What is Couch to 5Play?
Couch to 5Play has been designed by the Good Play Guide, experts in play to help make the world a more playful place. Many families have been playing together more during lockdown, so we wanted to keep that going.
When we asked around, a lot of parents said they LOVE playing with their children, but they need more play ideas that are quick and simple to do. Who wants to spend an hour clearing up after an activity that only lasted five minutes?
So we’ve created five different play ideas for you to try, each week for five weeks (with 25 activities to try altogether). You’ll start off with the classics like reading or playing board games, then week by week the activities will become a little more adventurous and imaginative.
Don’t worry if you’re not perfect at some of the activities – playing is all about learning and discovery!
Give Yourselves Bubble Beards
What you’ll need: Lots of bubble bath or washing up liquid.
What to do: When you’re next washing up or it’s bath time, scoop up some bubbles and give your child and yourself bubble beards!
You could also: Have a bubble fight or sculpt out shapes in the foam.
Watch a Show Together
What you’ll need: A TV or a tablet device.
What to do: Ask your child to show you a funny TV show or YouTube video, and sit down together to watch it.
You could also: Ask your child questions about what you’re watching, like what they like about it or who their favourite character is.
Have a Race
What you’ll need: Lots of space and your running shoes.
What to do: Challenge your child to a race when you’re out walking – decide a finish line (e.g. a tree or a lamp post), then say ready, steady, go!
You could also: Do a slow-motion run or a silly walk to the finish line.
Go on a Photo Treasure Hunt
What you’ll need: A camera (e.g. on a smartphone) and an outdoor space.
What to do: Challenge yourselves to find and snap a photo of:
- Something rough
- Something fluffy
- Something colourful
- A spider web
- Something you think is interesting
You could also: Make your own list of things to hunt for.
Play an App or Video Game Together
What you’ll need: A tablet device, smartphone, or games console.
What to do: Ask your child to show you his or her favourite app or video game and teach you how to play it.
You could also: Ask your child what they like about the game and what they are most proud of (e.g. a high score or something they’ve made in the game).
Have a Sock Fight
What you’ll need: A basket of laundry.
What to do: The next time you are putting the laundry away, roll a pair of socks into a ball and play catch with your child.
You could also: Keep adding more sock balls or speed up your throws for a harder challenge.
Read a Book using Silly Voices
What you’ll need: A book.
What to do: Read a book to your child and put on different, silly voices for each character.
You could also: Have your child do one of the character voices or make sound effects to go with the story.
Play the 30-Second Challenge Game
What you’ll need: A timer (e.g. on a smartphone).
What to do: Go to the park and challenge your child to see how many times they can complete a given activity in 30 seconds, using your smartphone to time him or her. For example:
- Do a lap around a tree
- Do star jumps
- Go down a slide
- Catch a ball
- Climb across the monkey bars
You could also: Take turns setting 30-second challenges for one another, or see who can complete the activity the most number of times within the 30 seconds.
Play Guess the Sound
What you’ll need: A video camera (e.g. on a smartphone or tablet device).
What to do: Have your child record some sounds around the house and garden. Afterwards, listen to the sounds and try to guess what they are.
For example, your child could record:
- Cutlery clanging
- Turning pages of a book
- The washing machine
- A bird singing
- Leaves rustling
You could also: When you’re not with your child, go around town or the park and record a range of sounds for him or her to guess later on.
Have a Buzz Hug
What you’ll need: Just yourselves.
What to do: Surprise your child with a “buzz hug” – a squeezy hug that is given with a gentle shaking and buzzing sound.
You could also: Make this a regular way to greet your child, or to cheer your child up if he or she has had a bad day.
Draw a Monster
What you’ll need: Two sheets of paper and pencils.
What to do:
- Start with a sheet of paper each. At the top of the paper draw a monster head and neck – don’t let the other person see it though!
- Fold the paper over so that everything except the very bottom of the neck can be seen.
- Swap sheets of paper, then add a body for the monster. Fold the paper over again, so the head, neck, and body remain hidden.
- Continue swapping as you add the legs and finally the feet.
- Swap for a final time and then open up the sheet to reveal your monsters!
