How to keep kids creatively occupied during coronavirus

From downloadable colouring books to virtual illustration lessons, here is CR’s go-to guide on artistic activities for children – and adults – to get stuck into during the ongoing lockdown

Being a parent during the coronavirus pandemic is no mean feat. Just as you’d started getting used to WFH life, the UK government made the decision to close schools, and any chance you had of being productive was swiftly replaced with the 24/7 demands of keeping your kids fed, watered, schooled (well, sort of) and, most importantly, free from the perils of boredom.

Luckily, the creative community has banded together in these uncertain times to help parents and their offspring while living under house arrest. We’ve collated some of the most imaginative and informative creative activities guaranteed to keep them occupied and give you a bit of peace and quiet – at least for a while.

It’s Great to Create by Jon Burgerman

New York-based artist and all-round funnyman Jon Burgerman was one of the first creatives to embrace the collaborative spirit of social distancing with his video tutorial series, It’s Great to Create, which is based on his 2017 book of the same name. Keep an eye on his YouTube channel and Instagram page for regular videos showing how to recreate his trademark googly-eyed creatures, or tips on how to turn colourful blobs into your own characters.

The Great Indoors by Scouts

Actually commissioned prior to the coronavirus outbreak, Scouts teamed up with Young Studio to create an illustrated guide of over 100 home-based activities. The aesthetically pleasing guide is filled with craft ideas, games and how-to guides designed to keep little ones both entertained and educated.

Lockdown Colouring In Sheets by Pete Fowler

DJ and artist Pete Fowler has been putting together a growing collection of colouring in sheets since the lockdown was first announced. Downloadable in both print and digital form, the mostly musical themed scenes include a creature playing an electric sax and an intergalactic music festival. Look out for regular additions to the existing bank of colouring sheets on his Instagram page.

Happy Downloads by Anorak

Illustrated kids’ magazine Anorak is going digital with its new Happy Downloads series. The free-to-download activity sheets feature a number of different creatures from both land and sea for your kids to bring to life, along with a sweets-themed word search. Once you’re done with those, you can also order all of the recent print issues of Anorak and pre-schooler mag Dot from its online shop.

National Geographic Kids website

Nat Geo’s dedicated kids section of its website is a treasure trove of informative content, quizzes and downloadable art and craft resources that will keep your kids occupied for hours on end. Also check out its YouTube channel for a whole raft of educational video content that gives a brilliant insight into the world around us.

Happy Colouring Book by Counter-Print

Primarily an online bookshop, Counter-Print has turned its focus to entertaining kids during the ongoing lockdown after the husband and wife team’s own five-year-old son was sent home during the school closures. The couple asked a number of creative friends to each contribute a piece. It proved so popular that they have since released a second volume of the downloadable colouring book, featuring pieces from names including Jean Jullien and Hattie Stewart, with a third volume currently in progress. Watch this space.

Chris Haughton on Facebook Live

Illustrator and children’s book author Chris Haughton has transformed his Facebook page into a hub for storytelling and artistic pursuits since the government first announced its social distancing policy. Tune in everyday at 5pm (GMT) for a live reading of some of his best known books, accompanied by downloadable arts and craft activities related to each story.

Minecraft: Education Edition

If your kids are obsessed with gaming, Minecraft’s new educational offshoot promises to be both fun and informative. Players can explore the International Space Station thanks to a partnership with NASA, learn to code with a robot, visit famous Washington DC landmarks, learn what it’s like to be a marine biologist, and much more. All of the content is free to download, and will be available through to June 30.

Draw with Ed Vere

Learn how to recreate some of Ed Vere’s most popular picture books, including How to be a Lion, with the illustrator’s new video series. He’s posting how-to-draw videos every Wednesday and Friday, which can be viewed on his Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and his website. Get creating!

Banner image by Chris Haughton