Coronavirus: council service information and advice

Information about changes to council services as a result of coronavirus

We'd love you to share your ideas and photos of activities your children have been doing at home using the hashtag #kidsinlockdown on social media. In the meantime, here are some activities you can try.

In addition to the activities below and support from your child's school, you can also find educational resources to help you on the Portsmouth Education Partnership website.

Home and local fun

  • Join the Silly Squad for the summer reading challenge! All Portsmouth pupils in Year R - Year 6 should have received a Silly Squad summer reading challenge pack from their school. Find out how to register and take part.
  • Get the children out and about this summer with our fantastic treasure hunt - Stomp for Stamps 2020! Track down Pompey monsters, snap their photos and collect stickers to claim one of two fabulous prizes - a cuddly Stomper toy or a cool Pompey monster water bottle. To take part, request a map book online. Happy stomping!
  • #LoveWhereYouLivePortsmouth challenge. Share your ideas and activities about how you're doing your bit for the planet, be it reducing your food waste, upcycling or mending old furniture, and how you're looking after nature. See how you can get involved
  • Portsmouth Museums have a new look online. They may be closed, but you can explore highlights of six museums across Portsmouth from home. Cumberland House Natural History Museum and Charles Dickens' Birthplace have an 'Activities' section on their sites where children can learn more about the history of this wonderful waterfront city. The D-Day Story Portsmouth also has an interactive map to discover more places locally and nationally connected to D-Day.
  • Learn about the port and its significance to our wonderful city and nation. Portsmouth is home to one of the UK’s busiest ports, generating £390m for the national economy. Provided by the Chartered Institute of Shipping, the “Why Shipping Matters” Key Stage 2 resources were put together by parents at the institute, for parents. They focus on ‘table top’ learning that parents and children can do together.
  • Join Hotwalls artist Alice Hume for a 75-minute Zoom kids textile class every Tuesday morning. You will learn different textile projects, including macramé key rings, bracelets, cardboard weaving, dream catchers and woven necklaces. These classes are suitable for ages 5+ and will need to be accompanied and supervised by a parent or guardian. 
  • Colouring - Children can also say 'thanks' to our keyworker waste and recycling crew. They can colour in this picture or design their own and stick it on the bin. The crew really appreciates the messages of support. 
  • Let your child dress you for the week. Have you got out of your tracksuit bottoms since lockdown? Why not see the world through your child's eyes and let them dress you for a laugh. What could possibly go wrong!?
  • Meet Abi of organic smallholding Tuppenny Barn in Southbourne, Hampshire, where they grow some beautiful salads, vegetables, and...edible flowers! Did you know you can eat some flowers? They are beautiful in a salad and delicious, too. Follow Abi's videos to learn more about rainbow carrots and beautiful apple blossoms. When not in lockdown, Abi is often visited by schools from around Hampshire keen to learn about the bees they keep, their impressive orchard of heritage apples, creatures in the pond and how to make the best green muffins!
  • Have a pyjama party and make some delicious hot coco - or iced coco if the weather is hot. You can jazz it up with chilli, marshmallows, cinnamon, the list goes on! Combine it with a board game, den building activity or film for some family chill time.
  • If you've got some spare balloons knocking around, unleash your inner Federer or Williams and have a go at balloon tennis in your living room. It can get competitive, though, so perhaps to put away your best china and picture frames - just in case!
  • Look out! There's a dinosaur about! Find out if Hannahsaurus Rex is passing your window soon but make sure you keep your social distance!
  • If you're out for a walk in some of the local rural parts of Portsmouth, forage some beautiful delights. Have ready a set of secateurs, basket and gardening gloves and you could turn ordinary nettles into stinging nettle latte or until mid-June, pick some fragrant elderflowers and turn them into delicious cordial with just a few ingredients.
  • Create a wish jar. What would you like to do after lockdown has been lifted and life returns to a new kind of normal? Put your ideas on a piece of paper and in a jar as a kind of bucket list.


  • Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls has tonnes of boredom busters! Our recent favourite is to create a Lego scavenger hunt! Mum and blogger Sarah specialises in Lego building ideas, STEM activities, and play ideas for active kids.
  • Dust off those board gamesteach your kids the classics like chess, draughts or backgammon and you'll have a play partner for life. If you don't have a board to hand, why not make your own? For draughts, make an 8x8 square board to have 64 squares in total, alternating black and white squares. You'll also need 16 black and 16 white pieces - these can be stones, paper cut-outs, or chocolate pieces.
  • If you're lucky enough to have a gardenGrowing Families has compiled a list of garden activities to do with the children when you're stuck at home, from bug hotels to bird feeders, growing your own salad to fairy house / dinosaur gardens.
  • Got some fussy eaters? Be brave and roll up your sleeves. Bring them into the kitchen and turn them into little masterchefs. BBC Good Food has come up with 67 recipes you can cook up with the kids. Food science lesson - tick!
  • Save the children, hand in hand with early learning experts, have pulled together activities for children of all ages, with engaging videos for adults and kids to get those creative juices and imagination flowing.
  • Portsmouth Education Partnership has compiled a list of useful educational resources for parents of children in key stages 1-3
  • Create your own origami zoo. Fun for big kids and small, just get some square paper ready and search 'origami animal' on YouTube for tutorials on how to make various animals. It also teaches patience, concentration and fine motor skills in the process: win-win! Take it a step further and use an empty cardboard box to make the enclosures.
  • Science lessons with Maddie and Greg. Maddie and Greg teach children and parents alike on all things science, following a weekly theme like oceans, dinosaurs and earth. Live sessions at 11am weekdays during term time are packed with engaging activities for the kids; this is bound to keep kids enthralled whilst learning. We loved the game 'let's go bounce'!
  • For children aged KS1-4, the Science Museum in London explores questions around bubbles and nanotechnology. Perhaps you'd also like to join in on a discussion around a pregnant man? Explore over 30 activities brought to you by an expert team of scientists.
  • James Dyson, of vacuum cleaner fame and inventor, challenges all young engineers to six engineering projects. Can you make a cardboard boat? Or perhaps a spaghetti bridge? Give it a go and see what happens. 
  • Amazon Future Engineer. Helping to meet students' needs by launching a free virtual coding programme in partnership with Fire Tech. This is available for parents, students and teachers for a 2-month period. These resources are for students ages 12-17 to help them build their IT skills.

History, art and culture

  • Canadian dad Rob loves drawing with his kids and wife. You can follow along as he teaches his four kids how to draw in his likeable videos either on his website or YouTube channel. The 'monster reveal' is a firm favourite.
  • Virtual Museum: 12 ways to explore from home. Delve into the Natural History Museum from home with a virtual self-guided tour of the galleries, an interactive experience about Hope the blue whale and audio guides narrated by Sir David Attenborough.
  • Portsmouth libraries at your fingertips: Enjoy a world of free entertainment at home with Portsmouth Libraries' digital library. All you need is your library card, or if you're not a member yet, sign up online. They also share a host of activity ideas for the whole family on their Official Portsmouth Libraries Facebook page.
  • Google Arts & Culture has brought together famous pieces of art from all around the world, so you can get your culture hit from the comfort of your sofa. World-famous artwork from the Guggenheim in New York or the Louvre in Paris at your fingertips!
  • 18 May was International Museum Day. Museums around the world have opened their collection for the world to view from the comfort of their screen. A list of participating museums is available on Time Out.
  • Tate galleries invite you to participate in kids' art activities, games and quizzes to discover their inner Dali and Kahlo. 
  • From monsters to yetis, Southampton City Art Gallery invites children to make some cool creatures and view their online exhibitions which can be a great medium to relax, reflect and transport you to another place.
  • Fancy giving writing a rap song a go? Or perhaps drawing a still life? Arts Award Centre has created some Discover (aimed at ages 5-9) and Explore (aimed at ages 7-11) Arts Award resources to help children grow as artists.
  • Getty Museum is challenging you to re-create or interpret one of their famous pieces using only three items you can find in your home. If you use Twitter or Instagram, check out #betweenartandquarantine, #tussenkunstenquarataine and #gettymuseumchallenge for a fascinating array of fun pieces and have a go yourself. Muffins posing as hay stacks and avocados turned into Munch's 'The Scream' show some creative genius.
  • Homeschool History on BBC Radio 4.Fun history lessons for all the family, presented by Horrible Histories' Greg Jenner. Full of facts and jokes, the series brings to life a broad range of historical topics.
  • Kids in Museums. As museums are closed, Kids in Museums have created digital activities from museums across the country for children to take part in.
  • The Crafts Council is providing hands-on making activities for home schooling, from early years all the way to Key Stage 5.
  • The Royal Academy of Arts has provided a list of things to do whilst in lockdown. You can take a virtual wander around their current exhibition 'Picasso and paper', meet artists and make collaged portraits.
  • Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) - From toilet rolls to hand-made signs and Google Street View to door handles, discover how everyday often-overlooked 'objects' have become charged with new meanings during the coronavirus outbreak in the museum's on-going series. There's a chance to become part of a future collection about the pandemic by helping the museum build a collection of homemade signs and rainbow drawings created during lockdown. Share your creations on social media using #homemadedesigns.
  • Brera PinacotecaVisit Italy from your home! Explore the online collections in high definition as if you were really there. You can search for your favourite piece or browse the entire gallery.
  • Hypervisions. Discover the masterpieces of the collections along with their history from the gallery of Uffizi in Florence, Italy. The spectacular virtual tour of The Hall of the Dynasties and the Galleries of 16th Century Venetian Painting will capitvate you.
  • Vatican Museums. Visit the many museums of the Vatican and explore collections such as contemporary art, the Sistine Chapel and the Gregoriano Profano Museum.
  • Rembrandt Virtual Masterpiece. The Netherlands has found a way to bring masterpieces into your home. The hyper resolution image of Rembrandt's work can now be viewed online.

