Coronavirus shutdown: Fun things to do at home or online

If you are at home most of the time due to the coronavirus shutdown, you can still have fun and learn new things online and off. Here are some suggestions for free activities.

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Join in at home

Chatterpack has all kinds of boredom-busting suggestions for people of all ages, from virtual tours of museums and zoos and online learning to live streamed music. Just dip in and take your pick – click here

My House Rocks has lots of online classes, shows and activities for children to enjoy at home. There are also some educational resources for parents of children with special education needs (SEN), including autism – click here

The Fantastic for Families website has all kinds of ideas for creative things for children and families to do and to join in with, including storytelling, art, dance and music sessions online – click here

The Book Trust has set up a Home Time site with all sort of book and story-related activities to enjoy during the coronavirus outbreak, including How to Train your Dragon author Cressida Cowell reading the book a chapter at a time and book illustrators showing how they being characters to life, plus quizzes and contests – click here

Steph Johnson, of Reading Rockets basketball club, has created the FUNdamentals Workout, designed for children and young people with additional needs, to help develop their movement skills. She has also posted a series of videos of fun fitness, PE and basketball skills activities you can do at home – click here

Strictly Come Dancing‘s Oti Mabuse and husband Marius Iepure have streamed a series of dance classes, taking inspiration from movies and musicals including Frozen and Mamma Mia!click here

Members of our Lego Club and others who enjoy building with the famous bricks can put their creativity to the test tackling the projects in the Lego 30-Day challenge – click here

The Reading Play team has created some fun and imaginative play videos for children to enjoy at home. They can go on a pirate adventure, a jungle adventure or a Wild West adventure – and meet up with some of Owen’s Animals – click here

Comedy actor and writer David Walliams reading one of his children’s stories every day at 11am – click here

Our friends at the Swings and Smiles additional needs play centre in Thatcham have set themselves a 30-day challenge during the coronavirus shutdown, coming up with lots of fun ideas for things you can do at home and sharing them on Twitter, plus a story time session on Sundays – click here

The team at Brookfields School in Tilehurst are posting videos on YouTube with ideas for things children and families can do at home, including drama, phonics exercises, PE, baking and more – click here

After having to cancel the tour of their new show, Come Trot to Camelot, due to the coronavirus outbreak, Head2Head Sensory Theatre have filmed a performance of the show instead and made it available online free of charge. It is suitable for children with SEND aged 2 and above – click here

If you need some fresh inspiration in the kitchen, are cooking on a budget or want to know how to make what food you can find in the shops at the moment go a long way, cookery writer Jack Monroe, who is autistic, and chef Matt Tebbutt have made a series of special Daily Kitchen Live programmes on BBC 1, which are available on the BBC iPlayer – click here

Food 4 Families is a Reading charity which aims to help everyone to make the most of whatever outside space they have to grow their own food. They have set up a Facebook page called the Tiny Veg Patch to share tips on how to have some fun during the coronavirus shutdown by planting your own food and reaping the rewards later in the year. Visit their website for more details and a link to the Facebook page – click here

Bracknell performing arts company Artemis Studios is offering free online classes in drama, singing and dancing for children and young people during the coronavirus shutdown, with new videos posted every Saturday – click here

Oxfordshire-based music education charity Roundabout is running regular live online sessions using Facebook on Tuesdays and Saturdays at 2pm for children to join in during the lockdown – click here

If you are looking for some musical activities to do at home for children with SEND, Big Top Music has a series of themed sessions available on videos on YouTube – click here to see what’s available.

Norden Farm Centre for the Arts in Maidenhead is working with Kayleigh Galvin, of Creative Eye events, to share new Kayleigh’s Crafts videos each week. There are all kinds of things to do at home, including making your own play dough, creating an origami flower and making a finger print tree – click here

The Base gallery, at Greenham, near Newbury, is offering online artistic inspiration for all ages during the coronavirus shutdown. Along with weekly creative and learning challenges, their resident artists Cait Gould and Richard Francis Bellin are sharing tips and inspiring ideas in a series of videos, including working with clay, or using salt dough as an alternative, which you can make and bake at home – click here

The Smallpeice Trust, an educational charity that inspires young people to pursue careers in science and engineering, is posting a weekly Engineering@Home Challenge online, featuring a device you can design, build and test. The projects are for all ages. To find out more and catch up with the challenges set so far – click here

Kids in Museums is posting weekly lists of 10 museum activities from all over the UK for children to try – click here

