Lockdown activities

The Coronavirus lockdown undoubtedly presents big challenges – but also opportunities. We’ve gathered here a list of ideas and online resources to help you have a productive time in the coming weeks (and hopefully not go crazy). So, stop reading the news about the virus, and get busy…

Getting online

We know many of our readers are not experienced computer users, but this might be a good time to improve your skills. If you have a tablet or a smart phone you can use the browser to get onto the internet.

There are two good sites to help you get started. Leeds Libraries use Learn My Way www.learnmyway.com, alternatively BT’s Skills For Tomorrow is also a good place to start www.bt.com/skillsfortomorrow

Kids and education

There’s a lot of free online learning resources and activities, some of which would normally have to pay for. Just a few of these that come recommended are: BBC Bitesize bbc.co.uk/bitesize, Oxford Owl home.oxfordowl.co.uk, The Maths Factor themathsfactor.com, Twinkl twinkl.co.uk, Phonics Play phonicsplay.co.uk, and Rosetta Stone for learning languages: rosettastone.co.uk.

There are also thousands of free audio books for your kids to listen to, at websites like Audible stories.audible.com – adults can also access audio books there, but you need to pay after a free 30 day trial. You can borrow ebooks and eaudio from Leeds Libraries www.leeds.gov.uk/leisure/libraries/ebooks-and-eaudio. Also, David Walliams is doing free audio stories daily, at: worldofdavidwalliams.com.

There are scores of other online educational websites and resources listed at websites including openculture.com and weareteachers.com.

An idea is also circulating whereby grandparents set their grandchildren topics to research it could be anything in the world, when they’re talking on the phone or online. The kids then research the topic online, over a day or more, and report back when they next talk with their grandparents. This also obviously support interaction between the generations, and especially those who might be isolated.

Fitness for all ages

There’s also plenty online (via YouTube youtube.com, social media, or other online apps) with free live or pre-recorded fitness sessions. For PE lessons for kids, Joe Wicks (the Body Coach TV) comes especially recommended.

Other sites with free fitness regimes include: fitnessblender.com and makeyourbodywork.com and there are dozens more.

There are also plenty of free yoga sessions online. Join local Yoga Hero for live daily yoga sessions yogahero.co.uk, or another that comes recommended is ‘Yoga with Adriene’ on YouTube.

Search for Active Leeds on YouTube for some basic fitness routines you can do in the home.

Get growing

Now is the perfect time to get into growing fruit and vegetables – in your garden, on your balcony or windowsills, wherever you can. It can save you money, make you healthy, and help you relax! Websites including the Royal Horticultural Society rhs.org.uk and Gardeners World gardenersworld.com have loads of tips for beginners – and experts! Seeds are available online, or in the shops, but please only include it in one of your essential trips out.


Seize the moment to brush up your cooking skills, and try new recipes, and probably save money to boot! Jack Monroe cookingonabootstrap.com has loads of great ideas for cooking on a shoestring, and is releasing loads of online videos on how to do it. Other websites worth looking at include: epicurious.com, foodnetwork.co.uk, and tastemade.com.

There are also loads of child-friendly channels on social media and YouTube; one that comes recommended is called Charli’s Crafty Kitchen, on Youtube. Charli is a 10 year old Australian!

Fixing and mending

You could also spend your time fixing up all those half-broken items you’ve had lying around for your years! I Fixit ifixit.com has loads of free online advice and tutorials, and familyhandyman.com also comes recommended. You could also join the Leeds Repair Café group on Facebook, and post queries in there anytime.

For help with fixing up bikes, check out websites like bikeride.com for free tutorials and tips.

There are also scores of websites and social media channels to skill you up from scratch with sewing, darning, and generally fixing clothes; a couple are sewguide.com, and skillshare.com. This last site is a goldmine of resources for learning a very wide range of skills – not just tailoring.

Crafts and games

Getting creative is great for our well-being. Again, there are 100s of free sites and channels – just look online for ideas and leads! But a few to get you going are: craftingagreenworld.com, instructables.com, origami-fun.com, and mybluprint.com.

Websites dedicated to family-friendly crafts include: redtedart.com, thecraftycrow.net, daisyyellow.squarespace.com, and kids.tate.org.uk.

Free online chess sites include: chessbase.com and chess24.com.

There are free online crosswords at websites including: boatloadpuzzles.com and simplydailypuzzles.com.

Other ideas

Why not take the chance to delve into your family tree and discover your ancestry? Free online sites include: findmypast.co.uk, familysearch.org, and freeukgenealogy.org.uk. For the period of the lockdown you can also access ancestry.co.uk free of charge if you have a Leeds Library card follow this link for details.

Get lost in amazing photo archives such as those at: leodis.net which has thousands of photos of Leeds through the ages. yannarthusbertrand2.org is an acclaimed international photographer. Or try Britain From Above britainfromabove.org.uk an astounding collection of vintage aerial photos of the UK.

You might also be able to visit your favourite museum or art gallery, here or around the world. Many institutions are putting virtual tours on their website. Try The British Museum or The National Gallery.

In Leeds the Discovery Centre, based in Hunslet by the way, is host to a weekly talk from Curator Emily Nelson. She explores the Leeds Museum collections week by week on Mondays via twitter.com/emilydoodles

Please feel free to share more ideas and links with us, and we’ll share them here online, and in next month’s paper.

Thanks to our friends at South Leeds Mumbler who have produced this list of activities to do in your home or garden …

Click here to download a printable version.