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Shelter activities with children

Family, Stories of Love

Here is my list of shelter activities with children whilst we take time out in our homes. I’m loving all the ideas that are circulating at the moment for the kids but what about some ideas for us grown ups too. So I’ve put together a little care guide to help us all get through this time at home. Also I’m really trying to alter my use of language so I’m trying to avoid using words that are triggering me at the moment by constant use in the media. So I’m swapping lock down for shelter, survival to getting by, and isolation for solitude. You get the idea. Apologies in advance for an wonky spelling or grammar (sorry Mum) I think we are all having trouble concentrating aren’t we!

If you have been following me for a while you know I love Dr Rangan Chatterjee, I’m a fan of crystals, gong baths and stuff like that. Some of my ideas might seem woo woo but they are just ideas, we are all just doing the best we can. Because I spend a lot of time at my desk editing (gosh I’ll miss that) I get a lot of inspo from Podcasts – I REALLY love them! So here is a little list of my go to sanity savers. Once you’ve sorted the kids timetable out why not stick your headphones on and treat yourself to 10 mins of quiet listening. It might just save your brain and the kids can do colouring or quiet reading…that’s the hope anyway!

Books and Audio Books:

Brene Brown, “Braving the Wilderness”. everything written by Dr Wayne Dyer, and Oprah Winfrey “What I know for sure” is what I use to meditate to. Her voice is so relaxing and I simply can’t meditate…I’ve tried honest!

Podcasts I love (also available on YouTube):

Oprah Winfrey Soul Sessions for my soul, Ted Talks & Women’s hour for my mind, Stories of our times for reliable virus news that isn’t sensationalised- yep it’s a podcast dedicated to Covid19, Postcards from Midlife for my peri menopause, Feel better live more with Dr Rangan Chatterjee for everything, Shoot edit chat repeat for my biz, The high Low (NEED a new series please) and of course for mega lolz Joan and Jericha! But it’s very rude so only in the staff room with a gin at the end of the day!

We will attempting to do lessons at home, I’m not sure how this will go. I have a seven year old who is struggling a little and objecting to every single suggestion I make from breakfast choices to teeth brushing so I’m feeling nervous about it tbh. Whilst my 5 year old literally can’t wait to do her lessons at home which is great but the stark contrast in itself could be problematic. Anyway we will using a daytime structure timetable like this one from Owl Haven, they have included different age ranges too.  I’m thinking of letting them choose a fancy dress school uniform for home. Just to make the day uplifting but so it has some sort of formality. This was a really useful read all about making your day fun, click here.

Also we have decided to share certain topics, my other half enjoys maths and I hate it so he is the designated maths teacher. There is no point me and the children getting frustrated, so he will step away from his desk (actually my desk, grrrrr but we are all making sacrifices) and teach them maths for half hour each day, or for as long as they can listen. I’ll do the other stuff, delegate, share and have fun!

I love drama too so each day we will do a little improvisation on a topic of their choice. Kind of like “Who’s line is it anyway” but far more chaotic and with more sibling squabbling.

When I’m trying to make sense of the world I document it with my photographs. It’s for my own personal sanity and creativity, so I will also be creating a photo journal of this strange and wonky time. So when it’s passed and we look back and remember the strange time of uncertainty we can see how we dealt with it together. I have included a few images so far.

Dr Rangan Chatterjee recommends doing something for your heart, mind and body each day. I will be implementing this for my children too. Here are a few of my personal examples:

For your heart:

Holding my our crystals and even bathing with them to charge them.

Gratitude exercises eg: writing a journal.

Telling our own stories eg: the day you were born etc.

Looking through our old photo albums and updating them.

Taking a bath with a facepack, drink and a book.

For your mind:

Writing a plan for your day each day with goals.

Taking photographs for my Shelter photo journal.

Creating my family 2019 photo books.

Reading a book, or audio book.

Cleaning out a drawer or cupboard.

Each family member writing a line in a story about a day we all remember.

Each family member writing facts or things they love about other family members.

For your body:

Doing your 5 in 5 (from Dr Rangan Chatterjee) as a family (1 minute of 5 different exercises, my fave is: running on spot, jumping jacks, bear crawls, plank and back extensions)

A daily PE lesson at 9am weekday with awesome The Body Coach. Check out his amazing Insta page for quick workouts.

Walking together.

Family football matches in the garden.

Cooking together.

Gratitude game EVERY day, a simple and powerful way to shift your attention every day. I ask my children at teatime the best and the worst part of their day. We all do it, and it helps to regulate how they feel and for us to discuss whatever presents itself. If your day together has been tough it’s a good way to deal with any issues that came up.

