A Complete Survival Lockdown Guide for Parents

A Complete Survival Lockdown Guide for Parents

A Complete Survival Lockdown Guide for Parents. We are living in unprecedented times. Lockdown with kids can be stressful, worrying, and extremely difficult for parents, especially those who still have to work whilst managing a busy household and children who need entertaining. But lockdown is the best chance that some parents will ever get for spending time with their little angels (and devils!), so finding ways to make the most of your time together under lock and key is crucial. There’s more than just keeping the kids busy. We need to remember, foster, and protect our own mental health as parents and make sure that our children feel safe, happy, and ready to thrive. One of the easiest ways to do this is engaging games that help your little ones to think, grow, and work together.

Amazing Ideas for Keeping the Kids Busy during Lockdown

1. Musical Statues

A Complete Survival Lockdown Guide for Parents
Key skillsEquipmentIdeal number of participants
Reaction times ConcentrationSomething that can play music3+

This is a really easy game that works best with big families, but a little bit of preparation can mean that families of 3 could easily play too! Also, all you need is a space to play and anything that plays music – a phone, a radio, a TV, whatever you have to hand! I think most people know how to play music statues, but just in case… You need someone to control the music (the DJ) and at least 2 participants to play the game (the dancers). The DJ will let the music play so the dancers can boogie, have fun, and get lost in the music. At random intervals, the DJ will stop the music and the dancers have to stop. Complete Survival Lockdown Guide for Parents. If you are in a large group, the last dancer to stop moving goes out and has to sit out until there is a winner. If you are in a small group, you might want to just give out points instead and find out who the winner is after 5 or 10 rounds.

2. The Floor is Lava

Key skillsEquipmentIdeal number of participants
Coordination Physical activityA space with lots of objects to safely stand on2+

Remember the Floor is Lava fad that went by? Why not turn that into a family game that really doesn’t need any planning? All you need is a space which has enough room for people to safely jump around and enough things for people to land on which are safe and strong enough to hold the weight of someone standing on it. This could include sofas, tables, and toy boxes. Complete Survival Lockdown Guide for Parents There’s no real winner in this game. If it starts to get a little boring for your little ones, one of the participants can go on the floor and try to (safely) catch the others. When I was little, we used to call this Sharks in the Water. Sharks in the Lava? I imagine that would appeal to some of our little devils.

3. Simon Says

Key skillsEquipmentIdeal number of participants
Concentration Listening skillsNothing!2+

Another classic that is easy to play and offers a whole range of opportunities for young children to think, react, and even lead. This game requires no equipment, so you can even do it in 5 minutes before dinner is ready and the kids are getting cranky. You need one person to act as Simon and give instructions to the other. Simon can either say “Simon says touch your nose”, meaning everyone has to touch their nose or “touch your nose”, meaning no one should do anything. Building up self-control and concentration skills is as easy as that. Complete Survival Lockdown Guide for Parents. The best part about Simon Says is that anyone can be Simon – younger children can take chances to lead the game without any support from parents or siblings. You could even turn the game into a “winner stays on” set up that changes every 5 turns, meaning everyone should get a go.

4. Land, Sea, Air

Key skillsEquipmentIdeal number of participants
Reaction times Concentration Listening skillsA space with lots of objects to safely stand on2+

Land, Sea, Air is a game that is a mix of the Floor is Lava and Simon Says. You have one person who will be giving instructions (Simon) and at least one other who will have to react to them (the participants). If Simon says Land, all the participants have to jump onto an object which is not the floor, such as a sofa or table. If Simon says Sea, the participants need to get onto the floor. If Simon says Air, the participants have to jump as high as they can in the air.

This game works well when there is a mix of instructions that require the participants to react and make the correct decisions. For example, you could say “Land” and then “Land” again. Some children might get too excited about the prospect of jumping onto the floor and not stay still where they are. If you want to make it a competition, you could have those who make mistakes sit out or award points. Other versions of this game include using tape or a mark on the floor, where one side is “Land” and the other side is “Sea”. When they hear “Land”, they have to jump to the “Land” side. When they hear “Sea”, they have to move to the “Sea” side. Easy! The second version of the game is easier to set up and works best with larger groups, so maybe this is only for larger families.

