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  • InAt home, Coronavirus, Resources

    Hey Duggee online activities keep kids busy in lockdown

    Do you have a Hey Duggee fan in the house? If so, this blog is your guide to find their favourite online activities to keep them entertained.

    Hit preschool brand, Hey Duggee has been keeping children entertained for years. Now that the UK is in lockdown though, parents are even more grateful for online content that is available 24/7.

    Already a family favourite, the popular series Hey Duggee has added even more activities, videos and fun to their social media and website. There are even new episodes coming soon!

    Online activities to keep little ones busy

    The website has published a whole range of Hey Duggee online activities and games to keep little squirrels busy. Find instructions and badges with activities to do at home, or more educational videos such as ‘Science With Duggee’.

    The Hey Duggee Official YouTube channel is full of the episodes but also lots of extras too. Even better, you can actually hit ‘play all’ if you just need half an hour for a work call. With over 40% more people watching the channel since lockdown, it’s clearly helping a lot of families at the moment!

    To keep little hands even more occupied, BBC Studios has launched an official Hey Duggee Pinterest profile. You can find fun activities, arts and crafts and baking recipes, further expanding the brand’s digital “paw-print”.

    Hey Duggee and Covid-19

    Despite the obvious negatives of lockdown, the characters have been highlighting the positive moments too. For instance, on social media and iPlayer, you’ll find a series of ‘shorts’ as part of the ‘Stay Home’ campaign.

    The Hey Duggee Stay At Home Badge video was followed by The Handwashing Badge, adapting the notoriously catchy ‘Stick Song’. The video had 97k views in the first 24 hours, with parents praising it for encouraging good hand washing hygiene.

    As well as downloadable templates and colouring sheets, Hey Duggee fans can download a card to send to grandparents in isolation.

    You can download fun virtual backgrounds for family Zoom sessions, rainbow colouring sheets, and weekly activities from The Design Museum’s Young Design Museum.

    Harriet Newby-Hill, Global Brand Director – Children’s at BBC Studios says: “It’s been incredibly rewarding for the team to see such fantastic levels of engagement from our Hey Duggee fan community. We’ve loved all the fabulous creations from our young fans and seen a great deal of positive comments from parents in response to the inspiring and fun activities we’ve curated for our digital channels.”

    Brand new episodes of Hey Duggee Series 3 are set to air on CBeebies in June.

  • InAt home

    Juggling a toddler and new baby during lockdown

    Bringing home a new baby can be disconcerting for a toddler at the best of times. Under the restrictions of UK lockdown, it’s an an even greater challenge.

    For the older sibling, gaining a new younger brother or sister can be the most impactful thing that has ever happened to them. The child’s life is about to turn upside down.

    Dr Lin Day, Founder of nationwide Baby Sensory and Toddler Sense sheds some light on the issues parents face. She states, “Adjustment to a new baby will depend on pre-planning and preparation, the child’s personality, age and stage of development, and relationship with their parents.

    “Lockdown or no lockdown, ultimately, your toddler needs to know that he/she is still loved and wanted. Cuddles are important during any major life-changing event, and also throughout life. They can make a real difference to how the child feels and behaves and to relationships in the future.”

    Proven techniques to help to reassure your toddler

    • Actively make time just for you and your toddler when the new baby is sleeping or feeding (the tidying up and washing can wait!)
    • Read a book or colour a picture together, sing a song or get your toddler to help you with some jobs such as making lunch, gardening, cleaning etc.
    • Be present in mind – as your toddler questions and listen to the answers
    • Give lots of cuddles and expressions of love in front of the new baby so that your toddler feels included
    • Give positive praise when your toddler has done something new or well and when they are kind or thoughtful to their new baby sibling
    • Point out all of the grown up things that your toddler can so that the new baby can’t!

    “Being at home most of the time means that your toddler will often want to be involved in what you are doing. Toddlers and older siblings may want to get involved in holding and cuddling the new baby. They may want to play with the baby during routine activities such as nappy changing, dressing, having a bath or preparing for bedtime,” Dr Day continues.

