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
Activities for Day 7
1. It's Gruffalo day - Build A Monster, Spot The Difference, Dot the dots and watch Axel Scheffler draw the Gruffalo (and mouse)
It's time to play. There are wonderful games on the official Gruffalo site including an interactive set of 4 games called The Deep Dark Wood, including a Build A Monster, Memory game with Gruffalo cards and then a listening/comprehension game about Gruffalo's favourite food.
And that's not all. Download a Gruffalo Activitiy pack with Spot The Difference, Dot-to-dot and Wordsearch.
Then watch a fantastic video from the British Library showing how Gruffalo artist Axel Scheffler turns a blank piece of paper into his monster creation (plus mouse). Here's a hint - you start with the horns!
You can even sing (and sign) along to the Gruffalo song with Makaton signing - sung by author Julia Donaldson
2. Yes, the clocks have gone forward - here's how to help your toddler or child get to sleep tonight!
May be it's all the disruption , having to stay home, or just the clocks going forward - big changes in all our lives can affect sleep and sleeping patterns. We've teamed up with with our wellbeing and mindfulness sister title In The Moment magazine, to create a series of Sleepy Time podcasts - designed to help children aged 2 to 5 years and 5 to 8 years, who are struggling to drop off to sleep or stay asleep.
Age-specific exercises and meditations have been created by psychologist and yoga teacher Suzy Reading so your child can learn how to build their own positive sleeping habits.
More like this
- Episode 1: Settling down to sleep for 2 to 5 year olds
- Episode 2: Getting back to sleep for 2 to 5 year olds
- Episode 3: Breathing techniques for 2 to 5 year olds
- Episode 4: Calming story techniques for 2 to 5 year olds
- Episode 5: Settling down to sleep for 5 to 8 year olds
- Episode 6: Building your mind garden for 5 to 8 year olds
- Episode 7: Calming story techniques for 5 to 8 year olds
Find all 7 podcasts on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Acast
Activities for Day 6 (Saturday)
1. For you - Try this quiz
If you're stuck on any, pop over to our Facebook page where you can share your answers.
2 Colour and create an animal alphabet
26 free gorgeous animal and insect colouring-in sheets to help your child learn the alphabet. They make a lovely display once finished, and great pictures to put up around the room to help with ABCs. Or you can play a sorting game with them.
Download now from MadeForMums
3 For babies - Toys in a saucepan game
A simple game that will elicit wide grins and infectious giggles, which is basically peek-a-boo with a saucepan!
Get a couple of your baby's bright and colourful toys, and a medium sized saucepan. Pop your baby in a bouncy chair or highchair so they have a good view, then show them one of the toys. Next, pop the saucepan over the toy so that the toy is now hidden from view and say "Where's it gone?" and give your best 'puzzled' face. You may see your baby mimic you. Then do the big reveal, lifting up the saucepan and declaring, "There it is!" Cue big smiles. Then pop the saucepan over it and play again, and again... After a few goes, deftly swap the toy over and reveal a different toy under the saucepan - in your baby's eyes you're a magician.
Activities for Day 5 (Friday)
1. Join Sophie Ellis-Bextor's live kitchen disco at 6.30pm tonight!
Now this one is for ALL the family. Sophie Ellis-Bextor, she of Murder on the Dancefloor and Take Me Home, is throwing open her kitchen for a DIY singalong disco - at 6.30pm on Friday. The mum of 5 (bet she's having fun at the moment) will be singing along to a mix of classic disco and her own hits on Instagram Live with her children dancing around her - and she's inviting all of us to join in.
"I’ll wear my sequins and sing for you, my songs, disco songs," explains Sophie on Instagram. "Let’s party together (from a distance) because music and dancing will forever be one of the best tonics that ever was. I may even rock my old green sparkly eyeshadow."
It's set to be a fantastic family night disco, with her followers suggesting songs for her to sing (although one did enthuse "My dad loves your music"). We suggest getting the family all dressed up, sequins sparkling, and then get ready to dance...
See you on the dancefloor at 6.30pm tonight!
2. Watch giraffes, tigers and elephants at Chester Zoo live today only
Chester Zoo is opening its virtual doors to everyone today (Friday) with a close-up tour to many of their favourite furry and not-so-furry residents. Tune in to the Chester Zoo Facebook page at these times:
10:00 Red pandas
11:00 Rothschild’s giraffes
12:00 Asian elephants
14:00 Sun bears
14:30 Sumatran tigers
14:45 Humboldt penguins
The running order may vary a little, but with a zoo packed with amazing animals there’ll always be something fascinating to follow, and they’re promising a few surprises too.
