How to keep your children occupied during Easter lockdown (when they’ve already been at home for two weeks)

Headmistress Jane Prescott is giving families suggestions for things to do during a lockdown Easter.

Mrs Prescott is President of the Girls’ Schools Association and Headmistress of Portsmouth High School GDST. She says:

“It’s already been a challenge for parents who have not only had their children at home during the day for the last two weeks, but have also been helping them to access home learning and keep motivated with their school work. But now that the Easter holidays are upon us, deciding how to maintain family harmony and keep everyone entertained when we’re still in ‘lockdown’ is going to be on everyone’s minds.

With all of these activities, I suggest limiting screen time if at all possible. There’ll be plenty of time for that when remote learning is re-established after Easter; that’s when children can use whatever digital device they might have to help with their school work in a safe, secure environment. But if children do need to access the Internet for an activity in the meantime, always make sure they can do so safely with adequate supervision.”

Jane Prescott suggests the following activities:

  • Stage a treasure hunt
    Easter is the natural time for treasure hunts – create an indoor (and outdoor if you have a garden) hunt with coded clues that only your family will understand. You can either have one, big Easter egg as the treasure at the end, or a series of smaller treats positioned as ‘way markers’ as you reach each new stage in the hunt – or something else entirely.
  • Decorate some Easter eggs
    Decorate some hens eggs to make a festive indoor Easter display. If you want to keep them afterwards, you’ll need to blow out the raw egg first – there are instructions online but do be careful you don’t get lightheaded! If you want to decorate boiled eggs, please make sure you only use safe, edible colourings for decoration so you can eat them afterwards.
  • Visit www.CoFight19.com
    CoFight-19 is launching with 19-day ‘bounce back’ campaign running throughout the Easter holidays with expert advice for parents, support for pupils and innovative and creative activities for families. It all started with an idea by a teacher at Francis Holland School (Sloane Square) and a children’s mentor.
  • Rediscover board games
    Traditional board games can be spread over a few days to create a sense of competition within the family and if you’ve got Facetime, Skype or some other form of video link, you can even play some games online with family and friends who are isolated elsewhere. This is a great way to connect with older relatives who can play games online with their grandchildren whilst parents get on with home-working or other tasks. Charades and quizzes across face to face platforms works well too.
  • Do a jigsaw
    Most of us have an old jigsaw languishing in the cupboard and they’re the perfect way to occupy a few hours. If you don’t have one, order one in or try making one yourself (ask permission first before you start cutting up old pictures!).
  • Do your own ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’
    Give older children responsibility for cooking the family meals for a day using ingredients that the household already has in the store cupboard, fridge or freezer. They can research recipes using cookery books you have in the house or, with permission, by looking online and you can create a healthy sense of competition throughout the week to see who can make the ‘best’ meal. Make clearing up an important part of the task so you’re not left with all the mess!
  • Recycle / upcycle
    This is the time for everyone to have a sort out and especially children and their bedrooms. Even quite young children can decide which toys can either be put into storage or parcelled up ready to give to charity when the time is right. Older children could take a fresh look at old clothes and have a go at upcycling them – if they can’t sew, maybe this is the time to learn!
  • Write letters
    Children – and adults – can use the lockdown to write to relatives or friends, especially those who are missing social contact. Letters don’t need to be long – short and frequent may even be better. Whatever you write, your loved ones will appreciate the effort you have gone to – there really is something special about a handwritten letter. Your local residential home may also appreciate postcards sent to the residents. Just remember not to include too much in the way of sensitive data if the recipient is not known to you.
  • Make a den
    This is the time to encourage children to make a den. There’s a lot of pleasure to be had from creating a shelter from old sheets and dressing it up as a hideaway. Dens can be inside, outside in the garden, under a table, in a wardrobe in the spare room (be careful children can’t get trapped!) – it’s up to you!
  • Explore the local wildlife
    Children can watch and make a note of the birds and other wildlife they see in the garden or from the window, such as bugs and insects. Depending on your environment you could even create a bug hotel or wormery.
  • Go wild with washable chalk
    If you have washable outdoor chalks and a garden wall or patio that can easily be cleaned, this is the time to get creative outside and create your own garden art. Do get permission and do a ‘test patch’ first, though to make sure your washable chalks really are washable.
  • Learn a new skill
    The scope with learning a new skill is endless and there have been some amazing examples on social media, although if using up excess energy is your goal, how about learning how to skip, bounce on a pogo stick or ? The lost art of French skipping could be one to add to the list (there are “how to” guides on many platforms).
  • Read to each other
    Read books, discuss books and form a family-and-friends book group. You can use online face-to-face technology or audio devices to bring other households into the group or simply to read to grandparents. If you’re creating a household book group, set a challenge to read specific books or specific authors you have to hand, then discuss afterwards.
  • Write and perform your own movie or play
    Write your own film script, act it out using toy figures and record it using one of the many apps available. A tech-free alternative is to write a play and build your own theatre using a cardboard box with toys or cut-out characters, and perform your play to a live audience.
  • Do some gardening
    Now’s the time to plant certain seeds and watch and record their daily growth. If you’re struggling to buy seeds online or in the shops, you can try planting sprouted potatoes or even the cut-off ends of salad scallions – as long as they still have the roots at the bottom, they should grow. Look after your plants and record their daily growth.

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