Our amazing volunteers have been answering calls on the National Breastfeeding Helpline alongside Breastfeeding Network volunteers, offering remote and video support, continuing with their training and helping to train others, administering Facebook groups as well as looking after their families and continuing employment where possible.
You may find some of these activities are useful for your families too. Many can be adapted to be used with different ages.
I also had help from my fabulous assistant Emily Bruce who is 9 years old.
1. Make a mode of transport. It could be miniature (for a toy, hamster or imaginary creature) or it could be person-sized. Can you design it on paper? But then maybe make the real thing too?
2. Do you have any egg boxes around?You can use them to make a floral wreath. Here’s a video that explains:
3. Painting on a window is a great way to decorate your home and cheer up people who might walk by. And you can make your own window paint. https://www.kidspot.com.au/things-to-do/activities/craft-activities/how-to-make-window-paint/news-story/223b3c2b2bde6e1965f19f1b57655c28?fbclid=IwAR1_XWTgQAPr09-htPvDELhJIATLOCICPEKZCh4m5osrIZAAsBF6gC9N9YM
4. Make a mini garden. You could make one for a little toy. Or make one for a fairy or friendly mouse who might visit one day. You could make it on a plate or on a tray or in a box. You could use things from outside like stones and leaves and twigs. Or you can use inside things like paper and cardboard and lettuce and play dough. Or you can mix inside and outside things.
5. Can you make your own butter? You need a jam jar and some cream (you can do it with milk too if you are very patient). Skimmed milk doesn’t work very well. Why not? When you have finished, do you like it better with a little bit of salt or without? https://happyhooligans.ca/homemade-butter/?fbclid=IwAR1C_edNM6qgpyE2ZSYGPctTXKmd22qeINWX8HyqOIeiznIhSlw1SQMnSnc
6. I saw on Twitter a teacher set her class the challenge of presenting baked beans as if they were chefs at the fanciest restaurant in the world. If you don’t eat baked beans, choose some very ordinary every day food and go for the fanciest presentation you can.
7. Play a game called cat’s cradle. You need a piece of string or wool about a metre long. You might need to try different lengths. Essentially you’re going to tangle your hands up in the string but in a cool skillful way. Watch these videos to see how it works. Solo cat’s cradle: https://images.app.goo.gl/WKXJ4MiNhS8Hfr4v5
Two people version: https://youtu.be/VpHTPnrYLzQ
8. Make musical instruments. Can you use things from around the house and garden? Musical instruments make sounds with blowing, plucking, banging, shaking. Even a piece of grass can be a musical instrument. Emily says snail shells make a good clacking sound (but snails would probably prefer to be finished with them first). Then can you put on a performance!
9. Throw things. Get a cup or a bowl (plastic is better). Put it on the floor. Take a step back and throw a penny into it. How far away can you step back and still get the penny in? Or you can try playing cards (which will be useful if you are ever a cowboy or a film character who is bored). The playing card throw needs a quick flick.
10. Salt dough is thought of as a Christmas decoration thing but you can make salt dough any time of year to make lots of different ornaments. https://www.yummytoddlerfood.com/activities/the-best-salt-dough-ornaments/?fbclid=IwAR3ClTliU9cwLJryYIuOTDfgNn0eRA8-CyNzYWMVz-KRmkzzu3t7E15ktI4
11. You can take a virtual tour. You could do a drawing of something you saw on your trip.
Baltimore aquarium: https://aqua.org/media/virtualtours/baltimore/index.html
Metropolitan museum in New York: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/online-features/met-360-project
The National museum of the US Airforce: http://www.nmusafvirtualtour.com
12. You need string or wool, card and colouring pencils or pens to make a SPINNER. I’m not talking fidget spinners. I’m talking about spinners that go zoom with string after you've spun them round. They make look a bit uninteresting when they are still but trust me, when you get spinning you will go WOW. Which patterns look particularly cool? Maybe you can share a mini-video of your spinning. Instructions here: https://www.easypeasyandfun.com/how-to-make-a-paper-spinner/
13. What can you make out of a towel? Or a mini-towel? (Otherwise known as a flannel). There are many possibilities. It could be part of a landscape for trains or cars. It could be part of a costume. Or it could be an animal. This video helps you make towel animals: https://youtu.be/w4sb6OAnvAY
14. Learn the BSL alphabet. BSL means British Sign Language and it’s a language often used by deaf and hard of hearing people in the UK. There are thousands and thousands of BSL words like there are in every language but you can also learn the alphabet to spell words out. Can you learn the alphabet? Can you learn how to spell your name?
