With an increasing number of parents and families finding themselves having to self-isolate, I have written a list of activities that you can try with your little ones. I have divided the list into three age groups to make it easier for you to navigate. I hope you find some of these suggestions useful!
1. Sensory scarves
No need to go out and buy new sensory scarves, just use what you have at home. You can play peek-a-boo with them or simply let your little one explore them. With older ones, you could extend the activity by naming colours, patterns and textures.
Soft balls, corrugated balls, sensory balls...
Younger babies will enjoy grabbing and exploring balls with their mouths, older ones will enjoy rolling, throwing and catching them.
Do I need to explain? We all love bubbles but under twos can find them especially amusing. Always try to avoid babies faces when blowing bubbles.
4. Disco balls/ Light display
Babies are completely mesmerised by lights dancing around. The little man that I look after loves pushing our little disco ball around in the sunlight, watching the ceiling sparkle as the ball moves.
5. Building Forts
Another all age activity but that little ones love. They will love crawling in and out of the little shelter. If you have a cardboard box, you could make a sensory fort with different textured materials (space blanket, bubble wrap, string, etc).
Pots and pans, rain makers, drums little ones love having the opportunity to make some noise. Try and show them different rhythms and see how they respond.
7. Emptying & filling
Get two containers, fill one with loose parts such as teaspoons, blocks etc. Watch how your chid explores the set up, they might start by emptying the contents all over the floor. Older children might empty, fill and share the parts out.
No need to buy skittles, empty bottles or milk cartons with a little bit of water in the bottom will do. Knock them over with a ball or encourage your little one to knock them over.
Babies and toddlers love looking at faces in the mirror. Sit with them, pull faces and see how they react. You could also draw funny faces with a wipe-off pen if you were doing this activity with an older baby.
10. Water play
I love doing water play with little ones, it could just be having a bath or you could do a set up with soap bubbles or tea bags. Always supervise your child when playing with water.
Explore different mediums and materials, such as paint, wax crayons, watercolour paint, pencils etc. We’ve painted on wood, cardboard and fabric before.
Picking out seeds, scooping compost into pots, watering them and planting the seeds. That’s a whole 4 hours of playing right there with the added benefits of learning about where fruit and vegetables come from as well ad practicing measuring, counting and moving and handling.
There are so many things that you can make with little ones, even with limited resources. From icing digestive biscuits to making fifteens, you could even encourage your little one to help chop vegetables for soup using a child-safe knife.
14. Hide and seek
This is one of our favourite games, I do think that little ones have the advantage of fitting in small places. This is also a great game to burn off some extra energy after being stuck indoors all day.
15. Play Dough
This is another great way to keep little ones occupied for some time. You could start by making it from scratch by mixing cornflour and hair conditioner with some food colouring until it makes a dough like consistency. Then see what your little one can make with the dough. You could also look for play dough mats to extend your little ones learning.
If you have a little one who enjoys cutting and sticking, this one is for them. If your little one isn’t able to use scissors safely yet, you could cut them out beforehand. You could make collages of people, faces, foods, shopping lists, animals, stories etc. This is a great use for old newspapers, magazines, junk mail etc.
Even if you don’t have children’s stickers, get your little one to peel and stick different stickers on to paper. This is a great way to boost their concentration span and their fine motor skills.
18. Soft ball games
If you’re expecting to be stuck indoors for a while, it might be worth clearing a small room or space in your house where your little ones can throw a ball. Games like piggy in the middle, basketball and football can be a good way of expending energy.
I do puzzles quite often with my little ones, I started off with easier ones and gradually introduced more challenging ones. You can start by asking your little one to help you to make the puzzle and as they get more confident in helping you, you can encourage them to make them independently.
20. Role play
Who doesn’t like a teddy bears picnic or playing schools? Set up a pretend shop, or hospital using your children’s soft toys. This is also a nice way to demonstrate day-to-day activities to them.
These are super fun an go up in levels so they are suitable for all ages and skill levels. You can find them online or if you manage to get out, you can find Sudoku books in many supermarkets and shops.
I bought mine from amazon for less than £10 however you could easily make these yourself out of coloured card. These are so fun for making patterns and pictures.
23. Designing things
I used to do this all of the time with my little cousins during school holidays. From chocolate bars to outfits, vehicles and more this not only can keep our bigger ones busy for hours. Drawing up sketches, building, creating. These are a great way of watching how our bigger ones think, explore and examine things.
24. Read a book
I think it’s now common knowledge that I love to read. And I truly believe that there is no such thing as a child who hates reading, only a child who has yet to find the right one. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, there are so so many books to explore. If you can’t get to a library, I would suggest looking on the kindle app or asking friends or neighbours for a book swap.
25. Word games
Hangman, Mad Libs, Crosswords, Word searches, Letter games and story writing are all fun activities to fill time and also improve children’s spelling and vocabulary.
26. Card games
Solitaire, Rumi, Pontoon, card games encourage concentration, resilience and they also can be a fun way to pass the time together or on your own.
27. Board games
Charades, Guess Who, Pictionary, Draughts and Chess, there are so many fun family games that you can play together if you have younger ones maybe you can play them in teams.
28. Paint by number
Painting-by-number is an activity worthy of investment, these are a good relaxing activity. Not only do they require concentration but also the final product can be quite beautiful and such an achievement.
29. Model making
Whether you choose to invest in a shop bought kit or make your own at home with cardboard and paper maché. These are fun and time consuming activities that could even be linked to the topics that your children have been learning about at school.
30. Salt Dough
This is an easy activity to do, and the dough only uses basic ingredients. Once you’ve made the dough, use it like clay and dry it either over a few days or in the oven. Once dry, you can decorate using acrylic paints.