Best kids' activity packs to download

Best kids' activity packs to download
Top up the resource bank and keep the kids busy at home with reading, puzzles, crafting, science and other screen-free activities. They're all available to download for free and you won't need any special equipment, so head off the "I'm bored!" moans and buy yourself a few moments of peace so you can get some of your own work done!
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Best for keeping the kids busy for hours (or days)

There's a huge amount to read in this special Mega-Mag issue of Aquila magazine – find out about spy gadgets, weird creatures, Greek tragedy and terrible miscalculations, read about how to make an articulated hand out of carboard, snuggle up with your own tardigrade and LOADS more. One download, 92 pages of fanatastic content for kids!

Aquila is one of TheSchoolRun's favourite educational magazines for children.

Best for story character activities

Get creative with your favourite book characters, from Matilda to Wimpy Kid. There's a Puffin downloadable summer activity pack for every kind of story lover – pick your age, print out, and get started.

Once you've completed all the summer suggestions, try some spring book-ish fun and some autumn and festive kids' book activities too!

Best for screen-free fun

The Summer Camps Trust works to give British children from all backgrounds the opportunity to take part in summer camps.

Drawing on decades of experience in helping children and young people thrive and have fun away from their digital devices, the Trust's free 50 Great Things To Do download suggests hours of games, puzzles and makes that won't cost anything to try – and there isn't a screen in sight! So why not have a go at hat boxing, code-cracking, card tricks, colour weaving, coin catching and more?

For more non-digital fun, The SCT Book of Things to Do is packed with 150 activity suggestions. It's on sale for £10 plus postage and packing and £1 from each sale will be donated to the NHS Charities COVID-19 Urgent Appeal.

Best for inventive mini-missions

Create a treasure box, design clothes, cast spells, build the ultimate fort and colour in your own print with Mini Boden Missions (you can share your creations using #BodenMiniMissions and tag @boden_clothing for the chance to win a £150 voucher).

Our favourite "mission" is the downloadable Mini Boden Make and Discover Activity Book – 13 pages of animal-themed puzzles and crafts for KS1 children.

Best for word and number puzzles

Word and number puzzles are so engrossing that kids don't even realise they're learning.

Keep them entertained with Brain Games: Free Downloadable Learning Resources from the bestselling Buster Brain Games and Buster Bright Sparks puzzle book series by ‘master puzzler’ Dr. Gareth Moore.

Best for learning-charged colouring in

There's loads packed onto every page of these free non-fiction resources from WHAT ON EARTH BOOKS for primary school aged children who love learning about the natural world.

Colour-in the dinosaurs, bugs, plants and mammals while learning their names and fun facts, then you can stick together the sheets to create a huge, detailed timeline! 

Best for reading and writing activities

Teacher and literacy expert Pie Corbett has made 16 Talk for Writing Home-school units available to parents for free download (though a Great Ormond Street Hospital  donation is also very welcome if you are able to donate). They are each 25+ pages long.

The units are age-related, aimed at children for Reception to Year 6. They all include a model text (also available as a streamed audio recording) and a number of engaging, fun activities like shared discussion and writing, designed so that you can support your child.

Best for making and crafting ideas

Unique Voice is a Bristol-based social enterprise that specialises in using the arts to develop children’s social and emotional resilience. Art helps children explore issues they find challenging and equips them with the tools to discover their own solutions and the ability to make positive choices.

In response to the pandemic, Unique Voices have created a Stay At Home Activity Pack, free to download, which contains over 20 pages of arts activities to keep little hands and minds busy. The materials needed have been kept to a minimum so you should be able to get stuck in using items you already have at home. 

Best for coping with change

The Barnardo's Change Challenge booklet  is designed to ease the transition to a new class for KS1 and KS2 children. Used during the first eight weeks of term, it helps them to develop a plan for a successful first half-term by identifying the things that make them feel good, the tricky things that can have a negative impact on their wellbeing, and also the people that can help them.  

There are also Back to School (after lockdown or after holidays) booklets for primary and secondary children to download, packed with ideas to support kids when they come across difficult challenges.  

