Indoor activities for boys to learn and play

As the snow settles on the world outside and my two boys have returned from their snowball fight completely soaked for the third time today I find myself saying: ‘Right, no more playing outside! I’m fed up of this wet floor and there’s no more room on the radiators.’

So here are some of the things I occupied them with which may provide some great ideas for anyone else in my situation. The boys made some wonderful ships out of cereal boxes, toothpicks and split pins. I pretty much left them to this as I was cooking at the time, but I suppose you could look at things that are waterproof, things that float and sink, and recyclable containers that would make suitable boats. Then you could make them and test them out in the sink. I often find my boys filling up the sink with water and trying out boats they have made (I even found one in the toilet…What to do?). Another idea is to make origami boats and paint them with nail varnish (to make them waterproof) and float them or have races. You could make little sails and blow into them to race them.

Boats from junk kids boats


Wooden blocks are a great idea. I picked up some that were all the same size in a charity shop for a few pounds but you could always go to Homebase and ask for some scraps (sometimes they ask you for a donation-once they gave it to me for free). There are two options for wood, you could build cities that can be broken down and put away at the end but you can also get a light weight hammer and some small nails and get them to make whatever they want. They can then paint their creations and hang it from their ceiling or display in their room, although if they’re anything like my boys the word ‘ornament’ has no meaning!
kids building


The last and most exciting activity is linked to a World War II topic I have been doing with the boys. We’ve read, looked at and researched about the Blitz, we’ve read a Michael Morpurgo novel called Friend or Foe and have visited the Imperial War Museum in London.

The boys have some basic maths skills, so to increase their fluency with numbers and to test their mathematical concentration I set them the task of deciphering a riddle I wrote to each of them in code, which once solved would help them to find a hidden WWII prize.

WWII toy aeroplane


I picked up a pack of these at the Imperial War Museum but there are lots of exciting model airplanes on the internet that you can order, some of which you can build and paint yourself. Find some here.

So I established the code with them, we stuck to a simple one to begin with so the letter a+,1 b+2, c+3, d+4, and so on until we got to z+26.  We also established that we would put a comma between numbers and a / between words and a // at the end of sentences. I then took ten minutes to write to each of them a different riddle that gave them a clue to where I had hidden their toy plane. I also wrote their names in code so that they were forced to work out which message was for which boy. They used the written code to decipher their messages and then attempted to solve the riddles. kids code breaking

WWII code breaking-kids

WWII code breaking-kids

As you can see, they are thoroughly engaged and focussed whilst having a great deal of fun. Once they had deciphered their message and figured out their riddle they then proceeded to the right room in the house and look for their prize. I made sure to tell them that the enemy spies were also tracking these same prizes and that no mess must be left on their searches as it would leave a trail behind them that the enemy could follow and maybe find the prize before them. (A great way to make sure they tidy up after themselves!!!!) Once they had found their planes we then researched on the internet what their WWII planes were called, which country they came from and what type of ammunition/bombs the airplane carried and dropped. We then looked at and discussed Morse code, Bletchley park, the Enigma, and code making/breaking machines used in the second World War.

NB The links I have added are just some random links that I have come across in a quick search. I dod not show the boys all of a clip but just as much as was necessary to make my point. If any one finds any better links then please feel free to contact me and I will add it to here.


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