Calling all Mums, Dads and Carers of the world. Things will be tough. We will be challenged. And though we may not believe it right now, we will get through this.
By pulling together as communities, albeit distant and online ones, we will help each other through these crazy days and come out the other end without too many scars. What a heck of a year 2020 has turned into!
Here are 22 fun isolation activities for children to do at home, in the garden and on your daily exercise walks during lockdown, plus a few of my own thoughts on coping with Corona as best we can.
With these and other indoor/outdoor activities we might just transform this surreal time into a really valuable and memorable experience for us all, especially our children.
Life in the Time of Coronavirus
We are living in monumental times; the global Covid-19 pandemic is confusing, worrying and uncertain for most adults, and potentially even more so for our children.
Schools Out (until September?)
With schools closed nationwide, possibly until September, and many people attempting to ‘home school’; teaching and working in the house, family interactions are inevitably going to become tense, trying and tiring at times.
Nature Connection & Healing
Wherever we live in the world, we now need our daily dose of outdoor time, nature & fresh air more than ever.
Outdoor Time is Vital
If you’re additionally in self-isolation, lockdown or are fighting Covid-19 at home then outdoor time will be even more important. Vital actually.
Home Learning during Lockdown
I’m not too phased by the enforced ‘home learning’ that Coronavirus has brought upon us. Having home educated for 5 years and been in mainstream education for a further 2 years, we’ve also missed almost a year of structured education due to Caroline’s cancer diagnosis aged 7, so I’ve seen life on all sides of the fence.
I put together these isolation activity ideas in the hope that my experiences might bring some reassurance, comfort and confidence going forwards. Even if your children only manage a tiny percentage of the schoolwork set for them at home, believe me, they will still be learning on a huge scale during this time.
The biggest secret I wish to pass on to anyone panicking about their children’s learning is this – children don’t die if they miss a few weeks of structured education.
In fact, given the fast-paced, non-stop nature of our lives before we’d ever heard of Covid-19, our kids might even benefit from some time out of mainstream education – just don’t tell the headteacher. It’ll potentially be us super-stressed parents who suffer most. So why not stop that right here – no more stress about doing the formal schoolwork; do what it takes to keep your children calm, stress-free and safe.
There are already dozens of online support groups to connect with, and Kids of the Wild will post and share more ideas to try at home, in the garden (and outdoors when we can), to help cope with the pressure. There are resources for other isolation activities at the bottom of this page.
But also don’t forget the big lessons we learnt from Caroline’s cancer : –
- it’s OK to not be OK
- it’s really important to let your children see that you have big emotions too, whether that’s fear, worry, overwhelm etc. Even have a cry with them and then you can build yourselves up together.
Fight or Flight (or Freeze)
At one level or another we’re all experiencing our primeval response to a stressful encounter; ‘fight or flight’, where our bodies prepare us to deal with a perceived ‘danger’ by fighting it or running away from it. We can’t do either of those things to this current Covid-19 ‘baddie’ so our stress hormones might be running amok! The best way to handle this is,
a) to move & exercise (think of the prey animals who’ve hidden from a predator and leap around like idiots when the predator passes them by – they’re releasing all those built-up stress hormones) and
b) to connect with nature outdoors
c) do both! 👇
Get outdoors as much as you can. Right now we can only do this in our gardens or on our permitted daily outdoor excursion. Connect and interact with nature for calm, peace of mind, stress relief and mental well-being even if it’s just looking out of the window as much as you can every single day.
Spend Time in the Garden
The good news is that Spring isn’t cancelled and though everywhere else may be, the garden isn’t closed! If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, it’s time to get out there and really use it – for gardening, nature, wildlife, PE, science, relaxation, a break from the kids – you can do it all in the garden, however tiny your outdoor space may be!
Check out my small-space gardening ideas below and look out for more ideas on full-scale children’s gardening soon.
Growing things, gardening and getting your hands dirty in soil are all also really good for the immune system!
