We understand that having children off school for such a long period of time is going to be difficult to keep them entertained. Mental health may also become a changing factor so we have devised a list of activities and games that you can do together as a family to encourage mental wellness. Please feel free to use if you wish. They are for all different ages so you may need to adapt for older/younger children. Below are the activities you can use with your children:

  • Simon Says: Rules are simple. One person is designated as Simon, provides instructions to others, which they must obey. The other player/s lose if they follow a command that does not have the phrase “Simon Says” in the beginning. Simon Says is a tremendous game to integrate the shifts of high-low arousal during higher brain functioning processing (paying attention and decision making when excited). Process with your child, or family, feelings of frustration around losing, and the excitement around “telling a grown-up what to do.”
  • Charades: A mimicry game where the intention is to guess the word or phrase that someone is acting out. One person chooses a category can be animals, sports, videogames, things in the sky, or professions.
  • I-Spy: Individuals take turns trying to guess which nearby object was selected in secret, through description queues given by the selecting player. This can be indoors, in the garden or out on a walk. If sounds are too difficult you can choose a theme for the clue, for example something blue. The person who is “it” will spy something in that theme, saying, “I spy with my little eye (insert themed object).” This is a great game to improve language development as it reinforces vocabulary, and pro-social engagement, as the point is to help the other person guessing.
  • Going on a Picnic: This game is perfect for communication building and sequential cognitive connection. Great therapeutic results with families. Using the alphabet as the framework, someone will begin the game with “I am going on a picnic, and I’m bringing (choose a food item that starts with an “A”, like apple, artichokes, avocados, or a silly thing, like an astronaut or an airplane). The next person repeats what the first person said, and then adds another item (that starts with a “B”). Repeat this until the entire alphabet has been used. You can even create the picnic story into a story/picture comic.  Allow frustrations when something is forgotten and help each other remember to build trust and support in relationships.
  • Reading: Any book can be read out loud, try audio books online and lay down to relax and listen together.
  • Colouring: There are a variety of free colouring pages found online. Simply type “free colouring page” in Google.
  • Worksheets: There are a variety of free worksheets found online for your child’s age group and topic. Simply type “free worksheets for kids aged…” in Google.
  • Videos: Use YouTube video, or other appropriate psychoeducation videos to encourage mindfulness. Examples are:
  • Inside out “how is she feeling?”
  • Guess the feeling –
  • Show and Tell: Show and tell is the practice of showing something of significance to someone and discussing it. Ask your child to gather 1 maybe 2 items of their choice that they want to talk to you about. Children love to show you their wold. Allow them to let their imaginations run wild with their stories. Be engaged with this but not too much verbal input until they have finished. Reverse the roles and you present to your child.
  • Board Games at Home: If you have board games, you can have them set up the game and place all the pieces out for you. This encourages responsibility and is an excellent opportunity to discuss “being a helper”. This will build family relationships as you join in together and build resilience when things aren’t quite going the way your child wants them to. It also encourages sharing and patience.
  • Feeling Faces: Show a face from a book or from the internet and have your child label the feeling. Then try to have them make the same face. Discuss when these feelings may arise for your child. This creates emotional recognition and mirroring emotional states, which increases empathy. Try to include somewhat goofy faces that are hard to replicate or animal faces (like a pig), as this makes it more challenging and fun for your child.
  • Interactive drawing: Taking turns each person draws a line on the same piece of paper until you have created an entire picture. Then take time to discuss what you’ve ended up with and colour it in.
  • Puppets: Puppets add humour to a scenario. Make up stories, allow the child to lead, then you lead. This will encourage imaginative thinking, autonomy, and free expression.
  • Online Gaming: Lots of children enjoy gaming these days. If they already have a favoured game, join in with them. Let them show you how to play and become interactive with them. If they don’t have a console, try a game online or on your phone. Join in together. Limit screen time.
  • Crafts: Using any leftover cardboard, toilet rolls etc, decide what you will all make together and get creating. Talk about all the different parts that are being built. For example, building a rocket, what are the different parts used for, how do they work etc. Add colour, paint or other tools to make it unique and name it.
  • 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 mindfulness activity: 5 things you can see, 4 things that you can feel, 3 things that you can hear, 2 things that you can smell and 1 thing that you can taste.
  • Self-regulation games: Red light, green light, yellow light, purple light. Red = stop, Green = go, Yellow = slow-down, Purple = do a silly dance.
  • Freeze: Play music with different tempo’s, tune into the music speed and dance at that speed until someone says freeze. Continue with different songs to get used to stopping.
  • Create a calm down corner: put pillows, blankets etc down in a space that is solely for your child when they get upset, angry etc. Include objects like cuddly toys that make them feel safe.
  • Worry stone: Ask your child to go into the garden to find a stone (or a bit of nature if there are no stones). This will be their worry stone. If they are worried about something, they can put this stone in the kitchen or somewhere visible to parents to show they want help. Another option is to put the worry stone next to something that may be worrying them that is visible in the home.
  • Animal emotions: Choose an animal then act out movements they make and make the noises. Notice with your child what emotions they portray, e.g. growl like a bear if you are feeling angry.
  • Stuffed animals: Choose teddies from home to represent each member of the family. See what the story is that these teddies tell. Allow a judgement free arena for the child to express their feelings. Another option is to chose a teddy to represent how they are feeling at the moment and discuss these feelings through the teddies.
  • Modified Jenga: Write numbers on the blocks. You pull off a number, for example 1, answer a pre-determined question. For example, how do you feel today.
  • Emotion Egg hunt: Draw together 4 x happy, sad, angry and excited. Let your child hide these around the house while they follow you while you try to find them, saying hot or cold etc. Adapt the emotions when needed.
  • Friends: Draw all friends on a piece of paper. Discuss 3 things they really like about their friends. Recognising others qualities. Then discuss own qualities.
  • Back-to-back communication: Child and parent/carer sit back to back. One of you selects a word of your choice, for example ‘House’ and has to describe this without using the word to the other who has to draw what is being explained. When finished, see what the other one thought it was and then swap roles.
  • Balloons: Blow up lots of balloons and draw different emotions on them. As a family keep all the balloons in the air. When a balloon hits the floor, everyone stops and describes a time they had that feeling.
  • Make-up Games: Together devise a game that you can all play together. Come up with rules and play. See what you can create.
  • Mirroring: One of you become the leader, the others follow everything that you do as best they can. Challenge each other – go fast and slow.
  • Obstacle course: Create an indoor/outdoor obstacle course to complete together. Time yourselves.
  • Puppet show: If you have puppets/stuffed toys, create a show for each other and make it interactive. Discussion points: feelings, school, worries, hobbies, etc.
  • Build a fort: Use blankets and chairs etc to build an indoor fort together. Be adventurous and animated in making your child feel as if they have travelled somewhere new.
  • Painting with objects: Paint with different objects from around the house. For example, a potato, apple, sponge, toothbrush etc.
  • Make your own Mandala: Search Mandalas on google and have a go at designing your own.
  • Make a scrapbook: Choose a time, potentially the current situation to document what you have been doing together and reflect on this from time to time.
  • Laser: Use tape to make pretend lasers through the hallways for obstacles to get through without touching them.
  • Physical Movements: Dance party, pillow fight, sword fight, sports etc.
  • Write letters to friends/family: Write to those who you can’t see at the moment telling them what you are doing.

Stay safe and healthy.

Please get in touch with us if you think we can support your child further.

AW Play Therapy Team.