Daily free ideas and activities for families at home
Stuck for ideas or overwhelmed by everything that's out there? We've got tried and tested daily (yes daily!) ideas for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and schoolchildren that are fun, educational and easy to do
Every day at MadeForMums we share new ideas and suggestions, for things to do, learn, watch, listen, build, try out, teach, relax to, grow, make and laugh along with. We’re busy checking and testing them, highlighting the best ones and hearing from you, our brilliant MadeForMums users, about your own ideas and recommendations.
Come and share yours or tell us what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org
And if you're enjoying these ideas, please share with your friends and family and on your WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and more!
Toddlers - get ready for Strictly's Oti Mabuse's dance lessons with Boogie Beebies starting Monday!
We've all loved tuning in to Oti Mabuse's dance classes where she's taken us through routines based around film favourites such as:
Now Oti is bringing her brilliant dance classes to a toddler and pre-school audience on CBeebies, which you can watch on your TV or iPlayer. Her new show, Boogie Beebies, starts from Monday 1 June at 8.30am.
Each episode is just 5 minutes long so is the perfect energetic way to start the day.
All the classes begin with a quick warm up before Oti goes through the moves for the routines, which take little ones on a different adventure each day, such as swimming under the sea like fish or roaming the jungle wriggling like creepy crawlies. Sounds like fun!
The Museum of London becomes the Museum of Fundom!
There are lots of brilliant interactive activities online at the Museum of London, which has created the fantastic sounding Museum of Fundom! There are activities for all ages, including pre-schoolers and also children with special educational needs. These include:
- Create costumes inspired by London fashion
- You can design some of the city's buildings and vehicles.
- A mammoth's tooth, Roman mosaic floor, Victorian shoe in 3D - for SEND students
More London activities...
The Mayor of London's office has put together a brilliant downloadable activity pack for families, full of step-by-step ideas to celebrate the capital's well-known and unsung heroes.
Fun stuff includes:
- Activities about inspiring Londoners including Mary Seacole, Mo Farah and David Bowie
- Make a suffragette rosette
- Create a working stethoscope
- Masks and facial hair to print and cut out
Make your own baby-safe paint with just 4 ingredients!
We all know how messy painting can get and it's not the easiest when you've got little ones who are constantly putting their hands in their mouths! A great alternative is to create your own baby-safe paints made out of edible ingredients.
Mums Charlie and Jen have been showing us how they made their own paints with their kids, and it's super easy to do with just 4 ingredients.
Safety warning: Although the paint is taste safe, it's not something for them to eat - especially as it's high in salt. It's more the fact that it's safe if they put their hands covered in paint into their mouths.
What you'll need:
- 30g salt
- 60g flour
- 110ml water
- Food colouring
Here's what to do:
- Mix the flour and salt in a bowl.
- Add a few drops of food colouring to the water and stir it in.
- Gradually add the coloured water to the flour and salt.
- Mix really well until the clumps dissolve.
- Add more water depending on the consistency you desire.
- If your paint becomes too runny, add a bit of extra flour to thicken it up.
- You can repeat all the stages above with different food colouring to create lots of different paint colours.
Use paint brushes, toy rollers, stampers, etc and lots of paper, and get creative using the homemade paints. And yes, there may be a tiny bit of mess...
Create this simple baby sensory outdoor activity!
It's like a giant outdoor baby gym! Super easy if you have a rotary washing line but still possible by stringing up a couple of washing lines above your baby, this is a brilliant sensory play idea for a warm summer's day.
Mum Laura Jessica shared how much her baby son loved this in the fantastic Family Lockdown Tips & Ideas Facebook group, where parents have been sharing their at-home activity ideas.
"We were out in the garden and my son usually like watching the laundry go round but I didn't need to put any out," Laura tells us.
"So I collected noisy/colourful toys from inside. Then I found various items from the shed that were shiny and would catch the light (I used solar light bulbs) and added strips of aluminium foil. I then used pegs to attach them to the line."
More like this
So here's what you need:
- Washing line or string/rope that you could attach to two points in the garden. You could also use a standalone indoor washing airer
- Lightweight noisy/colourful toys
- Strips of foil
- Shiny items
- Bright cloths that will flap in a breeze
Just remember to keep your baby in a shaded area while they're watching it, so they're not sitting in direct sunlight, and ensure they're warm enough in the shade.