No Garden? No Problem
If you don’t have your own outdoor space, you can currently still get outside once a day to walk and explore outdoors at the beach, in the woods etc., provided you keep a safe distance from others – practice the advised social distancing method of keeping 2-3m apart. (keep up to date with government guidelines in times of complete lockdown)
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SOCIAL DISTANCING MATTERS. DO IT OR LOSE IT! 😷 . Getting outdoors = mental wellbeing & exercise. 🏞️ At this time it couldn't be more important for every single one of us. I'm lucky to have a large garden if we go into lockdown. Thousands of people don't. . Whilst many people are terrified to leave home, or in isolation due to symptoms, there are also many people for whom getting out is almost a lifesaving experience, for various reasons from mental health to special needs etc. This does not mean taking the family halfway across Britain to climb Snowdon, it means sensibly walking the dog or a daily run or walk to the woods or park. This can all still be done AT A SAFE DISTANCE. . But we have to be responsible, for ourselves and for the health of those around us, the vulnerable and the incredible workers keeping our country afloat 🚑 . PLEASE practice #socialdistancing 2m APART so we can still go outside . If not, the Govt WILL STOP ALL outdoor activity. @borisjohnsonuk announced this yesterday . Come on people, it's time to step up, be safe, take responsibility and use the outdoors to stay fit and sane. If we abuse this taken-for-granted liberty we won't know what we've got until it's gone. . . . #safedistance #coronavirus #socialresponsibility #safetymeasures #slowthespread #outdoorbloggers #covid_19 #kidsofthewild #getoutdoors #mentalhealth #wellbeing #communityminded #beresponsible #walking #fitness #exercise #walkingwithkids #familytime @britmums
22 Family Isolation Activities
Here are the 22 cool activities I’ve put together for our cooped-up kids to try. These will help them, and us, appreciate and connect with nature every day. They will entertain and teach children, they’re all good for health & the environment and can all be done indoors and outdoors in the garden or backyard, even if you’ve only got a balcony. And they’re a good counterpoint to any structured learning the schools may have set.
Plus, all the resources can be ordered online so there’s no worry about contact with others during isolation.
1. Join the Kids of the Wild online community
First of all, join Kids of the Wild!
During the coming months I will offer as much help and support as I am able, to anyone struggling to teach kids at home, cope with isolation, get children outdoors or feel good mentally.
2. Open the Windows
Secondly, a top tip for general well-being when you’re at home for a prolonged period; don’t forget to open windows and let as much fresh air into the house as possible!
3. Make a Corona Virus Time Capsule
One of my favourite ideas in this post! We are living through historic days and we should definitely record this time for posterity. Many children won’t appreciate the sheer magnitude of what they are experiencing now so get them to note it all in a time capsule to store away and open in years to come. Imagine the memories!
I can’t claim the idea for this one but here’s a list of things your children’s Corona virus time capsule could include: –
- a local paper with Covid-19 headlines
- a national newspaper
- a drawing of the family including pets, names, ages etc
- memorabilia from a day in the garden or nature (we’ve just collected a feather and shell from the beach)
- a note from each family member with memorable events from recent times
- photos of today
- a letter to themselves including date, age, friends, feelings, favourite things, worries, future plans etc
- a painted pebble with the date on
- a letter from a grandparent
- photos of family members doing crazy things
Put it all safely in a box in the attic and open in 10 years time!
For details on making your own, read how to make a Coronavirus time capsule.
4. Grow Your Own Butterflies
The 2020 UK lockdown has come at the perfect time of year to order a butterfly growing kit and some live caterpillars. They’ll be delivered to your door.
It’s enchanting to watch the caterpillars munch, grow, shed skins and pupate into gorgeous butterflies that you release into the wild.
To learn more and order a kit, read help butterflies thrive.
5. Pledge to Grow a Butterfly Box (or garden border if you have space)
If you don’t fancy raising your own butterflies then encourage them into your area by planting a window box or patch filled with butterfly-attracting plants.
Sign up with The Wildlife Trusts and The RHS on their Wild About Gardens pledge page. There are full instructions, and the children will love seeing their pledge location on the map!
