Wednesday, 25 March 2020

50 Fun Activities for Families in Isolation

Normal life naturally inclines us to spend some time apart from our nearest and dearest but now, in the midst of the Covid - 19 Coronavirus pandemic, we are suddenly required to spend all our time together. It's an anxious time for many and keeping busy is going to be paramount for our mental and physical wellbeing during this period of social distancing and isolation. It's not always easy to come up with ideas to amuse a whole household every day, so I've compiled a list of activities to distract and amuse in these challenging times. You could work through the list for fifty days, or just scroll down to the ones that interest you.

If you follow a link to Amazon from this article and then make a purchase, I receive a small contribution (like, REALLY small) to the biscuit fund. Maybe half a biscuit, but it adds up. Might have a whole pack of Bourbons soon. 

Keep Your Mind Active - Creative Activities


Salt Dough Modelling  - Salt Dough is easy to make, using just a cup of flour, half a cup of salt and half a cup of water. Once mixed to form a dough, it can be shaped to make anything you like. Then, you just bake it on a low heat for three hours until it hardens, when it will be ready to paint or varnish.

Egg Painting - An easter activity, first make a hole at each end of the egg with a large needle, use a skewer or similar to pierce the yolk, then gently blow in one end to release the contents out of the egg. Once hollow, the egg can be painted using standard poster paint, or dipped in diluted food colouring.

Rock Painting - This is a great walking activity to get people outside. First, you have to find some good-sized smooth pebbles, then decorate them with your own design. You can buy special rock paints and pens, but poster paint or nail varnish works quite well. Once varnished you can either display them yourself or hide them outside for others to find and enjoy.

Colouring - What was once the domain of the primary-aged child has recently become more widely accepted. Adult (ie; more challenging) colouring is a popular pastime and there are many books available to buy, or you can find sheets to print out online. It's also very relaxing in times of difficulty.

Finish Abandoned Projects - We've all got them, those well-intentioned ideas we were once really enthusiastic about, but then life got in the way. There has never been a better time to dust off your knitting, unearth that cross-stitch, or finally finish that Air-Fix model and it won't cost you a penny!

Origami - Over on YouTube, there are lots of basic tutorials in the art of Origami. There's even one that I made, on how to make a gift box. It's not great, don't know why I chose that music. Anyway, al you need to start off is a piece of paper, about 15cm square and you'll soon be folding like a pro.

Friendship Bracelets - I don't know if I'm giving away my 90's roots here, but I feel friendship bracelets are an underrated form of indoor entertainment. All you need is some card and thread and the air will soon be filled with the blissful quiet of intense concentration.

Make a Stop Motion Film - There are lots of really easy to use apps available for smartphones and that is really all you need since you can literally animate anything, from a lego figure to a pepper pot. I don't have a video of a pepper pot, sorry.

Learn to Make Hand Shadows - This really simple guide from Hoglets shows you how to make different animals using nothing but your own hands and a strong light source. Once you've had a bit of practice, you can use your skills to illustrate stories and poems with the children.

Can't Cook, Won't Cook - In these times of food scarcity, have a good rummage through your cupboards and challenge yourself to make a recipe out of those forgotten ingredients you bought by accident/ because they were cheap/ you forgot you weren't actually a domestic goddess.

Fashion Frenzy - All the charity shops are closed now, so why not sort out your old clothes and try your hand at turning them into something else? It could be a different item of clothing, or perhaps something else: A bag? A cushion? Get your creative juices flowing!

Get Outside - Garden Activities

Feed the Birds - This is easy to do, you don't need special feed to invite birds into your garden and they are fun to watch. Birds love bread, seeds, old cereal, bacon rind, cheese. You can also make a birdbath out of a shallow dish or tray on an outside table or bench. If you want to get more adventurous, check out this post on how to make bird cake.

Gardening - The garden is a major asset if you can't go outside and gardening gives you much needed fresh air, sunshine and exercise, all of which are shown to improve low mood and make you feel a bit better. Tidying up your outdoor space will also make you feel more inclined to spend time in it.

Hoopla - use a stake/ tent peg/ stick or whatever you can find to make the pole, then find a hoop-shaped object, such as a cheesecake container or dog frisbee to try to snag the pole.

Growing Easy Veg/ Cress - Cress germinates within a few days of planting and is ready to harvest within a week, so it's a great option for young children who want a quick result for their efforts. If you are not a small child and have mastered the art of patience, you can be much more adventurous with your planting. You can buy cress seeds cheaply via this link.