Enjoying this? Try these...
There are lots of fun, educational activities on Chester Zoo’s website including:
- How to create animal shadow art (above) - with your favourite toy (for 3-11 year olds)
- Top cat card game – Top Trumps with big cats (for 7-11s)
- Sustainable palm oil wordsearch (for 7-11s)
3. Create a scavenger treasure hunt
Pick a few household items – such as a pair of blue socks or a tin of beans – and hide them in different place around the room (under sofas, for example, or behind a door or on a bookshelf) for them to find.
Give your child a ticklist with all the items written – or drawn – on it and see how long it takes for them to find each one.
This also a fun game for siblings to play, setting scavenger hunts for each other and (for the competitive ones) maybe even timing how long each of them taking to find everything.
Other scavenger hunt ideas
Instead of hiding objects, you can...
- Ask your toddler to find 'something blue' or 'something hard' or 'something small', and so on. For older children, you can ask them to find 'something made of plastic' or 'something beginning with H', and so on.
- Give your child a list of everyday items to find from around the house. We like this Macaroni Kid ticklist above, which has a picture-only version for non-readers, too. Although your child may take a while finding toilet paper...
4. Listen to David Walliams read one of his stories every day for Elevenses
At 11am, every day for the next 27 days, you can hear Gangsta Granny author David Walliams read a new short audio story – for free.
Each story is read by the author and a special guest, and focuses on 1 of the books' hilariously horrible children, including Competitive Colin, Gruesome Griselda, the Terrible Triplets and Trish the Troll.
More David Walliams fun
- Draw your own World's Worst Child: download an activity sheet to help you master drawing gruesome faces like illustrator Tony Ross
- Work out some Gangsta Granny puzzles: find your way through the downloadable maze and complete the wordsearch
- Watch The Boy in the Dress: catch up with the BBC drama on iPlayer
5. Create instant ice-cream without a freezer and more fun science experiments
Create your own interactive science lessons using items you have around the house, using these free activities from the Science Museum.
If you want to create real ice-cream just by shaking some delicious ingredients, try this instant ice-cream experiment and discover the science of freezing.
The downloadable activity sheets also come with descriptions to help you explain to kids how to apply the science in the real world. You can filter the activities by age, and even which science topic you'd like your child to learn about.
Activities for Day 4 (Thursday)
1. Make magical colour-changing daffodils
This activity really has everything in it: some science, creativity and all the feels of Spring!
If you're lucky enough to have some daffodils in your garden (or you can pick up any that are already broken that you find in parks, keeping 2m away from others, of course) and some food colouring lying around in a kitchen cupboard somewhere, then you're ready to go. (If you can't find daffodils, it works with sticks of celery too.)
Magical colour-changing daffodilsYou'll need:
- a vase or jug
- food colouring (red, blue or green will work well)
- some daffodils
- a little patience (the 'magic' takes 24 hours)
Simply fill your vase with water, add 10 to 20 drops of food colouring and then put the daffodils in. It's probably best to make this an evening activity as it will take at least overnight for you to see the colour change in the flowers. If you have more than one colour of food colouring, split the daffodils into two bunches and put them in two jugs – with the different food colour – like our red and blue daffs.
When you see the results 24 hours later, we think it will make your day!
So, what's happening? The science lesson bit
Flowers have tiny tubes, called xylem, running up their stem. The water molecules in your vase are being pulled up through these tubes by a process called 'capillary action' – a bit like the way water is pulled up through a straw when you suck it. And because your vase water is coloured, you'll see that colour seep into the flower's petals as the water is pulled up.
We found the red food colour worked much more strongly than the blue. The red colour showed up the 'veins' of the petals, something we'd never seen before as they just looked yellow.
- Learn more about capillary action on SciShow Kids
- Try Rainbow Walking Water, a visually stunning capillary-action project from Sgsci Experiment
Daffodils to colour in
This lovely colouring sheet can be found at Great Little Minds, so if you have younger kids or can't find any any daffodils (or celery), you can print out and colour these in all different shades (imagining they'd had the food colouring treatment)!
4. Play football golf
While the sun's shining, why not get out in the garden or backyard (if you have either) and practise some ball skills?
We've been inspired by the new Netflix show The English Game (worth a watch in the evening when you may finally get some time to yourself) and this game is a controlled and careful way of playing with a football – and works in small outdoor spaces.
