Ideas and activities

What can I do?

You’ll find some short videos and simple, fun activities that you and your children can do together.

We’ve broken down the activities by age, but no one knows your child better than you do.

So you could pick and choose the ideas that feel right for you, adapt our suggestions or even come up with your own. And you can use whatever language you feel most comfortable with.

You can find more ideas at:

See our get more information section for more links to fun things to do.

We understand how hard things are at the moment. If you need some further advice on how to support your child, read our guidance on helping 2 to 4 year olds learn at home during coronavirus (COVID-19).

Ideas: 0 – 6 months


Fun activities to add to your routine

  • Let your baby splash at bath time. Talk about what’s happening and how it feels. Say the same words and do the same actions over and over – things like pouring water on their feet and saying, ‘Wash, wash, wash your toes.’

Other ideas

  • Play together with fabric books that have different textures. Try scrunching the fabric to get your baby’s attention or stroking their hands with the fabric. Name the objects you are playing with and talk about how they feel.
  • Sing lullabies which are simple, soothing and repetitive – for example, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
  • Say or sing rhymes with actions where you tickle and touch your baby – for example, songs like Round and Round the Garden.
  • Stick your tongue out and see if your baby can copy you. Try blinking your eyes and making funny noises with your lips.
  • Copy the noises your baby makes. React to what they’re doing – try saying things like, ‘Oh, you’re telling me a story,’ or, ‘Wow, you can make loud noises.’
  • Have a guess at what your baby might be thinking or feeling and put it into words – for example, ‘It looks like you’re sleepy.’

Ideas: 6 – 12 months


Fun activities to add to your routine

  • Try doing actions that go with what you’re saying – like waving when you say ‘Hello.’ You can do this every morning when your child wakes up.

 

Other ideas

  • Put some everyday items in a bag and get your baby to find what’s in there. Talk about what they are and how they feel.
  • Play peekaboo games using a scarf or your hands to hide your face, saying things like ‘Where are you? There you are!’
  • Gather a few noise-making objects like spoons to bang on saucepans. Watch what your child does and copy it and describe what you are doing.
  • You could also act out actions in songs. Try patting your palms together or on your legs to the beat of Pat-a-cake, Pat-a-cake. See if your baby will clap along with you.
  • Look at a picture book with your child, notice what they are looking at and describe it. For example, ‘Oh, see the dog,’ or ‘Wow, she’s jumping.’ Try to do this within a couple of seconds, before their attention moves on to something else.
  • Go on a walk/ carry your baby around the house and listen out for noises such as the washing machine, or a clock ticking. Find the sound and make the noise. Tell your baby what it is: ‘I can hear the washing machine’.

Ideas: 12 – 24 months


Fun activities to add to your routine

  • At mealtimes, say the names of the foods your child is eating and say what they’re like, using words like ‘crunchy’, ‘squishy’, ‘sour’, ‘cold’, ‘warm’.
  • Give your child choices, so that they can hear and understand more words. For example, ‘Do you want an apple or an orange?’ Make sure you give them time to respond!
  • Try playing pretend games. For example, you can make meal times fun by pretending to be a dinosaur eating trees as you bite into some broccoli, or a monkey enjoying a slice of banana. Make sure that both you and your child have some food to try!

 

 

Other ideas

  • Look at picture books together. With each new page, give your child time to point out things to you. Talk about what they can see using words for actions as well as for things – for example, ‘The monkey is eating.’
  • When your child starts using words respond to what they say and make it a conversation using words for actions as well as things, for example, ‘Mummy? Yes, Mummy is cooking dinner.’
  • Play with your child with things they are interested in. Start a simple game with them by making a story together out of your child’s favourite teddy. Then encourage your child to take the lead.
  • Do some colouring-in with your child, by drawing your own pictures or searching online. Make the game fun and talk about the pictures and colours while you are playing.
  • Let your child copy what you do around the house. For example, if you are brushing your hair, give them the brush and let them brush their hair too. If you are cleaning, give them a cloth and let them copy you.

