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Virtual lessons at Taronga Zoo

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

We started this list in week one of lockdown, with a call out to the Inner West Mums Facebook group for ideas to entertain the kids at home during the school holidays. Now in week seven – and with the numbers rising – it looks like we might be home schooling, home pre-schooling or entertaining the toddlers in situ for quite some time yet.

From fossil making play dough workshops to biscuit decorating classes, we hope you find something useful below. And if you’ve done something with the kids that they’ve absolutely loved, please share! Email the details to and we’ll add it to the list.

1. Learn through play (interactive workshops): The Early Start Discovery Space in Wollongong University is running 30 minute interactive Zoom sessions for children aged three and up (some of the play doh sessions would suit a two-year-old). Topics change fortnightly and so far are scheduled up to the week of September 16. Learn about Australian birds and make a bird feeder. Or discover some fun facts about rainbows. A member of the IWM team did one of these with her pre-schooler and loved it so much she booked into two more! Tickets cost $12.50.

For babies and toddlers the centre is also running live rhyme time session via Zoom. It’s on Tuesdays at 10.30am. These sessions are free but places are limited.

Early Start Discovery Space

2. Visit your local Spoonville: Get the kids to transform the old wooden spoons languishing in the cutlery draw and let them live it up in your local ‘Spoonville’. IWM first heard about this international craft phenomenon at the start of lockdown when a site popped up in Erskineville. The concept has since spread to other parts of the inner west, including Balmain’s Mort Bay, Yeo Park in Ashfield and Five Dock Public School. Search #spoonville on Instagram to track down the closest one near you. Or set one up in your suburb!

3. Make some music on a Saturday morning: Inner west business All Age Music School is holding two interactive online music classes for young children on August 21 and August 28 from 10.30am to 11.15am. It’s aimed at kids from babies to age seven, and includes singing along to nursery rhymes and Disney songs, plus musical activities. There’s no ticket price, but donations are sought. Proceeds go towards their music scholarship fund, which supports children who are unable to attend music classes for financial reasons.

4. DIY movie snacks: Donna Hay has been holding regular cooking with kids sessions since lockdown began. Her next one is on August 26 at 4.30pm and themed around movie snacks. We’re talking pizza, popcorn. chocolate peanut slice and coconut popsicles.

We gave the cinnamon doughnut puffs recipe from her first workshop a whirl at home – simple and delicious.

5. 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 its local government area.  The walks feature a downloadable map and an MP3.

6. 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.

Or check out our guide to three walks for lockdown exercise in the Inner West Local Government Area.

7 Get arty: Leichhardt’s ArtEst art school is running online art classes after school and on Saturdays for school aged children. Their school holiday workshops are also open for registration. A member of the IWM team signed her pre-schooler up for a couple in the last school holidays and found them inclusive of all artistic abilities, creative and informative.

Virtual art class at ArtEst

8. Let’s dance! A number of inner west dance schools are running online classes and come highly recommended by Group members. Check out: Dorothy Cowie School of Dancing, Electric DNA and Mini Moovers.

9. 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. Animal cams offer a live glimpse of a number of the zoo residents, including penguins, otters, meerkats, seals, as well as the every-popular lions, tigers and elephants. Plus keeper talks and behind-the-scenes footage.

The Zoo is running free virtual excursions every week of lockdown, held via Microsoft Teams.  Register here.

10. 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 lists a schedule of programs up until the end of term three. This details the show, the subject it aligns to, and the topics covered.

11. 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.

12. 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.

13. 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.

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

Seed and Spark is running hands-on online biscuit decorating classes. Sign-up and receive eight pre-baked cookies, three bags of royal icing and lots of sprinkles. The class costs $40 and runs for one hour. Pick up the biscuits from Monogram Cookies in Drummoyne or pay $10 to have them delivered. NSW Discover vouchers are accepted. Classes are scheduled for August 27 3.30pm to 4.30pm, September 17 3.30pm to 4.40pm and September 18 10am to 11am.

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

15. 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.

16. 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.

17. Unleash your budding street artist: Bust out the chalk and set the kids loose on the footpath or fence.

18. 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.

19. 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.

20. 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.


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