No School? 20 Activities for Kids, Teens at Home

Schools and nurseries are closed and we have two weeks to wait before Term 3 begins with online learning at home. What on earth do parents and carers do at home with the kids? With overseas travel discouraged, all our options are narrowed just that little bit further. What we all need is a PLAN. is here to help!
No School? 20 Activities for Kids, Teens at Home
By Jenny Mollon
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To help keep everyone entertained during the school closures, we’ve put together this BIG LIST of ideas and will continue to add to it over the coming days and weeks.

If you have a great activity idea, why not share it with us and we’ll add to the list? As those clever people at the KHDA say, we’re #inthistogetherdubai!

Send your activity ideas to [email protected] or via WhichSchoolAdvisor on FB, Instagram or Twitter.

We truly believe that there are two key factors in retaining your sanity over the coming weeks: 1) limiting screen time and 2) getting outdoors every day. Mindset and attitude will be key: as Tedro Adhanom Ghebreye, Director General of the World Health Organisation has said

“Do something healthy. If you can, get outside, enjoy fresh air, take a walk or bike ride with family and friends. If you can’t get outside, try some yoga or tai chi inside your home”.

Wise words indeed!


Ten Ideas for Children under 5

1. Get ahead of the game. Ever noticed that your child’s school or nursery usually has activities set up and ready to go as they arrive in the morning?

This approach captures your child's attention right from the off and it can help you out too. After your child goes to bed at night, take out their toys and create different play inspirations for the day ahead. We recommend mixing it up! Fill a table with jungle animals and lego, the toy cars and the play doh…lay books out in places where your child doesn’t typically read, or create a reading den with blankets and pillows. Creating variety, even with familiar objects, can spark your child’s imagination and keep them engaged for far longer than usual.

2. Rotate the toys! This is a great way to keep things fresh. A basket of say 7 toys, changed at regular intervals, is far less overwhelming for a young child than having every toy around, every day. A room packed full of toys may look exciting from an adult perspective, but for kids it can be just too much. Keep it simple.

3. Family Photo Bingo! A great one for expat families. Make sure your little one remembers the most important people in your family by playing this fun game. Take 9 family photos and place them in rows of three. Give your child some playing cards and start shouting out your family member’s names. Your child should place a playing card on whichever picture they think is correct. First with a line of three is a winner!

4. Keep the post service busy. Write letters and create special works of art for family in far flung places and ask them to reciprocate and write back to your child. Even in today’s hyper-connected world, children take an incredible amount of joy in receiving a letter addressed to them personally.

5. Pirate treasure hunt. Find the buried silver! Wrap odd shaped objects in aluminium foil and hide around the house. Burying them deep in dark corners for maximum excitement, especially if you give your child a torch to help them find the treasure!


6. Pack an indoor picnic. Have a ready supply of simple food (crackers, cheese sticks, small sandwiches, raisin boxes, juice cartons) at child height in the fridge. Give your child a blanket and picnic basket (the laundry basket will do just fine if you haven’t got one!) and ask them to pack their own lunch. Picnic in the garden, their bedroom, the lounge – anywhere but the usual place to eat.

7. Masking tape rules, ok? Masking tape is brilliant for keep young children entertained. It’s a super resource for junk modelling (keep your old milk cartons and cardboard boxes for that) but is also ideal for creating indoor hopscotch and obstacle courses.

8. Put up a tent. Yes, indoors. If you have the space, you’ll be surprised by how well a tent inspires role play and keeps young children entertained. They can even eat their indoor picnic in there and contain the mess – BONUS!

9. Introduce your children to the joy of podcasts. Want some quiet time but without resorting to the screen? Children’s podcasts have your back. We particularly love ‘Story Pirates’ (find it on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and Soundcloud for free!), which has an amazing community feel and encourages children to write in or send their pictures. Get involved!

10. Cosmic Kids Yoga! Cosmic Kids Yoga is a truly amazing YouTube resource and app. Star Wars obsessed child? No problem, there’s an online kids yoga class to fit. Princesses, cars or animal obsessed. Same – there will be an episode to suit.


Ten Great Ideas for Older Children and Teens

1. Get them to write and perform a play. Assign parts and roles such as director among their friends. They’ll need a set, props and costumes. You may need to take a starring role…don’t say we didn’t warn you!

2. Cross stitch. Yes we know that 1950 has long since passed, but cross stitch is back in vogue. We’ve seen Star Wars, Deadpool and Pokemon inspired patterns. Yes, really! Your older kids might be resistant to try this one, but persevere. Cross stitch is thoroughly absorbing once they get started. Search Pinterest for ideas, and visit a craft shop for supplies. There’s plenty to choose from for children and teens of all ages.

3. Household chores. It’s time they got involved and with a few extra weeks at home, when better to teach your children the value of making their bed and washing their own clothes? Make a rota and assign daily tasks. They’ll thank you for it one day.

4. Audio books. We think the Harry Potter series is especially wonderful delivered via audio book, but there’s something out there to suit everyone. Amazon’s audio book service, Audible offers one free credit per month, if you are willing to share!


5. Podcasts. If it’s podcasts you are looking for, the TEDtalks series is a great way to introduce teens to topical issues and current affairs. We also recommend “Stuff you Should Know” and “The Breakfast Club”.

For budding young gamers “What’s Good Games” is excellent. What’s more, podcasts are simple and easy to record on a smart phone…maybe your older kids could record and publish their own? Take a look at YouTube for simple tutorials.

6. Reading, reading, reading. Reading is absolutely vital; it keeps kids learning, it keeps kid thinking, it improves their writing and it expands their vocabulary like nothing else. Look online for lists of age appropriate books and work through them one by one.

7. Start a family tree. We often say that expat children need connection to their roots, and what better way than researching their own family tree? Sites like are a great place to start.

8. Board games and challenging puzzles. We even have the Dubai edition of Monopoly now, you know! Games like Duel and Quelf are popular but not obvious choices which will keep older teens entertained.

Did you know that jigsaw puzzles these days are not just pictures of vases of flowers or the world map! We especially love the 1000 piece 'Women in Science' puzzle, available on

9. Mentoring and homework help for younger children. A gainful activity that may well help a struggling parent at the present time. Just remember that in the UAE, teens should not be accepting money for this type of activity.

10. Take an online course. The Udemy app offers hundreds of inexpensive courses. Whether it's photography, social media or creative management that sparks their interest, your teen can get ahead of the game with online learning.

Share your best at home ideas with us: [email protected]!

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