Activity ideas for children aged five to 12

Entertaining your children? Try out a mix of things to engage their brains, burn some energy and make them smile.

Arts and crafts

  • Try foot painting. 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. It’s best to do this outside or somewhere with an easy-wipe surface.
  • Make a book together. Create 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.
  • Write a word search and theme it to your child’s hobbies.
  • Put on a play based on their favourite book. 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 different 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 try 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 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. Download a karaoke app to get you started.
  • Older children might enjoy a Nerf gun battle. This type of activity also helps burn energy.
  • Organise a family sports day. 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.
happy childhood icon

This advice was written by our experienced Parent Talk coaches. Parent Talk is a free online service for parents and carers, provided by the charity Action for Children. For more advice, message our parenting coaches with our online chat.

More on fun at home

Talk to us

Talk about the issues that are worrying you with a parenting coach. Use webchat or WhatsApp to have a free and confidential chat.