Happy New Year!

Obviously you never know what is coming around the corner, but we still look forward and make plans.  Having a vision of the life you want to live, and a road-map to get you there helps you to focus on the things that are important to you.  If life throws you a curve-ball, you can reassess and adjust your plans, but at least you know the overall direction you are heading. 

These are the principles I follow as I make my plans for the year.  I know what I want – but I’m prepared to redraw the route as I go.

For example, I haven’t made quite as much progress with some of these as I’d like through January – it’s been a very busy month at work, and I’ve also had a horrible cough and cold that I can’t seem to shift, which has made me pretty tired.  However – there’s always next month!

Make every day an adventure.  A chance to make life better – for yourself and/or for people around you.  Make life fun.  Surround yourself with people who you love and who fill you with joy.


New Year – new plans

Following last year – I’ve set myself a range of goals and lifestyle choices.  Each week, I’ll aim to do something towards each life area.  Mostly, the stuff I post here on the blog will be connected to what I am doing in these areas.   Of course, I’ll be aiming to tackle all these areas of my life with a playful, joy and fun-seeking attitude. 


Get down to 75kg

Exercise at least 3 times per week

I’ve got lots of adventures in mind, and I want to make sure that I can fully enjoy them.  So… making healthy choices and making sure that I make time to be active.


Self-publish short books on Amazon.

I’ve already published the first one – “My Life Planner”.  This link takes you there, but I’ll publish a blog about it very soon.


Make sure I actually know where my pension is

I know, I know.  This is something that as an adult I really should have a handle on.


Trip to Amsterdam, trip to Spain, maybe a UK city break to Edinburgh in the Autumn.

These are our travel plans this year.


Make sure I spend 1:1 time with both kids

I want to make sure I do this before they get too big and don’t want to anymore.

Regular date night with Hubster.

We actually like spending time together, but don’t often do it without the children.

Communicate regularly with mum, dad and sisters.

They live an hour and a half away.  I want to make sure that I get on the phone regularly, and also get to see them face-to-face at least every few weeks.


Put our personality all over the house and garden.

This will include painting a tree mural across the sloped bedroom ceiling among other things. 

Mini-adventures once a week

This could be anything from our regular kayaking with St Austell Canoe Club, or it could be a picnic tea at a local beauty spot, a walking or cycling expedition or a trip out to a beach, town or city.

Cut down on plastic packaging, shop local and start litter-picking.

All about the planet, and supporting my local community.



Use this blog much more as a creative outlet and to celebrate all the rest of this!


Complete some of the many half-started or half-imagined craft projects I have on the go.  Aiming to finish something every month.  Already in January I’ve knitted a snake (of course!  Just to use up some of my wool stash!)


Continue learning Spanish

I like to think my French isn’t too bad, but I have very little Spanish aside from being able to count to 10.  Hubster and I started Spanish lessons in September, in preparation for our trip to Northern Spain this summer.  I’m really enjoying it and am having a lot of fun trying to bend my brain to memorise new vocabulary.

Learn some philosophy

I read so much that references Kant, Rousseau, Aristotle and Plato – but really have very little idea what their ideas are all about.  So it’s time I sort that out.  My aim is to read some philosophy books.  I made a good start in January with the fun book “Plato and a Platypus walk into a bar” but there’s a long way to go before I could confidently say what the main ideas of the key philosophers are about.


Make new friends and pay attention to the old.

No, old friends, I’m not saying anything about your age!  Just saying that you are all wonderful and I need to make sure that I show you how much I value you, by actually spending some time with you.


Fiddly fingers

I use crafts, and cross-stitch to relax.  Husband and I like to watch an hour of television together each evening before bed, usually a box-set of some description.  I personally love this little ritual.  With a busy family it would be all too easy to pass like ships in the night, but we make sure we spend at least an hour in each other’s company at the end of each day.  However, I am a lady who likes to multi-task, and if I don’t have anything to do with my hands I get such fidgety fingers that I end up biting my nails!  

This is where certain crafts come into their own – these crafts can’t involve too many resources (as the dog would knock them out of my lap) and also can’t require too much in the way of concentration, as I do need to be able to follow along with the show.  The best crafts for the job are things like latch-hook rug-making or rag-rugging, crochet, knitting or cross-stitch.

