Here we go again, another school break and another bank holiday in lockdown! Are you staring down the barrel of a week with the children, limited freedom, and no schoolwork to keep them busy? Pretty daunting thought really isn’t it?  For some of us, this might be the final stretch as kids return to school in June. For others, the journey continues whichever boat you are in we all benefit from a bit of idea sharing now and again, so below is a list of ideas and recommendations to keep you, and your little people, happy making memories together:

https://playhooray.co.uk/ – Inspiring ideas to keep our little ones busy. Claire is a play specialist who I have been following on Instagram for several years. She has simple, effective, easy to assemble play ideas for children aged 0-5+.

https://www.everythingmom.com/activities/scavenger-hunt-riddles-for-kids-and-teens – Get their creativity flowing.  Aimed at older children, but I have also prepared a list of simple scavenger hunts you can easily put together for younger children too.

  • Rainbow Scavenger Hunt (use the colours of the rainbow to get your children searching for objects around them).
  •  Five Senses Scavenger Hunt (help your little ones understand their five senses on this interactive hunt).
  • Nature Scavenger Hunt.

You can find these, and various scavenger hunts, via https://www.twinkl.co.uk/.  In March, this was a free resource to parents.  If it’s no longer free, creating your own is easy to do.

Instead of a tick-the-box scavenger hunt exercise, you could play a game of eye spy. If you have two or more children, a bit of friendly competition might be fun – e.g. “who will be the first to find me something blue?”

https://lipglossandcrayons.com/ – Lots of hints and tips on keeping you, and your kids, charged! Carly, another one I found on Instagram, who has hugely influenced my day-to-day over the past few months, is an ex-teacher (in the USA) and really thinks outside the box. In addition to the helpful learning tips, Carly has an excellent blog on her webpage too.  Her messages resonate loudly with me so, if you find yourself a spare five minutes, grab a coffee and have a read through – she is quite empowering.

https://rainydaymum.co.uk/ – Aimed at younger children (birth – 5 years), although her Instagram page has some great recommendations for older ones too! With a background in marine biology, and a lover of nature and wildlife, Cerys has some wonderfully creative activities which are guaranteed to bring a smile to yours and your children’s faces.

https://whiterosemaths.com/homelearning/ – A good one for subtle maths learning at home.  We do it during the week with our four and two-year-old – both boys look forward to it and get really involved. We adapt the tasks slightly for our 2-year-old, and they cater for the early years through to year 10!

Cooking & Baking

Many parents have passed on that their children are finding a huge comfort in baking.   This is a great way to encourage independence, whilst subtly teaching Maths, English and Science skills too. We love the Julia Donaldson cookbooks in our house (our eldest is two weeks off five).

  • Julia Donaldson Range includes: Gruffalo Crumble and Other Recipes, The Room on the Broom Cookbook, The What the Ladybird Heard Cookbook and The Stick Man Cookbook (released May 2020).
  • Children’s First Cookbook: Author, Annabel Karmel.
  • The Tickle Fingers Kids Cookbook (ages 4-7): Author, Annabel Woolmer.
  • Kid Chef Bakes (4+): Author, Lisa Huff.
  • Cool Kids Cook (for older children): Author Jenny Chandler.

To combine science and cooking – Awesome Kitchen Science Experiments for Kids:  Author, Dr Megan Olivia Hall.

Each of the above books, plus further great recipe books, should be available to order on Amazon.  Some have an e-book addition too.

https://www.littlecooksco.co.uk/ – An incredibly fun post-box gift, delivered to your child, full of ingredients to make a delicious recipe. The website is easy to follow and simple to use.  There is an online shop too, so you can really help your little one look the part and, for those who think this looks fantastic, there is a subscription option too!

