Five minute fun activities for busy people to do with little kids

Games + Activities

Magical Games

What a strange old time we are going through. Like some of you my children are back at school. I’ll be honest, it has surprised me just how dramatic the change has been in them since they returned last week. They are happy, buzzing with energy and stories and haven’t even mentioned how different school is. Even though we made the best of lockdown and they are lucky enough to have a house filled with toys, a Teaching Assistant trained Mum and a garden, it seems that nothing could ever replace school for them. It’s really got me thinking.

And obviously it isn’t just them. This week I have been super productive, hell I’m even going to finish one of these drafted blog posts that’s been rattling round my brain and computer for a month! Working and home schooling isn’t compatible as we all well know. If you are still at home battling through, just know we can only do our best, and also know that not one single person is finding it easy. It is just hard so don’t beat yourself up for how exhausting it all is. What you have done so far is incredible.

In fact a sprinkle of magic is what we could all do with just about now. So inspired by Ewan’s current love (and my ongoing love) of all things Harry Potter, here are some little games we’ve played recently to encourage a bit of writing, as this seemed to be the thing that during lockdown we struggled to motivate Ewan (age 6) with the most.

Potions Lesson


  • A tray
  • Some pots or cups
  • Bicarbonate of soda
  • Vinegar
  • Any other random things as potion ingredients (examples below)
  • Spoons or mixing utensils
  • Paper and pen

To Set Up…

  • Lay out 5 pots, each with a potion ingredient in. One with the bicarbonate of soda, one with the vinegar, I also then had - one with coloured water, one with water beads, one with lemon juice. But you can use whatever you like.
  • Name the ingredients magical names with your paper and pen. I had powdered flies, frog juice, witch brew, beetle eyes, golden wizard.
  • Pop out some more pots to mix with and some spoons. Leave the pen and paper nearby.

To Play…

  • Your little one has to experiment to find the two ingredients that make the magical fizzing potion. Now we obviously know that is the vinegar and bicarb but they don’t.
  • So ask them to write down the two ingredients they are going to test. Once they’ve done that they can put them together in a cup and then either tick or cross to see if it makes the magic.
  • Hopefully they write down a few before they get the winning combo.
  • Afterwards leave them to continue to play and mix while you put the kettle on. I made Florence her own potion tray too to play with while Ewan experimented.

Owl Post

This is based on a game that’s in my book, Teddy Zip Wire where we use a string tied up high and a hanger to send a teddy down a zip wire for fun. During lockdown lots of you were coming up with more ingenious and inventive ways to use this idea and some of them involved sending written messages. I even saw a cable car version - amazing!


  • some paper
  • a pen
  • a hanger
  • some string
  • stickers - optional
  • tape or tack
  • pegs

To Set Up…

  • Roughly draw an owl the size of your hanger and stick it on to it. Pop pegs onto the hanger
  • Write an example letter, use stickers to close it, and put a magical address on it
  • Leave paper, stickers and pen nearby
  • Tie string from somewhere high to somewhere low. I tied it to an upstairs window and to our slide in the garden below.

To Play…

  • Encourage your little ones to write a letter. A magical one! To a Harry Potter character, to the fairies, to a naughty troll, to the Christmas elf. For Florence who is just 4, she told me what she wanted the letter to say, I wrote it down and she signed her name.
  • Attach the letter to the owl using the pegs
  • Send the letter down the zip wire to deliver it
  • I waited at the bottom while Ewan wrote mystery messages to me or our family members - so this is a good game for social distancing from kids in one house to kids outside from another.

Now I take any opportunity that comes along to create magical moments for the kids (just like my Nan did with me). Recently Ewan lost his cuddly Harry Potter toy in a tree. We tried in vain to get it out for ages but to no avail. A couple of days later the neighbour who owned the tree knocked on the door with Harry in her hands. The wind must have knocked it out she explained. So without a second to let the kids see, I ran upstairs and popped Harry in Ewan’s bed and said not a word. Later that night when he discovered him, his face a picture, he solemnly explained to me how he must have flown back on his broomstick and I could only wholeheartedly agree. Magic.

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