson says “I’m running an online craft challenge for kids. Mainly in a Facebook group but you can also sign up on my blog for emails and a checklist. Originally it was an open ended challenge but I’m running a mini version of it over the next 12 weeks as I complete it with my own kids.” Click on her blog post 50 Crafts to try before you’re 10! and find the original post with its Coronavirus update where you can sign up to her emails or join the Facebook group.
Louise Jemma, who writes at Thimble and Twig, is running an outdoor Doorstep Nature challenge in a Facebook group with a friend. Every day in April in their Wildling Explorers Facebook group they’ll be sharing how each of their nature-inspired ideas work. Click here to find out more.
Do you know of any other schemes or competitions little ones on their extended Coronavirus breaks could take part in? Let us know in the comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll add them to this list and you can be safe in the knowledge that lots of parents will be saying a big thank you to you for sharing!