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Simple but fun hobby ideas for kids at home during lockdown, from beading to filmmaking

With a little luck, your child might find an activity that becomes a lifelong passion

Tara Breathnach
Wednesday 13 January 2021 12:45 GMT
From sketching to cooking and gardening, there are lots of new talents for your child to learn during the pandemic and beyond
From sketching to cooking and gardening, there are lots of new talents for your child to learn during the pandemic and beyond (iStock/The Independent)

With a third national lockdown in place, lots of us have more time than ever to spend at home and less places we can actually go.

And while plenty of adults are using their new-found situation to take up new hobbies, this could be the perfect opportunity for kids to do the same thing.

The Office for National Statistics has revealed that popular past times for grown-ups during the pandemic have included DIY and gardening, with time spent doing both up 147 per cent to 39 minutes per day.

And while household DIY might not be possible for kids, they can definitely get crafty and make those fingers green with the right bits and bobs to hand.

Here we’ve got some great ideas to help your child begin a new hobby, be it sketching, filmmaking, jewellery-making, sewing or something else.  

Younger kids will need some help and supervision with a number of these activities, but with any luck you’ll find something that can while away a good hour or two as part of a joint undertaking.

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.  

Cooking

Banana bread definitely had a moment in 2020, and if you enjoyed taking on baking as a hobby in the previous lockdown, perhaps your little one would like to follow suit.

Younger children won’t be able to do this as a hobby on their own, but, let’s face it, learning to cook is one life skill totally worth having.

If you need some inspiration on what to make, we like Ella’s Kitchen Cook Book (£10.98, Amazon), the cover of which your kids will recognise straightaway if they’ve ever had Ella’s Kitchen food.

(Amazon)

Reviewing it for our round-up of the best kids’ cookbooks, our tester said: “It has 100 easy, tasty and healthy recipes for snacks or full dinners or leisurely weekend breakfasts. Lots of pictures and easy to follow instructions for the recipes got our little testers excited to be involved in the cooking.”

“We love the twists and shortcuts added to help time-poor parents and there are lots of great tips about food and prepping meals for any age. We tried the pizza pocket bites which went down a storm: very easy to make together and they are great for breakfast or taking them with you for a walk as a snack between meals. We will definitely use this book a lot,” they added.

And if it’s basic baking equipment you need, this muffin tray (£31, Le Creuset), could be in order. 

(Le Creuset)

Our reviewer of the best cake tins said: “If you’re anything like me, your muffin tray is going to get quite a lot of use, so it’s worth investing in a more expensive piece that will last longer.”

Drawing and colouring

Perhaps you have a young artist in the house. If so, why not encourage them with some good-quality, “grown-up” items?

This spiralbound sketchbook (£6, Artway) is a nice, well-priced option if they love to sketch.

(Artway)

Testing it for the best sketching materials, our reviewer described it as “durable, attractive and great quality”.

And when it comes to what to draw with, these Derwent graphite pencils (£40.50) are a classic choice.

(Derwent)

There may be cheaper ones out there, but these come in a range of textures and will last and last. Our reviewer said: “The softer pencils are great for loose sketches, while the harder ones are good for intricate detail. Packaged in a robust tin, these graphite pencils are easy to sharpen.”

If they’re a little younger, this jungle colouring book (£6.99, Rex London) is perfect for kids that love to draw but get stuck for ideas.

(Rex London)

Our tester of the best kids’ colouring books explained: “If you’re familiar with the words ‘What shall I draw?’ this will soon become your best friend. The book has 10 different activities supplicated across 50 pages for your little artist to complete.” 

“Once they’re done, simply tear off using the handy perforated edges – they’ll love to see their masterpiece on the fridge door.”

Building and modelmaking

If you have a little one who just loves creating in 3D, a building or modelling set will give them something to work on during lockdown.

There’s nothing better than a decent box of Lego to keep them busy. One of our favourites is this Lego hidden side graveyard mystery ghost AR games set (£12.50, Argos), which has an augmented reality element to it in addition to being a fun building activity.  

(Argos)

Our reviewer of the best gifts for seven-year-olds included it in their round-up, noting: “You get the buildable Lego set plus a host of fun, interactive extras including a ghost to battle, mysteries to solve, items to find and games to play.”

Beading

Making your own jewellery can be super satisfying, especially when you produce a piece you’re really pleased with that you can wear yourself or give as a gift.

If you have a child at home who likes the idea of jewellery-making or beading, a decent kit to start them off with is this 6,000 piece Crea Bella beading set (£27, Alex and Alexa).

(Alex and Alexa)

We reviewed the 1,700 piece version for best kids’ craft kits, and our tester thought it was great, saying: “There are a variety of colours, shapes and finishes on all of the beads, as well as shiny pendants, and threads and elastics to bind all the designs together. There are even little plastic clasps.” It’s all you need to start a full-on beading hobby.

Sewing

While sewing can take a little patience to get right, it’s one of those hobbies that will develop a skill which can come in seriously handy in the future.

This mouse house sewing kit (£14.99, Button Bag) was included in our review of the best kids’ craft kits

(Button Bag)

Our tester said: “This is perfect for kids of around six-years-old and older who are budding dab hands with a needle and thread, although younger children can certainly get involved. The sharp needle means that adults will need to closely supervise, however.”

Filmmaking

Movie-making can be seriously fun for kids, who’ll not only love the process but will doubtless watch the result over and over again. 

A good way to start is with a comprehensive stop-motion kit. We love this Lego make your own movie set (£14.99, Waterstones), which proved perfect for our little tester who was eight when she first tried it and is still coming back to it more than a year later.

(Lego)

It includes six backgrounds for setting up scenes and 36 Lego pieces including a pizza, banana, baseball cap and six minifigure heads.

The included book gives outlines for 10 films to make, and once your child has got the hang of it, you’ll probably find they’ll start to come up with their own wild and wacky plots.

Our tester used an old smartphone to film with, but if you need a camera we recommend the Vtech kidizoom in our rundown of the best development toys.

Gardening

It might be too chilly to spend extended time in the garden right now, or perhaps you don’t have any outdoor space. But neither of these factors need stop your child from experiencing the joy of watching something grow.

Planting indoor herbs is one way of getting the experience without requiring a large garden. This seedball herb mix (£5.95, Annabel James) contains approximately 10 seeds from a mix of basil, dill, parsley, chives and sweet marjoram.

(Annabel James)

It’s been designed for you to put in a pot in a sunny spot on the kitchen windowsill, so will be perfect as the weather begins to warm up.

We tested a similar set from Annabel James in our review of everything you need to start gardening on a windowsill or balcony.

And of course, once the herbs are grown, you can use them in cooking – if that’s another activity the kids have decided they fancy trying.

For ideas of what to do with the kids in lockdown and beyond, take a look at our screen-free ideas to keep them busy at weekends

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