Join the Fun from Home!

Lockdown may be ending soon, however, when the sun is shining and your kids are bouncing with energy, that can feel like a long time away! Read this article for some great tips on keeping your child occupied during the last stages of lockdown.

It can seem difficult to find equipment alternatives in the home environment – that’s where we’re happy to help!

We’ve been able to find 10 fantastic home alternatives for you while our kids activity centre is closed, using simple household items that anyone can use. The best thing is they’re safe – all you need is a little creativity! Whether it’s home-made ball pits, messy play or den building, we’ve got it covered for you. Some options may require a little online shopping, but gathering materials doesn’t need to be expensive. We know it will put a smile on your little one’s face once they realise they can play at home!

Let’s go!

Ball Pits

The bright colours and feeling of levitation make any ball pit an enticing prospect and your little one will want to jump right in! Firstly, this idea is going to have to include some online shopping. Amazon offer ball pit balls for under £10 so it won’t cost much to get your child to slide into a rainbow oblivion! Other than the balls, an enclosure could be made by using any play pen poles wrapped in duvets. Failing that, puffy cushions or pillows will suffice. Et voila, multicoloured nirvana awaits!

Ball Pits are famously black holes for lost objects and breeding grounds for germs, but your DIY version can be any size you like. This minimizes lost items and also means you can keep the area relatively germ-free. Become a newbie crafter and make one!

Tennis, Volleyball and Ping Pong

If your little one wants to be the next Roger Federer or Serena Williams, don’t let a simple lockdown stop them. If you have a garden, even the smallest of spaces can be converted into a makeshift court using paint (if you’re on grass, of course) or tape neatly stuck to grass or carpet. Next you need a ball, which can be any type of ball but we like foam balls best. For racquets, if you don’t have any, this is where you can get creative! Pots, pans and books can be used, as long as the session is adequately supervised by you.

For younger children we have a solution; lolly sticks stuck to paper plates make the perfect soft play racquet when paired with a balloon. They can even help to paint them and draw the strings on, which means extra play. Alternatives to nets include good old-fashioned cushions, pillows and even books! It’s hardly a Grand Slam final, but it does mean your child can play, exercise and have fun safely. Advantage you!

Coordination / Throwing and Catching

Sounds straightforward right? Challenge your children to try and beat their score before moving on to the next level and you’ve got an exciting competition on your hands. You can use balls, beanbags or even rolled up socks. Place 2 cones (or trusty cushions) on the floor around 3m apart, one person stands on each cone, then throw and catch between yourselves. Try 10 with your left and 10 with your right. When catching, use the basket technique (hands together with little fingers crossing over to create an ‘X’). Use the cones to help change your distance for the progressions – you can make it easier or harder this way. For extra points see if they can balance a beanbag on their head whilst catching!

Dance / Music

This one is really easy because you don’t need props or equipment (other than a television or music player). We’ve compiled some great dance resources for you to dig into and stimulate:

Get busting some shapes and reach for the lasers!

Slime Workshops

Sliiiiiiime! We know kids love it but we don’t know why. Make sure you’ve got a towel to hand as this can get mucky. Nevertheless, slime is jam-packed with fun and when making their own slime children are rarely so interested. Slime is totally do-able with home ingredients and here’s how.

Simple, easy-to-make and effective at keeping your little one occupied for hours. Be sure to have wipes and cleaning products to hand. Let’s get messy!

Obstacle Courses

Krypton Factor anyone? Obstacle courses are a fantastic way to introduce exercise, agility and coordination into a fun indoor activity. Once again you don’t need much! Cones, pillows, rolled up socks, a stopwatch and some space will do – but add more if you have it to hand.

Setting up an obstacle course is easy. One example is to start to create a straight line out of 4 cones (or pillows), each 1m apart. Next to it, create a zig-zag line of cones 2m apart. Next to this, make a flower shape on the floor with 5 cones, 1 in the centre, the other 4 making a square around the middle cone. If you only have a small space create one part of the obstacle course, complete all the progressions and then create the second part of your obstacle course and complete the progressions again.

Encourage them to try to beat their scores. How many times can they complete the course in 1 minute? Can they sidestep through the different obstacles? Think of different ways to move around the course, e.g. skipping. Which way to move is harder? Can they create any of their own obstacles? Can they complete it quicker than you, the adult?

Throw in more pillows for jumping over and even a sandpit for crawling if you have one. On your marks…

Yoga / Balance

Namaste! For yoga all you need is a mat or something soft to land on. Use a suitably sized space and you’re away. Here’s a handy link to Cosmic Kids Yoga.

Balance activities are also simple to set up. Here’s an example balance activity for you to try:

Put hoops in a line making sure they are all touching. If you don’t have hoops you can make them out of something as simple as twisted paper! At the end of the line place a pillow. Next, they hop through each hoop to the other end, grab the pillow and hop back to the starting line. When moving through each hoop make sure they balance on one leg for 5 seconds before hopping to the next hoop!

Here are some challenges:

  • Switch legs and try and hop from one end to the other collecting the pillows. Can they complete 3 sets of shuttles on each leg?
  • Move the hoops further apart. Can they complete 5 shuttles on each leg?
  • Can they hop from one leg and switch legs at each hoop, e.g. Right to left?
  • Can they complete 5 sets of shuttles?
  • Move the hoops around so they are no longer in a straight line. Hop on the same leg through each hoop and then swap legs. Can they complete one minute of shuttles on each leg?
  • Switch which leg they use at each hoop. How many shuttles can they do in one minute?

Baby Sensory Play

Little ones don’t need complex indoor play areas! If your child is either a baby or a toddler we have some ideas for simple sensory play activities that promote fun and exploration into the world around them. All are little to no cost or effort to set up and encourage engagement – independently and shared. Here are some suggestions and links for your child to investigate, explore and wonder at from our friends at The Imagination Tree:

Jelly / Edible Finger paints

Frozen Jelly

Bubble Play

Coloured Water Splash

Light Boxes

Treasure Baskets

Raspberry Spaghetti

Arts and Colouring

The possibilities are endless here, from working with paper shapes and painting to jigsaws. Here are some suggestions to get your little one’s creative juices flowing. They could be the next Da Vinci!

  • Draw a picture or do some colouring.
  • Make a rainbow or poster to stick in their window.
  • Draw a chalk picture outside.
  • Try painting with water and a paintbrush outside.

Indoor Tipis / Den Building

Fewer things excite children and keep them more occupied than dens. The comfort, the secrecy, the exclusivity – paradise. What’s great about them is you don’t need much at all. Usually a dining table, a couple of blankets and pillows will suffice. Cram their toys in there and you’ve got a fully-fledged, bona fide den! Grab a broom and you can prop the blanket up in the centre to make a tipi. Cowboys anyone?

Bonus Quiet Time Ideas

  • Spend some time reading their favourite books.
  • Relax and listen to their favourite music.
  • Play a board game.
  • Play a game on an electronic device.
  • Watch TV for a while.
  • Play with their toys.
  • Play in a garden or outside space (if you have one).

We have been in touch with Adam Lovelock, board member of the Children’s Activities Association. Here’s what he had to say about alternative home kids activities:

“Sensory play, physical activity, stimulation and coordination are crucial to the development of a child, no matter what age. I am so pleased these 10 suggestions are being communicated during the Covid-19 lockdown. It shows the commitment and lengths our sector are willing take to ensure the wellbeing of children. It is a sector I am proud of.”

Adam Lovelock

Board member, Children’s Activities Association

Stay safe!