Ideas: 2 – 3 year olds


Fun activities to add to your routine

  • Do daily tasks with your child. Talk about what you are doing and why you are doing it. When hanging up the washing, you could say ‘The clothes are wet, let’s hang them up to dry.’ Give them simple tasks like passing you the socks. Praise them for helping.

 

Other ideas

  • You could make a photo-book of funny, or memorable, family events and talk about it with your child.
  • Sing songs together that encourage your child to use their imagination. For example, try singing The Wheels on the Bus and ask your child to suggest other things on the bus and describe what sound they make.
  • Read picture books together. Talk about the things they can see and how we use them. For example, ‘A bed is something we sleep in.’
  • Use books to talk about your own experiences, and theirs, giving them time to respond. ‘Oh look, there is a cow. What sound do cows make?’
  • When you’re sharing a book with your child, sit close together or even build a den to sit in.
  • Talk to your child about what has happened so far in the day – for example, ‘We spoke to Grandma on the phone this morning, didn’t we?’ And talk about what is going to happen next – ‘After lunch we’ll do the washing up’.
  • Put on some music and play ‘musical statues’. Dance together then stop the music – see who will be the first person to stand still.

Ideas: 3 – 5 year olds


Fun activities to add to your routine

  • Try sharing familiar books at bedtime. Pause when reading so that your child can join in. Talk about the sounds at the beginning of words and words that start with the same sound (like words beginning with P).
  • Encourage your child to recall what has happened in the story. For example, ‘Why is bear feeling sad?’ Ask them to guess what might happen – ‘What should they do next?’ – or how the story might end – ‘Do you think they’re going to find the treasure? Where could it be?’

 

Other ideas

  • Try role-playing games together such as shopping. Set items out on the sofa, give your child a bag and some pretend money. Then switch roles and let them be the shopkeeper.
  • Play teddy bears’ picnic. Put soft toys in a circle and give your child a few cups and spoons. Give your child a chance to tell you what to do like, ‘Stir teddy’s tea.’  You could chat to them as you are doing actions, for example, ‘let’s cut the cake in half’.
  • Start conversations by using open questions with lots of possible answers, for example, ‘What are you going to play with today?’
  • Plan a treasure hunt game, where your child has to listen to your instructions to find a clue or an object. For example, ‘Try looking behind the sofa’. Help your child look for a specific number of objects and count them together – such as 3 cups, 2 pink socks, 5 pens.
  • Help your child make a puppet show about their favourite story using objects around the house.
  • Play sorting games together. Collect a range of different household objects and practise sorting them into different groups, perhaps by size or colour. Once you have finished, count all the objects in each group.
  • Play a make-believe journey game with your child. Make a car out of a cardboard box that you decorate together, or just grab some cushions, pile in a few teddy bear passengers, and let your child drive you off on an adventure.

Apps for 2 to 5 year olds

We know that phones or tablets are part of many families’ everyday lives and kids love to use them, but it’s not always easy to know which apps and games can benefit your child’s learning.

That is why we have given a quality mark to apps that an independent educational panel believes have good educational value.

Why not try these with your child alongside the other activities listed on this site?

CBeebies Storytime App

CBeebies Storytime

CBeebies Storytime is filled with free interactive story books and bedtime stories for young children and is a great way to enjoy reading with your little one. The library is always growing, with amazing stories featuring all the CBeebies’ favourites.

Age: 0-5

Platform: AppleAndroidAmazon

CBeebies Playtime Island

CBeebies Playtime Island

CBeebies Playtime Island contains a wide range of fun and educational games to help children understand the world around them and support the development of core skills. Children can play along with all of CBeebies’ most popular characters.

Age: 0-5

Platform: AppleAndroidAmazon

Lingumi - Kids' English

Lingumi - Kids' English

Lingumi provides a course focused on spoken and communicative English. The app provides sets of learning games, speech recognition games and video-based games to help the child grow their grammar and get them speaking their first words.

