How to keep the children occupied in East Devon

Exmouth Beach. Ref exe 21 19TI 1020148. Picture: Terry Ife

Exmouth Beach. Ref exe 21 19TI 1020148. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Although several schools across East Devon will run skeleton classes for children of key workers, most families will be impacted greatly by the recent school closures.

Woodbury Common. Ref exe 41-16TI 9720. Picture: Terry Ife

Woodbury Common. Ref exe 41-16TI 9720. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

This will be a big challenge for many families, who will now need to occupy the children, especially if the parents are also working from home.

Families not subjected to self-isolation at the moment can entertain the children outdoors at a safe social distance of two metres.

While, there’s an abundance of open outdoor spaces in East Devon, new Government advice says we are not to go out to explore our surroundings.

Looking along the coast path at Sidmouth on the Jurassic Coast. Picture: Alex Walton Photography

Looking along the coast path at Sidmouth on the Jurassic Coast. Picture: Alex Walton Photography - Credit: Picture: Alex Walton Photography

But that doesn’t mean we can’t prepare for when we can go out again.

Normally, children can play in the woodlands at Woodbury Castle, where they could become nature detectives and hunt down animal tracks in places such as Woodbury Common.

So why not get online to see what you can find out about the area, and look forward to exploring it when the restrictions are lifted?

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There are the many stretches of the South West Coast Path that could be explored in normal circumstances.

There are plenty of fossil hunting encounters out there.

The Jurassic Coast is rich with ammonites, brachiopods and fossilised fish.

Again, you can research what is out there for when you can go there for real.

Discover more at Young fossil explorers, aged four to 11 years, can sign up to the Go Jurassic Ranger club


Putting outdoor adventures to one side, there are several ways children can help with many of the altruistic activities that are happening in the communities right now.

Perhaps they can paint colourful pictures to lift the spirits of the elderly who face weeks of isolation or help with some simple but engaging chores at home.

Families that are already in self-isolation can occupy the children by being creative.

Through craft, children can fully engage their attention on the activity and channel their energies in a constructive way.

It will help if you have a well-stocked art kit complete with paints, brushes, rollers, stamps, glitter, stickers, colourful pens and pencils.

Children can also have fun cooking from scratch and will learn important life skills. With easy to follow recipe directions, a child’s reading skills will be enhanced. Their mathematic ability will improve too as they learn how to measure, weigh, and follow the numerical sequence of the recipe. And basic science is also introduced, such as how all five senses, especially taste, are used when cooking and how water turns to steam when boiled.

It is also possible to maintain schooling to a degree. Many schools in East Devon are rapidly working on practices to teach children remotely via online classes.

Before those measures are in place there are several free educational websites for families to try. Here is an extensive list of free educational websites:

Twinkl - The home of assessment materials and teaching resources has recently launched home learning and school closure packs. Due to school closures, Twinkl is offering the packs to families completely free of charge.

Getepic A digital library filled with 35,000 books, learning videos and quizzes, for children under 12. From now until June 30, 2020, there will be free remote access to Epic, by teacher invitation. Families need an invitation from their teacher to get started.

Khan Academy – Access a free, educational programme. Has useful age-related daily schedules designed to help with the school closures. There’s a separate site for children aged two to seven.

Crash Course Kids - A popular YouTube channel packed with a huge number of courses covering a wide range of subjects.

The Imagination Tree - Features creative play and learning activities for children from babies to school age. The website has been created by a teacher and mother of four in the UK.

DK Find Out - Filled with videos, quizzes and learning activities on a range of exciting topics such as dinosaurs, space, animals, nature and more.

Cosmic Kids Yoga - A fun yoga and mindfulness series designed for children aged three and over.

The Best Ideas for Kids - Packed with more than 100 easy and affordable activities for children

Phonics Play - A site with interactive phonics games and resources to help children learn. Due to the current situation with many families home educating, subscription to use Phonics Play is free.

30 Day Lego Challenge – Google ’30 Day Lego Challenge’ to find a printable poster of things to do with Lego for a month

The French Experiment - Access free online French lessons and listen to children’s stories spoken in French.

BBC Learning - Filled with online courses, learning resources, video clips and educational games for all age groups.

Future Learn - One for the adults. Choose from hundreds of online courses from leading universities or organisations.

Blockly - A free project created by Google. It includes a series of learning games for tomorrow’s programmers.

National Geographic Kids - A website giving children a chance to learn about animals, science, history and geography in a fun and interactive way.

Duolingo – A free website offering opportunities to learn more than 30 languages online, with bite-size lessons based on science.

Mystery Science – Readily available lessons in science, with strong visuals and fun activities.

CREST Awards - CREST is the British Science Association’s scheme for STEM project work. It is designed to encourage youngsters to think and behave like scientists and engineers.

Paw Print Badges – Features more than 1700 free ideas, challenge packs and resources, covering a wide range of topics.

Tinkercad - An easy-to-use 3D CAD design tool. Turn an idea into a CAD model for a 3D printer.

Prodigy Maths – A free maths learning platform for children of all ages and abilities.

Nature Detectives - Packed with wildlife activities and ideas to help children explore nature - from spotter sheets to scavenger hunts.

British Council - The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. The website has free online and interactive courses for teachers and learners.

Oxford Owl for Home - Packed with top tips and activities to help parents support their children’s education at home.

The Artful Parent - A parent’s resource filled with easy art and crafts activities designed to help develop a child’s creativity

Red Ted Art – This website includes loads of fun and easy crafts for kids and grown-ups. Most of the activities use everyday materials.

Unique Classrooms - Every weekday there will be a new writing, GPS and maths challenge to complete.

Bored Teachers - One for the parents. It’s a platform for educators to share skills, ideas and release stress!

Primary Resources – With free lesson plans, activity ideas and resources.