5. Play Doh Models

A Complete Survival Lockdown Guide for Parents
Key skillsEquipmentIdeal number of participants
Creativity Motor skillsPlay Doh or any other material that can be used for modelling, like clay or blu tack2+

Kids love Play Doh and most of them love playing with it even if they know they’re not allowed to eat it. Using Play Doh to help your children make models of people they know, their favourite characters from books, or even imaginary people is a great way to encourage their artistic and creative side! Complete Survival Lockdown Guide for Parents If you have a child who struggles with being creative without a prompt, reading a book together and picking out characters to make as you unfold the plot is a great way to scaffold. This also helps your children enjoy reading in an engaging way. If you don’t have Play Doh, you can follow this easy recipe to make your own without having to go to the shops. Most of the ingredients are things that we would expect to find in any home, so it doesn’t even require much planning!

6. Keepy Uppies with Balloons

Key skillsEquipmentIdeal number of participants
Coordination TeamworkAt least 1 balloon2+

This is perfect for our budding sportspeople and friendlier to our ornaments than regular keeps puppies! This is another game that needs no more preparation than throwing a balloon in the air and shouting “don’t let it touch the ground”! Either in small teams or individually, participants should aim to keep the balloon off the ground by using their feet, heads, and any other body part which isn’t a hand or an arm. If you have very young children, you may want to allow them to use their hands if they’re struggling. Even if your kids are working independently, encouraging them to play in a way that helps others get involved will develop their coordination, teamwork, and empathy – “being included feels great, thanks for letting me have a go!”

7. Pictionary

Key skillsEquipmentIdeal number of participants
Problem solving CommunicationPens or pencils Paper or a board to draw on Somewhere to keep a track of points4+

Here is another great game that most people know and can be played with as few as 4 people. If you have a small family, you might want to play this one over Skype or Zoom and include relatives and friends that are probably desperate to see your little ones.

Split your group into at least 2 teams. In a round, one person of the team will draw something on the paper or board and the other team members will guess what it is. Which words you choose to try and draw is up to you, but younger children may find it difficult not to deal with concrete nouns like “cat” and “tree”. If you think that some participants might struggle to think up ideas to draw, you can put examples in a hat to be picked out by the drawer at the start of their turn. If you want to be especially competitive, the opposing team can tell the drawer what they must draw – just try not to be too evil and ask them to draw things like dignity! Complete Survival Lockdown Guide for Parents.

If you only have 3 players, you can instead have a “drawer” and 2 guessers. The scoring can be individual instead of the drawer working as part of a team with the guessers.

8. Sorting Games

Key skillsEquipmentIdeal number of participants
Problem solving Organising Fine motor skillsAnything that can be sorted, for example coloured blocks, coins, toys, sweets, etc. Something to sort them into2+

Encouraging your children to think about the differences in the world is a great way to get them to think and build problem solving skills. By having them recognise the differences in the world around us, you help them understand how to differentiate and make decisions.

This game is perfect for very young children with coloured blocks or pennies. If you are using coloured blocks, helping them to learn the differences between colours and building their understanding about the world. You can also relate this to real life objects – “find a green object and put all your green blocks near it”. Expanding this task to things that the children cannot easily move around helps them understand how colours fit into the wider world, instead of just being the subject for the game.

If you want to do this with pennies, the focus can be placed on size instead of colour. You can also help them place them into a money box with a small slot. This will help develop their fine motor skills and develop patience – this is a difficult skill for a little one, so they may need some support with these skills!

9. Football with a Sock Ball

Key skillsEquipmentIdeal number of participants
Coordination Teamwork Self controlA couple of socks rolled up into a ball3+

This time in lockdown can be especially difficult for our sporty little monsters. They want to run around, burn off energy, and improve their skills like they would do with their friends or in a club. However, it can be quite dangerous to play football in the front room, so here is an easy alternative.

Take some socks (preferably a big pair so that the ball is larger) and roll them up into the ball. This is going to be your football. Then you can either set an area to be the goal or you can do the classic “jumpers for goalposts” thing that clusters many a playground across the country.

If you don’t want to play conventional football, you could play hacky-sack – a game of keepy uppies where the players can all take multiple touches. This is probably quite difficult for little children, but an excellent activity for those who are 10 and older (if you have the skills!)

10. Netball with a Sock Ball

Key skillsEquipmentIdeal number of participants
Coordination Teamwork Self controlA couple of socks rolled up into a ball3+

Much like the previous activity, take a pair of socks and roll them up into a ball. The only difference is now that instead of using your feet, you will use your hands. You don’t even need to follow the rules of netball – players can move if they want, but try to think of a way for it to be challenging. Maybe they have to juggle the ball as they go or they need to balance it on their forehead when moving.

If you have spare bins in the house, they can be excellent substitutions for baskets. If not, a jumper made into a circle and placed on the floor or on a table will be a fine replacement.