Garden Camping - If you have a small tent, setting up camp in the garden is really fun. Once you're inside a tent, listening to the breeze outside, you could be anywhere, so let your imagination go wild. It will be cold, though, so don't skimp on the layers. You don't have to be a child to enjoy the experience, but children often love it and it gives you all a complete break away from normality.

Cookout - Food tastes so much better outdoors and, if it is a bit chilly, the warmth of a fire pit or barbecue will allow you to stay out for longer. It doesn't have to be complicated; baked potatoes, sausages, marshmallows and even bananas cooked in their skins are all easy options for alfresco dining.

Stargazing - If it's really cold, you could incorporate this with a cookout, as above, but there's no limit to the number of layers and blankets you can wear, so it's not difficult to make things cosy. Lie down on blankets on the ground or make use of a hammock with stand, if you're lucky enough to own one, to really appreciate the starscape and add some hot chocolate, for a warming treat.

Sports Day - Raid the shed for garden games, such as skipping ropes, hula hoops, etc and relive your school days! Unless you hated Sports Day, in which case, just have fun!

Nerf Practice - Use chalk to draw targets on the wall to fire Nerf bullets at. If you don't have any chalk, stack up some drinks cans to shoot. Other bullets also work for this, and you could use other projectiles too, like small balls or even a water pistol.

Patio Games - Use chalk to draw hopscotch grids on the patio, or if hopscotch is a bit complicated (I've never learned the rules) you could draw circles different widths apart and invent a jumping game.

Play Together - Group Activities

Sing - You don't need a karaoke machine to belt out your favourite song and it does a lot to lift the spirits, but if you do want to have a karaoke evening, just turn the track down low and sing along, or, if you're feeling brave, you can use headphones so only you can hear the track. If you're extra-keen, Gareth Malone is setting up a 'home choir' you can register your interest via the link in this article.

Bake - Make something easy with the children, or challenge yourself to try a new technique or recipe. There are lots of tutorials on YouTube for different icing styles and decorating ideas. If you are looking for something fun to do with the children, fabulous mummy-chef Emily Leary, from A Mummy Too, is hosting a daily bake along on her Facebook page.

Make a Den - A great one for younger children, you can use anything you have to hand; sofa cushions, sheets or blankets. They can be draped over a table, or propped up with chairs, the point is to create a tiny, cosy world where you can hide away from your usual, and by now very familiar, surroundings.

Board Games - This might not sound like the most exciting or imaginative prospect, but you'll be amazed how the atmosphere changes when you add in small prizes. I have a little box that I collect small prizes in for our game nights. I collect them from all over the place, but a great, low-cost option for small gifts is Pound Toy. They have excellent sales and a wide selection of small toys and gifts.

Film Afternoon - In the absence of trips to the cinema, this could be a great opportunity to reintroduce some classic films to the family film collection. There are so many films from yesteryear that young people have missed out on, even if some of us do still think films from the '90s are current! See what's lurking at the back of the DVD cupboard, or you can buy older films cheaply online.

Family Book Club - Pick a book that everyone in the family agrees on, go away and read a set amount of it, then arrange a time for everyone to come together, read extracts and discuss the story. You can pitch the age of the book to challenge or entice your youngest members and it's even a little bit educational!

Put on a Puppet Show - This one is mainly aimed at children, but nothing should be exclusively for children if you're a creative grown-up. You can actually use anything to act out your story, from cuddly toys to decorated socks, the important part is to have fun. Use the back of the sofa, or a sheet draped over some chairs to create your stage and take it in turns to act out scenes and skits, either made up or from a favourite story.

Mastermind - Challenge each other to learn about a completely new subject that you know nothing about, the more obscure the better, then test each other with questions. The winner is the one who answers the most questions correctly and the prize is unlimited smugness around the house.

Teach Each Other a New Skill - We've all collected many transferrable life skills over the years and now is a great opportunity to learn something new. This could be between adults, like putting up a shelf, or icing the perfect cake, or you could exchange skills with your children. Ever wanted to familiarise yourself with the intricacies of Minecraft? Become an expert Lego builder? Do a handstand? There's never been a better time to learn and get to know each other better at the same time.

Have an Indoor Picnic - It's exactly like an outdoor picnic, but with fewer ants. Hopefully.

Play the Close Up Game - This is an easy game to play with very little skill involved. It's like a more physical version of Eye-Spy. One person takes a camera (your phone camera will do) and, whilst everyone else covers their eyes, they take an extreme close up of a small part of an object in the room. The winner is the first one to find the object.

