Stuck For What to Do With Your Kids at Home This Week? We’ve Got You Covered!

Many North Islanders may have been looking forward to their little ones heading back to school this week – but, if you’re like us, are instead now madly Googling school holiday activities to do when you’re stuck inside, AGAIN! If that’s you, and you’re worried you might go mad over the next few days (particularly if you’re working from home!), we’ve got a list of ideas for little – and not so little! – ones.

Phew. What a week. What a year!

First of all, we hope that you and your family are doing well and are safe and dry! if so, and you’ve been lucky enough to be unscathed by the flooding, and are now sitting here wondering what to do to occupy your kids, now could be the perfect time to lend a hand and teach your kids the importance of giving back.

Check out our list of ideas and ways to help here! The next few days could be a fab time to sit with your kids and help them go through their toy collection and drawers of clothing to see what they’ve grown out of that is in good condition that could go to another home. Or, maybe there’s a drop off point for food items, or cooked meals nearby? Maybe it’s a good time to do some baking for those who have been affected, or for the volunteers working around the clock to help?

It’s a stressful time, we understand. New school holiday activities are tricky to think up in the best of times, in the best of circumstances. So, yes, it is perfectly understandable if you’re feeling like tearing your hair out (and then feeling guilty, because you’re thinking of those who are having a MUCH worse time). And, particularly if you were expecting your children to be at school or at an ECE this week, and instead are scrambling to make plans, perhaps while you still have to work from home yourself.

And, this all comes after a summer holiday that has had more rainy days than sunny ones, so chances are you’ve exhausted a lot of your rainy day play ideas. Phew.

That’s where we come in to help!

We asked our friends at the Parenting Place to dig deep and think of fresh new ways to keep children of all ages engaged, so that hopefully you’ll get a wee bit of respite to get through your work requirements (or at least have a cuppa or get dinner cooking!). They have truly delivered and have a mix of 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!)

And, a big WELL DONE for getting through this all so far. Now, here goes with the ideas!

Little ones

  • 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.
  • Water play: Most kids love playing with water and relish the freedom to get wet and make a mess. If you are unscathed by flood waters, 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.

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
  • 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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