This is a great game for encouraging teamwork as it means they have to think about how the other player will move (especially if you are not allowing dribbling). Because of that, this game might be best for bigger families of 5 or more, but it is not essential.

11. House Band

A Complete Survival Lockdown Guide for Parents
kid boy drumming playing with pots
Key skillsEquipmentIdeal number of participants
Creativity Teamwork RhythmAnything that you can use for instruments, such as pots and pans, elastic bands attached to boards, or anything else you have to hand3+

Are you a musical family? If so, you probably have some instruments lying around and can use them. If not, why not make your own! You can put on your own home version of stomp just by grabbing some pots and pans and a few wooden spoons.

Learning to work together to make music is a difficult skill and requires a lot of teamwork, understanding, and musical ability. Teaching this to young children from a young age will stop them from growing into the annoying person who can’t stop playing solos when the rest of the band is trying to speak!

You can either decide a song to play and do your best to recreate it or make something up (even freestyling it if you’re feeling brave). If you’re not sure about where to start, you can put your favourite songs to play along with.

Taking the time to encourage creativity and teamwork through the use of music can develop musical ability very quickly. This excellent bonding activity can also lead to you using a microphone on a phone to record your home band and start your journey to stardom (well, maybe not, but at least it’ll be a nice memory).

12. Balance Beam

Key skillsEquipmentIdeal number of participants
Either a thick piece of tape or a flat, long piece of wood2+

There seems to be something innate in us that wants to walk along quite narrow walls or logs and hold our hands out to the sides. No? Just me? Well, fair enough, but I’m sure your kids will love this activity just as much as I do. And my own children, obviously.

Depending on the materials available to you, this activity can be done in a few different ways. The quicker way is to set up a long, flat piece of wood or metal to balance between two other objects. This could be between a sofa and a table, for example. Then you can help your children balance as they walk across it.

Some of us aren’t quite as sure of our skills in creating secure structures, however, so an excellent alternative is tape! Sticking tape to the floor and creating a course for your young ones to follow is an excellent way to help them work on their coordination skills. The added bonus of this method is that you can take the tape over uneven surfaces (such as the arms of a couch) that would be impossible with a plank of wood.

13. Throw a Penny in a Pot

Key skillsEquipmentIdeal number of participants
Coordination Teamwork Self controlCoins or similarly small objects A pot to throw the coins into3+

This is a competitive game and will likely need someone to judge the number of coins that land in the pots. All you need are a few coins for each participant to throw and at least one pot to be the goal – you can use only one pot if you have a referee (or very honest players!), but using multiple pots can avoid that problem.

Taking coins or any other object that you can hand out to your children, stand at set points away from pots. Throwing the coins into the pots, you can make all the throwers race to get all their coins into the pot or see who can get the most coins in from a limited number.

This can be difficult for younger children, so set their marks (where they can throw from) close to the pots and make older children throw from further back. For a cruel twist, you could make everyone take a step back when they get a coin in – this makes it more difficult, but helps people who are struggling to catch up!

Due to lots of little bits of metal being thrown, this can also be a little bit dangerous if not managed properly. You can set up various pots in different directions so that no one is throwing in a direction where they might hit someone.

14. Indoor Bowling

Key skillsEquipmentIdeal number of participants
Coordination Self controlA small ball A number of skittles or pins Something to act as barriers2+

Indoor bowling (or skittles) is a great way to improve coordination and to teach a child to take time when thinking about how they approach something. I’m awful at bowling because I try to simply throw the ball as hard as I can and then hope for the best. You can teach your children the importance of patience, thinking before acting, and working through tasks tactically.

Take the barriers and set them up along a long, flat piece of flooring (preferably uncarpeted). This should be wide enough to allow the ball to go on either side of the pins if they miss, so half a foot would be fine. Then set your pins up at the end of the “bowling alley” and away you go!

Take extra time to help your children work out the number of pins they have knocked down and what their score is in total. If they get a half strike (they knock all the pins down in two bowls on their turn), they can add half the score again onto their next turn. If they get a strike (they knock down all the puns with only one bowl), they can double that score. Maybe you can add your own special multipliers to help encourage engagement and make it into a fun numeracy session!

15. Hangman

Key skillsEquipmentIdeal number of participants
Literacy Leadership Self controlPens / pencils Something to write and draw on3+

Another rainy day classic, hangman is a brilliant game to whittle away those little 5 minute blocks before lunch or dinner. If you have access to whiteboards, that’s ideal, but this can be played with scrap paper and anything you can write with.