You’ll see (I hope, as long as I get on and write them!) a few more blog posts in the next few days about things that I’ve been making recently.  In December I finished a crochet blanket, then I completed this cross-stitch over Christmas, and this last week I’ve been knitting a snake with the leftover wool from the crochet blanket.  I’ll give more information on my next project once I have posted about the ones I’ve completed – but before I can do that, I need to have a thorough sort out of my craft things in “The Railway Room” as I can’t get to anything at the moment because it’s so higgledy-piggledy, and there are a few minor sewing repairs to do in the meantime, to keep my fiddly fingers busy.

What do you do to keep your fingers busy when you’re watching TV?

Adventures this month

  • Plymouth Christmas market (we won’t bother with this one again!)
  • Mevagissey (twice)
  • Jools Holland concert
  • Getting ready for Christmas



How are we doing?

Are we feeling playful?

In all honesty – not really at the moment!  I’m full of cold with a horrible sore throat and a cough which means I’m not sleeping.  While I can manage pretty well on a bad night’s sleep, I’m not doing so well with four nights on hardly any sleep.

However, Christmas is coming, and that does bring out the playful side in some people.  My 12 year-old daughter absolutely loves the magic of Christmas – she is making decorations, getting Secret Santa gifts, decorating her own tree in her bedroom, planning how to decorate a Yule Log, watching Christmas movies and generally showing the rest of us how it ought to be done if only we had the energy.  I’m sure once I’ve caught up on some sleep and fought off this virus I’ll be a bit more on board.

The work Christmas party

I had a bit of an odd work Christmas party.  First off, let me tell you that I LOVE a work ‘do’.  My husband keeps himself to himself and we don’t tend to go “out out” very much at all apart from the odd family meal or a music event or theatre – so I take the opportunity to dress up a bit and have a good time.  As a teacher, these work events tended to happen at Christmas and at the end of the Summer term.  With my new job, where I am working on my own almost all the time, working one-to-one with clients or visiting schools, it felt even more important to get together with the team and get to know the others better.  It was a bit disappointing, therefore, to find that I was the only one from my team due to attend.  The first bit of fun was that I turned up on the wrong night!  This was entirely my fault, I’d managed to write the incorrect date in two different calendars, even though the email had the correct date!  Because I wasn’t expecting to know many people, it took me a moment to realise that in fact I didn’t recognise ANYBODY, and when I asked, I found that this was in fact the “South West Chimney Sweep” Christmas party – though they did invite me to join them!  Fast forward to the next evening and attempt number two.  Not only nobody from my team, but in fact nobody else from our entire side of the organisation.  Luckily I didn’t stay Billy No-Mates for very long, as some friendly folk took pity on me and invited me to move my chair and come and join them, and I did have a lovely evening (and a LOT to eat!).  My team did make up for it slightly by having tinsel crowns and Christmas music playing at our quarterly team meeting this week.

Thinking of others

To be honest, one more thing is making me hesitate a bit more about the Christmas decadence this year too.  I have come across a family of five who have recently been made homeless.  No fault of theirs.  The landlord wants to sell so issued a Section 21 eviction notice, but there just aren’t enough properties for locals to rent in Cornwall because of the massive number of second homes, summer rentals and air b and bs here, so they couldn’t find anywhere.  They were advised that the council couldn’t help them until they were actually homeless and they should wait until the bailiffs came.  So now that’s happened, and they are in emergency accommodation in a room in a Travelodge, presumably over Christmas, with nowhere to store or prepare food – so having to eat out (and into their savings) to feed the family.  I just think it’s so awful that families are having to face this, and feel so lucky.  It’s making me more determined to think of ways to look after others this Christmas.

Working for Christmas

Another thing that will make Christmas a bit different this year, is that it’s the first time in quite a while that my husband will be working over Christmas.  Of course, sick people people don’t stop being sick over Christmas (though I believe they try to get as many of them home to spend time with family as possible), and doctors and nurses still need to be at work in hospital.  C will be on-call and on the ward in the run up to Christmas, and with a lot more work to cover, as the junior doctors have called a strike that week, and will then be working on Christmas Day – before having a few days off.  Christmas Dinner and gift opening will wait until he gets home.  We will also be hosting my father-in-law, who will be facing his first Christmas since his wife died in January (having taken ill last Christmas Day / Boxing Day).  

A quiet Christmas

With all this going on, I think Christmas this year is going to be a low-key, simple affair – plenty of board games, movies and short walks, and I’m planning to take Father-in-law to the Nine Carols and Lessons at Truro Cathedral too, which should be quite lovely.