"I gave the line an occasional spin and he was so engaged," Laura tells us. "He particularly liked the light reflecting off the items. He's 4½ months and we had lots of smiles, laughing and cooing."
Create this incredible rainbow Worry Fish to help share any anxieties!
Over the past few months, life for our kids (and us!) has been so different and uncertain, and some children are finding it harder than others. They’re missing their friends, maybe missing school, and they’re hearing a lot of people talking about a terrible virus, hospital and death,. It can be a lot for them to take on board.
One way to help kids who might be struggling is to create a Rainbow Worry Fish, an idea featured on Great Ormond Street's Games and Activities hub, and just one of many fantastic activities they've created.
The Rainbow Worry Fish is a simple way of letting kids share their worries and anxieties, while using play, to express how they’re feeling.
"The story of the Rainbow Worry Fish was that she did not share her scales, which sometimes made her lonely and feel sad," explains the team at GOSH. "Once she did share her scales with other people it made her feel better. This activity is a great way to help children use play to express how they’re feeling and enhance their wellbeing."
Here’s what you’ll need:
- A sheet of A4 paper
- Post-it notes and a pen
And here’s how to do it
- Begin, by drawing an outline of a large fish.
- Colour in your fish using all the colours of the rainbow using your pens or pencils, whatever you have at home.
- Any time your child is worried or sad, see if they can write down how they’re feeling on a Post-it and add this note to the fish, to represent the fish scales.
- Hopefully, a problem shared is a problem halved.
Other Great Ormond Street Hospital ideas we love include:
You can even make your own stethoscope with straws and foil!
Code your own rainbow Thank You NHS animation
Coding school Cypher has created a fantastic simple coding opportunity to create a rainbow Thank You NHS animation with your own clapping soundtrack! It's all set up for you to carry out the following simple instructions and your child can proudly code their own personalised message.
Here's what you need to do
- Go to the Scratch site set up by prestigious US university MIT to help children learn coding.
- Click on ‘Join scratch’ at the top right of the screen (or if you already have a Scratch account ‘Login’). Click on ‘Get Started’.
- Go to this starter file that has been created for this project. Click on ‘Remix’ and the file will then open.
- Press the Green Flag icon at the top of the screen to see what happens to the code - you should see that the sea is only blue and we want to make it rainbow coloured. To do this you need to make sure you are on the Sprite/Character ‘Dot’ at the bottom right, then add a block to change the colour which can be found in ‘Looks’ at the left of your screen.
- Select ‘change colour effect by ( )’ blog and drag it in-between the ‘change Clone Wave by 0.5’ block and the ‘change Clone Wave by 5’ block.
- Change the number in the block to 0.7. Click on the Green Flag to see what happens.
- To add a clapping sound - make sure you are clicked on the ‘Boat’ Sprite/Character at the bottom right. Then go to the ‘Sounds’ tab at the top - click on the sound icon at the bottom left of the screen and click ‘Record’. Here you can record yourself and your family clapping by pressing the red ‘Record’ button. Then press ‘Save’. You can rename the ‘recording1’ to ‘Clapping’.
- Go back to the ‘Code’ tab. Click on the ‘Sound’ blocks and drag the ‘play sound Clapping until done’ block and put it in the ‘When (Green Flag) clicked’ with the ‘Forever’ loop block on the right which is empty.
- Then click the Green Flag icon and you should be able to see rainbow waves and hear your clapping!
Join a stimulating free gym class for babies and toddlers!
While there are lots of exercise classes for school children, PE for pre-schoolers isn't so easy to find. That's why we love The Little Gym who are offering 2 video classes for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers as well as 2 further classes for primary school children.
The weekly videos are split into 4 different age groups:
The videos for babies and toddlers are particularly lovely to do with your little one if you're missing attending baby classes.
Some of the routines require bits of equipment but most of these are things you'll have around the home, or whoever's leading the class will explain what modifications you can make to manage without the equipment.
The moves are simple and the routines aren't super fast, so The Little Gym is perfect for beginners.
Discover brilliant ideas in the new Family Lockdown Tips & Ideas book and raise money to Barnardo’s!
We LOVE the Family Lockdown Tips & Ideas group on Facebook. It's an absolutely amazing daily source of ideas, events and activities to keep our kids busy during lockdown, in ways we didn’t even know were possible!
