Thursday 11 February 2021

What To Do To Keep The Older Kids Busy At Home - Spring 2021

It's been just over a year since the first cases of COVID emerged, and yet we already seem to have been under restrictions for about 4 years. Being at home doesn't mean the end of all entertainment - lots of folks have moved online, and lots have been working online for years, but you might not have noticed.... 

Here are a host of people who are still entertaining us, teaching us and putting on events - and anyone can join in, whatever the weather, wherever you are.... 

Image of spring daffodil shoots poking through grass, and text

Theatre / Arts

Big Imaginations Digital Festival of Children's Theatre - February half term. 
Streamed across theatres, libraries, museums, and galleries, all the shows in this festival are low-cost or pay-what-you-feel to allow as many people as possible to see amazing theatre from the comfort of their own homes. Included are:

Curious Investigators - Meet “Investigator Toni”, who is stuck at home with nowhere to go - but is still determined to discover something AMAZING. She needs your help to solve a problem with a home-made marble run. But watch out - there may be a surprising discovery when you do.... Interactive, £3 per household, suitable for ages 3 - 7 years.
Dust - When Little Titch and her scruffy rucksack arrive at the giant, pink house it is not what she expected – a blanket of thick grey dust covers everything in sight, and it is wild and overgrown. Together with new friend Nelly, they find they have more in common than they first thought, and friendship can heal hidden wounds... Pay what you feel, suitable for ages 4 - 9.
When We Started Singing - An uplifting short film featuring BSL, storytelling and song. Mr Popple is a kind, elderly man who lives alone with just his pet tortoise, Tommy, for company. When his neighbours suddenly find themselves housebound, he notices their struggles and sets out to share some joy... Pay-what-you-feel, suitable for ages 5+.
Land of Nod - Join Nod on his magical journey where his imagination can take him anywhere. A beautiful online sensory storytelling show featuring integrated Makaton, for ages 0-5 and their families... £3 per household, suitable for ages 0 - 5 years.
When Trolls Try to Eat Your Goldfish - In the middle of the night there is a noise. A line of troll-prints leads out the door, across the lawn and into the deep, dark night... Armed with only a pen, some paper, and our collective imaginations, Dommy B invites YOU to help save the day!... £3 per household.
Drag Queen Story Time - Auntie Ivory is back by popular demand. Storytime for children and adults alike... £3 per household, suitable for ages 3+.
Mother Tongue Story Reading - A full day of songs, crafts, music, and videos from multilingual groups to celebrate International Mother Tongue Day. 

Taking part and likely to have more events over the year- Burnley Youth Theatre / Manchester Libraries / Oldham Library / Tameside / The Boo / Z-arts 

2 boys and father making instruments from vegetables and all engrossed in their carving

have some excellent FREE online creative sessions for children, young people and families of all ages. To book onto sessions you need to join the Bright Sparks, which is free to families on low incomes, and during the Coronavirus pandemic the £15 membership is also by donation, so that everyone can benefit, however difficult it is for you financially right now.
Sessions include yoga, drama, arts and crafts, storytelling, music, dance and more.
Sessions are open to all, and have to be booked via the Z-Arts website up until midnight the night before (you usually only need to book one ticket per family).

Waterside in Sale have an online platform Divergehub, and are putting on regular theatre and other arts with incredibly reasonable ticket prices for professional performances. 

National Theatre of Scotland have several different online performances running at any time, including comedy, drama and the fantastic Scenes For Survival - 55 short digital artworks created in response to the pandemic by over 200 artists - they are FREE to watch, AMAZING, funny, poignant, familiar. And they'll really put a lump in your throat...

Theatres Online have a ton of different theatre, comedy and other performances online, including Wind In The Willows FREE from the London Palladium.

ComedySportz are moving their live improvised comedy shows online, and teaming up with other ad lib comedy groups too - check the ComedySportz Facebook page for details. 

What's On Stage have a brilliant list of free online musicals, opera and other performancesIt's updated daily. 

BBC Sound and Bigmouth Audio have a 'Once Upon a Time in Zombieville' podcast which is perfect for visually impaired and sighted children to enjoy together. An immersive comedy-horror audio cartoon recommended for children aged 7-12 and their families. There are 30 episodes available free of charge from BBC Sounds and Apple Podcasts.

A fabulous photo I took of a meercat at Knowsley, standing and staring directly at me, from the side because of how his vision works

Animal Friendly

Chester Zoo have absolutely loads of information online, including a virtual tour and educational resources, plus stories about the animals who live there.