You can learn some of these 100 common words too: https://youtu.be/gMNHvXSW4iE
15. Get to know Joyce Grenfell. Listen to her here: https://youtu.be/ZXhHFgDRNBQ What do you think? Can you listen all the way through without smiling at all? If you enjoyed that, you can try: https://youtu.be/vTqivGLAZXM. And https://youtu.be/8iWl36mh6vM
16. Make today SOCK day. What can you make out of an old sock?A cool sock puppet is always a good thing but think BEYOND THE SOCK PUPPET as well. It could be something for a toy, something useful in the kitchen, something practical for another part of the house, something very very silly. What can you do while wearing socks on your hands? What is the most challenging thing you can do? Can you wash up? Can you brush your teeth? Can you tie shoelaces? Can you type? Can you eat a banana? What other challenges can you complete with sock hands?
17. There is a book called ‘Paper Dolls’ by Julia Donaldson and Rebecca Cobb. In the book, a family make paper dolls. Every doll is a different little character. Have you ever made paper dolls? There’s a video that shows you how to here: https://youtu.be/CYXxoVbPzqI What little friends will you make?
18. What birds do you share your neighbourhood with? If you have a garden, do you know the names of all the birds that live with you? Can you record the birds you see over a week? Which one is the most common? What birds can you see and hear when you go for a walk? Lots of birds are making nests at the moment. You might see them collecting food for their babies too. https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/identify-a-bird/
19. Have a look at the work of Canadian artist Raku Inoue. He makes insects using things he finds in the natural world. Can you have a go? You might be able to do it from things you have inside the house too. What about a bug made from nothing but types of breakfast cereal.
20. Today (and you may or may not already know this) it is one of your favourite toy’s birthdays! Why don’t you throw them a surprise party! You can make them some decorations, wrap them a little present (and decorate your own wrapping paper), have a special meal, send party invitations, play some party games with them and their friends, have a birthday disco. Happy Birthday __________! (If you don’t celebrate birthdays, maybe 2 toys are having a wedding anniversary).
21. WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PET? I don’t mean - I’d quite fancy a hamster right now - I mean you can have ANY animal or creature from across the world, from history, from your imagination. They will live with you by choice and be your loving friend.You can draw a picture. Describe them and someone else can draw their picture. Make a model. Write a description or a story. Dictate a description to someone else. It would be nice to know their name.
22. How many pieces of clothing can you wear at once? I would add that you can’t wear anything that covers your face and you need to put all the clothes back again afterwards! But how many individual bits can you fit on yourself and still be able to walk?
23. Teaspoons have a tough life. They live in a drawer. Then someone takes them out, sticks their head in hot water and spins them round in circles. Then shoves them in soapy water. They see so little of life. I would like you to choose a teaspoon and give it THE BEST DAY OF ITS LIFE. Make it a little house, an outfit, show it your favourite film, put on a concert for it, give it a spa day. Give it a NAME. Make your teaspoon’s dreams come true. You may think teaspoons don’t care. But what if they do? Think of the stories it will tell the other spoons back in the drawer.
24. Be a cobbler. Make a pair of shoes. Use any materials you like.
25. Limit your language. Look online for extracts of novels called ‘Gadsby’ and one called ‘A Void’. They were written entirely without using the letter E. Can you write a story without using the letter E? Or how long can you go without saying: I, THE or AND. Can you tell a story about a trip you once went on without those words?
26. Make a family newspaper or magazine. You could interview members of your family, include recipes, make a crossword, review a film, discuss sporting events (which may just be ones that happen in your garden). You can invent some adverts too.
27. Have a go at writing an invisible ink message using lemon juice. You could even draw a picture and post it to someone (and give them instructions how to see it). https://youtu.be/poCnU_crpjQ
28. Do you like ketchup on your cornflakes??This is the title of a great split-page books.You can see someone reading it on a video on YouTube here. https://youtu.be/yfqHI-oMuYA
You can make split-page books that make funny faces, make characters that wear funny clothes or monsters. You can use them to tell stories or write poems. Can you make a split-page book?