We know this group has been a godsend to over the million people who have joined it from all over the world, sharing their wonderful ideas.
The impressive creator of this group, Claire Balkind, is a secondary school teacher and mum of 2, and explains that she was inspired to set up Family Lockdown Tips & Ideas on Facebook as a way to manage. "Parenting is hard at the best of times and I tend to keep my kids busy by being out and about. The group was born out of necessity and a genuine anxiety that somehow, despite being a teacher and having 5 years of parenting under my belt, I wouldn’t be able to cope.”
Thanks to this Facebook community and the sheer size of it, Claire has put together this new e-book, which costs just £1.99, with all profits going to Barnardo’s charity. The ebook features 20 carefully curated, easy and fun activities, which are adaptable to all ages and interests. There's everything from scavenger hunts lockdown style and fort making to salt dough memory making. Don't delay - grab a really useful ebook while doing something for charity too.
Insect spotting sheets
We love the Wildlife Trust's insect spotting sheets, which have pictures to help your children identify what species of insect they've seen.
Nature craft activities
For those days when you can't get the kids outdoors, there are lots of Wildlife Trust craft tutorials to try.
Many involve using items you'd usually recycle so you don't have to buy lots of extras, including:
- Make a glow worm out of a plastic water bottle
- Create a bottle basking shark out of another plastic water bottle
- Make a crab from an egg carton
We also love this nature mandala which kids can make their own collecting whatever materials they come across outdoors.
Take part in interactive read-alongs with Story Imagin-ory!
The Story Imagin-ory online read-along sessions do a lovely job of bringing books to life for babies and toddlers. Today's story session is centred around Poo in the Zoo by Steve Smallman and features lessons on phonics and sounds, as well an interactive reading of the book using cuddly toys and songs.
Each read-along also comes with a brilliant activity pack to download which goes alongside the story. The last read-along was all about Hairy Maclary by Lynley Dodd, and the Hairy Maclary pack had some lovely themed activities such as building a dog kennel with bits & bobs around the house, making salt dough bones and setting up a muddy dog wash. Expect lots of zoo-animal themed activities this time round!
You'll find the Poo in the Zoo interactive read-along available on Story Imagin-ory's Facebook and YouTube page from 12pm this afternoon. Sessions are pre-recorded so you don't have to worry about tuning in at a certain time.
For more free children's stories to listen to, check out our round-up of the best online story reading across YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.
3. Free jungle themed masks, crafts and activity sheets!
We love it when kids' companies create free fantastic free activites and downloads. Kids snack maker, Fruit Bowl, has a whole host of jungle themed activities available on the Crafty Corner of its website which are all free. All the activities are marked easy, medium and hard so you can select them depending on difficulty and how much time you have.
Make your own masks
There are four fantastic jungle masks to download:
Simply print the masks in colour, make eyeholes, cut out the circles on the side to make two holes and thread some string through the holes so you can keep the mask on.
Jungle themed craft activities
Want to make a fun hand-print monkey? Or for something that takes a little longer, there are step-by-step instructions on how to make this brilliant paper plate hippo.
Jungle activity sheets
Don't miss these fantastic jungle activity sheets, with several to choose from including dot-to-dot and spot the difference.
2. Break a World Record today at 4pm! Take part in Rob Biddulph's attempt to create the largest online art lesson ever
Rob Biddulph, the author and illustrator of children’s books such as Odd Dog Out and Grrrrr!, is attempting to break the Guinness World Record today for the world’s largest online art class. And you can be a part of it!
Young and old, anyone and everyone can get involved to break this world record, but,you must register here at Art World Records first. You'll also need to be online for the whole 30-minute record attempt at 4pm today.
Breaking this world record isn’t just about getting into the Guinness Book of World Records though. Rob's event is raising money for charities, all of which will go towards research into Covid-19, relief for those most impacted and helping prepare for future pandemics (perish the thought).
So pens at the ready and get registered!
Check out Rob's previous classes
Rob hosts amazing drawing classes weekly on his YouTube channel, showing how to do step-by-step illustration. No matter how great or small your artistic skills are, Rob’s a cracking teacher. Check out some of his other sessions, such as how to draw a unicorn or a very sweet monster.
