How to engage your kids during lockdown– without relying on the TV

If you’re stuck inside on a rainy day or looking for ways to entertain your young ones for a little while longer, it can be tempting to bung on the television and sit them down in front of it so you can get on with things. Screen time can be a very passive way to spend an afternoon, and while we all need to relax regularly, too much time as a couch potato makes it harder for your children to get on and do things – like homework – when they need to.

These suggestions for activities to entertain your children are designed to engage them deeply, so that their attention is focused for more than a few minutes and their imaginations are given a kick-start.

Board games

Fewer special effects than vision games, but just as competitive, board games can easily be bought online, including second hand if you’d like to revisit some classics from your childhood. Games like Monopoly or Risk can be surprisingly absorbing and encourage your child or teen to think carefully about the strategy they want to take. There’s also a huge range of contemporary games made by independent producers that are fun, energetic and off-the-wall, if you’re looking for something a bit more exciting.

A great creative activity to do with kids of all ages is to design their own board games. It’s an engaging activity that takes up more time that you think, as they’ll be making up the rules, thinking of the objectives and creating the board, pieces and any extras like cards or tokens. And afterwards, you can have even more fun by playing it.

Creating your own entertainment

There are plenty of ways to make your own entertainment without relying on TV to help. For kids who love drama and make-believe, encourage them to write and stage their own play. This is another fun creative activity that will keep them engaged for quite a while, as they figure out the story and script, decide on the characters, make props and set up the show. To help younger children, you might want to give them a topic to start with – like ‘A rainy day adventure’ – while for older children you might like to just give them a genre, such as horror or fantasy, and see what they come up with.

A family talent show is a fun bit of entertainment to put on, and you can get extended family members involved too by using video calling or chat. Each member of the family decides on the talent they’re going to showcase and makes sure to practice beforehand – perhaps even developing a secret talent no-one else knows about! On the night, take it in turns to showcase each family member with an over-the-top introduction and plenty of applause.

You can even do improv with kids; younger children will fall into it naturally, while for teenagers (and adults) it’s a great way to relax, have some time out and play! Write some scenarios on slips of paper and pop them in a hat or bag – things like ‘A doctor’s appointment’ or ‘A trip to the supermarket’. Take it in turns to pull slips of paper out of the hat and start the scene, with the other people following the first person’s lead. Make the scenes as imaginative as possible; the key to improv is going with the flow – whatever you want to introduce into the scenario, you can!

Making the most of screen time

One of the most enjoyable ways to make screen time an experience, rather than a habit, is to take a ‘trip to the cinema’. Choose a film that you and your child want to watch, and create a cinema experience around it. Make your own popcorn, get in some sweet treats and encourage your child to create ‘tickets’ for the film. Afterwards, depending on your child’s age, you can ask them to find out more about the film – who made it? Who starred in it? What was their favourite part? – and write a mini film review.

And remember – all of these activities can be combined to keep your kids entertained for longer. How about a movie night, followed by a play inspired by the movie, and a board game using the characters? Kids are great at entertaining themselves, given the chance, so try one of these ideas out next time you’re looking for something to do on a rainy day.

If you’re stuck inside on a rainy day or looking for ways to entertain your young ones for a little while longer, it can be tempting to bung on the television and sit them down in front of it so you can get on with things. Screen time can be a very passive way to spend an afternoon, and while we all need to relax regularly, too much time as a couch potato makes it harder for your children to get on and do things – like homework – when they need to.

These suggestions for activities to entertain your children are designed to engage them deeply, so that their attention is focused for more than a few minutes and their imaginations are given a kick-start.

Board games

Fewer special effects than vision games, but just as competitive, board games can easily be bought online, including second hand if you’d like to revisit some classics from your childhood. Games like Monopoly or Risk can be surprisingly absorbing and encourage your child or teen to think carefully about the strategy they want to take. There’s also a huge range of contemporary games made by independent producers that are fun, energetic and off-the-wall, if you’re looking for something a bit more exciting.

A great creative activity to do with kids of all ages is to design their own board games. It’s an engaging activity that takes up more time that you think, as they’ll be making up the rules, thinking of the objectives and creating the board, pieces and any extras like cards or tokens. And afterwards, you can have even more fun by playing it.

Creating your own entertainment

There are plenty of ways to make your own entertainment without relying on TV to help. For kids who love drama and make-believe, encourage them to write and stage their own play. This is another fun creative activity that will keep them engaged for quite a while, as they figure out the story and script, decide on the characters, make props and set up the show. To help younger children, you might want to give them a topic to start with – like ‘A rainy day adventure’ – while for older children you might like to just give them a genre, such as horror or fantasy, and see what they come up with.

A family talent show is a fun bit of entertainment to put on, and you can get extended family members involved too by using video calling or chat. Each member of the family decides on the talent they’re going to showcase and makes sure to practice beforehand – perhaps even developing a secret talent no-one else knows about! On the night, take it in turns to showcase each family member with an over-the-top introduction and plenty of applause.

You can even do improv with kids; younger children will fall into it naturally, while for teenagers (and adults) it’s a great way to relax, have some time out and play! Write some scenarios on slips of paper and pop them in a hat or bag – things like ‘A doctor’s appointment’ or ‘A trip to the supermarket’. Take it in turns to pull slips of paper out of the hat and start the scene, with the other people following the first person’s lead. Make the scenes as imaginative as possible; the key to improv is going with the flow – whatever you want to introduce into the scenario, you can!

Making the most of screen time

One of the most enjoyable ways to make screen time an experience, rather than a habit, is to take a ‘trip to the cinema’. Choose a film that you and your child want to watch, and create a cinema experience around it. Make your own popcorn, get in some sweet treats and encourage your child to create ‘tickets’ for the film. Afterwards, depending on your child’s age, you can ask them to find out more about the film – who made it? Who starred in it? What was their favourite part? – and write a mini film review.

And remember – all of these activities can be combined to keep your kids entertained for longer. How about a movie night, followed by a play inspired by the movie, and a board game using the characters? Kids are great at entertaining themselves, given the chance, so try one of these ideas out next time you’re looking for something to do on a rainy day.