6. Pamper Your Pets – it’s good for you too!
A scientific study has shown that within minutes of stroking and cuddling our pets, both they and us benefit from a reduction in blood pressure and insulin production and an increase in the feel-good hormone oxytocin. Even better if you’re sitting in the sun but just as good on a comfy sofa or bed!
7. Grow Microgreens
These are super-simple and quick to grow on a sunny windowsill and are ready to eat in a few days to a couple of weeks. The fresh shoots make great immune-boosting nutrition too, simply add to sandwiches or just snip off and eat raw.
They’re considering using microgreens as astronaut food in space so why not suggest to the kids that lockdown is like being on the ISS and they can grow space food like an astronaut too!
Create a ‘space farm’ on your windowsill in my microgreens tutorial.
8. Grow Your Own Loofah to Scrub Away Corona!
This is the latest cool thing for gardening kids. It’s also great for the eco-minded as it creates a natural sponge or scourer and is perfect for scrubbing away Coronavirus with soap! Grow your own Luffa plant (a cucumber-like gourd), remove the skin when grown and discover one of those spongey scrubbing thingys you’ve seen in the shops!
We’re trying these for the first time this year. They sound temperamental in our climate so could work well indoors – we’ll see! I’d love you to share photos if your grow one; please post to Facebook.
Grow your own with top tips from Luv2Garden.
9. Create a Container Grown Wildflower Meadow
Everyone knows the bees are in trouble and we can do out little bit to encourage them with some wildflowers.
We upcycled an old wheelbarrow but you can use whatever container suits your space or doorstep. Grab a container, some compost, wildflower seeds and get planting.
Read more in my simple wildflower container tutorial.
10. Eat Outdoors
If you have a garden then a campfire or firepit is a brilliant way to liven up the mealtime repetition when stuck at home for months. Everyone seems to be at it! Or try a picnic on the lawn or patio. If you don’t have a garden then eat your usual meal as a carpet picnic instead.
We had a virtual campfire on Zoom with my sisters – great fun!
⚠️ NB: If you have any symptoms of the Covid-19 virus please don’t light fires at this time. The smoke might exacerbate any issues if you are ill ⚠️
11. Cook 15-minute Drop Scones in a Pan
They’re called Singing Hinnies in Northumberland and can be cooked inside or outdoors in just 15 minutes.
They’re ideal for all ages with younger children supervised and work really well on the above campfire.
To make them, read my Singing Hinny recipe for kids.
12. Make Antiviral Elderberry Syrup
While we’re in the kitchen, let’s make this delicious herbal syrup with scientifically proven antiviral properties. It won’t kill or even cure Covid-19 but it will help boost immunity and speed up recovery times from flu-like viruses. We’ve been taking it for a couple of weeks now. You can order dried elderberries online (pick fresh berries in Autumn) and it’s great as a daily teaspoonful or with warm water at bedtime.
For the homemade recipe read how to make elderberry syrup.
13. Grow Herbs in Old Wellies on the Doorstep
Many herbs are easy to grow and look great in a pair of old wellies or walking boots so they can easily be grown on the doorstep if you don’t have a garden. Plus you’re providing more great immune-boosting nutrition for every meal.
For my easy instructions read how to grow herbs in containers.
14. Take a Daily Walk
With only one permitted outdoor excursion per day during lockdown we need to make it count. A daily run or cycle ride is great exercise but this is the perfect time to get outside every day for a walk.
Whist you can’t currently do many of the longer family walks in my walking section, there’s no reason not to talk a decent daily walk with family members, so long as you practice social distancing.
Find motivation tips to keep kids walking in 10 ways to make walking wonderful.
FOR RAINY DAYS INDOORS
15. Have a Virtual Dinner Party with Family!
Set up Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, Facetime etc and meet your family once a week for a romping get together that won’t get anyone into trouble about social distancing. Last Friday nine of my family members in Northumberland and Cornwall shared 90 minutes of quality dinnertime despite being 300 miles apart. Modern technology was made for this pandemic. Grandparents will love this contact too – we’re doing it once a week and have also had Cub meetings, quizzes, baking sessions and even bingo on Zoom with friends & family!