So how are you feeling this December?  What’s going on with you?  Will you be going to a busy or quiet Christmas?  Please leave your thoughts in the comments.


Ticking along

Everything that I said in my post back in January still applies.  I want to go back to the roots of my blogging and make it more personal.  So… how am I going?  Well, clearly not blogging very often.

But how is everything else going?

Me, my sisters and my mum, celebrating mum’s 70th birthday.

Project GARDEN

The garden is looking pretty amazing at the moment.  I’m really happy with it considering we are only in our first year.  There’s plenty still to do, of course.  However, we have a wild flower garden, fruit trees, vegetables, flowers.  My most prolific plant has to be my courgette.  My biggest disappointment are the gladioli which I had tied to support, and then a strong wind blew them so they snapped where I’d tied them.


As you’ll remember from my post – Beginning at the Beginning, I started a new job in March for a children’s charity.  I’m still really enjoying this job, and am getting to the point now where I can start to make suggestions to make it even better.  Everything else has taken a bit of a back seat – writing, creating resources, crafting.  


I haven’t got very far with this yet.  Hubby and I are now joint Membership Secretary at the Canoe Club, so that’s a start; I’ve made friends with one of Miss Busy’s friends’ mum; I’ve been along to a sea swim with the Bluetits group, but that’s about all.  I’d really like to start going to Edible St Austell, and I’m thinking about starting an activity group doing different things.


There has been plenty of adventuring:

  • theatre and music – The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain at Hall for Cornwall, Seth Lakeman at the Minack, Romeo and Juliet at Penlee Park Outdoor Theatre and The Tempest at St Austell Arts Centre
  • cliff walks,
  • sea swimming,
  • a seafari and
  • kayaking. 
  • We’ve been to Brittany for a week with the campervan at Easter,
  • and we’re off to the NW USA later in the Summer

I still need to work on my fitness.  It’s still not anywhere near where I’d like it.  I just get tired, and busy, and… I really need to make it a priority.


Beginning at the Beginning

Nearly a whole month into my new job, I think I’m beginning to get my feet under the table.  I won’t write too much about the details of the job, as a lot of what I do is confidential, and I also need to be careful not to breach the “acceptable use of IT” policy (one of many policies and procedures I’ve read recently!).

So here are a few things I love about my new job:

  • I spend time driving around this beautiful county, which means that I might spend my lunch hour one day in Bodmin, another day at a National Trust property and another day on a beach!
  • I’m working for a great team and meeting new people every day.
  • I’m given time to read policies and procedures, attend meetings etc.
  • I’m in control of my calendar.  If I’ve got too much going on, I can say “no”.
  • Staff wellbeing seems to be very important, and my boss has been very cautious about giving me too much to do initially as she doesn’t want to overload me.

And here are a few things I’m not so sure about:

  • I don’t have enough to do!  I’m looking at my calendar for Monday and I don’t have anything to do on Monday morning.  Later in the week I’m jampacked with appointments, but on days when I don’t have any, I’m not sure what I can do apart from check-in with clients and make sure they’re okay.
  • I can see ways to improve the efficiency of the service already, but because I am very new and at the bottom of the ladder, it’s really not my place to say anything.

It was very unnerving starting with no real idea of what I was going to be doing or what a week would look like, but I was at ease straight away with a couple of days spent sorting out technology and getting my head around the service, then getting logged on to all the different systems and getting mandatory e-learning done.  I then spent two weeks shadowing colleagues and by the end of that I was desperate to get going.  Now I’ve got started it’s easier to see what I don’t know, and to ask the right questions.  I’m looking forward to getting started on the next phase this week coming.

Wheal Martin Clay museum

Having more time available has a tendency to lead to more procrastination rather than less!

And in other news?

We had my lovely father-in-law to stay last week.  My mother-in-law died in January and he’s been going through a very tough time so it was lovely to have him here and take him out for a potter around Charlestown and a trip to Padstow, as well as for him to spend some time with his grandchildren.

I’m feeling a lot more chilled out about life in general at the moment, partly because I have more time available.  So I have washing on the line and it’s raining?  Just leave it there, it’ll dry eventually!  I’m loving spending time just chatting with my children, who are at an age where they really need someone to hear them. 

Life is good!  


This looks as though it’s going to be my last half term holiday – and it’s just gone! 

