Easy, brain-boosting activities to do with your schoolchild at home
Facing school-less weeks at home with your 4 to 10 year-old? We have loads of ideas for fun learning activities that will keep your child busy, challenged and happy...
OK, deep breath! We can do this. Keeping your primary-school age child busy, happy and stimulated while school is shut and playdates are cancelled is no walk in the park, that's for sure. But with a bucketful of educational resources, downloadable activities, cool games and clever crafts, and a great big helping of books and toys to vary the pace, getting through each day will be much easier – and more enjoyable for everyone. Take a look at all these brilliant, brain-boosting ideas...
Here are some great ideas for home-based learning, downloadable activities, games, books, toys and crafts for 4 to 10 year-olds...
Your child's school has probably given you some suggestions for curriculum-based learning your child can access from home – and maybe even set work for them to do, on or offline. But there are also loads of other fantastic educational resources available online.
Many of them feature worksheets, games, videos and quizzes, all closely linked to learning outcomes for Early Years, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. Others focus on single topics or subjects – from foreign languages to animal facts to learning to play the piano (on your phone) – that either reinforce your child's curriculum goals or boost their wider knowledge and skills.
We've pulled together the best of them for you here:
- Brilliant educational resources for primary-schoolchildren to keep your child learning while school is shut
Downloadable activity sheets
Let's hear it for downloadable activity sheets! They're perfect for kids at home because they offer fun, well-targeted, structured tasks to complete – with very little preparation from you, other than printing them out and handing over a pencil or two.
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We have lots of engaging activity sheets for you to share with your child, covering a range of skills from Maths and Phonics and puzzles and colouring to drawing challenges and games based on much-loved TV or film series, such as Doctor Who and Horrible Histories...
Maths and literacy
Puzzles and colouring
- Singing Mermaid colouring and spot the difference activity sheets
- Alphabet colouring in sheets
- Peter Rabbit colouring and maze puzzle sheets
- Colouring and maze puzzle from Blossom magazine
- 5 free Spot The Difference games to download and print
- What The Ladybird Heard Next activity sheets
- Pirate-themed colouring sheets
- Mister Maker spotting shapes activity sheets
More arty challenges
- RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch activity sheets
- Doodling, colouring and cut-out silly-face fun from CBeebies Art magazine
Doctor Who downloadables
Horrible Histories downloadables
Other themed downloadables
- Kung Fu Panda, Shrek and Penguin-themed puzzle activity sheets
- Guardians of the Galaxy colouring sheets, memory game and maze
- Learn to draw Hotel Transylvania activity sheets
- Lego Ninjago activity sheets
And if your child's under the weather
Games to play
To break up the pencil and paper activities with something more active and dynamic, indoor games can be a great way to vary the pace – and introduce a session of more imaginative, unstructured play.
Dressing up (in costumes or old clothes) and making camps (in a play tent or under blankets strung between 2 chairs) are always go-to indoor-games choices. And, if you're casting around for other ideas, try these suggestions for indoor activities that will get their bodies moving and their brains buzzing in all sorts of different ways...
- 5 games to teach your child phonics
- Games to get your child moving (these are outdoor games but many can be easily adapted for indoors)
- Best board games
And when all else fails – or you just need a break...
Chilling out with a book – or snuggling up to you for a book session together (no, they're never too old!) is an essential every day, we reckon – maybe even several times a day. There are hundreds of brilliant children's books out there that'll grab your child's attention, stimulate their imagination and, once they're reading independently, give you a few moments' peace.
Here are a few of our most-loved book recommendations...
- Best interactive books
- Best books for 5-year-olds
- Best books for 6-year-olds
- Best books for 7-year-olds
- Best books for 8-year-olds
- Best books for 9-year-olds
- Award-winning books for 5 to 8-year-olds
- Award-winning books for children 9 to 12-year-olds
- 13 types of books your child should read between 3 and 11
- Books every child should read by the age of 14
- Best colouring books and posters
- Best kids’ cookbooks
There are so, so many toys aimed at the primary-school child but only the very best ones amuse, entertain and stimulate the brain. We test and review hundreds of toys – from the declaredly 'educational' and 'learning' ones to the more creative and imagination-sparking ones. And we pick out the very best to recommend in the dozens of toy articles we publish and regularly update. Take a look at the toys we really rate for 4 to 10-year-olds...
Toys to keep them thinking and working things out
- Best educational and learning toys
- Best construction and building toys
- Best science toys
- Best coding toys
- Best STEM toys
- Best puzzles
- Best anatomy, biology and body toys
- Best interactive toys
- Best robots
Toys to stimulate the imagination (and lots of dressing up)
Toys to get them creatively lost in their own little world
- Best playsets
- Best toy kitchens
- Best toy garages
- Best toy castles
- Best arts and crafts toys and kits
- Best dolls
- Best toy vehicles
- Best space toys
- Best slime-making kits
Toys to get them moving, even indoors
And the pick of the toys our child testers loved the best
- Best toys for 4-year-olds
- Best toys for 5-year-olds
- Best toys for 6-year-olds
- Best toys for 7-year-olds
- Best toys for 8-year-olds
- Best toys for 9-year-olds
- Best toys for 10-year-olds
A good, absorbing craft project can take up most of a morning or afternoon – maybe even several afternoons – and give your child a real feeling of pride and accomplishment when the finished creation is ready for all to admire.
We've collected a bumper variety of crafts here for you to try, using skills from painting and glueing to sewing, cooking, bubble-making and paper mâché. Don't be put off, when you click though, if you notice that some of them are labelled as 'toddler' crafts: yes, a toddler could make them, with lots and lots and lots of parental help but we think they make brilliant solo or almost-solo projects for school-age children, too...
- How to make slime
- Make a hobby horse
- Queen and king paper crowns to print and make
- Sparkly ice cream paint picture
- Make an owl kite
- Make a grass hedgehog
- Make a stuffed pig soft toy
- Simple fluttery birds collage
- Cute penguin toy to make
- Make a giant bubble tunnel
- Make a lion mask
- Make a papier mâché piggy bank
- Make walnut mice
- Make your own chocolate eggs
- Easter basket templates to print and make
- Make your own Easter egg tree
- Make a quick and easy Easter bunny headband
- Easy Easter bonnets
- More downloadables and activity sheets
- Great ideas for keeping a preschooler learning cool stuff at home
- Got a toddler? Brain-boosting home-based activities for your 1 to 2-year-old
- SleepyTime Podcast: settling down to sleep for 2 to 5-year-olds
- SleepyTime Podcast: belly-breathing techniques to calm 2 o 5-year-olds
Helen is author of the classic advice book Parenting for Dummies and a mum of 3. Before joining MadeForMums, she was Head of Community at Mumsnet and also the Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby.
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