    Easy tips to entertain your toddler while on lockdown with a new baby in tow…

    • Find an old toy or home catalogue (or a magazine), a pair of safety craft scissors and some glue. Using sheets of paper or a scrapbook your toddler can cut and stick to their hearts content! If cutting out is difficult, the pages can be torn out, which is good for building hand muscle strength too. This can be enjoyed at a kitchen table while you are feeding or rocking baby.
    • Squirt shaving foam for sensitive skin onto a baking tray for little fingers to play with. Add a few toy trucks and small toy figures to encourage imagination. Your toddler will love this and it is easy to clean up later on.
    • Make or buy dough and let them roll, knead, and squash it. This also helps them to develop fine motor skills. Add in a few safe kitchen utensils to extend all aspects of learning and development.
    • Thread pasta on a string or give them a washing up bowl of soapy water to play with. Hiding treats as hidden treasure in a bowl of polenta is fun to find too.
    • Match lids to pots, pour drinks from jugs to cups, bathe dolls, tie bendy straws together, and role-play or dress up. These are all good activities for when baby is sleeping.
    • Let them ‘help’ with everyday chores such as dusting, cleaning, baking, laundry, setting the table, and sweeping. This encourages them to re-enact real-life events and make sense of the world.

    WOW World Group (which includes Baby Sensory and Toddler Sense) recently announced it is delivering all of its classes live online across all regions, as part of a huge motivational drive to boost interaction and wellbeing for parents with babies and younger children who are facing disconnection from vital ‘lifeline’ parent networks in light of coronavirus.

    For more information, check out the Wow World Group website.

  • InAt home, Seasonal events

    How to celebrate VE Day at home

    VE Day is coming up on Friday 8th May 2020.

    This year, this special date coincides with the early May Day bank holiday. As a result, lots of events were going to be happening up and down the country.

    Initially, it was going to be an exciting time to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day. A good excuse to celebrate a great occasion.

    As the UK is in lockdown due to the coronavirus however, organised events around the country have had to be cancelled, or moved online.

    Lockdown doesn’t mean that we can’t still have a weekend of celebrations to mark this special moment in history though.

    What is VE Day?

    VE Day is short for ‘Victory of Europe Day’, and was the day on which allied forces announced the surrender of Germany in Europe in 1945. In other words, it was the day that marked the end of Adolf Hitler’s reign. At 3pm on 8th May 1045, Prime Minister Winston Churchill told the nation that the war was over.

    On that day, a crowd of 50,000 took to the streets in Piccadilly Circus, cheering and waving flags to celebrate.

    Usually, we’d all be seeing the occasion is celebrated with street parties, community gatherings, organised events, and a parade through Westminster towards Buckingham Palace.

    Not this year though. So how can we celebrate VE Day at home?

    Well, the street parties and parades might not be going ahead, but there are still lots of ways you can enjoy this momentous celebration.

    Having fun at home

    Have a look at these ideas of things you can do with your kids at home to celebrate the occasion.

    Have a picnic at home. We’re not able to head to the parks or beaches at the moment, but kids always love a picnic, wherever it is. If the weather holds out, why not enjoy a picnic in the garden, or if it’s too wet, have a carpet picnic indoors instead? Just make sure you are observing social distancing wherever you hold it.

    Decorate your house. Add a bit of patriotic cheer to your windows by making your own bunting, hanging flags, and making decorations to celebrate the occasion.

    Join in with a virtual event. There are online events being planned all over the country, with lots of fun activities. For instance, how about vintage dance sessions, family yoga, music, magic and circus skills?

    Get your bake on. English Heritage has a VE Day At Home pack for families to download. The pack includes recipes for ginger beer, lemonade, carrot scones and cheese-and-marmite swirls, as well as tips for dancing lindy hop-style music to enjoy too.

    Afternoon tea. Once you have your goodies sorted, enjoy an afternoon tea at home. Include scones and a classic Victoria sponge cake with a nice pot of tea.

    Throw your own virtual party. Invite your friends and family to your tea party or picnic using a video call platform such as Zoom, FaceTime or Houseparty.

    Raise a glass to the heroes. No party is complete without a cocktails and some canapés. A simple Pimms and lemonade is quintessentially British, but obviously not appropriate for little party guests. Fun alcohol-free mocktails mean that everyone can raise a glass to those who fought for our country. Above all, that’s what it’s all about.

    VE Day bunting

    VE Day activities for the kids

    Enjoy the TV specials. You can even enjoy some of the TV specials planned for Friday, with documentaries, unseen footage and lots more for the whole family. The Queen is also making a speech at 9pm on BBC One. This is the exact same time that her father, King George VI, spoke to the UK 75 years ago. It’s definitely a day to let the kids watch the telly and get their questions flowing. Check out the Radio Times listings.

    Get imaginative with fancy dress. Research what children in the 1940s used to wear, and recreate what you can with the kids. Even if you don’t have everything you’d like, it’s a fun research project and conversation starter with children.

    Listen to war time songs. Music was such a massive part of the war and keeping everyone’s spirits up. Therefore, it’s the perfect opportunity to educate kids about 1940s music, wartime songs, and artists such as Dame Vera Lynn.