16. Make a Calendar Tree to Countdown to Freedom
Making something to mark the time until lockdown ends is a great way to help children cope with the weirdness of the situation. We invented it for when Wild Daddy works away and it works well for all sorts of time-critical events in life. Make an indoor one with memorabilia from each day or tie ribbons onto an outdoor tree in the garden. Start your countdown calendar today.
For details see how to make a calendar tree.
17. Buy Outdoor Adventure Books to Read
I put this list together before the words self-isolation and lockdown were in our vocabulary. There are some excellent adventure story recommendations for readers aged 8 to 12 and some authors have new books and giveaways coming up.
Discover new kids adventure writers in brilliant children’s adventure books.
18. Feed the Birds
Did you know you can feed birds all year round if you know what and when to put out for them? An all-time favourite for nature connection at home and perfect for animal encounters from the safety of the house on a wet day.
For comprehensive info on feeding & garden bird ID, read my seasonal bird feeding guide.
19. Make a Driftwood Tree or Star
If you live near enough the coast or woodland to get there from home on your daily walk, collect some driftwood pieces or sticks for rainy-day art and craft activities.
Both these activities are easy for children to make with a little string, glue and minimal supervision (there’s drill use for the tree)
20. Make a Coconut Bird Feeder to Encourage Birds
This is one of my most popular posts. It’s a fun, quick indoor activity that lets you connect with nature outdoors at a later time. Hang in the garden (or a local tree if you don’t have a garden) and watch the birds flock. You’ll need half a coconut which might prove challenging during lockdown but the rest can be ordered online.
Make your own using this simple coconut bird feeder guide
21. Practice Stone Age Survival Skills
There are five stone age survival skills that are easy to try at home. Our particular favourites are making your own butter from cream (great for tiring out little arms!) and sowing seeds with antlers – substitute antler-like sticks collected on your daily walk.
Study like Stig with these stone age survival skills.
22. Make Harry Potter Butterbeer – it tastes amazing
After all these activities you’ll need lots of refreshment, and homemade Harry Potter butterbeer – non-alcoholic of course – is delicious, easy, fun, and topical if you’re reading the books. Our recipe really is authentic tasting and you can order the ingredients online if local shops are out of supplies.
Taste-test a homemade butterbeer with our DIY recipe.
- Join Kids of the Wild
- Open windows
- Make a Corona virus Time Capsule
- Grow your own buterflies
- Grow a butterfly box or border
- Pamper your pets
- Grow microgreens on a windowsill to eat in 2 weeks – great immune-boosting nutrition too
- Grow luffa plants to make an eco-friendly sponge
- Plant a mini wildflower meadow in a container to encourage bees
- Cook food to eat outdoors using a fire or firepit
- Cook singing hinnies!
- Make antiviral elderberry syrup with dried elderberries
- Grow herbs in old wellies on the doorstep – more great nutrition for every meal
- Take a daily walk
For rainy days:
15. Have a virtual dinner party with family
16. Make a calendar tree to countdown to freedom!
17. Buy adventure books to read
18. Feed the birds
19. Make a driftwood tree or star
20. Make a coconut bird feeder to feed the birds
21. Practice stone age survival skills
22. Make Harry Potter butter beer – it tastes amazing
Outdoor Activity Resources
Kids of the Wild over on the Facebook page, for new posts and ideas
Muddy Faces – check out their outdoor hub for dozens of at-home ideas
Wildling Explorers – Outdoor Adventures with Kids – great Facebook page for younger children
Temporary homeschooling help on Facebook
Here’s my motto:-
So wild wishes to you all – let’s transform lockdown 2020 into a memory to treasure!
More Lockdown Inspiration
For more isolation and lockdown activities, check out the Kids of the Wild’s gardening pages and read our why nature matters suggestions. Try this simple coconut bird feeder tutorial too or make a calendar tree to count the days of lockdown.