The last week has been a learning curve for everyone in the family. Not only is Olivia now doing schoolwork from home, but Chris and I are just trying to find our own flow in the house with a three-year-old thrown into the mix! It has been an adjustment that for sure, but I have been pleasantly surprised as its been quite enjoyable…although ask me that again in a few weeks!

This then got me thinking as to why it was so enjoyable when it had filled me with anxiety the minute I heard about the school closures. I have concluded that it is simply because there is just so much on offer especially for kids that is free. Whether the bulk of it is because of what is going on in the world or was some of it  Infact always there, but I just didn’t make the effort to look? I think a combination of the both perhaps.

I thought I would list some of the activities that I have done with Olivia last  week incase anyone needed extra ideas to keep school aged children busy. What I do want to note is that I have seen numerous posts on social media saying “Don’t home school your children, let them build dens and play outside” I have done that but I do feel it is important to maintain some aspects of school life so they don’t fall behind their peers and lets be honest kids love structure. It can be different for every family I understand but my daughter is a child of routine. She likes to know what comes next and this was proven time and time again over the course of the week.

Just as a side note I want to let you know that Olivia is six years old and in Primary two in Northern Ireland and that has influenced the choice of resources used so they meet her age group and set of skills.

1. Twinkl School Resources –

I printed a lot from this website as soon as I found out that school was closing. Not only do they offer a special code for a month so that all resources are free, but it is broken down into all age or key stage specific work bundles. The resources are both educational and they are fun. Olivia has done quite a bit of mathematics from it, topical work including animals, spring time, Easter and it has helped me with phonics! WOOHOO. Gone are the days of ABC and my goodness did I struggle with that I’m not going to lie. I have also printed out some resources to keep Zanna occupied while Olivia does her work in the mornings.


2. PE with Joe, The Body Coach

I don’t think im alone when I mention PE time for the family with Joe Wicks, its sweeping the nation. We have been dedicated since last Monday. The kids are loving it and Olivia loves it because she now knows this is what we are doing after breakfast. When we got up on Saturday and she asked if Joe was on and we said no she instantly knew it was the weekend and school was over for the week. I thought that was interesting as she will now associate this with her new weekday which is perfect for routine and structure. Its daily at 9am here on his YouTube channel.

3. Cincinnati zoo and Botanical Gardens

After a friend tagged me in a post about this zoo we have been obsessed and I do mean we. I have loved watching the webcams and the live educational talks which are live on their Facebook page at 3pm daily. Our school day as such is over by then so we have been watching it the day after which works out well as we can pause it to discuss things. It ties in nicely with Olivia’s topic at the minute in school which is “Amazing Animals”. We have printed off a sheet which the allows Olivia to draw a picture of the animal we are watching and write down three facts about them. It has proven to be really popular and our favourite animal, so far is definitely Fiona the two year old Hippo! Olivia now wants a hippo for Christmas, but she understands that at 1,200 pounds in weight Fiona couldn’t fit down the chimney so that dream is shattered…oh well! You can find the link to their Facebook page here


4. British Sign Language

I happened to be scrolling through Facebook when I noticed a lady was about to start beginners British Sign Language via YouTube last Monday. I thought this would be great for all of us to do and Olivia really enjoyed the first lesson. It was quite heavy going as the first one taught us basic phrases, the alphabet and the numbers 1 – 20. For this to really resonate with Olivia I knew we needed to watch each episode a few times and she has now nailed the alphabet so much so in fact we have been playing eye spy but doing the signing for the letter. We will be continuing with this going forward as along as she is enjoying it, otherwise I would even do it by myself in the evening as it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. You can find this online with Natasha Lamb Monday-Friday at 1pm. The class is then saved and can be watched later via the YouTube channel.

5. Cosmic Kids Yoga

This YouTube channel has been a little gem for us. Olivia loves yoga but unfortunately cannot attend her local class due to prior commitments (oh the life of a 6-year-old!). The classes are generally around 15 minutes long but they do have special episodes that are based around films, so the girls have done Trolls and Frozen yoga this week and thoroughly enjoyed them both. At 30 minutes in length and the fact that they don’t need supervised means I can get on with things around the house or enjoy a hot cup of tea in silence…utter bliss. You can find them via their site here.

