Saturday, November 27

Locked entertainment: fun things to do with the kids at home

As Aucklandites face another weekend locked up, we bring them ideas for family games, art creations, and messy play to keep the kids entertained.

Happy kids.  Creative top view photo of boy and girl on vintage brown wooden floor.  Children lying near books and toys, and painting.

Photo: 123RF

These activities are free and fun for the whole family, from teens to young children. Some require general household items, others have the help of an Internet connection, but for most, all it takes is a little imagination.


  • Have an obstacle course that the whole family must participate in
  • Make a yoga video online, exercise or take a kapa haka class together
  • Take turns being the exercise instructor, with other family members following
  • Use yarn, rope, a scarf or a stick and do the limbo
  • Have a dance party (in the dark)
  • Boil some eggs and have an egg and spoon race
  • See how many times a ball can be thrown without dropping it
  • Create a dance routine for your family to learn
  • Roll around the house (great for young children)
  • Write down a list of active activities (like 10-star jumps, 10 sit-ups, etc.) and take the time to do them. Try to beat your record every day


  • Give new life to a cardboard box by turning it into something completely different
  • Get some sheets and some chairs, and make a cabin to remember
  • Bake something, then devour it together
  • Turn cardboard boxes into simple puzzles and have children cut their own pieces
  • Make ninja stars
  • Who knew that the boxes had so many uses? Turn one into a puppet theater
  • You will need puppets for that theater …Why not make some socks??
  • Do marble mazes cardboard, straws, glue and paper
  • Use household items, make rubber band cars. Make more than one and compete with them.
  • Make a car ramp and race cars (or balls or marbles or hard boiled eggs) from … you guessed it: cardboard!
  • Put on your lab coat and make a volcano, using vinegar, baking soda, water, food coloring, dish liquid, a plastic bottle, and cardboard
  • Make paper airplanes and compete with them
  • Making daisy chains

To explore

  • Write a list of 10 things and go for a walk to see how many you can find
  • Also, as you walk, count how many cars you see or how many things of a certain color
  • Play i spy
  • Go bug hunting in your backyard or neighborhood. Take photos of the creepy critters you see and then draw them
  • Be on the lookout for birds, whether at home or on a walk, and contribute to a global citizen project by sharing their findings
  • Draw a map of your backyard, hide something in it, and give your family the map and clues to try to find where the item is.
  • Explore your garden or house using a magnifying glass or old glasses


  • Everyone has a sheet of paper folded in three. They all draw the head and shoulders up to the crease line. Next, switch roles and draw the torso and arms to the next fold line. Switch back and draw the legs. Unfold to reveal what you have created together
  • Draw a picture then challenge others to see if they can copy it by following your instructions. Take turns and then compare images
  • Draw each other!
  • Look a online art tutorial and follow the step-by-step instructions to recreate the image
  • Make abstract art together by gluing pens and pencils into a mug and moving it around the page
  • Make origami, and if you have enough paper or card, you might even try 3D origami.
  • Make a family of caterpillars by turning old egg cartons upside down, cutting off the tops and flaps, cutting from one end to the other to make two long bodies, then painting and decorating
  • Collect leaves and use them to make art.
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Try to find times in your day to have fun by having a pillow fight or playing musical cushions.
Photo: 123RF


  • Hide and Seek
  • Take out the board games and cards
  • Screw paper into balls and use straws (or rolled cardstock or paper) and make a run by blowing the balls across a table or floor
  • Play copycat and drive everyone crazy
  • Get inspired by this ready and play charades
  • Play What time, Mr. Wolf?
  • Pick a long word and see how many other words you can make from its letters
  • Play musical cushions or chairs
  • Hide something and let others find it; it is good that parents organize it the night before so that the day begins with excitement and fun.
  • Do a treasure hunt
  • Have pillow fights
  • Using different colored pegs for each child, hide them in a room when they are not looking, then invite them to find them (make it more difficult for older children)
  • Find the largest upper part of the house and have two people enter. The person in the back has their arms through the sleeves and makes up the person in front.
  • Have everyone write five things they like and five things they don’t like on small pieces of paper. Shuffle the papers and take turns choosing one and guessing who wrote the answer.

Messy play

  • If you have chalk, write messages and draw pictures in the driveway for your neighbors to see as they pass.
  • Make glue, slime, and finger paint from items found in most kitchen cabinets. Head here for recipes for each.
  • Do rainbow rice and find different containers for the children to use to play with
  • Water Play – Get different size containers, cups and pots and let the kids do the rest
  • Make rainbow foam using nothing but dish liquid, water, food coloring, and a mixer
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  • Dress up and live superhero adventures, or dress up in someone else’s clothes and pretend to be a different member of your household.
  • Experiment with makeup and hairstyles (and give mom a massage while you do it)
  • Put on a show and perform it virtually for family and friends.
  • Write a story and draw the illustrations, then read it to your family or loved ones through messaging applications.
  • Take the time to make lists, for example, your favorite places, all the people you know, fruits and vegetables. Write a list of things you want to do as a family after the lockdown is over
  • Make up a story by taking turns: someone says a couple of sentences, then the next person picks up where they left off, and so on.


  • Get out all the musical instruments (or any household items that make noise) and start a family band
  • Have a family movie night
  • Have a Teddy Bear Picnic – Let the kids pick a different spot each time
  • Have a long song
  • Look at old photos
  • Sit down as a family and start a scrapbook, jot down some of your favorites from the past, and document this unusual moment that you are in now.

Head here for our complete guide to online resources for kids.

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