Make Up a Game to Play - It could be a board-game, or something to play outdoors, whatever your collective brains come up with. Just make sure you're clear on the rules before you start so no fist-fights break out. 

Physical Health Ideas

Fitness Contest - Challenge other family members to see who can maintain the longest plank or the most press-ups. For younger children, see who can stand on one leg the longest or jump the highest. I'm sure, with a bit of imagination, you can come up with lots more fitness challenge ideas.

Dance - Turn the music up and lose yourself in the beat, choreograph something with the children, or take advantage of Diversity's lovely offer of free access to their dance tutorials and learn something new.

Make a Home Gym - Dig out all the fitness equipment that's been gathering dust in the loft for years and organise some family gym sessions.

Walk a Neighbours Dog - If you've got an elderly or vulnerable neighbour, do them a favour and get yourself some fresh air and exercise at the same time, by borrowing a pooch for a while.

Treasure Hunt -  Make a list of nature items you can find at this time of year, such as a buttercup, a red leaf, a round stone, etc and take a walk to try and find them all.

Press Flowers - Go for a walk to find flowers, they don't have to be anything special, daisies and buttercups work well, then you can press them in some kitchen paper between the pages of a book.  a week or so later, they will be completely flat and preserved and you can use them to make pictures or in other craft projects.

Get Good at Yoga - There are plenty of YouTube tutorials for various levels of Yoga and no equipment is needed. All the family can join in and it's a great help when you need to relax your mind or stretch your muscles.

Mental Health Ideas

Sorting - I find sorting and reorganising particularly relaxing. The process of taking a cupboard or drawer apart and sorting out the contents is something you can become completely absorbed in and it's not at all taxing, mentally or physically. The end result is satisfying too, so it's a win-win. Pick your project based on how much time you have and don't overstretch yourself, many small efforts make a big difference.

Mending - In these times of reuse and recycle, it's become harder to throw things away. This may mean that you've already got a mending pile that desperately needs attention, or maybe you just wear your buttons hanging off with pride. Whatever your situation, fixing up old clothes, or other household items will give you a sense of achievement, especially when you work out how much money you saved on a new item.

Beauty Treatments - Homemade beauty treatments are not difficult to make and can often be created from storecupboard ingredients. They can be a me-time activity, or something you can do with children, or even your partner. This post on low-cost beauty tips features some of my favourite easy natural beauty treatments and there are probably lots more available online, or you may have some of your own.

Jigsaw Puzzles - Often maligned as old fashioned and not that exciting, jigsaws can actually be quite sociable. It's surprising how many family members can be tempted to join in if there's a tricky part of a puzzle to finish, but it can also be a relaxing and enjoyable solo activity if that's what you need.

Word Puzzles - Again, not always a popular pastime, brainteasers, such as word searches, crosswords and sudokus are, in fact, a great way to focus your brain away from anything troubling you. If you want to make it into a family activity, you could try making your own word puzzles to test each other. 

Write Letters to Friends and Relatives - Everyone appreciates letters, especially when times are difficult, it's a cheerful and welcome diversion both to write and to receive them. You can get creative, with drawings or stickers, or maybe write a funny poem. Whatever floats your boat. 

Send Postcards to Care Homes - The older generation has never been more isolated and this is a great opportunity to help, whilst stretching your creative skills at the same time. Cut out some plain card to the size of an envelope, decorate one side with a cheery picture, write some fun stuff on the other, leaving one side for the address, and you're ready to go. You can find out more about Postcards of Kindness via their Facebook group

Take Arty Photos - It would be easy to think that your photo-taking days are over when you can't travel very far, but that is not so. You might just have to look a bit harder for your subject. Bugs and butterflies make great close-up subjects and flowers photograph well too. Experiment with different angles and lighting to get different effects. 

Listen to Music - Music makes everything better. You can blast out an upbeat song to lift your mood or listen to some relaxing tunes on your headphones to calm your mind. However you use it, it's always there to pick you up and give you some much-needed headspace. 

Practice Meditation - Not everyone finds this easy, but there's never been a better time to master it. Try a YouTube tutorial, or you can buy beginners DVDs online.

However you get through this tricky time, I hope you stay safe and well.



  1. Great post. Loved the rock painting idea xx

  2. What great ideas. We are planning on doing some of these things over the next few weeks. As bad as things are it is good that I can spend time with my girls and do things we wouldn't normally get around to x


© The Parent Game. All rights reserved.