6. Music with The Gathering Drum

I was already familiar with Joe and The gathering Drum from years ago when the kids have attended some of his classes via our local Sure Start. Joe has such a great personality and rapport with the kids which makes the lessons so fun and interactive. It was for this reason I was really interested to see how he would manage trying to achieve this in his living room without the crowd to work with and my goodness he was fab! I had originally planned this to keep Zanna entertained but it was Olivia who got the most out of it and we can’t wait for this week when Joe will reenact “Going on a bear Hunt”. You can catch Joe live on Fridays at 1,30pm via his Facebook page The Gathering Drum.

7. General Reading resources

I had received a message to let me know that my local library was closing and that you could double up on books with your membership card. I got Olivia 18 books that relate to the reading ladder she is on and have been using these to do reading comprehensions. This was the sort of homework she had been getting in the lead up to the closures, so I have been writing out the questions and she is then writing the answers in full sentences with punctuation and grammar added in. I have also been getting her to read some articles online and printed off other comprehension guides from Twickl as mentioned earlier to keep her reading progressing. You can of course do this with books you have in the house but I find Olivia knows her own books inside out and back to front so it works better for us to test her with new material. You can find the Online library here.

8. Learning language with Sí Sí Spanish

I had been on the Mums NI website when I happened to notice a local Spanish Storytime was due to take place on Sunday at 10am. Olivia already goes to French club after school but she can count to ten in Spanish so thought this might be interesting to watch for the sake of 30 minutes and the time of it was perfect. We really enjoyed the songs at the start and the counting, but I could tell Olivia’s train of thought was starting to weave when Storytime actually started. She obviously didn’t understand what the words where so could not follow the story. I understood but I could tell she really did want to learn. Off the back of this I messaged the lady Lynn who took the class and explained that Olivia was keen and maybe another one of her classes would be more suitable, Lynn replied nearly instantly to say she was delighted we had watched and that more classes would be coming up and hopefully something would match with Olivia’s interest. I will be keeping an eye out on their Facebook page for this as I definitely think she would be keen. You can find Sí Sí Spanish via their website here.

Ideas for this week

I was conscious I didn’t want to overdo it with ideas last week so I saved some for this week and we will chop and change as we go.

• Dance with Oti Mabuse which is live on Facebook/Twitter and Instagram daily at 11.30am

I know all the kids in Olivias class love a good boogie so we might try a couple of these sessions to lighten the mood when the phonics have driven us (me) up the wall. Oti is going live from her living room with her husband and the dances are based around kids films such as Mary Poppins, Trolls and The Greatest Showman, so I think Olivia will enjoy that. You can find the link to her Facebook page here.

• Armagh Observatory and Planetarium Science at Home daily at 10.00am

I only discovered this after being sent a press release about it last week. I had a look on the AOP Facebook page to see what I needed to get organized to take part and its so simple. You only need items you more than likely have in the house which is ideal. The science experiments often take only a matter of minutes so a perfect amount of time to capture your little one’s attention.

We recently showed Olivia the experiment that has gone viral on social media which is available on the AOP Facebook page about soap and water. This has been used by parents as a fun way to show their children the importance of washing their hands, the video shows someone dip their soapy finger into a bowl of water which has pepper grinds floating on it. The pepper immediately shoots to the outside of the bowl. Explaining the science behind the experiment, AOP staff revealed that by adding soap It breaks down the surface tension of the water. When the surface tension is reduced, the water wants to spread out flat on the plate which carries the pepper away from the source of the soap. If you haven’t already done it then it’s a great explanation as to why we are washing our hands so much now.

We cant wait to investigate the other experiments this week via the AOP Facebook page here.


 I hope some of these ideas have been helpful incase you need some activities to fill out your day although the good weather has certainly helped that’s for sure. One week down, many more to go!

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