It can be a great challenge to continually set up new ideas for children at home. Adding to that, the activities should be both educational and entertaining, with screen time-limited to a minimum! We’ve been trying to find a good mix of fun things to do at home while sneaking into a little learning here and there.
Chemistry set for kids is a nice activity when you’re bored at home, in this case experimenting with mixing different colors!
We ‘re not claiming to have found the best way to arrange children’s events at home. Rather than focusing on finding the perfect individual activities, we have learned that finding a good mix of things to do is more important. Some events with an emphasis on education can be a little less entertaining while others may be more fun and relaxing.
Our kids love to bake, especially if they’re going to taste along the way! The key is to think about challenging and enjoyable tasks for their age, and not get stressed out if it gets messy.
Activities’ “secret sauce” will vary from child to child, and from family to family. Looking at the long list of activities we’ve put together below, we ‘re not suggesting that you try out all of them but instead select and choose a few activities to check out from different categories. Children learn more when they are engaged, so we try to tailor their activities to the topics they enjoy as much as possible.
Illustrated atlases are useful in encouraging children to take an interest in other places and cultures. Check out our list of recommended children’s atlases.
Covered in this Article
Digital resources from Museums and Galleries
Educational activities for children at home
YouTube channels that are great for learning
Intuitive learning games and apps
Outdoor activities in your area
Great family movies included in the Amazon Prime movie
Favorite children’s Netflix movies
Children’s indoor play activities
Digital resources from Museums and Galleries
While pausing our visits to the London Museum previously, we explored what the museums have to offer as regards online resources dedicated to families and children. We’ve actually been really impressed by the number of online gaming tools, videos, VR-tours, quizzes, and DIY-projects they’ve put together for kids to enjoy from home. During the worst of crises, London’s museums continue to provide great support to families seeking inspiration for their children!
Here are some of our favorite resources:
We enjoyed playing The Great Fire of London, learning a lot of interesting facts about the great disaster of 1666.
Tate Kids from London ‘s famous art gallery is dedicated to children’s fun and creative projects. For your kids, you’ll find lots of engaging activities, including quizzes, games, and artistic DIY projects.
The London Great Fire is a game developed by the London Museum where children can guide “Tom” and “Jane” during the dramatic days of the 1666 Great Fire. We just love these kinds of games that are really fun, but they are also instructive in a stealthy way.
The Science Museum Group has put together a number of learning opportunities for children. We particularly like their DIY projects, such as Rocket Mice. We ‘re huge fans of the Science Museum, especially their Wonderlab Gallery, and we can’t wait to test their interactive games and apps.
Also, don’t forget to check out our list of London attractions tours.
List of some wonderful Virtual tours available from across the world
In-house educational programs for children
We are by no means experts in homeschooling, but we firmly believe in using technology and online resources as important supplements to the education of our children. The shutdown was our catalyst for bringing deeper into the other online educational outlets that are open to children beyond what our school provides.
The gamification of heavy subjects like maths can be a real game-changer for children, particularly for younger school-children, who would usually have a hard time getting involved with conventional forms of learning.
We focus on home education tasks in the mornings which require the most concentration. We start our daily routine of math exercises after the breakfast table has been cleared.
If you are like us and mainly use homeschool resources as a supplement to learning at school, then these links are a good start:
Bitesize is BBC’s children’s entertainment network (requires a British TV license). Mathematics, science, and English are core subjects covered. The format is mostly TV-based, but interactive exercises and games are also to be found. The BBC provides excellent quality as always and is a safe choice for your children.
Science & Coding Platforms for Kids
Mathletics is our chosen forum for maths (supported by many schools in the UK). Students will solve additional problems, multiplication, algebra, division, and statistics. The questionnaires engage in drag-and-drop functionality and the explanations are easy to understand. There is also a play area where students can test their skills against other school kids while earning points that contribute to weekly certificates. Math is part of our daily routine every day!
