Free Online Lockdown Activities for Kids

While we’re currently on lockdown, and aside from the remote/home working schooling options in place, finding something for the kids to do can be difficult; especially if you as a parent are also trying to work from home. Here’s some ideas we put together.

Most kids will be busy with their current work set remotely by their teachers, other may be content with what’s around them, but there’s an age range where the school work isn’t as intense as a high school students, and there’s simply not enough stuff to do. Plus, if you’re also working from home, there are times when you need to get something done and aren’t available to sit with them.

While it’s fun for those kids to play all day on Animal Crossing, it can quickly lose its appeal. With that in mind, we’ve picked some ideas from the magic of the internet that can help you entertain your kids while you complete that important piece of works needs to be completed.

Story Time

Reading is one of the most important things you can do with a child, it frees their imagination, enables them to question concepts within the book, make them laugh, makes them sad, and makes them think about the world around them. Reading to a child is equally as important, for you both, but while you may not be able to in such times, Storyline Online is here to help.

Storyline Online (https://www.storylineonline.net/) is a book reading streaming video service form the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Team. This children’s literacy site features celebrities reading from a collection of different stories from noted authors around the world. The likes of Kevin Costner, Chris Pine, James Earl Jones, Lily Tomlin and more read from popular books such as When a Dragon Moves In, Lotus and Feather, Sophie’s Masterpiece and many more.

All you need do is click on a story, then choose a from of online player to view it with, make the player full-screen and enjoy the story. Each story varies in length, but they average out to around seven minutes.

Drawing and Painting

Drawing and painting is one of the key elements of how a child can express their feelings, and in such times as these, during a lockdown, with so much negative news that can easily scare a child, it’s important for them to be able to express those feelings.

Thankfully, there are ample templates available online for free that you can download, print out and have your child attack with a set of crayons of coloured pencils (paint too, but you don’t want to leave them alone with the paint – unless you like having your living rooms walls a nice shade of whatever they’ve mixed in the jar!).

E.B. Goodale, an author and illustrator from Massachusetts, has some excellent resources available on their site: http://www.ebgoodale.com/activities. There are colouring activities, such as draw a picture of yourself reflecting in a pond, as well as dot-to-dot templates; all available as a PDF to download and print out.

Another option is to simply run an internet search for ‘drawing templates for kids’, and check out the Images search results. Finally, there’s an online paint app, available from https://kidmons.com/game/paint-online/. Where your child can select brushes, colours, and so on for their work of art, then print it or save it for later.

Games Online

While it’s not always ideal, letting a child play an online game, there are some great options out there that will fit the bill nicely. In this particular case we’re going to look at some retro games, and yes, retro gaming isn’t something you’d normally associate with a modern child, but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy what’s on offer.

Finding a good, free online resource, one that doesn’t include any content that may be too mature for a younger child or feature downloads that could contain viruses, can be difficult. However, give these a try:

Triplets and Us is a site run by Orlando-based parents of a set of triplets. There’s a lot of content on the site, but in particular is the Classic 80s Retro section: http://www.tripletsandus.com/80s/80s_games/arcade.htm. On here you’ll find some fantastic arcade classics such as Arkanoid, 1942, Crazy Climber, Dig Dug, Donkey Kong and more. All you need do is click the title, then follow the on-screen instructions to play the game in the browser.

One more addition is the excellent Pica-Pic Hipopotam’s Digitalised Collection of Handheld Electronic Games. Quite a mouthful, but essentially, they host online versions of all the classic Game & Watch handheld games from the 70s and 80s. Donkey Kong, Pirate 777, Zelda, Space Bridge and numerous other classics are all available with a click of the mouse. Just follow the on-screen instructions on how to play each.

NASA Kids’ Club

If space interests your child, then the NASA Kids’ Club will certainly fit the bill. Open a browser to https://www.nasa.gov/kidsclub/index.html, and within the site you’ll find links to games, information about current NASA and space-based technologies, artwork, storybooks, and a Clubhouse where further content cab be interacted with.

It’s all good fun, while still enabling the sense of discovery, future technology and the wonder of outer space to kids.

Solar System Virtual Tour

While we’re on the subject of space, if your kids are little too old for the NASA Kids’ Club, but they still want to see and know more about our place in the universe, then The Nine Planets Solar System Tour is an excellent, free online resource to take a look at.

Simply go to https://nineplanets.org/tour/, and follow the on-screen instruction to start the virtual tour. This is an incredibly accurate model of the solar system, with the objects being in the correct real-time positions, and introducing a wealth of information about each.

You can zoom in to planets and moons, display the current spacecraft, dwarf planets, star names, constellation names, and also change the settings to display the system in more realistic terms, or as large planets that are easy to click and navigate to.

Finding More

This of course is just scratching the surface, take time to search for an idea and you’re bound to find a free resource you can use. Just be aware that not all sites are as child-friendly as they may first look.

If you’ve got any great sites that parents can use to help entertain young minds during the lockdown, then please mention them in the comments section below.

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David Hayward

David has spent most of his life tinkering with technology, from the ZX Spectrum, getting his hands on a Fujitsu VPP5000/100 supercomputer, and coding on an overheating Raspberry Pi. He's written for the likes of Micro Mart, Den of Geek, and countless retro sites and publications, covering reviews, creating code and bench testing the latest tech. He also has a huge collection of cables.

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