Indoor Activities

  1. Baking
  2. Uno
  3. Clay
  4. Colour / letter / number matching games with milk bottle tops (with said colour / letter / number written on the top) and a sheet.
  5. Cosmic yoga (available on youtube)
  6. Bingo
  7. Arts and craft (start saving those cereal boxes and toilet rolls now!) If you need inspiration then Pinterest has loads of ideas on junk modelling.
  8. Homemade putty with cornflour and water (and food colouring i’d imagine as well?)
  9. Discos
  10. Board games
  11. Decorate plain baseball caps / t-shirts etc
  12. Playdoh
  13. Pillow case race (for hard floors only). Kneel on a pillow case and race around a ‘track’!
  14. Cooking challenges
  15. Role play – set up your own museums / shops / vets etc. They could make signs and price lists (if you wanted to make it more about reading and writing and maths).
  16. Cinema afternoons
  17. Flatten a cardboard box and turn it into a race track or city for car
  18. Stair slide! Get a load of strong boxes, duct tape to the stairs, mattresses, quilts and pillows at the bottom! They fly down and have loads of fun.
  19. Make your own slime
  20. Hair / make up / pamper days
  21. Selection of bath activities – disco bath, calming bath with candles, glow stick bath
  22. Make your own sensory area under a table
  23. Make towers using jenga pieces, dominoes or duplo
  24. Marble runs – whether it’s using actual marble run resource or junk modelling. How far can you make the marble travel?
  25. Hangman
  26. Pictionary
  27. Experiment with different ice lollies using smoothies / ice cream / juice
  28. Decorate plant pots before you plant seeds
  29. Build a cardboard car or robot
  30. Make paper aeroplanes and then race them
  31. Work on jobs and chores together and encourage children to take the same level of responsibility for their home as they do in school (otherwise can you imagine the mess and carnage?)
  32. Make cards to send to elderly relatives or neighbours – people who could be vulnerable on their own and may not get any company from one day to the next.
  33. Drawing competitions
  34. Making lunch together and writing menus
  35. Updating our family albums
  36. Making home movies on my camera and editing them together

Outdoor Activities

  1. Skipping ropes – both individually or in small groups
  2. Homemade hopscotch
  3. Nature-spotting
  4. Geocaching
  5. Painting the wall or fence with water
  6. Make a wormery, snail farm or slug zoo.
  7. Lots of nature crafts with sticks and leaves
  8. Make / decorate a bird feeder and then make / use a bird identifiaction table
  9. Chalk / decorate the patio
  10. Collect fir cones and then decorate them
  11. Water fights
  12. Sand and water play
  13. Make small worlds outside – I went to a local garage and asked for any old tyres which they gave me for free. I then painted them and got them ready for the kids – I filled one with mud for a general digging area, one filled with dinosaurs and plants for a dinosaur world and the last with sand which we used for ponies and fairies!
  14. Picnics in the garden
  15. Bug hunting

Activities to do anywhere

  1. Nerf wars
  2. Hide and seek
  3. Den-making with chairs, sheets etc
  4. Tuff trays with various activities set up on them. There’s some great facebook groups dedicated to tuff tray and sensory play work – just search under tuff trays and you should get a selection.
  5. Cats cradle
  6. Rainbow challenge – children need to collect as many different items in the different colours of the rainbow and create a mastepiece from it!
  7. Potion-making. Could you link it to a story that you read them initially?
  8. Circuit training
  9. Mini Olympics
  10. Treasure hunts
  11. Grow your own plant / veg (you could link this to literacy by then writing about it, or maths by measuring it etc)
  12. Assault course
  13. Simon say
  14. Collect stones or rocks and then paint them

Online Resources 

  1.  Twinkl enter the code UKTWINKLHELPS. This is an online resource that many schools use, but due to the current Coronavirus situation, this is being offered as free resource to parents as well.
  2. 5 Minute Mum. A stay-at-home mum blog who uses her skills and knowledge as an LSA to create 5 minute activities to keep little people engaged and happy!
  3. The Muddy Puddle Teacher. An online resource that normally teachers subscribe to, but in the current worldwide crisis that we are facing, they are opening it to parents as well as a free resource, initially for one month but this will be reviewed. A brilliant company that only use natural and upcycled resources.
  4. Bella Learning – a resource set up by a local Mum who you can purchase from games and activities from.
  5. Play Hooray – a blog and wealth of knowledge passed on by Early Years Specialist and Mum to a small person
  6. Sam & Fran’s Book Corner on facebook – a great selection of books, magic painting, puzzles etc.
  7. Lego page on facebook – some amazing ideas and games you can try out
  8. Museum virtual tours which look awesome for broadening the children’s horizons
  9. UNICEF Paddington Postcards where you subscribe for £8 per month and your child receives a postcard and pack teaching them about different countries around the world.
  10. Eats Amazing – practise / experiment with baking with some amazing tutorials and ideas.
  11. Switcheroozoo – watch, listen and play games to learn all about amazing animals.
  12. Nat Geo for Kids – learn all about geography and fascinating animals
  13. Into The Book – go ‘into the book’ to learn and practise phonic and reading strategies
  14. Seussville – read, play games and hang out with Dr Seuss and his friends
  15. ABC YA – practise maths and reading skills whilst playing games
  16. Fun Brain – play games an dpractise reading and maths skills at the same time
  17. Star Fall – practise phonics with read-along stories
  18. Storyline Online – listen to some of your favourite stories read to you
  19. Highlights Kids – read, play games and take part in cool science experiments

I really hope these ideas can help you in the coming weeks. Thank you to everybody who volunteered their amazing suggestions, especially Caroline Jenkins Photography for the inspiration. Remember though when our children look back on this time, they should remember fun, late nights, a holiday spirit and not fear or anxiety. However, the more my children push the boundaries the more I will be consistent with my reaction as it would normally be, but I will also show greater empathy and understanding. It’s all about balance, a bit like making sure you have as much Gin in your glass as tonic. Above all let’s keep our sense of humour and fun. This too shall pass.

Thanks so much for reading and I’d love to hear your comments or anymore ideas you might have.

Big love, big gin and big hope, kika x


  1. Mel R

    This is brilliant and potentially sanity saving! Thanks Kiks xxx

  2. Sam

    Wow! Thanks, Kika, for your heartfelt and current suggestions to help us through this crazy time. Really helpful and somehow I am now feeling more positive about sheltering!


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