Phew. We made it through to February half term on lockdown after another gruelling, relentless period of homeschooling. Actually, I have to say it’s not been so bad for us at Babes HQ. The boys have most of their online lessons live in front of their teachers, which means less fooling around and I get to (semi) focus on my work from the kitchen table. On the other hand, there are plenty of interruptions — mostly for food. How much bloody eating can two small people do? It feels never-ending!
Anyway, it’s a relief to have a change of pace/routine for February half term. This is a very different February Half Term guide from last year (before lockdown was a thing *sniffles*) but I have plenty of ideas to keep the whole family entertained. Take a look and let me know if there’s anything I’ve missed.
Fun Things to do over February Half Term on Lockdown
Lunar New Year Virtual Fun
Celebrate the Year of the Ox with a slew of Lunar New Year virtual activities. Museum of London holds a virtual programme of events ranging from making dragon masks to Chinese puppetry (Feb 11-14, FREE, book ahead). Royal Museums Greenwich are hosting Chinese New Year performances on their Facebook page (Feb 12, from 4pm). Over at Burgh House in Hampstead, you can watch a festival via their Facebook channel with martial arts, crafts and calligraphy (Feb 21, 11am).
Big Fish Little Fish Valentine’s Kitchen Rave with DJ Martin Riley (Noise Noise Noise)
Still sick about Glastonbury being cancelled? Lift your mood with another Kitchen Rave with BFLF (pictured). Every Sunday, you can join the award-winning, world famous family rave collective and party to dance anthems played by top DJs, streamed to your kitchen (or garden or living room etc). For this Valentine’s Day, the mood is all about LOVE. All ages. Sun at 2pm; FREE (Sundays)
My younger one is pretty stoked that Pancake Day falls on his birthday this year. Extra treats. There won’t be any flipping and tossing around London for the usual Pancake Day races. However, you can try my easy peasy pancake recipe (scroll to the bottom of the post) and make some with the kids. If you’re too lazy or want to support a local biz, order in a pancake meal kit from local staples like The Breakfast Club (available on Deliveroo) or Crepe Affaire.
Museums and Workshops
While the museum is closed, there’s plenty to do online for young ones via Tate Kids. This handy resource features crafty ideas like Make a Mud Painting, Use Your Body to Make Art or Make a Paper Sculpture. You can also learn more about major artists such as Lynette Yiadom-Boakye (pictured), whose first major exhibition is still on at Tate Britain (until May 31, 2021). Read all about her and take the kids to see the show once lockdown ends.
V&A Museum: Families Online Workshops
Over February half term on lockdown, sign up for FREE family workshops inspired by the upcoming Epic Iran exhibition. All week long, children aged 5-7 (11am) and 7+ (2pm) can make their own Persian miniature inspired artwork (Feb 15-19). On Wednesday, it’s time to get creative with colours, sounds and rhythms at the Beatboxing and Art performance workshop with Jason Singh for ages 5-7 (11am) and 7-12 (2pm) (Feb 17).
Virtual Tour: Westminster Abbey and the World
Specially for February half term on lockdown, Westminster Abbey opens its virtual doors for a look at how the Abbey celebrates communities all over the globe. Share the journey with your kids, for fun and quizzes to help you learn about the Commonwealth Day service and the church’s relationship with the worldwide family of nations. For ages 5+. 2pm-2.45pm (Feb 17); 11am-11.45am & 2pm-2.45pm via Zoom; FREE but advanced booking essential (Feb 17-18)
V&A Museum: #LetsMakeWednesdays
Get your kids making and designing with the V&A’s popular #LetsMakeWednesdays series of creative challenges, published weekly since April 2020. On their blog, they’ve rounded up their Top 5 projects using found objects around the house. Have a go or browse through past activities on the website.
Looking for some STEM activities to get little brains fizzing and little hands creating? Look no further than Crick Institute who have put together a batch of kitchen science and crazy crafting challenges suitable for primary school kids (and willing grownups).
British Museum Virtual Gallery: Oceania
Take a trip half-way around the world with the Oceania virtual gallery. It explores the vast region of the world that includes Australia, New Guinea and the many islands spread across the vast South Pacific Ocean. View sculptural ornaments and artefacts such as canoes, headdresses and mourners’ costumes. You can also take a virtual tour of the Arctic exhibition and keep an eye out for updates on the brand new show Reflections: Contemporary Art of the Middle East and North Africa (Feb 11-Aug 15).