Another math resource, Xtramath is a fully free app-based platform that helps students learn additional facts, subtract, multiply, and divide. BrainPop is a solid choice for K-12 grades by using small animated films to make maths and other subjects easier to understand. And using puzzles to help kids accelerate their progress with primary school maths, Best Academy Online helps.
Getting started coding? Tynker is high on the list offering children’s courses 5 years and older.
Platforms for Education
CuriosityStream is a streaming video-on-demand service providing subscription-based documentaries and series on science, nature, history, technology, society, and lifestyle. Check out Outschool and Udemy, which offer thousands of online classes, if you’re looking for the perfect courses for your children.
Khan Academy Khan Academy is a non-profit educational organization whose mission is to produce a set of online tools to help educate students. Check out All-in-one Homeschooling, which is a free home education program from pre-school activities to 12th grade if you are getting seriously into home education.
Last but not least, Creative Bugs provides access to thousands of art and design sessions online while Discovery Learning provides immersive lessons and experiences.
Read our full report on Tools in Home Education
It can be rather tricky to find good quality educational apps and children’s games.
YouTube offers fantastic learning platforms
Although we like to plan family movie nights instead of making the kids watch endless little movie videos, some decent educational channels are worth noting on YouTube. We have installed the YouTube Kids app on their tablets, which automatically filters out content that isn’t age-appropriate and does a good job.
Our children use YouTube for kids from time to time, but we don’t trust their algorithm on what’s coming up on the children’s computer. If there was a way for parents to circumvent the automatic feed and curate a list of channels for the kids to search it would have been perfect. On the other hand, this way children quickly learn how to find their favorite programs using the search tool. Maybe this is their goal too? After all, Google owns YouTube.
We also use the Google Family Connect app which makes the use of each app easy to set time limits. With regard to the YouTube Kids app, the content on the main screen is found to be quite random, making it difficult to curate a stream of videos from the channels that we have “pre-approved” If there was a simpler way for that, we ‘d probably have seen more of YouTube Kids. We are still very cautious about exposing children to ads, which is another reason why we micromanage quite a bit of their use of this forum.
For the most part, we use Android apps, and Google Family Connect is particularly helpful when it comes to monitoring what’s going on with tablets in children and how much time they spend on each task. However, setting it up and navigating the app took some time-certainly scope for improvement when it comes to the user interface.
YouTube Channels: Science and Space
We were particularly fascinated with Crash Course Kids when it comes to science, which is a bi-weekly series that is fun for the entire family to be watching together. Mike Likes Science is another good pick, showing music videos inspired by science while Science Max is a series of DIY experiments you can try at home. The Science Channel covers a whole range of subjects, keeping children up-to-date on new technology and exploration. Last but not least, SciShow is a hugely popular channel producing easy-to-understand videos of complex science problems with millions of subscribers.
YouTube Channels on Nature & Geography
Nature and animals have always been high on our children’s agenda, and the channel NatGeoKids is a wonderful channel that inspires children to explore the natural world around them. We like Geofocus too, which is all about geography, and how the planet earth and mankind interact. Brainscoop is a fascinating website that shares with the world the work and research undertaken by museums of natural history.
YouTube Channels: Arts & Music
Let your kids loose with the art projects on Art for kids hub that shows basic art instruction from a father and typically his son while freeschool is a great place to introduce kids to art and classical music. If your kids are in music, check out Kids learning tube that teaches kids in a fun and unique way through music and animation.
Last but not least, no Children’s YouTube channel list should leave out the immensely successful Cosmic Kids Yoga that teaches yoga and mindfulness to children.
Poio has been our favorite app for reading education since the children were young.
Intuitive apps and educational games
We find it very hard to sift through the millions of mobile apps available for kids to download, narrowing it down on the types of games we think will suit our kids. We typically dislike “In-App Purchase”-marked apps as it usually comes with endless prompts to spend on add-ons, coins, subscriptions, premium features, etc. Sometimes this is done sneakily, asking kids to ask their parents to pay for updates.