Best for positive thinking

Celebrate positive news and acts of kindness and teach children how to be mindful in a fun, colourful way using a free Happy News download created by The Happy Newspaper. What good news and brilliant people will your child choose to write about? Who will they send a thank you note to, and what things will they mark down in their gratitude list today?

Rising Stars offers lots more wellbeing, positive resources for children to download, including growth mindset Top Trumps and gratitude walls.

Best for budding scientists

Written by Professor Fran Balkwil, the Director of the Centre of the Cell science education centre in London, Germ Zappers uses simple but scientifically accurate commentary and fun graphics to take young readers on an entertaining exploration of the amazing microscopic world of cells, proteins, germs, viruses and DNA.

The colouring book version of Germ Zappers is available as a free download and is a fun and accessible way for children to learn all about viruses and the body’s immune system.

Best for worldwide inspiration

Lonely Planet at Home Kids is a free, downloadable eBook featuring educational activities for children from 101 Small Ways to Change the World, Around the World Craft and Design Book, Backyard Explorer, Boredom Buster, Seek and Find Cities and The World’s Cutest Animals Colouring Book. Make an Ojo de Dios, a worry doll and bird bunting, learn some mnemonics and how to read cloud cues and take on some home chores – there are ideas from around the world to be inspired by.

Best for helping kids help other people

Social action – helping other people – not only makes a huge difference to individuals and causes that need support, it also offers children a sense of purpose and positivity, which may help to reduce anxiety levels and support better mental health.

The free Making a Difference From Home activity pack from Young Citizens has been designed for children aged 8-11 and leads them through the process of planning and delivering a mini social action project, focused on caring for friends and family, caring for community or caring for the planet. The activities should help kids feel empowered about themselves and their achievements and highlight that there are lots of ways they can help others.

Best for creative learning

Culture Mile, the City of London’s cultural district stretching from Farringdon to Moorgate, has created a series of activity bundles packed with arts and crafts suggestions from the Barbican, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London Symphony Orchestra and Museum of London.

The Play Packs and Playful Prompts offer easy, fun ideas that families can do together with everyday household objects. Stock up on chalk, stickers, crayons and glue sticks and make some masterpieces!

Best for Reception and KS1 children

Are you ready to star in your own fairy tale adventure? Once Upon an Adventure is a free printable activity pack from the British Library, and the starting point for some story-telling fun. 

Take on the guise of a witch or a goblin, a prince or a spider, a wolf or a shoemaker. Head out over the sea or make your way through a deep enchanted forest. Meet curious creatures and draw a map of your journey through your imagination. How far will you roam?

Best for art adventures

The Line is London’s first dedicated public art walk, featuring art by world-famous artists such as Antony Gormley, Laura Ford and Anish Kapoor. Its route runs between Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and The O2, following the waterways and the line of the Greenwich Meridian, but you don't have to visit in person to complete the free Make the Line Activity Pack for families.

Produced by or inspired by he artists currently featured on The Line, it's packed with artistic challenges which can be completed with materials you're likely to have at home – no special equipment needed. If you are able to explore The Line in person, download The House of Fairy Tales – Walk The Line booklet for ideas and stories to accompany your visit.

Best for outdoor learning fun

The Youth Hostel Association (YHA)'s free children’s activity pack is bursting with things for kids to make, learn and do. The activities are designed to help children and young people connect with nature, the outdoors, culture and heritage – from ice art to a slow safari, building a den or making trail mix to munch on, there are loads of suggestions to spark your child's interest in getting outside to explore their surroundings.

Best art projects

Raid the recycling bin to gather all the materials you'll need to create intricate, inventive art with artist Darrell Wakelam's step-by-step "art jumpstarts".

You could start with an Egg Box Monkey, a Paper Plate Chameleon or a Toilet Roll Seahorse, then assemble a Milk Carton Elephant, a cardboard Treasure Chest or a Biscuit Box Bear. The results are so beautiful, you'll never see "junk modelling" the same way again! Look through the free projects one by one online, or download a free 50-project collection.