I’ve just got one and a half more weeks as a teacher (currently teaching Supply at a little school on the Roseland peninsular) and then I start my new job as a Children’s Project Worker with Barnardo’s.  I feel a mix of worry that I’m going into something completely new, apprehension that I might not have the skill set, regret that I’m leaving a career that I’ve had a real vocation for, excitement that this could take me in a completely new direction, confidence that “of course I have the skill set”… a turmoil of different thoughts.  Most of all is the leg-wobbling, stomach-churning reality that I have no idea what a week in my new job will look like.  I think it’s a case of suck it and see.

But enough about paid employment… what have I been doing with this last “school holiday”? 

  • I spent a few days with Hubby’s family.  We said our farewells to my mother-in-law as her funeral was on Monday.  I know all the mother-in-law horror stories, but in this case they just didn’t apply.  She was a lovely, kind, generous and intelligent lady and I am very glad I got the chance to get to know her.  Our attention is now on making sure father-in-law is okay.  They had been together for over sixty years and I can’t imagine the pain he must be feeling right now as he figures out how to move forward without her. 
  • I then supervised my daughter and her two friends having a sleepover.  This wasn’t just over-night.  It was 27 hours.  Miss Busy is fantastic, but her friends are hard work!  One in particular was extremely over-excited and very loud, and seemed more interested in her TikTok views than in the activities my daughter had planned.  I was disappointed that not only did I not get a single “thank you” from them the entire time they were here (bearing in mind I cooked all their meals, paid for them to go swimming and was generally lovely), but neither did my daughter.  She’s sad that I’m not impressed with her friends, but if truth be told, I don’t think she was that impressed with them either and came away from her sleepover feeling a bit of an anti-climax.  I think you can tell from my tone that I’m still slightly disgruntled about this!
  • I’ve been working on the garden – moving soil around, painting fence etc.  More pictures to follow as soon as it’s looking half decent!
  • Today we headed for a walk on Pentire Head just near Polzeath.  Pretty awesome scenery.
Miss Busy gets contemplative on the cliffs
Miss Busy gets playful on the cliffs

How to be happy

  • Count your blessings
  • Laugh, and…
  • …spend time with people who laugh with you
  • Find ways to build your sense of value and self-esteem

Happy Hump Day

A few feel-good thoughts to help us through to the end of the working week (if we need it)

Wednesday has been known as “hump day” since the 1950s, and more commonly since the 1980s.  It references the idea that people working the 9-5 might find Wednesday, the middle of the week, as a bit of a hump to get through, and then it’s downhill all the way to the weekend!  Of course, in an ideal world we’d all be doing jobs that inspire us and fill us with joy so we’d be getting out of bed each morning glad to get on with the tasks ahead of us at our paid employment! 

However, until we reach that point, many of us work through the work and play on the weekends, so that Wednesday hump, however tongue-in-cheek, is something that we recognise.

So let’s make our hump-day happy.  Watch out for Happy Hump-Day happiness here on The Playful Way.  This might be an inspiring or funny image, a set of jokes, or a funny anecdote or story.  Something to bring some playfulness to hump day.

Welcome to 2023 and a refreshed blog

Welcome to 2023!  We’ve made it through another year of chaos and madness and are ready to hit the “refresh” button.  

This means I am making some changes to the blog.  For the last 13 years I’ve had my personal blog on a blogger site inkspotsandgrassstains.  For a couple of reasons, I’ve decided to close down my blogger blog, and to make this blog here at The Playful Way more personal.  One is that the Blogger platform, which I joined so long ago, has not really kept pace with the technology.  The other is that I’m a busy person, and I can’t keep two blogs on the go, so I’ve been doing neither!  

I’ll come clean right now.  I’m unlikely to have a blogging schedule.  I’m unlikely to follow all the rules of SEO and I don’t have any plans at this stage to start stuffing my blog posts with affiliate links or other “monetization” strategies, though I may point you in the direction of my own money-making endeavours every now and then when I create them.  

At some point in the coming days I’ll try to turn all my previous inkspotsandgrassstains content into PDF form and host it all on here (because some of it was pretty good!).

So, welcome, come along for the ride, and join me in 2023 as I continue my journey to a more playful, happy and fulfilled life, and try to help everybody else come on the same journey.

So what do we have planned for 2023?

I’m trying not to give myself a whole lot of resolutions or plans for 2023 which I then don’t do and feel bad about it.  So I’m focusing on a few projects at a time.  Here are my first four.