We also prefer to pay for a quality app in advance rather than being bombarded with targeted ads for children (in our opinion, personalized targeted ads should be banned for children). On the other hand, there are some great games out there that can make a big difference when it comes to getting children involved in learning. Here are some suggested games:
Educational games for arithmetic and phonics are part of our everyday home school routine.
Learning to Read, through Games
Poio is an immersive and engaging Apple and Android game that helps kids to teach themselves how to learn. The guys behind Dragonbox also created the Numbers and Algebra apps which gave children a soft introduction to maths.
Character “Ebbe” from Poio ‘s reading app. He stands for letter E and is very cheeky (and smelly) – one of our favorites!
“.. I can see how a better understanding of numbers will serve as a foundation for future mathematics, and I think that DragonBox Numbers does a fantastic job at it.”
As part of encouraging young children to read, Literactive is a truly useful read material provider available online for students in pre-school, nursery and grade 1.
Educational games focused on maths
Happy Numbers is game-based learning in which children collect visual rewards from unique creatures hatching from eggs and unveiling new worlds for studying math. Discover more about the beautiful science world by conducting enjoyable science experiments through New Zealand-based Science for Kids.
CoolMath4kids is an amusement park with sports, lessons, and more designed to teach maths and make it Enjoyable for 12-year-olds and under users. Math Game Time is a fantastic tool for children through 7th-grade providing fun games to help children appreciate and improve their math skills.
We have a wide selection of atlases we use for home education and one of the highlights is the Nat Geo Wild Animal Atlas. We also search our Nat Geo website frequently which has lots of cool animal-themed games and quizzes.
More educational games for kids
Abcya More than 400 fun and educational games classified by grade and subject covering topics such as multiplication, speech bits, typing, identification of patterns
Funbrain provides hundreds of games, novels, comic books, and videos to improve math, reading, problem-solving, and literacy skills.
The mission of Splashlearn StudyPad is to improve K-12 learning by making it enjoyable and personalized for each child and preparing them for the skills needed in the 21st century.
· Storyline Online The website for children’s literacy, Storyline Online, shares videos featuring famous actors reading children’s books alongside imaginative illustrations
PBS kids Curious George, Wild Kratts and other PBS KIDS shows educational games and videos
Children’s Highlights Highlights also referred to simply as Highlights, is a magazine for American children. The website is designed for children of all ages to play games and discover new jokes, surveys, answers to scientific questions, and fun crafts and highlights recipes
Switch Zoo Switch Zoo has 142 species, with additional animal games, animal voice music, a reference section, lesson plans, poetry, stories, and artwork created by students and other visitors on the website.
The Cat in the Hat, Sam-I-Am, Horton and the Whos and the rest of the Seuss characters will welcome you to Seussville, the playground of Dr. Seuss in cyberspace.
Tortoise Diary Another interactive resource that can inspire children to learn through various online tools like games, videos, and quizzes.
· E-learning for kids Unlimited and fun interactive children’s education worldwide
A fun, interactive geography game with quizzes with which your kids can play and learn about the world
Discover plants and trees with an App
We really enjoyed identifying trees and flowers around our backyard and local park using Google Lens. This is free to use and makes it much easier to search for plant names if you are not a botanist expert
GoogleLens A free Google app that lets you look up which plant you ‘re looking at (or something else for that matter) by taking a photo. When we went to our local woodland park, we used this by first identifying the plant or tree with the app, then pressing the leaves when we got home. It is a fun way to merge, highly recommended, visual and nature experiences!
Tree ID British Trees A Woodland Trust (UK woodland conservation charity) interactive tree identification app. The app is not based on AI recognition like Google Lens but is still very useful because it takes you through a series of trees-based guides. It also works in offline mode which is great if you are hiking in the wild without coverage of mobile networks.
Read more about our favorite apps and educational games
Outdoor activities available in your local area
Some can be performed really close to your house, or as part of your daily workout. Getting out of the house breathing fresh air is very good for everyone’s health and children always focus much more while completing home-school activities back inside the house.
