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ROAD TEST: 11 cool activities for kids to do at home, as rated by a nine-year-old.

Home-schooling my nine-year-old Toby was not on my wish list for 2020 but then I’m sure it wasn’t for him either.

As Toby is at home today (and may be for many weeks ahead) we researched a bunch of activities to keep him entertained and us both from going stir-crazy.

We looked at podcasts, TV shows and online games and while Toby insisted they must all be fun, I persuaded him that some had to be vaguely educational.

Watch: Things Mums never hear. Post continues below.

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Here is a list of our top 11 and our occasionally differing reviews:

1. PODCAST: ‘That’s Incredible’

A series of podcast episodes, each covering a different topic lasting around 20 minutes and hosted by Andrew Daddo.

Toby listened to the ‘Sport’ episode which he found, “interesting, exciting and weird.” He liked telling me the ‘sporty facts’ read out by kids, including the one about the 43-hour cricket match that took place in 1939.

He was happy to sit and listen and I am just as happy to let him sample another episode again soon.

Listen to That’s Incredible, Mamamia’s podcast for parents, kids and teachers. It’s packed with fun facts and amazing stories about the world around us. Post continues below. 

Toby rating: 4.5/5

Mum rating: 5/5

2. VIRTUAL MUSEUM TOUR: Musée d’Orsay, Paris

As no one can leave Australia at the moment, there is something rather magical about taking a virtual tour of this beautiful Parisian museum from your own living room.

This activity might have been more something for Toby and I to do together, but I especially enjoyed finding out more about the history of the Musée D’Orsay building and seeing famous artworks by Vincent Van Gogh in Google’s ‘street view’ mode.

There are heaps of other global museums to virtually check out via Google’s Art and Culture hub, so this gives us plenty of options for future home school days.

Toby on his museum tour. Image: Supplied
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Toby rating: 3/5

Mum rating: 5/5

3. GAME: CrazyGames.com

An online hosting site for a selection of different games, this sits squarely in the ‘fun’ category. Toby played ‘Subway Clash’ which he describes as a “shooting game where you attack the enemy.”

He told me that the graphics were good but that I probably wouldn’t like it much and he would be right.

It is okay for a quick lunch break gaming session, but not one for educational purposes.

Toby rating: 5/5

Mum rating: 1/5

4. WORKOUT: ‘Sworkit’

We decided on something to get us both moving after morning tea and attempted a five-minute warm-up workout with this kid-friendly option. It was a simple selection of moves led on-screen by a kid. Toby quite enjoyed the novelty factor and said he would do it again if he got stuck at home.

Perfect if you have a few kids to wrangle and also on a wet weather day.

homeschooling ideas
Toby trying Sworkit. Image: Supplied

Toby rating: 3.5/5

Mum rating: 4/5

5. PODCAST: ‘Short & Curly’

An ABC podcast hosted by Carl Smith, Matt Beard and Molly Daniels. Toby listened to a 23-minute episode called ‘Should grown-ups lie to you?’ which of course I told him, never happens.

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Toby said that “the hosts made me laugh and discussed some good ethical questions.” He didn’t tell me whether or not it is okay for parents to lie or not, so I guess I’ll keep lying about where I keep my chocolate stash.

Toby rating: 4.5/5

Mum rating: 4.5/5

6. APP/WEBSITE: Memrise.com

A language website that covers 22 different languages. We had to sign up for a free account and Toby got started straight away learning some basic Portuguese.

It was very simple to use with words written on screen and read out by a Portuguese speaker in a video format. Toby just had to click to hear the words pronounced until he could say them himself. In five-minutes he did the first basic lesson and was excited to say ‘Olá”.

I am looking forward to having a go a bit later!

Toby rating: 4/5

Mum rating: 5/5

7. TV SHOW: ‘Operation Ouch’

A long-held favourite with Toby, this ABC ME offering is hosted by twin medics, Dr Chris and Dr Xand Van Tulleken. It's a science and medical show but with plenty of humour and kid-friendly silliness. Toby especially likes the ‘gross alerts’ and is not afraid to keep watching where I tend to go and bravely put the kettle on.

Not one for the squeamish, but it does include plenty of educational and sensible medical advice in a super fun format.

Toby rating: 4.5/5

Mum rating: 4/5

8. MAGAZINE: Aquila

My mum organised a subscription for this UK based monthly magazine last year and Toby genuinely looks forward to receiving it each month in the mailbox. Aquila is beautifully presented and filled with interesting articles, stories, puzzles and activities to complete with the help of a grown up.

Each month it has a different theme such as ‘Happiness’ or ‘Microcosmos’ and there's plenty inside the pages for kids who are happy to sit and read.

homeschooling ideas
Toby reading Aquila. Image: Supplied
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Toby rating: 4/5

Mum rating: 5/5

9. GAMES: Funbrain.com

This is a great free educational resource for kids and parents. You can search by game type, or school grade and there are hundreds of options to choose from at every stage from Kindergarten through to high school.

Toby is in year four and he loves a bit of maths, so he was occupied for some time looking at different ‘fun’ math problems.

A total winner for both of us!

Toby rating: 4.5/5

Mum rating: 5/5

10. WEBSITE: National Geographic Kids

This is a fantastic website for curious-minded school-age kids. Packed full of photos and engaging facts about animals, history, places and people.

Toby went straight to the quizzes section to try one on ‘comets and meteors’ and was pretty happy with his score of 8/10. Neither of us did so well at the ‘cats memory game’, but it has given us something to work towards.

Toby rating: 4/5

Mum rating: 5/5

11. CREATIVE PLAY: iMOVIE

A great tool on the iPad or iPhone for any budding movie maker, this gets kids thinking creatively and having fun while cutting together mini-movies of their own.

There are templates to choose from in iMovie that make it super simple to use and even I had a crack. Toby had fun involving the whole family in his horror movie trailer and we all had a laugh at the ‘premiere’ when we watched our efforts back.

A fabulously creative time waster.

Toby rating: 5/5

Mum rating: 5/5

Feature Image: Supplied.

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