Virtual art class at ArtEst

Covid-19 lockdown Sydney: how to keep the kids entertained at home

The Covid-19 lockdown and a rainy winter are combining to create a perfect storm of kid-boredom and parental stress.

We put the call out to the Inner West Mums Facebook Group for their tried and tested ways of keeping the school holidays fun in lockdown. Now that we’re entering week three of lockdown and week one of home schooling, we’ve updated the list with some new dates and activities.

From a cooking with kids virtual workshop with Donna Hay to the return of Taronga TV, we hope you find something useful below.

1. Have a family brainstorm: We love the idea of getting the kids involved in planning at-home activities, and then writing these up on a poster for everyone to see.  One Group Member shared hers, and it featured projects both big (neighbourhood scavenger hunt, at-home movie theatre) and small (Play Doh, balloons).

Another Group Member is planning ahead by theming her days: Lego day, park day, cooking day, board game day, and our favourite spa day (at home for mum).

2. Do a guided walk: Take the kids for their daily lockdown exercise and learn something about your ‘hood at the same time. Or be inspired by local street art. Inner West Council has put together a series of guided walks for some neighbourhoods in the local government area.  The walks feature a downloadable map and an MP3.

3. Explore a local park: Here’s a guide to some of our favourite inner west parks, many of which have plenty of space space for scootering and ball games, if you’re avoiding playgrounds. All have a cafe close by for that much needed coffee/babycino/banana bread fix.

4. Get arty: Leichhardt’s ArtEst art school has extended its virtual school holiday classes (pictured at top of page) until July 16. There’s a magical program of art classes on offer. From drawing whales to painting hot air balloons. Classes run from 1 to 1.5 hours and prices range from $20 to $30. Kids aged 5+ can sign up.

Quite a few Group Members recommended different craft kits – including me! My pre-schooler had a great time building the K-Mart Anko brand Medieval Castle and Princess Kingdom this week. Another mum used her Creative Kids voucher for Hand in Hand Activity Kits. And there’s a 10 to 20 per cent off sale running for the kits from Mobile Sensory Play garden, run by an Inner West Mum. Use the code IWM for $5 off delivery.

5. Meet the newest arrival at Taronga Zoo: We may not be able to go to the zoo, but we can still watch its inhabitants courtesy of Taronga TV, including a 9-month-old Southern hairy nosed wombat joey who has just emerged from her mother’s pouch. Four new animal cams launched these school holidays, offering a live glimpse of the zoo’s penguins, otters, capybaras, meerkats and seals, as well as the existing live streams of the lions, tigers and elephants. Plus keeper talks and behind-the-scenes footage.

The Zoo has a number of free virtual excursions planned, held via Microsoft Teams. The July 16 events are fully booked. But registrations are now open for virtual excursions on Tuesday July 20 and Friday July 23. Register here (before they book out!).

6. Let ABC help with the home-schooling: Turn the TV to ABC Me (Channel 23) and let the kids learn with ABC TV Education. The website has a four week schedule of programs already sorted, up to August 6. This details the show, the subject it aligns to, and the topics covered. But fingers crossed the kids are back at school before then!

7. Bake club via video chat: Share a recipe with a loved one or friend, jump on Facetime or Zoom and bake together! Make sure all your ingredients are on the bench before starting, and the oven is pre-heating (if required).  We suggest a one bowl melt-and-mix cake for the little ones. Share photos of your end result or jump back on a video call and enjoy together.

Or just get baking…Donna Hay is running another cooking with kids workshop on July 15 at 4.30pm via Zoom.  Recipes include nacho bowls and a double choc chunk share cookie. We gave the cinnamon doughnut puffs recipe from her first workshop a whirl at home – simple and delicious.

8. Have a camp out…in the loungeroom: If we can’t adventure out of our local area, we might as well do it at home. Drag some mattresses into the lounge, dust off the torches and sleeping bags (or just bring out the doonas), choose a movie and settle in for a lot of giggling and a later night than usual. The kids will think it’s fantastic (but the grown-ups might need a nap the next day!). Recipe: Indoor S’mores

If you don’t want an overnighter, use the clothes drying rack plus some towels and cushions to create a cubby house/pillow fort.

9. Enter a competition: Get your budding artist or writer working on their entry in Inner West Council’s Young Creatives Awards. These are open to people who live, study or work in the LGA, aged between 12 and 24, and there’s a $500 prize for the winner of each category. Last year the work of the winners and runners up were exhibited in Leichhardt Library.

10. Travel around the world over dinner (or breakfast): Get the kids involved in dinner prep and try some different cuisines. Choose somewhere you’ve travelled yourself and share some stories. Or plan an itinerary with the kids for when we can travel overseas again.  Try making your own pizza bases or dumplings. Or dust off the sushi mat. For something less intensive, pick up some croissants and pretend you’re breakfasting in Paris.

11. Go on an animal safari: During Sydney’s first lockdown in 2020 it was a bear hunt in neighbourhood windows. For this lockdown it’s an animal safari.  This idea started in the Leichhardt Community Group, but has spread to other suburbs, including Stanmore. So check in with your local Facebook group to see if it’s happening in your area, or get the ball rolling yourself!

12. Become a biscuit artist: The Inner West Mum behind Sophie Creates is selling biscuit decorating kits for $30, with contactless pick up from her Annandale studio. Choose from a unicorn (pictured at top of page) or construction themed kit, featuring eight sugar biscuits, three edible watercolour paint palettes and three food grade brushes. Message her on Facebook for orders.

Another Group Member spotted DIY Hot Chocolate and Cookie kits (pictured below) being sold at The Grounds ($29, serves 2-3).

Sophie Creates-paint-your-own-biscuit Hot chocolate pack at The Grounds

13. A family art project: Pick up some large paint-by-numbers canvases (group members suggest Amazon or K-Mart) and decorate them as a family. Or freestyle with a large piece of a cardboard or canvas and create a family artwork. Another Group Member is creating a family gallery with everyone’s individual lockdown artworks.

The MCA has five free art activities on its website for kids aged 4 to 8. Each features step-by-step images and instructions.

The Australian Maritime Museum also has art and craft activities online, with YouTube videos to follow along.

14. Raid the recycling bin: So much can be created from recycled materials. Turn coffee trays into castles. Small boxes and paper towel tubes into robots. One group member is getting her son to build something from recycled boxes and then draw a scale for it.

15. Unleash your budding street artist: When the rain stops, bust out the chalk and set the kids loose on the fence.

16. Tie dye: Let your aspiring fashion designer breathe new life into a white garment lurking in the back of the wardrobe. Pick up a tie dye kit or go old school with fabric dye, a bucket and elastic bands. There are plenty of tutorials online.

17. Treasure hunts: Get the kids to keep an eye out for smooth stones when out for a walk. Paint them at home and then hide them (in obvious places!) for friends and other neighbourhood kids to find. One Group Member suggested setting up a Facebook group to keep tabs on your rocks. And don’t forget to paint instructions on the back.

18. Move it! Move it! Keep active on rainy days with lockdown No. 1 favourite, Cosmic Kids yoga. Or get the heart pumping with a kids Zumba video. Both on YouTube.

Or subscribe to Gecko Sport Inner West’s sport at home videos on YouTube. A subscription costs $100 and you can use the Active Kids voucher. They also have three free videos on the channel: rugby league, boxing boot camp and cricket.

Have something to add to this list? Email your suggestion to

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