Keeping the family busy at home

A family of Mum, Dad, and a young boy and girl playing Twister on their living room floor

Tue 21 Apr 2020

Keeping young children entertained at home is a real challenge when you can’t get out and about as usual. Here are some suggestions and links from In Derby. We’ll be updating these as we hear about new ones, so keep checking this page.

The Great Outdoors

bird box

A daily local walk may be short, but there’s a lot for kids to discover at this time of year. Even a small garden is bursting with bugs and plant life. A quick search on your smartphone will come up with a range of apps to help identify birds, flowers and trees.

  • Quieter streets makes birdsong sound louder. Listen out for different birds and learn to identify them by their song – magpies, blackbirds and pigeons work well for young children. See if you can hear different birds at different times of the day.
  • Look out for new flowers on your walks too. Look at the blossom on the trees - can you guess what fruit or seeds will grow there?
  • The Woodland Trust has some great activities for children to make the most of nature without leaving the garden. Check out their blogs from their home page.
  • It’s not too late to plant a sunflower seed. Plant it in a small pot or cup indoors, and then transfer it outside when it’s big enough. See who can grow the tallest sunflower in your house!
  • Derby Parks are getting behind the #PerfectParks campaign by The Green Flag Awards. Draw everything that you love about your park and upload it on social media. Find out more about the campaign here.

A grand day out

Derby Silk Mill and Derby Cathedral credit Ashley Franklin

Image: Ashley Franklin

Explore famous landmarks without leaving the house. Will you stay local or take a trip across the world? Wherever you go, you will be back in time for tea.

  • Take a virtual tour of Derby Museum and Art Gallery or Pickford House Museum from the Visit Derby website. You can even climb Derby Cathedral Tower and take in the views of the city from the top.
  • Google Arts and Culture, which can be downloaded as an app, has linked up with museums and heritage sites across the world. Take a virtual tour of the British Museum at britishmuseum.withgoogle.com. There are also street view tours of landmarks including The White House and the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.
  • See 360 degree views of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace.
  • Go back in time to Ancient Egypt. There are some great resources for children of all ages in this blog from TripSavvy.

Let’s get active

family exercising at home

Burn off some of that childhood energy with some online exercise. Clear a space and get active!

  • Check out Derby Active At Home, where our fitness instructors are running exercise classes from home for free while our leisure centres are closed. There are already some basic gymnastics moves which children can join in with (they will need enough space to do a backwards roll) and we’re updating the page as we add more activities.
  • Other online options are fitness expert Joe Wicks’ daily PE class for children and their parents on his YouTube channel, the Body Coach, and This Girl Can’s Disney workouts.
  • Learn to dance with Ashley Banjo from Diversity, who is giving free dance lessons on Instagram until 1st May. @20dvofficial.
  • We have some great activities to download from Swim England to teach children all about water safety while they’re having fun. It means they’ll be ready to make a splash when our swimming pools can reopen. Find out more on our Learn to Swim page.

Lose yourself in a story

Woman and two children with books

As children’s author Dr Seuss said: “Reading can take you places you have never been before.” For younger ones, audiobooks or stage versions of favourite stories are a good option too.

  • Our libraries may be closed, but you can download audiobooks and ebooks for free using the Borrowbox app. You have to be a library member, but you can sign up online here on the How to Join page. There’s a form for under 13’s at the bottom of the page.
  • For some inspiration, check out our list of 10 Book Choices for Kids.
  • Fans of Harry Potter can find lots of official, online wizarding activities at  www.harrypotterathome.com – but don’t forget to find out which Hogwarts house you belong in first!
  • Watch the Wind in the Willows West End musical for just £2.99 rental for 72 hours. Go to www.willowsmusical.com. You can also download educational activity packs for free.

Crafts and activities

sock puppets

Some traditional, low-tech (and not so low-tech) ideas of crafts and other activities to do at home:

  • Create your own sock puppets out of those odd socks, and perform your own puppet show.
  • Learn Morse Code and try to use it to communicate with your family. There are lots of resources online that you can download and print at home.
  • If you have some painted stones at home, turn them into story stones by putting them altogether in a bag. Each member of the family takes one. Together, make up your own story by taking it in turns to add a sentence using the picture on your stone to inspire you. Keep drawing stones until you run out, or swap them to keep the story going.
  • Your children may want to make a time capsule. They can write a letter to their future self, all about who they are, how they are feeling, and what they want to do when they grow up. They can draw a picture of the important people in their life to go with it.
  • A favourite toy, book and keepsake on a table makes a great subject for a Still Life picture to draw or paint. For children who are really into art, Tate Kids has lots of great art activities and information about artists.
  • Derby favourites Babbling Vagabonds Storytelling Theatre, well-known for staging children’s Christmas shows at the Guildhall Theatre and running fun workshops at Markeaton Park, have set up a private Facebook group full of ideas for children’s activities. They include daily writing prompts for fun stories, a video about how to make shadow puppets, and there’s more content to come. Look for Babbling Vagabonds Let’s Create on Facebook.
  • If you have an Amazon Echo, play games and quizzes with Alexa.
  • Stay up late and stargaze. Apps are available to download onto your phone to identify them. If your children are inspired by outer space, have a look on the NASA website for some home activities. Be aware that the times given are EDT, which is five hours behind us.
  • Look forward to the fun days of panto by downloading this picture from Sleeping Beauty for kids to colour in.