Make golf 'holes' around your open space by laying down jumpers or tea towels on the ground. Then your child has to carefully chip and guide the ball onto each 'hole', so that it stays put on the jumper or tea towel. Count the number of gentle kicks to get the ball in place, before moving on to the next 'hole'.
If there's more than one child playing, see who can get round the course with the fewest kicks.
5. Colour a British Library collection
Pic: British Library
Last year, lots of art galleries and cultural establishments took part in 'Colour Our Collection', offering free printable sheets of some of their most popular works.
The British Library has produced a colouring book to download and print, featuring illustrations from many different time periods, including a gorgeous Alice in Wonderland scene (pictured above).
On their site, you can see the original drawings, next to the back and white print-outs, so your child can get an idea of the original colour scheme – though of course they can improvise!
Discover more treasures at The British Library
Take a fascinating trip into the vaults of The British Library, including:
- A hilarious video charting the history of the Magna Carta – narrated by the late Monty Python Terry Jones
- How to create your own miniature book – make your own doll sized book
- A sound library of 283 different British dialects – hear how a North Yorkshire accent differs from a South Yorkshire one
Activities for Day 3 (Wednesday)
For more 'How to Train Your Dragon' fun
BookTrust also has other downloadable dragon activity sheets on its site, including designing your own dragon and a cut-out crown.
And if you want to learn how to draw the characters yourself, there's also a video of Cressida drawing dragons Hiccup and Toothless which your child could follow along to.
3. Hands-on cards for family and friends - reusing old greeting cards
While you may not be able to see loved ones such as grandparents at the moment, a handmade card is a great way to let them know you're thinking of them.
This idea from @millies.mummy on Instagram uses spare celebration cards she had around the house to create a colourful handprint design with her little girl.
This is a great activity for children of all ages as babies and toddlers can get involved with handprints while older kids can create their own more customised designs.
Once you have your finished your design, post them (while out on your daily exercise outing) to your loved ones to cheer up their day!
4. Learn phonics with Teach Your Monster to Read - currently free to use!
This brilliant phonics app Teach Your Monster to Read is the suggestion of MadeForMums mum and teacher Lucy, who explains it's a favourite of primary school teachers and recommended by the Department of Education.
Whether your child is in their first steps of learning phonics or is confident in reading short sentences, the app provides a clear, colourful and effective way for them to progress with their reading.
Children can create their own monster and take them through the three stages of the game - First Steps, Fun With Words and Champion Reader.
The game works through each phase of learning phonics and depending on their ability, and you pick which part of the app to start on.
For more reading activities
Check out these free printable reading activities for toddlers and preschoolers from LeapFrog which include spot the difference, a treasure hunt and letter link-up.
5. Learn to origami in 3 minutes
Follow this simple step-by-step tutorial on YouTube with your kids to learn how to make an origami butterfly!
All you need is some spare paper (printer size) and a bit of patience to learn some fun origami skills. If you've got coloured card, you could make lots of butterflies and hang them up with some string to make an eye-catching decoration.
The tutorial states is should take you just 3 minutes to make the butterfly but if your kids are struggling to keep up, slow down the playback speed of the video in YouTube settings to make it easier to follow along to.
Activities for Day 2 (Tuesday)
2. Make cut-out-and-keep 'loved ones' figures
Pic: Tara Breathnach
Cut out simple people-shaped figures from white paper or card - or draw an outline and get your child to cut round it, if they're old enough to use scissors.
Then ask your child to think of family and friends they're really missing during this time, and draw on their faces and, if they can write, to add their names too.
You can either stick these on a wall in your child's bedroom or in a scrapbook to help you remember loved ones or write a note on the back saying "We miss you" which you can show them during a Skype, Zoom or Facetime call.
Perfect for ages 3-8 years, the drawings can be as detailed or as simple as possible.
3. Watch Toy Story 4 and a new Forky special on Disney+ (if you've signed up)
You're probably aware that today's the day that the new Disney streaming channel Disney+ launches (Tuesday 24 March). And one of the big movies that kicks things off today is Toy Story 4. With a 97% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the 4th film starring Woody and Buzz takes you through a wringer of emotions and is definitely one for all the family. But that's not all - there's a brand new Pixar Toy Story special short series called Forky Asks A Question. Oh, and Toy Story, Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3...
How much will it cost?
Disney+ costs £5.99 per month or £59.99 for a yearly subscription, and with lots more time being spent at home, if you've got the extra cash, you may well think it's worth it.