    Get crafting. A simple search for free VE Day crafts will throw back hundreds of things to make with kids. Try simple WW2 Spitfire Glider paper craft project and Union Jack colouring sheets that are both free to download.

    Enjoy a history lesson. And last but not least, try to get children involved with understanding the significance of the day. There are a whole load of resources in the Teach section of the website, with specific topics and videos about WW2.

  • InAt home, Resources, Seasonal events

    Fun superhero activities – #NationalSuperheroDay

    28th April is National Superhero Day, and what better way to engage children by creating some fun superhero activities to show them how important role models are.

    Each year, since Marvel Comics created the day in 1995, it honours superheroes, both real and fictional.

    Whether it’s Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, or another well known superhero, they are great role models for our children. The whole idea is that these individuals serve and protect us while fighting evil.

    In real life, our children are surrounded by people who don’t have superpowers or wear capes. These people however, still help to protect them and keep them safe.

    Medical staff, police, social workers and teachers are just a few of the heroes who protect children on a daily basis. 

    So it’s a day to celebrate the work they do (and have some fun doing it too).

    We’ve come up with some fun ideas superhero activities that the kids can do at home with no real special equipment or planning.

    Celebrate National Superhero Day

    Fun superhero activities for kids

    When you say ‘superhero’ to a child, they will automatically think of the caped crusaders of their favourite TV programmes or films.

    Naturally, they will look up to these characters. They might need a little education that it’s the ‘everyday’ people around us who really look after us.

    For now though, there are lots of fun activities that you can do with your child to capture their imagination.

    Recognising our real life heroes

    To truly do this day justice though, we need to educate our children about the real life heroes who keep our world turning. In the current climate of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are lots of ways that we can recognise people who make a difference.

    Explain to your child the idea of everyday heroes. These are people who make a difference, perform good deeds, and don’t do it for recognition. Or perhaps survivors and other people who are brave or important to someone.

    At the moment, children will be more aware of this idea, so it’s a great time to build on what they are hearing all around them.

    • Get them involved in Clap for Carers if they can last until 8pm bedtime
    • Write about a real hero
    • Write a list of real life heroes they have seen or met
    • Share a photo on social media of someone making a difference and explain why
    • Play with toys that represent real life heroes such as vets, rubbish trucks, fire engines etc.
    • Discuss what characteristics makes a hero
    • Download images and create a collage of people who help us
    • Do some ‘thank you key worker’ colouring sheets and display in your home
    • Read stories about people who help us
    • Dress up as key workers or play games
    • Explain how every role is important even if it might not seem it e.g. shop workers, delivery drivers and cleaners etc.
    • Make a card for someone who has helped with something (this can even be a parent or carer)
    • Have a look online for lots of free worksheets and resources for children that explain the idea of important jobs and people

    Whatever you decide to do to celebrate #NationalSuperheroDay, remember to share it with others to spread the word of how many people keep our world turning.

  • InAt home

    Creating a special kids birthday in lockdown

    As we enter the second phase of Covid-19 measures, kids birthdays in lockdown are happening all over the world.

    For a child, a birthday is HUGE.

    Of course, in the grand scheme of things, the odd missed birthday party isn’t the worst thing happening right now.

    There will plenty of other celebrations during lockdown that also won’t go ahead and will be sorely missed. Friends, families, celebrities and even Her Majesty the Queen will have to cancel plans over the next couple of months.

    When you are little however, birthdays, parties and everything that goes with them are such a big deal. It’s such a milestone and with everything from taking sweets into school or nursery for their friends to a mention in assembly, such an exciting time.

    So with the prospect of this year’s kids birthday parties and days out being cancelled because of social distancing, how can you still make it memorable?

    Kids birthdays in lockdown

    Video calling

    Unless it’s with immediate family who live with you, there won’t the usual parties. Distance however, doesn’t have to mean that loved ones can’t share birthday celebrations.

    With so many video calling apps available, we can virtually connect with people all around the world. Multi-person video chat platforms such as WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom, Houseparty and Facebook Messenger all provide options to bring people together to share moments.

    If that all sounds a bit complicated though, you can use one-to-one FaceTime to get together.

    Virtual parties for birthdays in lockdown
    Photo by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash

    Virtual parties

    Children often talk about their birthday all year around. Lockdown doesn’t mean that their parties can’t go on.

    Children’s entertainers have been rethinking their businesses from day one when the measures were announced. Toddler groups and events have been held online, so why not parties?

