The aim for most is to get families laughing, and for parents to do something different with their children other than home schooling while everyone is stuck inside. 

Games to bring laughter and help families during coronavirus lockdown

A University of Exeter expert has come up with games featuring dancing, storytelling, running and acting to help families struggling to think of new things to do at home during the coronavirus lockdown.

Dr Ginny Russell a researcher in children’s mental health and neurodiversity, has compiled a list of 40 activities for parents and young children.

The aim for most is to get families laughing, and for parents to do something different with their children other than home schooling while everyone is stuck inside. Many of them can be played in under half an hour. Some are well-known games such as charades or whist and others have been developed by Dr Russell with her family.

During “newsflash” players have to come up with a silly headline, and then nominate other players to be reporters and newsreaders to act out their scenario.

Other suggestions include making up a short jingle, telling spooky stories, dancing with a prop, coming up with questions for others and trying to predict their answers, a form of Chinese whispers by copying facial expressions, balloon keepy-uppy, moving around a room on furniture without touching the floor, telling a story with everyone contributing a word and balancing (safely) on lots of cushions.

Further ideas are making animal impressions, having a hopping match, hide and seek with those not searching making a buzzing sound when the seeker is near the object, a mock cushion fight using kung fu poses, a family awards show with people voting for winners in different categories,

Dr Russell said: “We hope the games will help families bond together. They have a physical focus with the aim on fun rather than competition. I think it’s really important for children to get regular family time, doing something enjoyable, even if it’s only for 20 minutes.

“Surviving and thriving with a family in lockdown is tough. Tempers can fray. This is especially true if you have children who are a little different from the typical child, if you have to home school, if there is bereavement, and if you have financial worries. Spending time on play alleviates anxiety and promotes good mental health – plus, it is fun.”

“Our family used to spend 20 minutes a day doing these kinds of activities each evening after dinner. We played versions the games and activities, developing them as we went. Some, we made up many as we went along. Creativity was encouraged. Laughter kept us sane, safe and bonded as a family.

“Having fun in the family context gives children emotional security that will promote resilience to life’s challenges in the future. Group activities bring people together.”

The games can be found at: https://blogs.exeter.ac.uk/exploringdiagnosis/40-home-based-games-for-families/

Date: 11 May 2020

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