Kids tend to enjoy hangman as it is a guessing game where you can’t really lose (even when you do lose) – small children should be given all the opportunities they need to figure out the word, even if that means more than 15 incorrect answers and still not losing. Encouraging literacy is more important than following these rules.

There is also another chance for leadership! Once your kids feel happy and secure with spelling out the words, ask them to lead a round. If you think that they might feel like rabbits in the headlights when asked to think up a word on the spot, put some ideas in the hat. Having that back up also helps if they don’t know how to spell a word or don’t know the word at all!

16. Indoor Obstacles

Key skillsEquipmentIdeal number of participants
Coordination Creativity TeamworkAnything and everything you can get your hands on3+

From a sprawling, multiroom maze that changes your house into a house of mystery to setting up cones, limbo poles and different 2 minute games around your living room, “indoor obstacles” can mean almost anything. If you can imagine and create it with whatever you have to hand, it can be an indoor obstacle.

One of the best ways to facilitate this is to write down 5 to 10 ideas and put them in a hat. Then give the ideas to your kids and ask them what they would like to do. Even if they don’t like most of the ideas that you have suggested, you can get them started on a couple of obstacles that they would like and hopefully get their creative juices flowing.

There are no rules to this game as it’s not really a game at all. It allows for creativity and teamwork, as well as working on motor skills if you have challenging obstacles. Let your kids guide the way and they will give you amazing examples of how they can set their own targets and guide themselves to complete them with your help.

17. Make a Den

A Complete Survival Lockdown Guide for Parents
Key skillsEquipmentIdeal number of participants
Teamwork Self controlBlankets, sheets, pillows, anything that can be used to make a den2+

Taking the pleasure of camping indoors is an excellent way to help you and your kids bond whilst being creative and changing the world around them to how they want it to be. Encouraging that creativity can make some brilliant memories and help your kids express themselves and allow you to join in with their creative process.

Another added benefit is that it will allow your children to continue playing and imagining independent of you when you get tired. Building a den and giving your kids a couple more things they can add to it themselves is a perfect way to grab 5 minutes on the sofa and take a rest from a busy day of entertaining and encouraging little ones!

18. “Ice Tower Excavation”

Key skillsEquipmentIdeal number of participants
Creativity Motor skillsA selection of toys, preferably made out of plastic Water A large container that fits in your freezer Freezer Something to act as a chisel and hammer2+

This is one of our favourites. We love getting the chance to freeze some toys and break them out of the ice in a high octane, adrenaline fueled game of rescue! Although it is easy to set up, you will need a freezer big enough and empty enough to hold a container full of frozen toys.

Take your empty contain and place the toys in (you get style points for putting them in poses that make them look like they are escaping). Then add enough water that all the toys are covered. Place the container in the freezer. Complete Survival Lockdown Guide for Parents Now you can do the last step without your children knowing so this game can be a surprise, but think carefully about which ones you are going to put in – once, we put in the wrong toy and this became a genuine rescue mission instead of a lighthearted game.

When the water is frozen and the toys are trapped, you and your children can work together to chisel them out and free them from their icy prison. Taking the proper measures to ensure safety, you should provide gloves (or other protective handwear), goggles, and a safe alternative to a hammer and chisel. You could search for kid’s carpenter kits which often have similar tools made out of wood or plastic. When you break them out, they are freed from the Ice Tower! This is a brilliant game, especially to play on a hot day. If the toys managed to get stuck in the winter, maybe consider a nice warm bath afterwards to heat up those cold fingers.

19. Acting with Props

Key skillsEquipmentIdeal number of participants
Creativity Storytelling TeamworkA dressing up box and any other props that your children want3+

Some kids absolutely love to act, but can struggle to break into their thespian side and find the motivation to really play pretend. Setting up a dedicated acting area with a dressing up box and props will help them crack into their creativity and hold a play for their keen audience! Complete Survival Lockdown Guide for Parents Although some people may find it difficult to fund a dressing up box and a range of props that you can buy in a toy shop, these things don’t need to be expensive. In fact, asking your children what they might like to hold a play about and then spending a day making appropriate props with them can add an arts and crafts side to this fantastic activity.

Then, you need to hand over control – although we would all love to get a chance to be the audience sometimes, it is likely that you will have to act as a stage manager, costume designer, prop mover, and general stagehand. Support them in preparing for their production by writing down notes for them and giving them cues during rehearsals (or the main event if necessary!) This is a chance to let your children tell you a story, just like you have told them stories since they were little. Taking the chance to enjoy being around your little one as they weave and develop stories is magical, so give them space and time to figure out what they want to show you.