Age: 2-5

Platform: Apple, Android

Kaligo

Kaligo

Kaligo is a digital handwriting exercise book designed to teach children how to write using a stylus and tablet, built on an AI machine learning platform. A self-paced approach enables children to progress at their own speed according to their own ability, whilst AI Machine learning provides real-time corrective feedback.

Age: 3-5

Platform: AppleAndroid

The following apps contain phonics content and therefore are only intended for use with school-aged children. Used with your child, they may be a way to support the phonics they are already learning at school, however, you should check with your child’s class teacher that the approaches used in the apps align with your school’s teaching methods before using at home.

Teach Your Monster to Read

Teach Your Monster to Read

Teach Your Monster to Read is a phonics and reading game that’s helped children learn to read. The app covers the first two years of learning to read, from matching letters and sounds to enjoying small books.

Age: school-aged children

Platform: AppleAndroidAmazon

Navigo

Navigo

The Navigo app aims to support beginner readers to develop reading skills (accuracy, fluency and comprehension) through engaging with the personalised content and activities.

Age: school-aged children

Platform: Android

Phonics Hero

Phonics Hero

Phonics Hero teaches children to read and spell with systematic synthetic phonics. The app includes over 850 fun and varied games. Using a step-by-step approach, children learn the 44 sounds, the reading and spelling of words, and how to conquer sentences.

Age: school-aged children

Platform: AppleAndroid

The following app is intended for use with school-aged children. A child could use this app for further independent reading once they have successfully completed their school’s phonics programme. If you are unsure when this is, we recommend that you discuss the matter with your child’s class teacher before using the app with your child.

Fonetti

Fonetti

Fonetti is a Listening Bookshop™ that provides young children with a patient, comforting listening ear to help in the learning-to-read journey, but also with the added benefit of tracking progress, identifying reading challenges, and highlighting to their adult carers where the most support is needed.

Age: school-aged children

Platform: Apple

The Department for Education is not the creator, owner, editor, manager or provider of the apps listed. The app providers are neither affiliates, associates nor partners of the Hungry Little Minds campaign, the content of this website is solely the property of the Department of Education and does not necessarily reflect the views or position of any of the providers listed.

Early years apps pilot: home learning environment legal disclaimer.

More information on apps


Choosing an app for your child – the FEED test

There are lots of apps that say they are ‘educational’, but you’ll want to reassure yourself that’s the case and that they are right for your child. The FEED check may help.

Fun – Will your child enjoy the app? Will it keep their attention?

Educational – Is there a clear educational aim? Do you know what your child will learn? Will it keep them learning and allow them to progress?

Engaging – Will it help your child if they get stuck? Will it give them feedback and let them know when they’ve got challenges right?

Design – Is it attractive and easy to use? Is it inclusive and does it avoid gender and racial stereotypes? Can an adult change the settings? Is it safe, with links to the internet and adverts protected behind a parental gate?

Find more information on how to support your child’s learning through apps and get advice on screen time:

 

 

Get more information


You can find out more information and get more ideas and activities to do with your child from the following websites:

 

 

Online educational resources


We have recently brought together a range of online educational resources to support children at home during the coronavirus outbreak.