3 Definitely one for older kids - download for free Cards Against Humanity: Family Edition
If you've not heard of Cards Against Humanity, it's an off-the-wall, politically incorrect card-based party game, absolutely reserved for adults with a dark sense of humour (with or without a cocktail in hand).
It's definitely not suitable for children, until now... The people behind the adult version of the game have a created a Family Edition, for players aged 8 years+ (although not all parents may agree with the age rating). The family edition is due to be released later this year, but for lockdown they've created a sneak-peak printable version that you can download and play at home,. All you need is a printer, 21 sheets of paper, scissors and a good sense of humour.
If you want to, you can give your email, but you don't need to and can still download the cards.
How the game works
The game is simple. Once you've printed and cut out the question cards (black) and answer cards (white), you share these out with your players. At the start of each round, one player asks a question from a black card, and everyone else answers with their funniest white card. The person whose chose the white card that gets the biggest laugh, wins the round.
A couple of things to note first
- You need to be fine with poo and fart jokes and phrases such as turd, butts and crap
- It's very American and so there are words, spellings and people mentioned who are relevant to a US audience rather than UK
If you're still interested, then this is hysterical way to spend an afternoon with the kids, totally for free. We promise, there will be lots of raised eyebrows and laughing. Download now.
3 Chill (for free) with the wonderful CBeebies Your Mindful Garden!
With Mental Health Awareness Week in full swing, we're loving Your Mindful Garden, new to the CBeebies Go Explore app (free on Apple, Google and Amazon). Every day, it suggests 3 activities for your child to do, each one helping them find focus, creativity or calm – valuable techniques we all need in bucketloads right now.
Once your child's completed the activities, they get a reward to add to their special 'mindfulness tree', which then goes to sleep until they wake it up again for the next day’s session.
The activities are voiced beautifully by Stephen Fry (no stranger to mental-health issues himself, of course) and were developed with a mindfulness consultant. We particularly like:
- Zen Garden (above), where you move your rake around to make super-calming patterns
- Fantastic Fish, where you focus on decorating fish with coloured scales
- Calming Frog (below), where you follow the frog's deep breathing and watch him transform from grumpy stress ball to his calmer, happier, fly-catching self.
Activities for Day 58
1. 3 ways to create and play with a water play station!
Water play is a brilliant way to keep toddlers and pre-schoolers entertained, so we love this water play station that mum Abi set up in her sink for her daughter Maisie.
Of course, always watch your child when they're playing with water and never leave them unattended.
Abi's tip - Put a towel over the sink top between your child and the bowl to absorb some of the dripping water
Game 1 - Who needs a bath and a hairwash?
The water play station is the perfect place to create a toy washing salon. Abi chose a pirate theme based on the toys she had but any toys will do, especially those with hair or washable fur, so they can have a bath and a hairwash at the same time. Fill the sink with water and washing up liquid or bubble bath - and invite the toys in for a good bath. They could line up in a queue on the side, ready to dive in. If you have a spare old toothbrush, this is brilliant for your child to wash toy nooks and crannies, or use scourers and cloths. Grab a little plastic cup for the hairwashing part (Abi used measuring cups and spoons), and a little cloth for a hair or fur rub afterwards.
Game 2 - Foamy sea
Fill your sink (or the second sink if you have one) or a bowl with shaving foam and add a few drops of blue food colouring - you now have brilliant foamy sea. It's a great play station for bath toys and any other animals that can hide underneath the foam or swim around in it. Fill a couple of small pots, such as yogurt pots, with foam and add some drops of a different food colouring. Add a couple of pain brushes for sea toy painting fun.
Game 3 - Foamy painting
Put some kitchen roll or paper by the side of the sink and using the brushes, let your child start making foamy paintings. Add different food colourings to small pots of shaving foam to create fun pictures.
Water play station outside - for babies and toddlers!
In lovely warm weather, take one or two washing up bowls outside to create your outdoor play station. This is also perfect for babies and toddlers who are sitting up who will love dunking toys between bowls of water - obviously watch them at all times.
2. Join 10,000 children in these live interactive maths classes!
Looking for a way to make maths more engaging for your child? We've found some brilliant video-based live UK maths lessons from maths teacher Dan Lin who runs the Help Your Kids Maths Facebook page. Using funny hats and occasional bursts of music, Dan has created an incredibly enthusiastic virtual 'class' who chip in with answers during the live sessions.
