Activity ideas for children aged five to 12

Entertaining your children at home? Action for Children’s parenting coach Joanna Miskin has lots of ideas.

Activity idea for children - video chatting with grandparents on an ipad

Arts and crafts

  • Outdoor foot painting is a good excuse to get outside. First, lay out a long sheet of paper. Put paper plates with paint on at one end, and a towel and a bowl of water at the other. Then get stomping!
  • Make a book together: try a picture book cut out from magazines and newspapers. Older children can make up and illustrate their own story, then share it with the rest of the family.
  • Set a Lego challenge to see who can build a rocket/car/castle the fastest. With older children, sketch out designs on a piece of paper. Then take turns to pick out an idea to build together.
  • Collect rocks and stones to turn into a creative project or ornaments.

Fun while they learn

  • Make your own time capsule. Fill it with letters, photos and anything else, then bury it in the garden or store in an attic. See WikiHow for more suggestions.
  • Make a word search and theme it to your child’s hobbies.
  • Put on a play based on their favourite book. You can write a script, decide who is playing which character, then act it out.
  • Create your own science day. Head to Science Fun for some great tips on experiments you can do at home.
  • Learn a language. BBC Bitesize has short lessons in all sort of skills.
  • Research your family tree. Dig out photos of relatives your child can stick in a family tree album.
  • If the night sky is clear, wrap up warm and do some stargazing. The Sky at Night website has tips on what to look for.

Fun and games

  • Design and make your own board game.
  • Card games are a great way to learn while spending time together. Uno, Snap and Top Trumps can all help sharpen maths and language skills.
  • Play hide and seek either indoors or out: the whole family can join in.
  • Ask to play a computer game with them. This will show you’re taking an interest, as well as give you an insight into how and what they play.

Shake it up

  • Have a Karaoke competition and dance-off. It’s a great way to keep up to date with what your child is listening to. Download a karaoke app to get you started.
  • Older children will love a Nerf gun battle: it’s great for burning energy.
  • Organise a Sports Day. This can be indoors or outdoors. Set up a mini racetrack, have an egg and spoon race or use cushions for hurdles.

Fun with food

  • Get them to help out with dinner. They could choose the menu, prep ingredients or set the table.
  • Have a food tasting session. This is particularly good to encourage fussy eaters to try new things.

Down time

  • Have a spa day to take care of yourself and each other. Use washing up bowls for a foot soak and give each other pedicures. You can make home-made scrubs and face masks from olive oil, sugar and honey.
  • Keep connected by video calling friends and relatives so they can see how everyone is doing.
  • Turn your home into a cinema. Make the room dark and give your child a blanket to cuddle up underneath. Let them choose an (age-appropriate) film to make sure they’re really engaged with it.
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