How To Survive School Holidays in Lockdown!

First of all, congratulations – you’ve nearly made it to the half-way point! Navigating school holidays during lockdown is no easy task, so the great folks at Parenting Place have come up with a guide of School Holiday activities to get you through!

Hello Aucklanders, and now Waikato. It’s school holidays and we’re in Level 3 lockdown. While it’s great our lockdown now allows physically distanced, mask-wearing outdoor playdates/picnics for much needed social interaction, for those parents who are still working but with no access to childcare, school holidays can be pretty challenging and, in all honesty, stressful. 

It’s been a taxing few months and we don’t know how much longer we will be stuck at home. I don’t know what it’s like in your whare, but at my place, my kids (aged six and nine) are now officially over it. They’re bored, restless and needing new things to do. I’m having to dig deep to think of fresh ways to keep them engaged so they don’t terrorise each other (or me!) for fun, and so I can get through some of my work requirements. So, I did some research and pulled together a bunch of ideas – activities to help you and your kids have some fun together, and hopefully some fun apart (with kids being so busy and happy that you might get an hour or so to actually finish some work!)


Little ones

  • Water play: Most kids love playing with water and relish the freedom to get wet and make a mess. Set them up outside with buckets and bowls, funnels and cups. Level up with some bubbles and food colouring. If the weather is grim, pull a sturdy chair up to a sink full of warm soapy water and give your little one a collection of plasticware to ‘wash’. Note: stay close, anything involving water requires adult supervision.
  • Playing shops: Raid the recycling and set up a shop with cardboard boxes, empty packages and containers. Add some coins and notes and kids will play for hours. Level up and add a little café (cardboard boxes make good tables and upside-down toy boxes can be stools), then serve them morning tea there.
  • Obstacle courses: create a series of challenges in the backyard, or inside if the weather isn’t great.  You can use boxes, yoga rollers, cushions and shoes to create a course; show them how it’s done and challenge them to do five laps with a timer on. Level up with string or wool, wrapping it around large (and secure!) pieces of furniture and door handles around the house so the kids have to get through the ‘web’ without touching the string.
  • Listen to story time podcasts or audio books. Kids can get quite happily engaged with a craft or building with blocks while a story podcast is playing in the background.
  • Make your own Christmas wrapping paper (never too early to start getting festive!) with paints, craft supplies and stamps.
  • Do some decorating for the spooky season with chalk paint pens on windows and glass doors (easy clean up too).
  • Simple sewing with felt shapes is a fun way to develop hand eye coordination.
  • Paint some rocks and pick flowers to create a fairy garden.
  • Create a chalk masterpiece on the footpath or driveway.
  • Sit down with your little ones to enjoy a teddy bear’s picnic. Spending some focused time together, with a parent joining a child at their level, will help kids get into an activity. Use funny voices to chat with the toys and dolls, and then when your child is happy to play alone you can get some work done alongside them.

Middle years

  • Ask Google to direct you to a range of brilliant school holidays programmes on offer virtually: MOTAT’s school holiday experience That’s So Random, Scratchpad Coding for Kids (includes coding, robotics, electronics, 3D design and printing), Yoobee (offers 2D Animation, E-sports, Ethical Hacking, Game Design), Bricks4Kids (a LEGO STEAM holiday programme with free Saturday classes) and Little Scientists School Holidays Party.
  • Camp in your backyard with fairy lights, smores and card games
  • Throw a breakfast pancake party 
  • Set siblings up with a Nerf war (indoors or outdoors), just lay out the guidelines first!
  • Pizza party – kids can have a go at making their own dough from scratch and decorating their own pizzas with various toppings. (Bonus – dinner is now sorted!)
  • Baking together. Kids love making cupcakes and decorating cookies, and the baking process is great real-life learning too. Level up – try an extra challenging recipe you don’t usually have time for. We’ve never made a gingerbread house, so are going to give it a go these holidays.
  • Gardening is such soul food. Whether its planting vegetable seedlings or tidying up your current garden, get the kids involved and chat about what you are doing so they learn how to care for the earth.
  • Practise mindfulness or yoga together. You can use an app or YouTube clip, or sit down together with some mindfulness colouring in.
  • Listen to stories. Storytime From Space is a unique experience: NASA astronauts read stories to kids while floating around in space! We also love the Kiwi podcast Story Space, as well as StoryPirates.  A great way to entertain them without watching a screen.
  • Make Christmas cards – as I said, it’s never too early to get organised for Christmas! 
  • Build a fort in the lounge and have a movie night 
  • Study science. Sure, why not! The Smithsonian Science Education Centre and Mystery Science lets kids discover loads of science-based topics, and offers free online games which are loads of fun.
  • Sewing – my kids are really keen to sew things, and although we’re starting basic, they love creating things as simple as little pillowcases or handbags to carry around the house.

Tweens and teens

  • Remember when we used to print out photos? Give your teen the challenge of creating a family photo album (or one with their friends) using an online photo publishing website. These books are a neat keepsake and the creation process is fun and inspiring, plus a great chance to practise some design skills.
  • Remind yourself how cool Kelly Tarlton’s is with a virtual tour.
  • Host a Kahoot quiz night with wider family in other bubbles. Putting these quizzes together can take AGES, so a good way to while away a rainy afternoon.
  • If we can’t get fancy to go out, why not dress up and have a dance party in your living room, or ask the teens to host a fancy dinner (even if it’s delivered via UberEATS)
  • Get silly and have fun. Charades is a classic for family hilarity. We love using the HeadsUp app, as it’s easy for younger kids too (the older kids whisper the word to the younger kids who are acting but can’t read!)
  • Create TikTok videos together. If you can’t beat them, join them, right? Have a laugh at yourself. Your tween will love that you are entering their world – even if they will find your efforts hilarious/mortifying.
  • Have a karaoke night using music videos with lyrics on YouTube.
  • Host a Gartic phone games night – fun for adults too. Check it out at https://garticphone.com/
  • Challenge your kids to learn something new. There are loads of ideas and tutorials for craft projects on YouTube. You could create a Christmas wreath or a trendy macrame piece, sew some clothing or shopping bags, learn calligraphy, make candles or soap, learn how to make bagels, or have a go at a sourdough starter.
  • Remind yourself of the wonders beyond your own neighbourhood – take a virtual tour of Auckland’s favourite public art and sculptures. While you’re feeling cultured, virtually visit some of the world’s best art galleries and museums. Lockdown silver lining – we can hang out at the Louvre or the Great Wall of China from the comfort of our living rooms!

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