If you are looking for some tips for exercising at home, Reading Sport + Leisure has compiled a list of activities and workouts for all abilities online – click here

Reading Rep youth theatre’s team have created fun educational packs that allow children and young people to be creative at home and are full of games, exercises and fun videos – click here

The Book of Hopes: Words and Pictures to Comfort, Inspire and Entertain Children in Lockdown, is a free collection of short stories, poems, essays and pictures by leading children’s writers and illustrators – click here

The Colouring Heroes Facebook page has lots of pictures ready to download, print and colour in, including VE Day-themed designs for bunting and more, Lego-inspired hero figures to colour in and designs to say thank you to all the people working in essential services during the coronavirus lockdown – click here

The famous Cirque du Soleil has a range of free videos available, including free highlights from its shows, an exercise and dance video featuring some of the performers and a make-up tutorial – click here

Children and their friends can try to break out of a locked room at Hogwarts in a Harry Potter-themed virtual Escape Room – click here

Guitar-makers Fender are offering 3 months of free guitar lessons on their Fender Play site to the first 100,000 people who sign up – click here

Museums and art galleries

Reading Museum has a range of free educational resources available for download, fearing the Ancient Egyptians, the Romans and the Bayeux Tapestry – click here. You can find out about the museum’s full-size replica of the Bayeux Tapestry, depicting the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, at its dedicated website – click here

The Museum of English Rural Life, part of the the University of Reading, has come up with some activities and online resources for young children created by the team who run the Friday Fledglings activity sessions for under-5s when the museum is open – click here

Reading Museum has educational and fun resources available online for children of all ages – click here

And Reading Museum has created an online version of its latest exhibition, called Animal: World Art Journeys, with a virtual tour, art and craft activities to try and blog posts about some of the creatures that feature in the exhibition – click here

Autism in Museums is running free Museums to You themed activity weeks, drawing on online material in museum collections in the UK and around the world. The first two were about dinosaurs and transport. To catch up with these and find out what’s coming up – click here

Kids in Museums is compiling weekly lists of 10 online activities from museums’a around the UK – click here

The British Museum in London takes you through time and around the world on a virtual museum experience – click here

The National History Museum in London also has a virtual experience to explore some of its exhibits – click here

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in the USA will also take you on a virtual tour – click here

The Louvre in Paris also has a virtual tour available featuring many of the famous works of art that are on show – click here

You can find links to online tours of some of the world’s other major museums and art galleries on the Flipboard website – click here

Zoos, gardens and wildlife

Wildlife expert Chris Packham – who is also an ambassador for the National Autistic Society – and his step-daughter Megan McCubbin are making livestream shows online from the New Forest, all about nature, wildlife and the seasons, with some special guests dropping in too. You can catch up with the shows and try out some of the activities yourselves – click here

Chester Zoo did a live streaming day, with video visits to meet the animals, which you can catch up with on YouTube – click here

Edinburgh Zoo has anetwork of webcams, where you can see what the giant pandas, tigers, koalas, penguins and other animals are up to – click here

The Englefield Estate in West Berkshire has activity sheets for children about farming and the countryside available on its website, along with links to other online resources about plants, butterflies and bumblebees – click here

If you are missing trips to the outdoors if you are self-isolating or in quarantine, the UK’s Wildlife Trusts have a network of webcams allowing you to catch up with what birds, bats and badgers are up to at reserves around the UK – click here

The National Garden Scheme is offering virtual tours of some of the most beautiful gardens in England and Wales – and asking ‘visitors’ to donate to nursing charities – click here

Keukenhof is a garden in the Netherlands that specialises in creating spectacular displays of spring flowers. With the garden closed to the public, its staff made some ‘Virtually Open’ videos to show off the tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, orchids, roses, lilies and more – click here

The Smithsonian Museum’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute in the USA have some activities for education and learning available – click here – plus animal webcams – click here

For some underwater adventures, visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium in the USA. You can see what’s going on at the aquarium and in the Pacific Ocean – click here

Travel the world – and beyond

Farm Food 360 takes you on a visit to a Canadian farm, including virtual reality experiences – click here

Take a virtual trip to the Great Wall of China and explore one of the greatest man-made wonders of the world. Maybe try get some inspiration to make a watchtower out of Lego – click here

Take a look around some of the natural wonders to be found in the USA’s Yellowstone National Park with videos and live webcams – click here

Or leave Earth and the coronavirus behind and go into space to visit the planet Mars with NASA’s Curiosity rover – click here