Project GARDEN

Project number 1!  I’m turning our bare patch of garden (it was just a lawn and a large greenhouse before) into a productive and beautiful space.  I’m aiming to break the back of the landscaping in January so I can plant fruit trees and build a willow sculpture before the Spring comes along.  Then I can spend the Spring getting more plants in and sowing seeds, and the Summer adding all those beautiful and playful little touches, and actually enjoying the garden.



Much as I love teaching, I don’t plan on being a classroom teacher this time next year.  I’m currently working as a Supply teacher, which gives a lot of flexibility, but I’m building a bank of teaching resources for sale, writing my first e-book and marketing my parties and school workshops as well as continuing with art and crafts.  The plan is that I can build multiple small income streams.  I have also applied for a job for a charity, working with and supporting children – I have an interview for that on Thursday!



Having relocated in Summer 2022, as a family we are settling into our new lives in beautiful Cornwall.    However, I’m a friendly, sociable kind of person, and without the “school gate mates” that you get taking the children to a primary school and pitching in with the PTFA; without the work friends that you get if you are in a regular job; I haven’t yet “found my tribe”.  I firmly believe that humans are made to be sociable, and that our current screen-oriented, nuclear-family society doesn’t encourage the building of meaningful, supportive, friend relationships.  My intention this year is to make connections with people.  I’ve already identified groups and places to target: St Austell Bluetits (outdoor swimmers – the Facebook Group reveals a lot of fun and playfulness); St Austell Canoe Club – we’re already members and there are some great people here; local art and crafters; St Austell Friends (this is a Facebook Group with a lot of members, based on their lovely posts, there are a few people I’d love to reach out to); my neighbours. 

My intention is to start going along to groups and meet-ups, and reaching out to people to suggest getting together for a coffee etc.



We have also stopped our volunteering with The Scouts, which, while incredibly rewarding in many ways, had become more of a burden than a joy.  Without this time sink, we have found more time for adventures.  However, I’ve also found my fitness somewhat lacking.  This year I plan to log our adventures of all types, to intentionally adventure – on the coast path, on the moors, on our holidays, up hills, kayaking, cycling, walking, swimming, snorkelling, fire and den building.  A year of adventures!


Are you looking for things to do in lockdown? We’re now a year into the Covid crisis and our ideas bucket might be getting a little empty.  Every day feels like the Groundhog and you can’t wait for schools to go back? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

This Spring feels very strange for those of us at home with children.  We’ve had them at home with us the whole time since they broke up for Christmas!  However, it’s important that we make weekends and “not at school” times feel different for our children.  We’re not just talking about keeping the kids occupied, it’s much more important than that.  The monotony of a year where opportunities for holidays, going out to the shops, seeing friends and family, meals out, parties and activities like soft-play, swimming pools or school discos have been severely limited means that every day begins to feel like the groundhog day.

Humans (and monkeys too, research from Rome has confirmed) like variety.  You’ve heard the old adage “A change is as good as a rest”, the times when we are not doing school-dictated activity are a great opportunity to inject some variety for yourself as well as your children.

In the past I’ve talked often about the importance of allowing children to develop boredom, not to over-organise or over-structure their day-to-day lives, to allow their imaginations to flourish and increase the opportunities for free play.  I’m going to suggest that at this point, our children have had plenty of opportunity for free-play and imagination this past twelve months.  They’ve sadly had to occupy themselves apart from their peers, which makes free play and imagination so much harder.  Right now, they probably need a bit of direction and support.

If you’re also trying to work from home, or are having to go out to work and juggle childcare (difficult to access at the moment) this can be particularly hard.  However, I’d suggest that both you and your child need that emotional connection more than ever that you get from doing things together.

The ideas below for fun things to do in lockdown range from quick ideas you can use to inspire your children to go and do alone, to more complex activities that you will need to do together.  There are indoor and outdoor activities and ideas targeting younger children as well as older.  There is bound to be something to suit you. 

Indoor things to do in lockdown 


Classic | Themes | Official LEGO® Shop GB
Image from Lego.com

Are those big boxes of Lego or other building blocks gathering dust in the corner?  Sometimes all the children need is a bit of inspiration. Whether you search for “Fun things to make with Lego” (producing results like this) or you set a “build the longest bridge” type challenge.  To really get them engaged, even older kids will value having you sit and build with them as they get started.  Once their imagination is in full flow, you can nip off to make a cup-of-tea and they won’t even notice you’ve gone.  Unless of course, you’re having so much fun that you want to stay and play!

Hide and seek or sardines

Easy to play and a lot of fun, though better with more players so best for a large family.  We all know how to play Hide and Seek.  In Sardines, one person hides, then as each player finds them, they have to squeeze into the same hiding place.

