Craft ideas to keep the little ones busy during lockdown

Image: Katarina Gondova/123RF

If you’re a parent you’ve had to keep the kids entertained well before our 21-day lockdown even started. And now with stricter rules keeping the busy bodies inside, you might be more desperate for ideas to keep them entertained than before.

If they’re becoming bored with the toys and gadgets they have to keep them busy until now and you feel bad for all the screen time you’re allowing, why not try a few make-it-yourself recipes for fun crafts with ingredients you should have in the house.

Play dough

Whip up some play dough to keep them busy – it’s great for creative play and exercising fine motor skills.

Toptots in Ballito specialises in early childhood development by offering weekly parent and child workshops around South Africa. As experts in the field of play, we asked them for their favourite, no-fuss play dough recipe.

You’ll need:

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 4 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 cup salt
  • Food colouring
  • Essence
  • 1 ½ cups boiling water


Mix all dry ingredients in large bowl. Put oil, food colouring and essence into a jug, add 1 cup boiling water. Add to dry ingredients and mix well. Add the other ½ cup of boiling water and stir well to make a soft, pliable dough. The dough needs to be kneaded well before use, while it is still warm. Once cooled, store in an air-tight container.

Robyn Hyson, the owner of Toptots, says, “We love this recipe because it is easy to do. No cooking involved and very little to clean up after. It makes a lovely soft, pliable dough awesome for those little fingers. As there are no nasties in it, it is completely taste safe for little ones.”

Make a few batches of different colours to get their creative juices flowing. If you want, pose different challenges such as making various animals or fruits. If you allow the winner of each round to choose a snack from the cupboard, they are likely to dedicate a good amount of time and energy to each challenge.

Ice paints

Do you have a little Picasso on your hands but ran out of paint? Or are you looking for something new that will interest your child? You can make your own ice paints using water and food colouring.

You’ll need:

  • Ice cube tray
  • Water
  • Food colouring (as many different colours as you want)
  • Ice cream sticks
  • Paper


Simply add water to an ice cube tray, add a drop of food colouring to each cube and mix. Place in the fridge until the water starts to freeze slightly then insert a stick into each cube. Return to the fridge and freeze until solid.

The frozen cubes work great to colour pages and will keep the kids entertained – at least for enough time to give you a bit of a breather. And if they decide to finish them off by sucking on them, it won’t harm them in any way.

Puffy paint

Puffy paint is fun. Not quite liquid paint that you need a brush for, you can pipe it and give it to the kids to be creative with.

You’ll need:

  • Glue
  • Shaving cream
  • Food colouring
  • Plastic bag
  • Scissors
  • Paper


Mix together equal parts glue and shaving cream and add a few drops of food colouring. Mix well and add the mixture to a plastic bag. Tie the top and cut a small corner off the end through which the paint can be piped.

What makes this paint so fun is that it really does look puffy once you pipe it and put it on paper – giving a 3-D look to the pictures you paint. Because of the glue and shaving cream in the paint, this isn’t food safe so best reserve this for the kids who aren’t going to try to eat it.