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Activities and conversation starters during the coronavirus pandemic

Our Parents Helpline team share their tips for activities you can do with your child in self-isolation and how you can use this time to start a conversation with them about their mental health.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought sudden changes in all our lives and routines, and can be an anxious time for you and your family. Spending time doing a positive activity with your child can help reassure them and reduce their anxiety. It’s also a great way of providing a space for them to talk through their concerns, without having a "big chat".

Here’s a list of activity ideas that you can do with your children while isolating at home.

One: Ready, set… bake

Baking is a great way to have fun together indoors and there are so many bakes to choose from. Keep it simple with fairy cakes, scones, traybakes or energy balls.

Top tip: Take time to sit back and enjoy your bakes together while they’re still warm.

Two: Put on your dancing shoes

If your child loves to dance, let their feet do the talking. Ask them to pick out their favourite song and dance like you mean it!

Top tip: Teach one another some dance moves, and then see if you can come up with some dance moves of your own together.

Three: Yoga time

Designed around controlled movement and breathing techniques, yoga is an easy one to do together at home. Grab a bit of floor space and give it a go!

Top tip: New to yoga? A quick search on YouTube will bring up lots of beginners’ videos you can try from the comfort of your own home.

Four: Crafts

There are so many crafts you can do from home. Depending on what you’ve got in the house, you could paint a plant pot, make a friendship bracelet, try origami, create a photo collage or make a musical shaker.

Top tip: Pinterest is full of inspiration. Create a board together so you can always find something you want to make.

Five: Design your own cards

All you need for this is some card or paper and pens or paints. Create some homemade cards together – whether they’re just to say hello to someone, or for a Birthday, Thank You or Get Well Soon message.

Top tip: You could also write a card to each other, and use what your child writes as a way to start a conversation around how they’re doing.

Six: Share your music

For some people music is how they connect with the world. If this is true for your child, try sharing some music together by creating a playlist. You may surprise each other with your choices and even introduce each other to something new.

Top tip: You could try creating a playlist for the different parts of your routines during isolation – such as getting up, eating breakfast or exercising.

Seven: Cook together

Ask your child if there’s something they want to learn how to cook and make it with them.

Top tip: If cooking a meal together might be a bit too tricky, decorating pizzas with your own toppings could be an easier alternative.

Eight: Sing it

Turn up your favourite ballads and sing along!

Top tip: Want to make it into a game? Challenge them to sing in the style of their favourite film or TV character.

Nine: Flex those green fingers

Sow some seeds and watch them grow together! Begin with seedlings on the windowsill and watch them propagate before moving them into window pots or even the garden.

Top tip: There’s lots of opportunities to chat as you work together with this one. If you’re not green fingered, begin with something easy like sunflowers or sweet peas.

Ten: Play a ball game

This might sound tricky when you can’t go outside, but you can make this work even if you don’t have access to a garden at home. If you have a softball, you can play catch inside – and you can make it more interesting by adding your own rules. If you have a garden at home, all you need is a ball. There’s football, basketball, dodgeball, keepy-uppies…an endless list of games to choose from!

Top tip: Ask your child to pick a game they’d like to play or ask them about their favourite sports team.

Eleven: Indoor picnic

We can’t head out to the beach with a picnic blanket at the moment, but we can have one indoors. Lay out a blanket, put together some of your family’s favourite finger food and have a picnic in the comfort of home.

Top tip: Indoors picnics have one simple rule - you can only eat when you’re sitting on the picnic blanket.

Twelve: Tech-free games

Take a screen break with tech-free games like 20 questions, cat's cradle, marbles, jacks, the floor is lava, skipping and more. There are so many traditional 20 minute games to choose from.

Top tip: Make it your own by adding new family rules to give your childhood games a modern twist!

Thirteen: Draw cartoons of each other

Sometimes, all you need is a pen and paper. Create cartoon drawings of one another, and other family members, cats, dogs, fish – have fun!

Top tip: Try drawing with your eyes closed or not taking your pen off the paper to add an extra challenge.

Fourteen: Build a fort

Use blankets, bedsheets, cushions, chairs and fairy lights to create your own cosy little fort. Be warned: it will take several attempts to keep it all up, but so worth it once you’re inside!

Top tip: A mug of hot chocolate is a great fort accompaniment.

Fifteen: Indoor treasure hunt

Hide some things (such as toys, messages or even sections of a story) around the house, create some clues and see if your children can guess where they are!

Sixteen: Listen to a story

For as long as schools are closed, Audible are streaming all their children’s and young people’s audio books for free. You can listen to hundreds of stories on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet. Go to https://stories.audible.com/start-listen to explore the collection.

Conversation starters

While the activity is underway, try these conversation starters to check in with your child and see how they are feeling.

Self-isolation conversation starters
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