Paper mache

A great (if messy) craft for all ages. A quick internet search will reveal tons of inspiring ideas and you can always make something that fits into whatever your child is interested in, from dinosaur eggs to frog pots, from spooky castles to fairy palaces. This easy and cheap craft requires patience as you wait for layers to dry before adding the next bit, but the results can be spectacular.

DIY Salt Dough Ornaments and Easy Mobile — Value Minded Mama
Image from valuemindedmama.com

Salt dough crafts

Another craft that requires virtually nothing in the way of material (just flour, salt and water, and some paints to finish off).  You can create decorations, wall plaques or even doll-house food!

Junk Modelling

Raid the recycle bin to create some amazing creations: from monster robots to castles, egg box crocodiles to space rockets and milk carton cities. 


This is definitely a win-win activity.  Not only do you keep a little person very busy, teach them measuring skills, food hygiene and the importance of cleaning up after themselves, but you also get a tasty treat to eat at the end of all the fun!

Make bookmarks

If your child loves to read, then they will always be looking for something to mark their place in their book.  A bookmark making activity is both practical and fun.  Whether you go down the origami route, drawing and laminating, or sewing using binca or felt, there will be a bookmark activity to suit you and your kids.

Movie theatre

We can’t go to the cinema at the moment, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make the experience.  Choose a great movie you all want to watch, dim the lights, put up the volume and snuggle down with a bowl of popcorn each.

Scout ActivitiesThe Scout Association - Wikipedia

The Scouts have been inspiring children and guiding them through learning skills for life in hands-on activities for over a Century.  Where better to turn for some great ideas for our children during lock-down.  Scouts – The Great Indoors is a great collection of activities curated by The Scouts during the first lockdown.  Even better – you might consider joining your local Scout Group (for boys and girls 6-18), many have been offering online Scouting throughout the pandemic as well as outdoor activities whenever restrictions allow. 

“Let’s go Live” and other Science experiments

There are lots of Science experiments and activities to do at home floating around the internet.  Some require a bit of preparation and equipment, others are a bit easier to manage.  An example is here on Good Housekeeping, or here on ScienceFun.org.  To get really inspired though, I would highly recommend “Let’s Go Live“, with Maddie and Greg on YouTube.  They present a fun video introducing a scenario, the Science and a lot of fun each week.

Board Games and Card Games

Yes, it’s time to get the Board Games and Card games out.  You’ll often need to do these with your children to begin with, while you teach them how to play and how to both win and lose gracefully!

Dressing up!

You don’t have to go out and buy a whole load of fancy-dress costumes.  A selection of hats, bags, scarves, and access to mum or dad’s wardrobe will provide a wealth of fun!  A challenge to “see who can wear the strangest costume” is a great way to get things started.

Image result for mini crafts for kids
Image from www.creativejewishmom.com

Making things in miniature

There are many great things about making things in miniature, but I’ll be honest, some of my favourites are that they  don’t use up much material and the projects don’t take up a lot of space! An internet search for “mini crafts for kids” reveals some lovely ideas from mini books to tiny polymer clay animals. Model railway scenery or dollhouse or fairy garden accessories also fall firmly into this category.

Home-made playdough

I’m a big fan of playdough. Not only is it fun, encourages creativity and imagination along with literacy skills as the child tells you what they are making, but it also builds up those motor skills and hand-eye coordination which are so important as children begin to write.  Here’s my recipe for home-made playdough: Mix 1 cup of plain flour, 1 cup water, 1/2 cup salt, 2tbsp veg oil, 2tbsp cream of tartare and food colouring in a saucepan over a medium heat.  Keep stirring as it turns from liquid to a dryish doughy mix.  This mix will keep well if covered. 

Paper aeroplanes

This is an excellent STEM challenge for older challenge.  There are a host of paper aeroplane instructions out there for lots of different aeroplane shapes.  Challenge your child or children to experiment with plane types, paper weight and size to find the best paper aeroplane in the following categories – paper plane that flies furthest, flies fastest, and is most acrobatic.

Water play

Technically this could be an indoor or an outdoor activity, but I’ve put it here because people often overlook the potential for water play indoors. Kitchen’s can usually be mopped, or the bath is a great place to contain water.  Whether this is a toddler just having a good splash and pouring water from one container to another, or an older child creating miniature boats, or finding a way to move water uphill, there’s something for everybody here.