Don't want to subscribe? Try the free new BBC iPlayer kids app instead...
BBC iPlayer has just launched its free Kids app.
You can download BBC iPlayer Kids for free on Amazon, Apple and Google.
It's really easy to find loads of great kids' entertainment for younger and older children, with CBeebies and CBBC programmes and shows. And if you're looking for an animated movie to entertain, then take your pick from The Boss Baby, The Gruffalo and The Snail & The Whale.
4. Play teddy bear tag
Seeing as we've got some super sunny weather right now, why not make the most of it and get out in the garden if you have one - or an isolated outdoor space, if you can find one.
Hide a teddy bear in your garden and get your child to look for it. When they've found it, they have to chase you around until they 'tag' you - ie touch you on the shoulder with the teddy, so you're 'it'.
Next, it's their turn to hide the teddy - once you've found it, you have to chase your child around the garden until you catch them by touching their shoulder with the teddy bear's paw.
Play as many rounds as you can until you're exhausted, then go inside (or stay outside if you have a snack table in the garden) for a small snack and drink - with teddy too, of course.
For more teddy bear fun
There are bundles of teddy bear activity sheets on Twinkl (don't forget your month's free sign-up with the code UK TWINKL HELP) with dot-to-dot, counting games, pencil control and split-pin puppet making.
5. Listen to Marvin's Magical Cardboard Box podcast
If you've got pre-schoolers or reception-age school children at home, let their imagination run wild into the jungle with the MadeForMums Join-in Story Marvin's Magical Cardboard Box. Full of interactivity and actions, Marvin finds a whole world of magic and adventure within the four sides of his cardboard box.
Each story is under 15 minutes long and they all have a different focus, from expanding imagination, to learning to count, and getting to know different sounds. Children can play along with toys or Lego DUPLO - and there are 2 further stories to join in with...
- Granny Annie's Noisy Day - get ready to make some noise when Granny Annie sets off on a special trip - listen on Spotify, iTunes, Podbean or YouTube
- Stanley's Special Train Journey - jump aboard Stanley's fantastic number train for number fun - listen on Spotify, iTunes, Podbean or YouTube
We think this is a great post-lunch activity, when you little one might be happy to play along with each story.
Activities for Day 1 (Monday)
1. Make (or sing) a rainbow
We love the trend to create a rainbow picture to put up in the front window of your home – to bring a little brightness, colour and hope.
It’s a perfect activity for young toddlers through to schoolchildren. Some of our MFM parents have already shared their kids’ drawings.
What you need
The 7 colours of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet
Your child can make those colours with pens, pencils, crayons, coloured paper, tissue paper, paints
There’s SO much to talk about and discover when it comes to rainbows, including:
How are rainbows formed – The Met Office has a great YouTube video for young kids and a more scientific explanation for older primary schoolers
How to learn the colours – did anyone else learn Richard Of York Gave Battles In Vain? What other phrases would work?
How to mix colours to make other colours – the great paint mix-up – make orange with red and yellow, indigo with blue and red
Why not sing the Rainbow song, I Can Sing A Rainbow, to your baby. OK, the colours aren’t quite correct(!) but hey, your baby probably won’t notice. You can stroke different parts of their body for each colour. It’s easy to sing.
The lyrics to the main part of I Can Sing A Rainbow are:
Red and yellow and pink and green
Purple and orange and blue,
I can sing a rainbow,
Sing a rainbow,
Sing a rainbow too.
3. Create a Fashion Show
This is an easy one for all ages – from toddlers to teens. Pull out any dressing up clothes, old clothes or even your old clothes and hold a fashion show. Take pictures and video of your child or children parading in fantastic new fashion trends – and share them with us at email@example.com (You may need to WeTransfer videos). We’d love to see them and share them!
5. Drawing mathematical shapes in the garden
We’re hoping for some more Spring sunshine this week, and this is a brilliant outdoors idea from MadeForMums mum Lucy, who is a primary school teacher and has a 3year-old and a 5-month-old. Again, this is an excellent activity for a range of ages: you can start with simple shapes in different colours for preschoolers and more complicated for older children – trapezium or polygons anyone? For younger children, if you have sticky tape, you can tape round the outline, so they colour within the lines and then peel off the tape to reveal the shape. For older children, if you have measuring tape, they can measure the different lengths and even work out areas (here's a skills website to help with that bit)
Lucy’s daughter chalked on their shed, but it works just as well on a patio, fence or wall.
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