    A few that we found include Sharky and George virtual parties and Captain Fantastic online parties.

    We especially love the idea of a family chocolate party at home from our very own chocolate experts, The Chocolate Shed. They are offering chocolate birthday packages and activities to do at home.

    chocolate parties at home

    Birthday keepsakes

    There won’t be any group photos of kids parties or relatives this year, so ask people close to the child to send short video messages or photos to make into a montage or photobook. You could even ask them to record themselves holding a message, or dress up for the occasion.

    And don’t forget that there’s lots you can do to mark the occasion at home too. Take lots of photos, make your own funny videos, make birthday cards into a scrapbook and make permanent reminders of the occasion.

    Have a pamper party

    If painting nails, hairstyling and pampering are your child’s thing, why not recreate a spa at home? Cut up some cucumber, don the dressing gowns, pop on a face mask and make a DIY foot spa to treat your child.

    Order balloons and partyware in advance

    You might need to plan ahead to make sure that they arrive on time, but a lot of eBay sellers are running business as usual. So this is your ideal place to look for party accessories and wrapping paper that you might normally pick up at high street shops.

    Just make sure you order ahead because increased demand and less postal workers are causing longer delivery times.

    Have a themed day

    Kids love a theme so what could be better than a whole day dedicated to their favourite character or theme? Perhaps it could be a day of superheroes, princesses or even just based around a colour. Whatever you choose, the kids will love it.

    Plan a whole day of activities to distract children from what they might be missing out on. Think about downloading episodes of a favourite TV show, wearing silly clothes, creating a themed lunch, playing games, dancing to songs and making fun drinks. The day will certainly be one they won’t forget.

    Fancy dress day
    Photo by Steven Libralon on Unsplash

    Ask neighbours to give them a wave

    If you live close to friends and family, why not ask them to give a wave as part of their daily activity?

    Let them help to make the cake

    The kids are at home and they love baking, right? So forget what it might look like at the end (it’s for them anyway) and let them get involved with the making a decorating of the cake.

    Alternatively, pick up a readymade cake, some toppers and candles from the supermarket next time you go.

    Go on a virtual day out

    With lots of museums and attractions offering access to their content over the internet, it’s easy to ‘take’ children out to interesting places.

    Check out these ways to take your child on a day out without leaving the home:

    Or perhaps go on a Google Earth adventure…

    Google earth adventure
    From the Corona Kids community

    Get a shout out

    The TV channels are also facing social distancing restrictions, so the usual Cbeebies and Milkshake birthday cards aren’t being received via post. They are however offering the chance to still feature as part of the birthday shout outs via email.

    Cbeebies have a facility to send your stuff and Channel 5’s Milkshake has a page to email birthday messages in.

    Also try Tweeting the child’s favourite celebrity, author, illustrator, or even just ask your regular online group or class to give them a mention at the start.

    Have a tea party

    One of the best thing about kids parties is the party food (that they mostly leave and the adults eat). Whip up some jam sandwiches, pizza slices, cheesy Wotsits, and cocktail sausages. You could even posh it up by popping it onto a cake stand or having it as a picnic.

    tea party

    Have a movie night

    Dim the lights, pop on a favourite or new movie, and open the popcorn. Kids love a movie night, so it’s sure to go down a treat. If you have some little cardboard containers, make up your own ‘cinema’ food for them to munch on too.

    You could even use technology to coordinate watching the same movie with friends too. Look up Netflix Party for more details.

    Make party bags

    Believe it or not, little bags of tat with some squished up cake inside are one of the parts that children look forward to most at parties. If you have time to order some little favours in, make up a few of your own for the kids at home.

    If it’s safe and easy to do so, you could even drop a few bags at nearby friends and video calling afterwards too.

    Buy in some treats

    If you can’t get the food that your family loves to recreate a favourite birthday meal, ask around to see what local restaurants and pubs are offering takeaway options.

    Baking not your thing? Why not check out local cafes or bakeries who might be able to make you an epic birthday cake to remember? We love the look of these ones from Olivia’s Coffee House in Rugby.

    And local brownie maker Baked Brownies who offer collection or delivery.

    Have a disco

    Order in some glow sticks, face paints and disco lights to make your house into a disco.

    If you need a bit of extra inspiration, look at live family raves such as Big Fish Little Fish to stream the fun right into your living room.

    Take them ‘out’ for dinner

    There won’t be any special birthday dinners out for a while.

    If your child has a favourite place to eat out, bring it to their own home instead.

    And of course, don’t forget to play party games!

    Have fun and make it a memorable one.

    Read more: 70+ ways to entertain kids during lockdown.