Recycle box aquarium

Image result for cereal box aquarium
from TheBestIdeasforKids.com

This is one of the simplest ideas, and yet will not only occupy a rainy afternoon, but also creates something that can look great! Cut one side out of a cereal box.  Paint the outside.  Decorate the inside to look like an aquarium, then hang your fish from the top so they “swim”.  Fantastic!


Children LOVE painting and there are lots of reasons why it’s a valuable activity for them to do.  You can read a summary here at the Innovation Kids Lab. When my children were small I tended to get them to paint at an easel outdoors where possible, or in the kitchen with no clothes on!  As they got older, we had two types of paint – poster paints required table covering, aprons, and cleaning up together.  I also bought one of those tins of water colour tablets each for them (cheap and easy to get hold of).  These are a lot less messy and meant that the children could paint whenever they wanted to. Now, aged 10 and 11, they have access to a whole range of paints and are confident to both use them, and clean up after themselves!

Microwave mug cakes and armpit fudge

We’ve already talked about baking, but these are super-easy, super-quick, minimal equipment baking wonders.  Here are 34 different mug-cake recipes from Country Living Magazine.  Armpit fudge is one that sounds disgusting, but the kids will adore squishing all the ingredients together in a zip-lock bag under their arm and then digging in for a sweet-treat.  Full instructions here at www.mum-friendly.co.uk.   


I know, right?  This is a radical idea.  My eleven year-old still seems surprised when I expect him to help out around the house, despite the fact that we’ve been doing it since he was a toddler.  However, the importance of teaching children life skills, and the self-esteem they get from being useful can’t be overestimated.  In addition, doing housework together is more fun!

Dance contest or Zumba

Some kids just love to move and there’s no reason why this can’t happen in lockdown.  Dance mats and the software to run them are available for most games consoles, but you could also play videos of dance routines or Zumba to join in with, some are designed specifically to be child-friendly, or just put the music on loud and jump and dance around the room together like crazy. 

Outdoor things to do in lockdown 

Getting outdoors is more important than ever.  When you are cooped up in the same four walls day after day, little niggles soon become big irritations.  Getting some fresh air and exercise will make everybody feel better.  However, current guidance restricting travel for exercise, even a trip to the Gruffalo Trail at the local nature reserve is advised against.  Try some of these activities instead:

Treasure Hunt

A way to make a walk more fun and increase observation skills. Take a list of things to spot on your daily walk around the block.  This might include: somebody walking a dog, somebody with a push-chair, a red front door, a car from another country, somebody on a bike, snowdrops or crocuses.  Tick them off together as you find them.

Lawnside Play Park, Ledbury, Herefordshire - freeparks.co.uk
image from freeparks.co.uk

Local Park

The current rules state that playparks remain open primarily for those children who do not have their own garden. You can take your child to a playpark for exercise, but you should not socialise with other people while there. 

Bug Hunt

A bug hunt in the garden is a great way to get the children closer to nature in your own back garden and requires no equipment.  At this time of year, the bugs are hiding away, so it’s quite challenging.

Chalk Drawing

Get a pack of chalks and draw on the walls or paving slabs outside (it will all wash away in the rain).  Younger children will just enjoy making marks with a different medium, while older children can really  exercise their artistic talents – there are some lovely ideas here and here.

Build a nest

This activity really gets children thinking about how amazing birds are.  Make a bird nest using only natural materials.  Here are the instructions.

Feed the birds

This is the time of year when birds are most in need of a helping hand.  The insects are still hidden away for the winter, seeds are becoming scarce and mating and nesting is underway using up a lot of birdie energy.  Whether filling up bought bird feeders or making your own feeders from pipe-cleaners and Cheerios, from empty plastic bottlesor from toilet roll tubes.

outdoor frozen winter craft ideas for kids - ice suncatchersCreate frozen suncatchers

Frozen suncatchers will get your little ones thinking about the weather, and also about the natural materials around them. Find the instructions here.


With a free version of the Geocaching app, this is basically a free global treasure hunt!  Just create an account and you could soon be spicing up your walks by searching for and finding caches hidden on your route.


Knife crime is reaching horrific rates, with more than 35,000 knife offences recorded between March 2019 and March 2020.  Rather than trying to keep our young people away from knives, we need to 1) give them confidence to tackle conflict in peaceful ways and 2) teach them that knives are useful tools to be handled safely, rather than weapons.  Some great advice on types of knife, safety and inks to appropriate videos and books, can be found on the fabulous Get Out With the Kids.