Language and literature

  • Library delivery service. Our library service is also working with HIVE Portsmouth to deliver books, DVDs, and games to people who are staying home. You can choose what kind of book you would prefer, and we also have jigsaws, games, children's DVDs, craft items and colouring sheets. This is a free service we're offering, while libraries are closed to the public.
  • The theme for this year's short story competition, run by Portsmouth libraries, is Reunion. Young adults and adults over 16 are invited to share their interpretation for a chance to win £500 and to see their story posted online. Further details can be found on the Portsmouth Spydus website. Competition closes 30 October 2020.
  • Calling all aspiring poets! National Poetry Day is on Thursday 1 October 2020 and the theme is 'Vision'.  For children ages 7- 11, the competition is looking for original poems focussed on your poet’s interpretation of Vision. Deadline for submissions is 5:30pm on 17 July 2020.
  • Festival of Speaking by the English Speaking Union. Children can make their voices heard during lockdown. What better way to share a passion with the world? All students from primary upwards are invited to film themselves in a short video (1-5 minutes) delivering a speech, a poem, a monologue, etc. and post it on a social media platform of their choice using the hashtag #esufestivalofspeaking.
  • 10 top tips for parents to support children to read.
  • Audible Children's Books. Audible have a collection of audiobooks across eight different languages which are available to stream for free on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet.
  • BookTrust. The BookTrust have free online books, videos, games and quizzes. You can win prizes as a family too for taking part in the activities!
  • 100 Novels That Shaped Our World. A panel of leading writers, curators and critics have selected 100 novels which have had an impact on their lives. The BBC have complied the list and hopefully you will find some inspiration to delve into a new book!
  • The National Literacy Trust. The National Literacy Trust have launched a free collection of short stories, poems, essays and pictures which includes works from Lauren Child, Anthony Horowitz and Michael Morpurgo. The book is currently available to read online.
  • The Open Library. Browse any genre, for any age on the Open Library and read the books online for free!
  • Project Gutenberg. An online library with over 60,000 free eBooks. Choose from free epub and Kindle eBooks to download or read online.
  • Rosetta Stone - Languages. Enable your children to make use of their time at home learning a language for free with Rosetta Stone.

Theatre, operas and concerts on demand

  • Chichester Festival Youth Theatre brings you the magical Beauty and the Beast production for free to view at home. You may think you know the story of Beauty and the Beast but a few surprises are in store in this brand new version adapted from the original fairy tale by Anna Ledwich. Ages 7+.
  • Discover the world of Shakespeare in the Globe's playground. Craft, cook and create in the Shakespearean style and enter his world by watching one of the free productions available on their site.
  • The National Theatre might be closed, but their website brings you some fantastic productions such as A Streetcar Named Desire, Jane Eyre and Treasure Island to view at home, changing weekly.
  • PhilharmoniaPhilharmonic Orchestra are streaming 2017 Royal Festival Hall concert. The Beethoven choral symphony is already available.
  • The Royal Opera House. The Royal Opera House is also streaming a new ballet/ opera productions on their  Facebook and YouTube channels, and remain available on demand for several weeks.
  • Last night of the Proms. The highlights of the proms, such as the Aurora orchestra's staging of Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique.
  • OperaVision.EU - Has an archive of productions from all across Europe available for free.
  • Royal Liverpool Philharmonic - They are posting regularly on their Facebook page, with at home sessions as well as previous concerts in full for you to enjoy.
  • New York Philharmonic - There is access to a new portal created by the NY Phil with free digital content to provide a connection with their fans all across the world.
  • London Sinfonietta - Sinfonietta are introducing Lockdown Live, a new online series of live digital content such as concerts and performances by principle players.
  • The Show Must Go On! Andrew Lloyd Webber is showing his famous musicals on YouTube, once a week on Fridays. These are available for 24hrs and are completely free!

Children and young people age 0 - 25 with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)

Resources are available on the Portsmouth Local Offer website and GOV.UK website.

Help children aged 2 to 4 to learn at home

No one expects parents to act as teachers or to be able to provide all the activities that a nursery might. While children gain a lot from nursery, things that parents do at home can also help their development.

Websites with early years activities

  • ABC Does - a collection of activities/ideas to help parents and carers find fun things to do when home with younger children.
  • BBC's Tiny Happy People - helps parents and carers develop their child's language and communication skills so they get the best start in life.
  • Hungry Little Minds - a catalogue of simple, fun activities for kids, from newborn to five years old.
  • Words for life - shares many fun ideas, games and printable activity sheets for children of all ages to enjoy. 
  • Small talk - provides ideas for talking, playing and reading with your child from newborn to five years old.
  • Cbeebies - website full of online games to play, quizzes and ideas of things to do and make.
  • Change 4 life - shares fun 10 minute shake up games and healthy recipes to make together.
  • What do we do all day? - offers a giant list of indoor activities for children.
  • You, baby and I - shares 100 indoor activity ideas for children.
  • Net mums - 100 activities for a rainy day