29. Make a time capsule. A time capsule is a collection of special things that tell people in the future what life is like now. People get a box or a tin and fill it with notes and objects that tell people about the world they live in. Sometimes we hear about people making a time capsule that gets opened 100 years later and the people who made it aren’t around any more. I’d like you to make a time capsule for your future self. You might open it when you are 30 or 50 or 80! What will your life be like?! Whatever you are up to, I think you would be interested to get a message from the year 2020. You could draw pictures, write a letter, put in a photo, put in a little toy, something about the news, a food wrapper. The possibilities are endless. But it will be something you won’t see again for a long time. Tell your future self how you are feeling today.
30. Make a laser maze. Sometimes lasers are used to keep precious things safe in museums (but often in films about museums and banks because lasers look cool). It’s very hard for someone to wiggle past lots of lasers without touching them and setting off the alarm.If you have wool at home, you could make your own laser maze. User a timer to see how long it takes you. If you touch the wool, you have to start again. If you don’t have any masking tape or you don’t want to stick things to the wall, you can also make an obstacle course on the floor. Can you hop your way through your maze without falling over? You could use a timer to see if you can get faster.
31. You know those cardboard circles that come under shop-bought pizzas?They are about the size of a big dinner plate if you have any cardboard and you want to make your own. What can you turn one into? Stare at that circle. What could it become? You can draw things, paint things, stick things. It could be a face, a planet, a meal. There are so many possibilities!
32. Make a foil animal. You may have some foil in the house. Perhaps it was wrapped around an Easter egg. Can you make a little animal using foil?
33. If you have the ingredients at home, can you make your very best sandwich? If you don’t have the ingredients at home, can you draw a picture of what your imaginary sandwich would be. Sometimes people draw sandwiches in a special way so you can see all the different layers of ingredients. You could make a poster to advertise your favourite sandwich. Or even make a little video which is a television advert for your sandwich.
34. Make your best CIRCLES. Please use objects around your home and garden to make some art (objects that don’t normally get used for art). You might use leaves, Rice Krispies or Lego. Look online for the work of artist Andy Goldsworthy who uses things he finds outside.
35. Imagine you could go on holiday to a magical island. What would be on your island? It’s magical so it can be anything your mind can create. Maybe it has different areas that members of your family will especially love. I’ve got a cliff with some puffins nesting because my family like bird-watching. And a LOT of restaurants for me. What’s on your island? You could make a map.
A message from Ann, an ABM breastfeeding counsellor volunteer:
My husband, Andy, is a kind and brave man. Whilst I spend my working life helping families with breastfeeding, he spends (or 'spent') his working life organising bespoke cycling tours for small groups. Once C-19 struck, and 'lockdown' started, my work ramped up into a whole new gear. Many many hours of work, some of which is paid, all moving into new ways of working online and on the phone. Energising, yet deeply exhausting. For Andy, as for so many other people around the world 'lockdown' meant the end of his entire summer season. No work, no income, no plan for the future.
For many of us, our work is part of our identity: what we do with our time, and what we feel passionate about is part of what makes us get up in the morning and feel good about ourselves. If 'lockdown' took this away from you, I feel for you. I've been extremely lucky; Andy hasn't been, and that's true for many other people.
Whilst coming to terms with the shock of sudden unemployment and loss of income, in observing my long hours of work at the dining table, Andy saw the effect of 'lockdown' on the many families having babies during this time. Where is the support? The face-to-face encouragement? The knowing smile on someone's face as they pass a new parent the first hot cup of tea they've managed to drink for days? Andy also saw how hard many folks in the voluntary sector are working right now, to reach and engage with those families who want or need help and support with feeding their babies. Finding new and creative ways to give families the help and support they want, but without leaving our homes.
So he decided to help by wearing some rainbow knitted boobs.
He created #BikeAndBoobs
Andy likes to have a cycling challenge to get his teeth stuck into, and getting out on his bike every day is part of what keeps him - and by extension, me - sane. Instead of the Lands' End to John o'Groats trip he should have been doing right now, he's doing his daily permitted exercise weaning these jaunty boobs, which were knitted by a friend: a wonderful Health Visitor who is recovering from a severe case of C-19.
This strange and wonderful scheme has 2 aims: to raise awareness of the vital importance of skilled help and support for new families who are establishing breastfeeding and to raise funds for 2 charities who exist for this very reason.
If lockdown has been cruel to your household finances, please DO NOT DONATE. Instead, perhaps you could help Andy's project by sharing info about it with your friends and family. If, however, you do feel able to donate, your support will be very gratefully received.
Here's Andy's fundraising page: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/AndyBruce6
And remember, if you ever look out of your window and see a chap on a bike, wearing rainbow knitted boobs, he's doing it for you!