Virtual and Interactive Performances
Little Angel Theatre
The famous puppet theatre has been winning at lockdown by putting their puppet shows online, attracting hundreds and thousands of viewers from across the world. Catch past performances such as The Girl and the Raven before they’re taken down. Free to watch, donations encouraged. Kids can also get stuck in to activities for ages 3-6 and 7-11, including how to make a puppet in a week!
Join in with the Winter Warmer festival of stories and craft activities for kids at home. This February half term on lockdown, don’t miss Dust (streaming Feb 6-19, from 11am), a playful and poignant show (pictured) for ages 4-9, written by award-winning children’s author Laura Dockrill (Darcy Burdock book series and Big Bones) with haunting music by Hugo White of The Maccabees. You can also catch Guantanamo Boy (streaming Feb 13-19, from 11am) for ages 12+, about teenager Khalid who’s snatched from his everyday life and thrust into a world where he’s presumed guilty. A powerful examination of the ‘war on terror’ post 9-11.
National Youth Dance Company: A Year Like No Other
Watch a short but stirring documentary exploring what happened when the pandemic hit and the National Youth Dance Company had to radically rethink its work with Guest Artistic Director Russell Maliphant. Over 60 hours of Zoom sessions and small, socially distanced group work, they created and performed a dance piece to family and friends. This film shows the highs and lows of making art in Covid times, told by the rising stars of a new generation of dance.
Half Term Fun for Families via Southbank Centre
Teeny ones will love Kaleidoscope (Feb 20, 10am & 11.30am) an online musical experience (pictured at top) filled with twinkling lights, colours, music and sounds for ages 0-18 months. Or get your groove on with DYSCO (Feb 20, 2pm) an all-inclusive virtual boogie for families, led by dyspraxia, dyslexic and ADHD dance artist Aby Watson. Embrace the freedom of movement to her curated playlist and dance like nobody’s watching. Both events are FREE but booking essential (Feb 20)
Nature and Outdoors
Rich Mix: Fowokan (Touch)
Need a little more green in your life? Join in this online session where horticulturalist Natalie Taylor will talk you through the joys of plant care and its benefits. Learn about plant therapy, being a plant parent and what make the best house plants. Suitable for all ages. 1pm, FREE (Feb 13)
Go #WildAtHome for London Zoo
London Zoo are calling on you and your wild things to help raise vital funds and have some fun while you’re at it. Try out a list of animal athletics created by zookeeper e.g. balancing like a flamingo, waddling like a penguin or leaping like a lemur. Or make up your own challenge! Over February half term you can also catch the popular Vets in Action (Feb 16-17) via their new FREE virtual sessions on Facebook. Budding animal doctors can triage a teddy bear then tune in for live health checks on a Whipsnade Zoo rabbit. (Feb 15-21)
One of the few London attractions that you can safely visit, Kew Gardens will be a beacon for families in February half term on lockdown. Explore the gorgeous flora and foliage, play in the Children’s Garden and b-r-e-a-t-h-e in your surroundings. NB: Glasshouses, buildings and dining options are all closed and you must book a time slot or no garden entry. 10am-3pm time slots available; adult from £10/child from £4.50/young person 16-24 from £5 (ongoing)
You can’t enter the actual properties but most National Trust gardens and landscapes are open to the public. Bear in mind you might not be the only family with the bright idea to head here over February half term on lockdown. But if you don’t mind socially distanced queues or potential crowds, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Check individual websites for availability, entry slots and bookings.
Family Friendly Walks
Bored of the local park? Walk London’s first dedicated public art walk, The Line, following a three-hour trail from North Greenwich to Stratford. Or stroll along London’s longest linear nature reserve, the popular Parkland Walk that connects Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace (through Highgate Woods) along a disused railway line.
If you have wheels (or stamina) go the distance along the Thames Path, taking in London landmarks along Putney to Tower Bridge or South Bank through Battersea Park.
Fancy an uphill climb? Head to Hampstead Heath, up Parliament Hill for the views then down through Kenwood House gardens and a little further along through beautiful Highgate Cemetery.
Rolling Down the Road by David Gibb (for ages 3-11) at Half Moon Theatre online (Feb 20-26)
Family Online Workshop: World Changers (for ages 5+) at British Library (Mar 20)
Megson Family Folk Show (for ages 6 months-7 years) at Kings Place (Mar 28)
Dennis and Gnasher’s Big Bonanza at Kew Gardens (all ages) at Kew Gardens (Mar 31-Apr 18)
Check out more things to look forward to in 2021. Happy half term, get some rest!