Cheap ways to keep the kids entertained when you’re self isolating

Lockdown is over (for now?). The kids are back at school. And it’s cold season. Getting a covid test is much easier said than done. It’s fairly inevitable that at some stage over the next few months most of us will have to self isolate for a period of time. We managed our way through lockdown, but this is different. Lots of us are looking for cheap ways to keep the kids entertained when you’re self isolating, without spending the whole time in front of a screen! Here are my top tips and suggestions.

Home schooling take 2 and this time you’re doing it alone!

One of the saving graces of homeschooling during lockdown was that everyone was doing it together. Teachers were providing some resources and lots of companies were offering free or cheap online home education resources. Move forwards a few months and that’s changed and those offers are over. In all likelihood you’ll get minimal work from school unless an entire year group is self isolating, particularly in primary schools. The good news is there are still lots of awesome free and great value home education resources available.

BBC Bitesize – There are resources for primary, secondary and post 16 education. You’ll find live lessons, games and activities. All the resources are free.

YouTube / Facebook and other social media – During lockdown lots of museums, zoos and other attractions were posting content on their social media pages. PE with Joe on YouTube was a great way to keep fit without leaving the house, but there’s lots of other free fitness shows on there. Make sure you also have a look at the live streams (and other content) from Steve Backshall. We watched every single episode and even got some of our work shown!

Maths Factor is an online maths program from Carol Vorderman. There are daily lessons, games, videos and more. Middle Child in particular is a big for of this website. It’s not just great if you’re trying to keep the kids entertained when you’re self isolating, it’s also good for bringing generally developing their maths skills. Click here for details and to join (affiliate link)

Twinkl our go-to printables resource during the first round of home-schooling. There’s resources for all ages from EYFS up to 16 years old. Some resources are free. The core version is currently just £4.04 per month if paid annually or £5.29 on a monthly rolling basis.

Activity Village another printables and craft ideas website with thousands of things for the kids to do. £19.95 per year.

The Teach Your Monster to Read app – Suitable for reception and year 1 children with three levels of games. Access to the website version is always free, and they regularly offer the app version for free too.

Stock up on activity books and ebooks

Having to self-isolate (or a partial lockdown) isn’t going to be quite such a surprise this time. That means we’ve all got plenty of time to get a few cheap supplies to help keep the kids entertained when you’re at home.

We were recently gifted some fantastic Usbourne activity books by Chiltern Book Worms. One of them was a build your own Medieval castle kit. It took several hours to build over a few days, but we’re really proud of what we’ve done. There are also creative writing books, how to write your own comics, an architecture a scribble book and loads more. There’s lots of cheap ways to keep the kids entertained while you’re self isolating.

Cheap ways to keep the kids entertained when you're self isolating and during lockdown | Home schooling resources | Free Time with the Kids

My boys are avid readers (well we all are really) and they get through books at a terrifying rate. The free library app Libby is a great way to feed their literary habits without spending a fortune on books (or bookcases to keep them all in).

Get crafty or scientific

Easy science experiments and craft activities are my go-to at-home source of screen free entertainment. It can be as simple as doing some painting, right up to intricate craft projects. I get almost all of my craft supplies from Baker Ross and I subscribe to their monthly craft-it box. That means we’ve pretty much always got a ready-prepared craft activity on hand when we need it.

Cheap ways to keep the kids entertained when you're self isolating and during lockdown | Home schooling resources | Free Time with the Kids

The kids also love a good science experiment I’m a real fan of cheap, simple experiments with things you’ve probably got lying around the home anyway. You’ll find lots of easy science experiments here. Have a look at the crafts and activities pages for ideas of crafty things to do to keep the kids entertained when you’re self isolating.

Get baking

Remember when you couldn’t get hold of flour for love nor money? Well it might be a good idea to make sure you’ve always for a few basics in the cupboard in case of self-isolation. Not only will it keep the kids entertained, you might even end up with something half edible at the end of it!

Dens, forts and puppet shows

I lost track of the number of times we built a fort during lockdown. You’ve got the time they take to build, and then however they want to play in it for. Everyone knows how to build a fort and you don’t need much to do it! Take it to a whole new level by camping out in the lounge. The weather isn’t great for camping in the garden, but you might be able to squeeze a small tent into the house. We did it a couple of times this summer.

Puppet shows are another quick to set-up activity. All you need is a sheet and something for the puppets. If you want to set up a shadow puppet show then hang a sheet in a door way with a torch behind it and you’re ready to perform. If you want to make this activity last longer you can make and decorate the puppets as well (there are plenty of free printables online).

Badge work

We’re a Scouting family and we’ve done quite a lot of badge work during the past few months. The great news is you don’t have to be a member of Beavers, Cubs or Scouts to get some great ideas of cheap things to keep the kids entertained when you’re self-isolating. All of the requirements for badge work is available on the Scouts website, along with activity suggestions and even some activity packs.

Online classes

Lots of companies have had to change how they work during lockdown. Formerly face-to-face children’s classes have gone online, which means you’re no longer limited by geography! The best way to find these tends to be via their social media but if you’ve always fancied testing out a new class, this might be a great opportunity!


I hope this helps give you some cheap ideas of how to keep the kids entertained during self isolating or even another lockdown. I’m always looking for your suggestions as well – just leave a comment below.

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Hi, I’m Vicky. My husband and I live in Aylesbury with out three children; a 10 year old son, an 8 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. I (mostly) love spending time together as a family. We visit all kinds of places and we’re quite happy to drive a fair distance for a decent day out. A few years ago I decided to set up Free Time with the Kids as a way to share our experiences of these family days out. You know, the essential information you need to know before your visit that can be surprisingly hard to find out. Where do I park? How much will it cost me to get in? Are there any discounts available? Are there loos? Can I take a picnic or get food? My aim is to be your go-to guide for all your free and cheap family days out across Bucks, Beds, Oxon, Herts & slightly beyond. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch contact@freetimewiththekids.com or get in touch via Facebook