Lockdown activities for kids: ideas for autumn and winter
As England starts another lockdown and the rest of the UK faces ongoing restrictions due to Covid-19, we’re all set to spend more time at home again.
As parents ourselves, we know we’ll be looking for inspiration to keep our children entertained (and out of mischief!), especially as the days get shorter and colder. So, we’ve gathered some ideas to help your family discover nature on your doorstep during lockdown and over the coming months.
Outdoor ideas and activities
Did you know spending time outdoors in nature is good for you? It’s true! Being around trees and wildlife can boost your mood and reduce stress, and that's something we could all benefit from right now. Getting active outside is a great way to improve your family’s fitness too.
If you have a garden, there’s plenty of fun you can have in it during autumn and winter. In England, you’re also allowed to exercise outside and visit local parks and other public green spaces with your household and support bubble. The rules may be different in other parts of the UK, so please check and follow the guidance for your area. But if you can, pull on your wellies and enjoy some fresh air together.
Credit: WTML / Danielle Wesley
Make a leaf rainbow
Rainbows have been a colourful symbol of hope this year. So, while there are still autumn leaves around have a go at making a leafy rainbow with your kids.
Go on a leaf hunt and collect different coloured leaves. Can you find red, orange, yellow, green and purple? Once you've gathered your leaves, lay them out in a semi-circle on the ground to make a cheerful rainbow. When you've finished, take a photo and send it to a loved one to brighten their day.
Help the wildlife in your garden
As we head towards winter, your garden wildlife will appreciate some help to survive the colder months. Get your kids involved and make a feeder to help hungry birds. You can also put out fresh water for animals to drink and bathe in. If you have space, create a ‘wild pile’ of twigs, logs and dead leaves in a quiet corner – it makes the perfect refuge where creepy crawlies, frogs and hedgehogs can hibernate.
Plant a tree
Join the Big Climate Fightback and help us get 50 million more trees in the ground! Your family can plant a tree in your garden if you have space. But don't worry if you don't, there are plenty of other ways you can join our climate change army and help us fight for the future of our planet.
Have a winter picnic
A meal in a restaurant might be off the menu for a while, but your family can still eat out. Pack a picnic full of warming treats, such as yummy soups and steaming hot chocolate, then find somewhere to feast in the fresh air. Remember to take a couple of blankets too, to keep everyone extra cosy.
Credit: Michael Heffernan / WTML
Go on a scavenger hunt
Scavenger hunts are great fun for all ages. You can do them in your garden, and they're also a good way to liven up family walks. Keep it simple for little ones and help them look for different colours or textures in nature. For older children, challenge them to hunt for seasonal signs such as toadstools, berries or frosty leaves.
You’ll find more ideas in our scavenger hunt blog and you can make up your own themes too.
Become tree trackers
How well do you know the trees in your garden or neighbourhood? Your family can become expert tree trackers with our free Tree ID app. It features over 70 British trees and helps you learn how to identify them by their leaves, fruits, twigs and bark. Give it a go and see which trees are living near you.
Visit a wood
We care for more than 1,000 woods across the UK. They are free to visit and are beautiful places to take a walk with your family. Please remember to stay local, enjoy them responsibly and follow the social distancing rules for your area to keep yourselves and other visitors safe.
Credit: iStockphoto / monkeybusinessimages
Indoor activities and crafts
When the weather's too wet and windy to be outside, we've got plenty of ideas for indoor fun too.
Host a virtual wildlife quiz
Video calls have become the norm for keeping in touch with family and friends. So why not get your children to write their own virtual quiz and play it on your next family catch-up? Our tree section and wildlife pages are filled with fascinating facts and information you can use to create your quiz questions.
Get crafty with recycling
Give cardboard tubes, cereal boxes and yoghurt pots a new lease of life and challenge your family to turn them into a sculpture or collage. Can you find materials to make a spiky hedgehog, a monochrome woodpecker or a gnarled old tree?
Credit: Lizzie, aged 8 / WTML
Make your own woodland theatre
Is your family missing stage shows and musicals? Then have a go at transforming a shoebox into a mini theatre for youngsters to create their own plays. It's a wonderful way to encourage them to use their imaginations too.
Paint a woodland backdrop and scenery, or use images cut out from magazines or old Christmas cards and glue them inside your box. Lay some fabric inside the base of your box to make the forest floor. To make your performers, draw or cut out pictures of animals and people. Attach them to sticks so you can easily move them around the stage.
Now you're ready for the show to begin!
Credit: WTML / Sam Oxford-Dean
Get creative with Lego
Many families have Lego, wooden blocks or other building toys at home, so have a go at making something inspired by nature. You could even find something in your own garden and try recreating it. How about a colourful autumn leaf, a friendly robin or an unusual mushroom?
Make your own jigsaw puzzles
Have your kids exhausted your supply of jigsaws and board games? Then have a go at making your own. Find wildlife photographs in old magazines and cut them up into pieces, then challenge each other to put them back together again.
Get inspired with wildlife activities all year round
If your family loves getting outdoors and up close to nature, then our family membership could help you explore more together.
When you join, your children will receive Nature Detectives activity packs through the post every season. They are filled with wildlife spotting tips, crafts, puzzles and nature facts, to help youngsters learn about our incredible environment.
You'll also get Broadleaf, our exclusive member magazine, along with a woodland directory and a handy tree ID guide - ideal for taking on family walks.