20. Treasure Hunt

Key skillsEquipmentIdeal number of participants
Any skills that you needAnything you can find3+

Sometimes you need to just set up a treasure hunt to fill a day with variety and wonder. This could be a treasure hunt where they search for specific items or where they have to perform certain activities according to a brief.

Depending on how you want to set it up, you could have teams racing against each other in an effort to find everything they need to win or you could give a team a phone or another device that is capable of recording to gather proof of all activities being complete.

This activity can even be a combination of other activities listed above – you might want them to find 10 pennies and throw them into a pot in the kitchen, then make a den in the living, before finally performing a scene from their favourite move in the den. The choice is yours (and theirs)!

Advice for Parents

These times have been hard on people, but there’s a lot of positives to take away from our time together. Remember that most of us aren’t teachers, we aren’t childcare professionals, and we aren’t mental health professionals. At very least, we’re not all of those at the same time!

Here are some helpful pieces of advice to remember as you go through this lockdown period to keep you going and protect your mental health. Your kids need you more than ever, so remember that you’re doing your best and that you’re doing well.

1. Nothing needs to be perfect

At a time like this, no one expects you to do your day job, act as an unqualified teacher, and guide your children to becoming the next Einstein’s overnight. The work that you help your children through can be difficult, as can being locked in a house with them for days at a time. Remember that doing your best is the best outcome for everyone. Complete Survival Lockdown Guide for Parents They can catch up on the finer points of their learning in school when lockdown is lifted. All teachers are professional teachers and have years of training and experience to rely on – if just anyone could do their job, you wouldn’t need to get a university education to join the profession!

2. You don’t need to recreate their classroom

Your home is your home, firstly. Sometimes this can make things difficult for children who are adjusting to the Home School of Mum or Dad – they’re not used to having to learn in these surroundings and you likely do not have all the resources and support that you would expect in a dedicated classroom. Help your children to learn at home by creating designated learning times and spaces which they are responsible for. This will help them make a distinction between fun time at home with their family and time for learning.

If you want to buy or create posters and resources to help support your child’s learning and make your house feel a bit more “classroom-y”, that’s great! But not doing that does not mean that you’ve failed or that your children can’t get an excellent education.

3. Happiness and health are more important than reading age at the minute

Sometimes we can forget that a lockdown is not a designated national time for self-improvement and relaxation. It is actually a serious measure for a serious problem. Taking care of your children’s happiness, feelings of security, and physical and mental health are more important now than ever. Complete Survival Lockdown Guide for Parents. You know your kids better than anyone in this world – you know if something isn’t right. Take steps to support your children and make your house the safest space it can be.

You can even do this in a fun way! Along with our activity ideas, why not have a group session where you meditate or talk about mindfulness. Mindfulness is a hot topic in teaching today and there are millions of accessible resources available to you right now. Encourage discussion, deep thinking, and talking about emotions and you will see your children thrive under these difficult conditions.

4. Take this chance to get to know your kids

As a parent, you probably know your kid better than anyone. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t new things that you can learn about still. When their minds and bodies are changing so much, their interests can change at the drop of a hat – this is a great time to try and stay up to date! Just like their time in school allows them to discover and explore the world, you can facilitate their curiosity and see them first hand finding new interests and maybe even realizing the dreams they’ll chase when they’re older. Internet research tasks and YouTube video binge sessions are great ways to find the gateway to these interests.

5. Help your kids to learn more about you

It’s a busy world, especially for working parents. This means that sometimes our children don’t fully know exactly what we do for a living or what our jobs actually entail. Now you can take your time to help them understand and encourage them to find out more. Just like you can take time to find out more about your children’s interests, you can give them opportunities to find out more about you. That doesn’t necessarily just mean work, but can also include sharing your interesting stories or hobbies so it’s a Complete Survival Lockdown Guide for Parents. So whether you have a secret stamp collection that you haven’t found time to show them or you want to tell them about the band you played in while you were at school, opening up to your children can help with everyone’s mental health and create an even safer, more encouraging, and more open environment than it was before.


Now that you have read this, go and try A Complete Survival Lockdown Guide for Parents out a few ideas with your kids! Think about all the positive skills that you personally can encourage and how they benefit your entire family. This is a hard time for everyone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of this time. In years to come, we want to look back at this time and think of all the great memories we made and how we saw our children grow in front of our very eyes. Take this chance and help foster a safe environment that will see them blossom.

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