Knowsley Safari has released a new series of free-of-charge Home Safari Live educational sessions for teachers and parents to use with key stage two to key stage four children (age 8 - 16), while they’re learning at home. 
Broadcast live from the Safari using multi-location technology, children will see the animals up close, as well as behind the scenes footage, which guests wouldn’t ordinarily see if they were visiting in person - and as the interactive sessions happen in real-time there are opportunities for children to ask the experts questions.
Upcoming sessions: 
World Wildlife Day, March 3rd 
This special one-off event will interact with the animals and examine how our own day-to-day behaviours can help to save different animal species, whether big, small, scaly or furry. 
Safari Careers, Thursday March 4th - 10am KS1/KS2; 2pm KS3, KS4 and college students
To inspire the next generation of animal keepers, zoologists and vets, Sessions will also explore exciting career roles in conservation and education, as well as practical tips on how to set your CV apart, what courses and subjects to take and the skills needed beyond a love for animals. 
Science at the Safari, March 5th – 14th
Coinciding with British Science Week and celebrating all aspects of science, these sessions will explore this year’s theme of smashing stereotypes.
Two additional sessions linked to the primary school science curriculum, The Best of Science at the Safari, will run ahead of British Science Week on February 24th and 25th.  

Toys and Games

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre have 'Build At Home' Sessions with Masterbuilder James over on LEGOLAND Facebook page 'Videos' section.  
Game makers Asmodee have a whole range of FREE 'print and play' versions of popular games. They include Dobble, Cortex, Classic Timeline, Dixit, Ticket To Ride and more. It's a fantastic opportunity to have a try of some of my family's favourite Asmodee Games... You can find the Asmodee Print And Play Family Games here...

LEGO Lets Build Together play ideas
Click to enlarge

LEGO Play Agents have been busy. They have play challenges, new play ideas and live build-a-longs - which will be shared on social media using the hashtag #letsbuildtogether and on the LEGO Group website - Let's Build Together


Manchester Museum has lots of different galleries and exhibitions available to view online.

Greater Manchester Police Museum also has collections online.

People’s History Museum in Manchester have reopened for now, but you can still explore their collections and take part in digital events and activities using their Ideas Worth Exploring online resources. Each month they have a different Doodle Den challenge, to encourage kids to think, and get creative. 

The Science Museum Group have all collaborated to create an excellent site where you can remotely view loads of the exhibits from National Collections Centre, National Railway Museum, National Science & Media Museum, Science & Industry Museum and the Science Museum.

Sporting Heritage have all kinds of FREE puzzles and games online, including digital jigsaws featuring Animal Paralympians ahead of the anticipated games this Summer, and you can build your own 3D sporting museum too. While you're there, they also have plenty of sporting collections for you to take a look at... it's almost an online sporting museum collection. 

Liverpool Museum hosts lots of their collections online.

The Imperial War Museum have loads to look at online, including collections and the stories behind the pieces.

The National Football Museum European Cup trophy

The National Football Museum have collections online and are currently thinking up inventive ways to let you get your football fix from home.

Kids In Museums have put together a list of 10 different activities you can enjoy at home online.

Educational - but NOT school..

TED Talks. If you have older tweens or teens then Emma (who is a teacher) has put together a list of some of the most Inspiring TED Talks for Tweens and Teens. Some are emotional, some tell us about achievements, and some talk about who we are, but none are cringeworthy and all will make you think. 

NatGeo Family at Home collage of 4 exploring family photos

National Geographic have an excellent FREE 'At Home' platform for families, and content changes every couple of weeks. You can find it all on the National Geographic At Home family pages, where you can also find out about FREE online interactive sessions with real adventurers and explorers

Puffin Schools: To support teachers, parents and carers now tackling learning at home, the Puffin Schools website has bite size activities and categories such as Writing Prompts, Activity Ideas and Picture Book Packs

TWINKL Home Learning Hub is crammed with all kinds of activities, resources and advice for kids of all ages, and a lot of it is free to access for anyone to use at home.

Penguin Platform is a teen and YA channel for book readers on YouTube, Instagram, Discord and Twitter.

5 Minute Science STEM for kids FREE activities

I'm a big fan of fun science activities, and a couple of years ago my boys and I put together a whole range of 5 Minute STEM Activities which are FREE or cost pennies, and don't need any special equipment. Some of them don't need anything except you.

The BBC have tons of educational programmes and lessons for children of all ages, and there's some really excellent stuff with some of the best teachers in the UK, celebrities, authors, scientists - it's all there on the BBC Bitesize website.

Okay, this is a bit like school. The Department for Education supported Oak National Academy has brought together more than 80 state school teachers and organisations across the sector to create an online school, with lessons for every age and subject. It's full of exciting ways to learn from home - it's not all print-out worksheets and pages of writing.

I'll add to this when I see anything appropriate - please feel free to email if you also have moved online while people can't visit! 

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