The following classes run each week this month:
- GCSE/Key Stage 3 - Mondays at 10am
- Key Stage 1 - Tuesdays at 10am
- Key Stage 2 - Thursdays at 10am
He's regularly getting over 10,000 views of his lessons, and last week's KS2 lesson about multiplication has already clocked up more than 70,000 views. All the lessons are available to watch on Facebook.
Today's KS1 lesson is about money and British coins, which Dan describes as a "different approach to traditional maths involving money, filled with problem solving and real life links. Previous KS1 lessons include addition, subtraction and telling the time.
It's completely free - just grab a pen and paper for your kids to jot down their answers which you can then comment with on the live video lesson. Plus, if you join today's class, Dan recommends having some coins to hand to make it really interactive.
2. Have a Disney day - drawing, quizzing and board gaming!
Frozen, Disney Princesses, Star Wars and Marvel superheroes - immerse yourself in a day of fun activity with Disney's new Destination of Imagination free platform.
Here's a taster...
Learn to draw Disney and Marvel characters
Olaf, Tinker Bell, The Little Mermaid's Flounder and Captain America's shield - you can download a printable step-by-step tutorial for drawing each of these from scratch - it's easier than stop-starting a video tutorial. Once your child has mastered how to draw the characters, they can grab some colouring pens to add the final finishing touches. And there are more to be released soon...
Disney Princess, Star Wars & Marvel activity booklets
Also available are these brilliant character themed printable activity booklets featuring 13 pages of Disney Princesses, 10 pages of Star Wars, 8 pages of Marvel superheroes, 6 pages of Frozen 2 and even more.
Disney and Star Wars quizzes
Why not put your children's Disney knowledge to the test with these printable trivia quizzes based around different characters. This is a great one to play between siblings to see who is the ultimate Disney fan.
Activities for Day 56
1. Make pancake cereal for a delicious breakfast treat or finger food snack!
We're seeing lots of lockdown food trends at the moment from banana bread to sourdough, but this pancake cereal recipe is a brilliant one as it doesn't require any complicated culinary skills.
Pancake cereal is exactly what it says on the tin - tiny cereal-sized pancakes that go great with fruit or simply a bowl of milk. Perfect for a weekend breakfast!
Mum Hollie Evelyn had a go at making them for her 1-year-old who loved having them as finger food. We first spotted her simple recipe on the excellent Family Lockdown Tips & Ideas Facebook group and she's shared this with us so you can have a go at making them with your kids.
Safety warning: If you're cooking this with your children, best to do the frying pan cooking yourself, or with careful supervision for older children
What you'll need:
- 125g plain flour
- 1 large egg
- 230ml milk
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 2 tablespoons sugar (optional - you could also use a dash of agave syrup instead)
- Dash of coconut oil for frying
Here's what to do:
- Whisk all the ingredients together and add the mixture into a piping bag or squeezy bottle with small hole
- Heat a frying pan on a medium heat with a small amount of coconut oil
- Add lots of little dots of the mixture to the pan - you can do this with a teaspoon, or a piping bag if you have one
- After a minute, move them around - you can either use the pan to shake them or a spatula to flip or push them over
- After around 15 seconds, take them off the heat
- Pour them into a bowl and add fresh fruit or milk. Enjoy!
2. What's this? Identify insects and wildlife on a nature walk with this amazing National Geographic Seek app
If you're heading out for family walks, this incredible free app is a great chance to spot, explore and understand the nature and wildlife in your neighbourhood. The free Seek by iNaturalist app has been developed by National Geographic and the California Academy of Sciences and uses image recognition technology. When you spot an insect, plant or animal, you open up the Seek camera on the app, take a picture and the app will tell you what you've found.
You'll see a range of fun facts including a brief summary on what you've spotted, how many times it's been spotted in your local area and its seasonality patterns.
Even better, you can use the app without having to register (there is optional registration), and although the app will ask you to turn on location services, your location is obscured to protect your privacy.
We had a go on our afternoon walk and the app instantly recognised that we'd come across a ladybird and swan. We even earned a species badge, which you can collect as you come across different types of animals and plants.
Download from App Store and Google Play
Simple ways to help your child learn to be clever with money
Make learning about money simple and fun for your kids with these easy tips.