20 Activities for Young Children during Lockdown
Did you know that Isaac Newton drummed his fingers and pondered what to do during his Lockdown from Bubonic Plague in 1665 and came up with nothing less than Calculus and the Theory of Gravity? Well, well done him *clapping emojis*. But before we get too hung up on the extent of our lesser achievements during a pandemic, take heart — Newton had a couple of things in his favour: he was a freaky genius and he didn’t have kids!
For many of us, the all-consuming business of caring for — let alone home-schooling — young children is achievement enough, especially if we’re trying to keep working ourselves. What’s clear, is that adults who suddenly find themselves at sea in these choppy waters and see the life rafts of support — nurseries, schools, grandparents — bobbing out of reach, are in constant need of fresh ideas on how to entertain their little ones.
Forgive me if, after three months of staying in, you’re way ahead of me and have tried and tested the following Top 20 activities, but fingers crossed there are at least some that are new to you. It comes with love…
1. Work towards a Blue Peter badge
See how at
2. Make a colourful Elmer the Elephant model using a milk bottle
See how at
3. Make an object puzzle
Collect together ten everyday objects and arrange them on an A3 sheet of paper. Draw round each one so you have 10 outlines on the sheet and put the objects in a pile to one side. The aim for a toddler is to place each object back inside the correct outline.
4. Orchard Tree’s activity sheets are free and brilliant
5. Paint rocks and decorate your garden
6. Take time out to listen to free stories on the Storynory website
7. Try this for a bit of fun
Half fill a shallow bowl with milk. Carefully add blobs of food colouring in the centre of the milk (3 colours if you can), then add a single drops of washing up liquid to the colour and create some crazy patterns.
8. Accept a 30-day Lego challenge
Download and print one out at
9. Make your own jigsaw
Cut out a busy photo from a magazine and stick it onto card. Then cut it up into irregular shapes. Mix them up and hang over to a eager child.
10. Hold a nature hunt in the back garden or the park
…making use of the free, printable hunt at
If neither garden nor park are available to you, a treasure hunt inside the house (hopefully for less wildlife) is just as much fun!
11. Exercise together
Get everyone moving with Wiggle Waggle
or with PE with Joe Wicks on YouTube.
12. Chalk the patio with portraits of the family or with a good, old-fashioned hopscotch game.
13. Play shops. Remember them?
Let your child decide what the shop is going to sell because children usually have far better imaginations than adults. Then collect together as many relevant objects — empty packets boxes always go down well, maybe a selection of small household objects or cuddly toys. All shops have a till and you can pinch play money from a Monopoly game or make your own, or use coins and an old store card. Pricing items is a great way to practise writing; older children can add up the amounts and work out how much change they need to give.
14. Go camping in the garden or in the house
15. Make an upturned-pots-and-pans drum kit.
16. Hold a food-sniffing competition.
Raid the cupboard for some familiar smelling food. Hold each foodstuff under the nose of a blind-folded child and ask them to guess what it is. 10 points if they get it right, 5 points if they have to taste it to guess right.
17. Hold a magic show
Everyone in the family has to learn a magic trick (not just one from one those readymade magic kits!). Then put on a family show.
18. Make indoor skittles
Collect at least 6 cardboard tubes of different heights — kitchen roll and toilet paper tubes work well and wrapping paper tubes can be cut into smaller pieces. Add a number (a point score) to each one and stick them to the floor using your tape or Blu Tac in a triangle formation, as if you’re bowling. Wrap the top open ends with a square of tin foil or tissue paper held with an elastic band and place a ping pong ball on each one. Then roll a slightly heavier ball towards them and start scoring!
19. Make up a unique family story.
One family member starts with a word and the next adds another and so on till the story takes shape. You know the drill — it’s always hilarious!
20. Spring is a great time to introduce children to the stars
— skies are clearer and it’s a bit warmer after dark.
Look at the CBeebies website for some child-friendly enthusiasm about the wondrous night sky.
Jabberwocky is loving being able to support the children of our fantastic key-worker parents at the moment. Keep in touch with us all!
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