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Top Tips for Keeping the Youngsters Engaged!

Exeter Cathedral Education home-based activities, from toddlers to teens



Toddlers like feeling useful, so clear some cupboard space and fill it with your child’s plastic eating utensils, wooden spoons and an inexpensive, pot, pan and mixing bowl. Make sure it’s at child-level so they can access it at will, along with some pasta they can ‘cook’ with. Leave cloths, dustpan and brush within easy access so they can ‘help’ you clean and allow them to ‘wash’ clothes in a basin.

Another curious toddler interest is sorting stuff – laundry into piles, different coloured/shaped pasta into groups, toys into categories, cutlery drawer, shoes into pairs – so root out (or create) jumbles of items and get them to order it. Make boats to float in a bowl of water. Use a straw to have a blowing race!


Ages four-six

This age group is still wonderfully curious and aside from the usual baking activities, they want to help with dinner – with plastic utensils, they can chop and peel, stir and mash. This will, not only kept them busy by your side whilst you are cooking, but it also gives them a sense of achievement and the motivation to eat what they have prepared.

Now’s the perfect time for making dens and forts!

I would encourage you to relax the rules a little over the next few weeks and allow kids to spread out their playing space – setting up various worlds involving dinosaurs, soldiers, dolls, trucks, farm animals, whatever, can take hours and even if the actual game only lasts 30 minutes, trust me, they will spend forever setting the scene.

Dens in the living room or bedroom are always fun and once set up can be a magical place to bring books and treats. Garden dens are exciting too, if you have an outside space.


Ages seven-nine

Bill Nye the Science Guy and Octonauts are good TV shows for this age group but of course there’s only so much screen time they can and should have. I love to create “nature/treasure hunts” – I find them a big hit. Try writing lists of things to find in the garden, such as “2 long sticks, 4 daisies, 3 smooth stones” (Substitute words with drawings for the younger age group). This, armed with a “picnic” (some snacks) will keep them busy for ages.

On a more sophisticated level of play set-up, try to create a mini garden or farm from things you can find around the house or out on your walk.


Ages ten-twelve

Tweens are a tough bunch as they are kids who think they’re older. They enjoy the best of both worlds – so get them involved in projects such preparing the evening meal (let them choose and follow recipes themselves), writing a diary or even writing a book and designing a cover. But also encourage them to use their imagination to put on a play or a show to be practiced and performed at the end of the day.  Spend time designing a new type of biscuit with packaging, (all the family can taste test!) or a puppet show, a costume for a performance… they like the planning focus. Then structure the activity, make and review with feedback to finish. All good objective learning processes will make for a longer reflective project.



Teens often get a bad rap, but mostly they act out because they are bored or anxious – so make sure to talk to your teens about what is going on as they will all be on social media and between them could believe we are facing the apocalypse.

Keep them entertained by planning out your next family holiday

Turn confinement into positivity with a plan – they could declutter and organise clothes or games into piles for charity or recycling. Choose colours and paint their bedrooms or other rooms in the house, weed and plant a section of the garden or set up a window box to grow plants and herbs. Allow them to experiment with cooking the evening meal or teach you a thing or two about social media.

Set interesting projects for them – something educational, or creative. Let them make a home movie or record a song with lots of free online software. The author Sarah Webb is running just-for-fun writing workshops online via her Twitter account (@SarahWebb) all next week. Perhaps they could even plan a holiday online for when all this is over – give them a budget and let them plan travel, accommodation, activities for when you’re there. Involve them, reassure them and don’t treat them like children.