Lockdown Lunchbreaks: 11 quick and easy activities for kids at home

Please note, some of the following contain gifted items, however these are our own opinions and we only recommend products when Lily genuinely loves them!

Firstly, a little lockdown update from us…

This past month from home has been an absolute rollercoaster. I absolutely love my job, but the current situation means we have never been busier, especially with the majority of our staff on furlough.

I’m more than happy to put in the extra hours to ensure my urgent work isn’t left unfinished, but I’m also not used to working with my 4-year-old home from school too.

Home school vs home office with this little superhero
Home school vs home office with this little superhero

She can usually happily play with her toys or do crafts for hours at a time, but it doesn’t stop the mum-guilt when I’m doing 9-or 10-hour days from home, and the further into lockdown we go, it is getting harder – I’m not going to deny.

The bank holiday weekend really put things into perspective – I know I’m lucky to be safe at home, still able to work, and have my family with me, but I also need to make sure I spend time with Lily as this situation is strange for all of us, and she is definitely missing interaction with other children. I see her watching neighbour’s kids play together and it breaks my heart – she just wants to play with another child.

Sending some love…

I know every household is getting through this however you can, so I wanted to share some love to everyone right now, whatever your situation. I’m not sure I’m doing much right, but I’m learning as I go along – while still trying to juggle everything too. It is exhausting and draining, and we do have some better days than others, but we are safe and I know that’s what matters.

So many hours just doing so many crafts!
So many hours just doing so many crafts!

Lockdown Lunchbreaks

I really do miss our adventures together, but also need to make sure we enjoy time together when we can, so I’ve started Lockdown Lunchbreaks – a great way to break up the day by making sure I step away from the laptop in my half-hour lunchbreak, and do some kind of fun activity with Lily.

In the mornings we tend to do her “homeschooling” and schoolwork as she enjoys that and tends to be more focused in the mornings on it, along with leaving her time to play with toys, do her drawing, and often do have Paw Patrol or Doc McStuffins playing in the background – she has never been a great TV watcher, but we’ve got to get through this however we can, right?! It helps me get the main bulk of my work calls done too and gives us both a bit of structure that we both crave!

The chaos of my "office" 😂
The chaos of my “office” behind the video calls 😂

By lunchtimes, I’ve noticed she needs interaction, which is fair enough, but by spending some mama-Lily time together at lunchtimes, she is usually happy to keep playing for the rest of the afternoon until I can log off and spend the rest of the day with her again.

So, here are some of my Lockdown Lunchbreak activity ideas – whether you’re looking for a quick activity to set up (with minimum mess!) or just something to break up the day, I hope some of these ideas can help, whatever the weather!

Lockdown Lunchbreak activity ideas

1. Den building

This was a definite hit, and can be done indoors and out. We even had lunch together in here, played some games, and was just as much of a hit as our overnight camping adventures. She even asked for another den the next morning in the living room – a fun new ‘space’ for her.

Our lunchbreak den was a definite favourite
Our lunchbreak den was a definite favourite

2. Egg-box bug making

I’m not the most crafty of people – so don’t judge the quality! We did have fun with these and by using Little Brian Paint Sticks it means everything is dried in 30 seconds without the mess – a definite win-win for a fun, quick activity without much clearing up!

All the egg box bugs!
All the egg box bugs!

3. Mobile library

Lily set this one up herself – she used her cash register (gifted, Learning Resources UK) and put some of her books in the trailer to make her own mobile library roleplay in the garden. It also helped with some of her numbers thanks to the amazing calculator and play money!

Her "mobile library" and Learning Resources UK till (gifted)
Her “mobile library” and Learning Resources UK till (gifted)

4. Egg or treasure hunt

Ahead of Easter weekend I made little maps for her to find the treasure. I hid them in the Discovery Eggs (gifted Learning Resources UK), for her to search to find the treasure. She can usually find the eggs quickly, but with the ‘maps’ it gave her a bit more of a challenge!

Clearly I need some art classes... Lily loved it though! (Discovery Eggs gifted)
Clearly I need some art classes… Lily loved it though! (Discovery Eggs gifted)

5. Balloon play

(AD) Who doesn’t love a balloon? You can find eco-friendly, bio-degradable balloons out there too, and they’re always the best fun for kids.

We’re now 5 weeks in to lockdown and Lily is losing motivation at times to stay so positive indoors, so we blew up some balloons and tried all of the indoor balloons games from Dr Amanda Gummer from the Good Play Guide (Balloons gifted Hello Communications Group), packed with amazing educational activities that only use balloons.

So much fun with balloons :)
So much fun with balloons 🙂

Lily was dancing around and giggling – a great way to stay active at home too. She really enjoyed the basketball game and we were inspired by the storytelling game to use it for her phonics sounds for the week too – a definite win win, and so easy too!

If you want to check out the Good Play Guide to balloon fun, I’d really recommend it – some amazing quick and easy activities for all ages in there. Download the PDF here or check out the #covidballoonproject online!

6. Tug of war

We just used a bit of ribbon and played Tug of War. So simple but the amount she was giggling made it all worthwhile!

Determination face!
Determination face!

7. Build a pirate ship

We used a cardboard crate from the community veg box, an Amazon box and some Little Brian Paint Sticks – she had her lunch in here, then spent the rest of the day hanging out in her pirate ship while I had to go back to work!

Our makeshift pirate ship!
Our makeshift pirate ship!

8. Sensory play

We love Zimpli Kids Gelli Play (gifted). Again, we fill up our upturned toddler stools, fill them with water, add the powder, make the gelli and just play with it! I find this much more fun than slime too as we can build things together, fill containers with it, bury things in it, and just enjoy! Plus, it’s eco-friendly and just washes away with water afterwards.

Zimpli Kids Gelli play (gifted)
Zimpli Kids Gelli play (gifted)

9. Stick-men making

We used sticks and some twine to make some stick men, stick dogs, and whatever other random stick-items she could think of. Another simple activity that kept her going for the rest of the afternoon – and helped with her imagination too!

Stick men making just like forest school
Stick men making just like forest school!

10. Recycling boat making

This simply involved our upturned toddler stools filled with water, boats made out of a lid, cardboard tube and paper tape, and some races by blowing them along the water… her Playmobil boat then became involved! The stools were a bit small, but she spent hours playing with the contents of the recycling bin and the water after our races, so she clearly didn’t notice!

Recycling boats vs her Playmobil boat!
Recycling boats vs her Playmobil boat!

11. Build a castle

Using simply an old cereal box, her Little Brian Paint sticks and some string, we made a really easy castle. Lily loved decorating it with Easter crafts for windows and using her Playmobil to roleplay stories. Her theme for school this week is Cinderella, so this was a great way to help her retell the story too!

Her cereal box castle and Playmobil
Her cereal box castle and Playmobil

If you’re looking for other spring craft ideas with the family, I really recommend the beautiful Hannah and the Twiglets post here.

For other activities including a downloadable guide to activities you can do at home, please click here.

If all else fails, just build a giant cardboard rainbow bunny
If all else fails, just build a giant cardboard rainbow bunny!

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