As a Scout Leader, I love teaching children to light fires.  First, you teach the theory and the safety – how to do the activity safely, when to light fires and when not to, adult supervision, where to light fires, extinguishing fires safely etc.  For beginners, lighting a match and lighting a candle is challenge enough.  Then progress on to learning about different types of kindling and fuel, and how to construct and build a fire.  Just collecting wood is an activity in itself!  As they get more experienced, you can look at lighting fires without using a match, trying out flint and steel, rubbing two sticks and the like. 

Bike ride

A bike ride is a brilliant way to keep fit and explore the area where you live.  Work out a safe cycle route, with as few roads as possible (or very quiet ones) and get out exploring on two wheels.

Place Kindness Rocks

Rock Painting Complete Guide to Painted Rocks | Kindness Stones or Rocks | Inspire Kindness
image from www.inspirekindness.com

Painting rocks is a lovely creative activity.  You can either paint images, turn your rock into a whimsical creature, or decorate your rock with a kind and inspiring quote.  On your next walk, place these inspiring rocks for others to find on their walks, and spread a little love and happiness.


There are so many reasons to garden with children that I could write a whole blog post about it (and I might!).  From engaging senses, linking with nature, learning where food comes from, motor skills, vocabulary and more, spending time engaged in active work outdoors is really fulfilling and doing it together gives time to chat and spend time together.

Night hike

Going for a walk, even somewhere familiar, suddenly becomes more interesting and exciting if you go out in the dark.  The use of a torch is fun by itself, but try switching the torches off and see how your eyesight adjusts to the lower light levels and how your brain compensates by intensifying your other senses of smell and hearing.  You might even be lucky enough to spot more interesting wildlife such as bats, owls, foxes, hedgehogs or badgers that you wouldn’t see in daylight.

Create a “percussion wall”

Hang various old pans, wooden spoons and pipes and tubes from a wall, fence or tree in your garden to make a space where noise-making is encouraged and celebrated.

Star gazing

Before sunset gets too late for the little ones, take the opportunity to spend some time looking at the stars.  On a cloudless night, find the darkest place you can, away from street lights if possible – just a few miles out into the country makes all the difference, if restrictions allow.  Take a deckchair or blanket so you can lie down, and snuggle down into a sleeping bag or more blankets and check out the stars.  There are plenty of apps out there such as Star Chart or StarGazing that can tell you what you are looking at.  If you have a telescope or binoculars, you can examine the moon and stars more closely.  Keep warm with a hot chocolate.

Winter photography

How often do your children get involved with photography aside from daft selfies? Encourage them to broaden their photography horizons with a winter picture challenge.  Any camera will do.  Whether its getting up close to a dew-spangled spider-web, or taking photos of a hare in a snowy field, winter holds some fascinating scenes for those who take the trouble to frame a shot.

Tic Tac Toe - Stone Bees & Ladybugs - Red Ted Art - Make crafting with kids easy & funOutdoor noughts and crosses

So quick and easy to create, this can provide a quick activity for children to do together or with you at any time.  Paint pebbles in two different ways (I love this bumble bee and ladybird idea from Red Ted Art).  A 3 x 3 grid painted on a paving slab or log slice creates the playing zone.

Winter BBQ or cooking on an open fire

Following on from the firelighting activity earlier comes the liberating activity of cooking on fire.  Reaching back through the mists of time to prepare food just the way your ancestors did (or just toasting marshmallows on sticks!), is a fun and creative activity and creates a whole new taste adventure.  Look up “Backwoods cooking recipes” or “cooking on open fire” for some great suggestions.

Stick sword fight

So often in our risk-averse world we tell children to “put that stick down” or “watch out” and “be careful!”.  Wouldn’t it be great to take the brakes off and allow them to stick fight – or better yet, join in with them too!  

Local area exploration

Are your children often ferried in the car from activity to activity? This is particularly true for families in rural areas and you may have found that your “daily exercise” in lockdown has been the first time you’ve roamed your neighbourhood footpaths and byways.  It’s always fun to take time to “see where this goes” or follow a coin-toss adventure (at every junction toss a coin – heads = right, tails = left) to see where you end up.

I hope that you’ve found some great ideas for things to do in lockdown with your children at this time of year, despite the weather and the covid restrictions.  I’ll be writing in more detail about some of these activities in future posts, so do keep coming back for more.  I’d also love you to comment your own ideas of activities you’ve been doing with the children this Spring.