The nation is once again under national lockdown measures to control the spread of the coronavirus. This week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the closure of schools until at least the February half-term.
Without schools, parents are once again searching the internet to provide educational, inspiring and creative ways to keep their children engaged each day.
We’ve scoured the internet to share with you some of the best websites to offer a range of activities and ideas to keep children of all ages busy during lockdown.
TED-Ed – Lessons worth sharing
TED is a popular online platform that shares ideas and talks designed to inform and inspire. TED-Ed is its youth and education platform to support learning. All the content is video-based, with videos lasting from two to twenty minutes.
You children can discover ‘how vaccines work’ or for something a little more fun, they will be fascinated to discover ‘which bug poops candy’.
The videos are all designed for children—but as parents, we’ve found them engaging and educational as well.
BookTrust – Getting children reading
As the nation’s largest children’s reading charity, BookTrust is offering free resources for home-schooling in the form of stories, online books and book-themed quizzes.
There are delightful stories available for pre-schoolers, such as ‘Hairy Maclary’ and ‘Fair Shares’, read by Pippa Goodhart. Colouring sheets are also available, featuring Julia Donaldson’s ‘Superworm’ illustrations.
For reluctant readers, there are book-based recipes, which means they can turn reading into a fun and tasty activity!
Get arty with Tate Kids!
Tate Kids is a dedicated website for arty kids. Children can take part in quizzes, play online games and view videos about art.
Tate wants to inspire youngsters to make art creations at home. The site also allows children to safely share their artwork in an online gallery with other children around the world.
Activities include ‘Making Pop Art’ and ‘Designing A Kaleidoscope’. For older kids, there are photographic challenges, which teaches them how to use filters and angles to create a striking composition.
There are also sections dedicated to discovering more about a diverse range of artists including Salvador Dali, Yayoi Kusama and Vincent Van Gogh.
National Geographic – explore the world from home
Travelling may be difficult now, but thanks to National Geographic, there is a wealth of resources available which will keep youngsters connected to the wider world.
The resources encompass subjects such as social studies, climate change and ecology, with a collection of lessons suited to all age groups.
Kids can follow geographer Alex Tait as he recounts the challenges he experienced while mapping Mount Everest. National Geographic has also made their digital magazine free to access, with features that support national standards in science and reading.
BBC Bitesize – for pupils of all ages
If you are trying to home-school children of different ages, then BBC Bitesize has got you covered.
The free resources are designed to inspire KS1 kids right up to older teenagers, with help available for parents, caregivers and children with SEN needs too.
Youngsters can explore phonics while older siblings learn all about the Spanish Armada. From 9am each weekday there are lessons in the core subjects of Maths and English, and the content is supported with activities, short tests and quizzes.
Children can also keep up to date with the latest news thanks to the long-running Newsround programme, or develop their language skills with a choice of French, Spanish, German, Italian or Mandarin lessons.
Take a tour of the Natural History Museum
School trips might not be allowed right now, but the Natural History Museum has opened its doors for a virtual tour hosted by Sir David Attenborough.
Sir Attenborough guides guests around the impressive Hintze Hall, where they will meet Hope, the enormous blue whale suspended from the ceiling of the hall.
The site suggests a wide range of activities – from the very messy ‘How To Make A Volcano’ to outdoor activities such as making a bug hotel or a wildlife-friendly garden.
Of course, no trip to the Natural History Museum would be complete without dinosaurs, and the website has a section dedicated to dinosaur-themed activities, with a recipe for dinosaur footprint cookies and roar-some facts for budding palaeontologists.
DK Find Out – Discover children from around the world
Your children can learn more about the lives of children from across the globe, in an interactive video that explores other countries and cultures. The video features Rafael from Brazil, who talks about his hobbies and school life, Shigo from Tanzania who shares her ambition to be a teacher, and many others.
DK Find Out also explores ‘what makes a good citizen’ and provides inspiration and activity ideas for children who want to help their community.
Get physical with Joe Wicks
The nation’s favourite PE teacher is donning his lycra once again during lockdown to provide twenty minutes of physical education online three days a week.
The body coach has a YouTube channel where workouts are streamed live at 9am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Wicks says: “Don’t worry, I’ve got you. I’m going to take this over. I’m going to get your kids moving, getting energised, positive and optimistic.”
Twinkl – Educational resources
With over 525,000 educational resources for teachers, Twinkl’s worksheets and lesson plans are usually only available to educators.
During lockdown, Twinkl has made many of their resources free for parents to access, with worksheets to support the National Curriculum and a range of topics and themes for children of all ages. There are also downloadable colouring sheets for children to complete independently.
Do what you can when you can
Most importantly, remember that we find ourselves in an extraordinary situation, and as parents, we also have to take care of ourselves. No one expects you to fill every day with a structured lesson plan—and mixing in daily chores such as helping to prepare dinner or washing dishes are all good life skills for youngsters to learn too!