Science at Home

I know it’s half term, and the last thing your kids want to do is learn, but I promise these things are fun! Don’t dress it up as science – say ‘who wants to build an eco-system with me?’ Maybe they will, maybe they won’t – maybe curiosity will get the better of them and they’ll say, ‘what’s that?’. Outside of ecosystems I have quicker and easier recommendations too:

https://sciencing.com/build-ecosystem-5507650.html

https://mommypoppins.com/kids/50-easy-science-experiments-for-kids-fun-educational-activities-using-household-stuff – We have done several of the ‘64 Easy Science Experiments for the Kids to Do at Home’ and each one has been thoroughly enjoyed.

http://www.sciencefun.org/kidszone/experiments/ – A good one for kids who like to take control.  With limited text, and use of imagery, the Kids Zone allows the kids to choose their own experiment with ease.

For those local to Cambridgeshire, you might be familiar with Abcam & The Royal Society of Chemistry.  Both have put together their own science-based learning, aimed at primary school aged children.

Royal Society of Chemistry – https://edu.rsc.org/resources/collections/science-ideas-webs

Abcam – https://tipbox.abcam.com/bring-science-home/

National Trust

You might have heard that some of our beautiful National Trust sites have opened their doors once more.  Around Cambridgeshire, we have limited options within a half hour drive (Wicken Fen and Houghton Mill).  However, if you do live further afield, or wish to explore either of these two, use the National Trust page to find out how to book, and review their latest updates –  https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/

If you love the National Trust but are unable, or simply don’t want to explore just yet, they have great options for you too – ’50 Things Activities to Try at Home’ – https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wentworth-castle-gardens/lists/50-things-activities-to-try-at-home

‘At Home Activities’ – updated weekly – https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/buckland-abbey/features/at-home-activities

Early Morning Adventure

We live about an hour from our nearest sea-side town and are considering breakfast by the sea.  We will bundle the kids up early (in their PJs), pack a picnic breakfast and take them on an adventure. Home in time for lunch!

You could replicate this idea in another one of your favourite family spots!

Movie Night

A lot of fun and relatively easy to put on, although this one does require a degree of thinking ahead. To create the perfect ‘Move Night In’ find little crates/boxes (whatever you have) and fill them with a bag of popcorn, a snack (could be something you baked with them earlier) and their favourite drink. For older children, you can even create a little sign which reads something similar to ‘Family Movie Night – Join Mum & Dad in The Lounge at 7pm’. If you have a projector, or a TV which easily faces outdoors, you could even take your movie night to the garden!

Camp Out

Do you usually camp this time of year? I know it won’t be the same, but have you thought about camping in the garden? You could set some rules, e.g. we’re only allowed in the house to use the bathroom, otherwise it’s outside living only! You could prepare games to play, use the BBQ for cooking, go on nature walks and bike rides.  You could even get a bowl and washing up liquid and do the washing up outside too! Another one which requires a bit of planning, but what a lot of fun!

Rainy Day

What we don’t need, during half term week in lockdown, is the rain.  But we live in England, so anything goes! In case of rain, I’ve put together a list of easy, at home, indoor activities that will (hopefully) keep your kids entertained, or create inspiration for your own ‘rainy day tasks’.

  • Build a fort/den with sofa cushions.
  • Make paper aeroplanes and race them.
  • Do a puzzle (or several puzzles) together.
  • Make sock puppets, using those old socks you just don’t know what to do with – https://www.handmadecharlotte.com/7-diy-sock-puppets/
  • Play a board game.
  • Get some card/paper and make your own board game (a great challenge for older children).
  • Have a disco: Pull the curtains, put on some music and dance.  For extra authenticity, add some lighting (we bought an inexpensive disco light from Amazon).

Write letters to friends or family and post them:  This has become a firm favourite in our house.

Random acts of kindness:  My brother-in-law did this very well with his little ones.  He set the scene and read them both ‘The Smartest Giant in Town’ by Julia Donaldson (a great book based on a kind giant who gives away all of his clothes to help his friends in need).  After reading, they then prepared little notes and gifts (sweets, chocolates, baked goods, drawings e.g. rainbows) and posted them around their estate.

Wherever this half term takes you, I hope it’s a good one and I hope you can take the time, amidst the chaos, to appreciate that this is all EXTRA:

Extra kisses, extra cuddles, extra bedtime stories, extra sibling bonding, extra family time and extra time to watch your children marvel at the world around them!  Embrace the extra – our children will look back and remember only the fun.