Scooting is a great way to stay active in town, as it’s relatively safe (remember helmet) and you can go nearly everywhere. Our children get tired and bored of walking quickly, but with scooters, they can easily cover many miles in a day, which increases our scope a great deal!
Fresh air and music: if you’re in lockdown at home like us, consider sitting by the natural sunshine and opening the windows to get fresh air. Play some sounds of happy nature on Spotify to raise your spirits!
Go for a walk: it’s time to find out about the green space in your city!
Cycling: London has been constructing more and more dedicated bike paths sheltered from traffic in recent years, like many other cities.
Skateboarding: If your kids find cycling and scooting boring, why not take the skateboarding step!
Walk your dog: it’s a no-brainer (if you’ve got a dog), so make your dog happy with your daily exercise dose!
Play an outdoor theater: let the kids play their favorite characters.
Fly a kite: London is almost always windy, so perfect for kiteflying!
10 Amazing Amazon Prime family movies
Amazon Prime is possibly not the growing distribution site for children’s movies, despite the amount of titles available. But, since many also pay for an Amazon Prime account, it’s an easy way to watch some high quality children’s movies online. Here’s the list of movies we recommend:
Paddington: In search of a house, a young Peruvian bear moves to London.
Paddington 2 (2017) Happily settled with the Brown family and a prominent member of the local community
Room on the Broom (2013)A kindly witch allows a dog, bird and frog to join them on the broomstick
The Highway Rat (2017) is a rat’s tale wanting buns, cookies, and other sweet stuff.
Early Man (2018) Set at dawn when ancient humans and woolly mammals roamed the earth
Fantastic Mr. Fox(2009) An urban fox can’t resist returning to farm raiding
Asterix and Obelix: The Gods Mansion (2016) Caesar plans to absorb villagers into Roman culture to wipe the Gaulish village by any means necessary.
Ernest and Celestine (2012) An unlikely relationship between a cat, Ernest, and a young mouse named Celestine.
A Dog’s Journey(2019) A dog discovers the sense of his own life in the people he encounters.
The BFG (2016) This is the charming tale of an orphaned girl making friends with a giant who takes her to the Giant Land!
Please share your recommendation on Amazon Prime Kids Movies and other ideas in the comments section below.
Favourite children’s films on Netflix
In the kid’s section Netflix is certainly much better than Amazon, with many high quality shows and movies available. This time we didn’t include TV shows but instead instead on feature-length movies. Rather of making the children binge-watch cartoons and television shows, we choose to arrange film-nights with the family viewing and debating the film together. Here’s our recommended list of Netflix films:
Minions (2015) The Minions have worked, since the dawn of time, to serve the most evil of masters.
Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015) Drac is becoming increasingly concerned about his grandson Dennis in the dark and mysterious lands of Transylvania.
Shrek (2001) A romantic and funny tale about the green ogre Shrek and the beautiful Princess Fiona. Full of funny remarks and hilarious scenarios, this film is just as fun and enjoyable for parents as it is for kids.
Peter Rabbit (2018) Peter Rabbit, his three sisters Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-Tail and their cousin Benjamin enjoy their days in their vegetable garden bullying Mr McGregor.
Happy Feet (2006) This is the story of the charming Happy Feet penguin set in Antarctica. A fun tale for kids of all ages. If your kids are into nature and animals, this is a perfect choice for a family movie night!
The Little Prince (2015) The Little Girl, who is being trained by her mother for the very grown-up world they live in, is at the heart of it all.
Ballerina (2016) is a poor orphan girl who dreams of being a ballerina. An emotional film our 6-year-old daughter enjoyed a lot, during which she insisted on ballet lessons.
Benji (2018) Two children from school develop a bond with an orphaned puppy named Benji.
Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back – Evolution (2019) He’s set out to conquer the planet after a genetic experiment leads to the creation of a clone of Mewtwo.
Any other good movies or resources that you would like to recommend? Please share in the comments section below.