Communication, Language and Literacy

  • Audible all children’s audiobooks are available for free while early years settings are closed.
  • Authorfy access to masterclasses on texts from a range of authors, including videos from the authors and activities linked to novels. Registration required (age 5+).
  • BookTrust – a site with recommended booklists, categorised by age range and topic, including fiction and non-fiction, family activities are included in the ‘home time’ section.
  • Classroom Secrets downloadable resource packs which cover a range of subjects, including reading and writing (age 3+).
  • Literacy Counts – free home learning packs for parents covering reading and writing. Registration required (age 4+).
  • Love Reading 4 Kids a site with recommended booklists, categorised by age range and topic, covering fiction and non-fiction (age 3+).
  • Love Reading 4 Schoolsa site with recommended booklists, categorised by age range and topic, covering fiction and non-fiction (age 4+).
  • Manorfield Primary SchoolYouTube videos covering phonics (age 4+) and reading.
  • Purple Mash – free during the school closure period, each week, a selection of daily activities is produced on different subjects, including comprehension and grammar. Registration required.
  • Rising Starsbooks and reading resources available online, registration required (age 4+).
  • St Peter’s School YouTube videos covering phonics, reading, spelling, punctuation and grammar (age 4+).
  • Storytime with Nick – films of well-loved stories read by Nick Cannon, a trained actor, teacher and trainer (age 4+).
  • The Children’s Poetry Archive an archive of spoken poetry recordings, children can listen to poems read out loud (age 4+).
  • The Reading Agency – the Summer Reading Challenge takes place during the summer holidays. Registration required.

Maths

  • Bloomsburyactivity ideas for young children.
  • Cbeebies Help Your Child With Maths videos for numeracy development with fun activities that can be applied to everyday life and play, and for children aged 3+, online activities with Numberblocks.
  • Mathematics Mastery – downloadable guidance and resource packs for parents and pupils (age 4+).
  • Maths with Parents – videos and activities for home-based learning, with resources for both parents and teachers available. Registration required (age 3+).
  • Nrich – a range of activities, some are interactive and some are to be completed offline. Activities are categorised by age range (age 3+).
  • Top Marks a range of interactive maths games categorised by age group (age 3+).
  • White Rose Maths (home learning) – presentations and downloadable workbooks which are easy to use for parents, new material is being released each week (age 4+).

Physical development

 

Personal, social and emotional development

 

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

  • The Autism Pageonline support and information aimed at supporting parents of young children with autism. Information and ideas to support the implementation of helpful teaching methods.
  • Charles Dickens Primary Schoolthe Jenny Wren Virtual School SEN Hub offers daily lessons for pupils with moderate learning difficulties, focusing on Makaton and a daily activity to complete with a parent or teacher.
  • PMLD thematic units – from the Northern Ireland Curriculumcomprehensive guidance on themed activities for learners with PMLD. A full sensory curriculum is offered. More suitable for teachers, but activities and resources will be useful for parents too.
  • Priory Woods Schoolresources from an award-winning, innovative school, rated by Ofsted as outstanding and put together by SEND teachers for parents and teachers. The resources include apps and programmes.
  • School Clouda secure online video call service to connect pupils, parents and teachers. Potential use might include pupils with SEND and/or their parents having a weekly video call with a SENCo to monitor their progress with home learning. Registration required.
  • SEN Teacherdownloadable and printable resources that can be adapted to suit the needs of pupils. Resources are aimed at a range of abilities. The website has over 300,000 regular users and is suitable for both parents and teachers.
  • SEN Worldonline resources for SEN teaching at home.
  • Speech and Language Kidsan extensive range of education and therapy resources for parents and teachers of children with speech and language needs. A podcast is also available on iTunes for verbal and non-verbal children.
  • Speech Link Multimedia Inca parent portal with links to downloadable resources, activities and games developed by a team of speech and language therapists and software engineers who work with over 4,000 schools in the UK.
  • Teaching Students with Visual Impairmentsa range of downloadable resources and instructional strategies to support blind and visually impaired pupils. Suitable for parents and teachers. Registration required.

Other supporters

Partners supporting the Hungry Little Minds campaign including Arriva, The Behavioural Insights Team, Clarks, Coram, Early Years Alliance, Education Endowment Foundation, Family Lives, Greggs, Harper Collins, I Can, Institute of Wellbeing, Lego, Lottery Community Fund, NCB, National Literacy Trust, NSPCC, Pacey, Scouts, Shine, Save the Children, Triple P, easy peasy, Penguin Random House UK, WH Smiths

If you’re a national organisation and would like to work with us to help get Hungry Little Minds out to parents, please email hle.coalition@education.gov.uk.