You could also: Colour in your monsters and come up with names and personalities for them. What do they like to eat, where do they live, etc.?
Play a Board or Card Game
What you’ll need: A board or card game.
What to do: Choose a board or card game to play with your family. Set aside some time where everyone’s screens are turned off, and the whole family is focused on the game.
You could also: Make up a special family rule for the game, or a funny forfeit for the loser.
- Everyone chooses a challenge and each time they roll a number, they have to do the challenge that many times, e.g. five star jumps if you roll a five.
- Have a list of challenges you have to do for certain number rolls, e.g. rolling a one means you have to pull a funny face until your next turn.
- Have an agreed word that people can shout during their turn only, that triggers a challenge everyone else has to do, e.g. if you shout “bananas” the rest of the players have to do a monkey impression.
- The loser does the washing up.
- The winner gets to choose the game next time.
What you’ll need: Pavement, a piece of chalk, and a pebble.
What to do:
- Draw a hopscotch grid numbered one to 10 in chalk.
- Throw the pebble onto the number one, then hop and skip across the grid to the end and back again, missing out that number.
- Start with the number one, then two, and so on until you get to 10.
- Your turn ends if you don’t get the pebble in the correct square or you lose your balance.
- The winner is the person who completed all 10 laps first in one turn.
You could also: Use the chalk to do some drawings on the pavement.
Go on a Nature Scavenger Hunt
What you’ll need: An outdoor space and a list of things to find.
What to do: Compete with each other to find as many things as possible on the list:
- The longest stick
- The biggest leaf
- The smallest rock
- Something fluffy
- Something colourful
You could also: Use the things you’ve collected to make a nature collage.
Play I Spy
What you’ll need: Somewhere with a few things to spot (e.g. in the car or shopping centre).
What to do: Take it in turns to choose an object you can see for the other players to guess (without telling them what it is) and say “I spy with my little eye, something beginning with (first letter of the object’s name).” Players shout out their ideas, and whoever guesses correctly gets to choose the next object.
You could also: Ask yes/no questions if you get stuck, e.g. is it in the car, is it an animal, does it fly.
Make some Story Stones
What you’ll need: 5-10 small smooth pebbles, acrylic paint and paintbrushes (or a thin permanent marker).
What to do:
- Clean and dry the pebbles.
- Together, paint different pictures on each pebble. The pictures can be based on a story you already know (e.g. Red Riding Hood, the Wolf, and Granny), or you can choose random people, things and places.
- Once the paint has dried, put the pebbles into a bag. Have your child pull a stone out of the bag and tell a story based on the picture.
- Keep taking out extra stones until the story has finished, or you run out of stones.
- Now it’s your turn! Put the stones back in and tell a whole new story to your child.
You could also: When you’ve finished, hide your stones around your local area for other people to find.
Build the Tallest Tower
What you’ll need: A construction toy (e.g. LEGO) and/or some recyclables (e.g. cardboard boxes, kitchen roll tubes)
What to do: Challenge your child to build the tallest tower. Work together on it but let your child lead and come up with ideas.
You could also: Set yourselves a time limit or compete with each other to see who can build the tallest tower.
Have a Car Wash Water Fight
What you’ll need: A car to wash, big soft sponges, and a bucket of warm water.
What to do: Ask your child to lend a hand washing the car. Soak the sponges and throw them at each other, aim the hose at each other, get out your water pistols – and just have fun!
You could also: Use your finger to draw in the dirt on your car before washing it off.
Go Cloud Watching
What you’ll need: A sky with some clouds in.
What to do: Lie down outside together and look up at the clouds. Take it in turns to point out shapes in the clouds. Remember to not look directly at the sun!
You could also: Talk about what you think the clouds would feel like to touch. Are they heavy or light, wet, fluffy?
Play The Selfie Game
What you’ll need: A camera (e.g. on a smartphone).
What to do:
- Set the camera to front-facing and turn on the self-timer for 10 seconds.
- Press the capture button to start the timer.
- Pass the phone around the players, with each player posing for a selfie before passing the device on.
- Whoever it lands on when the timer is up has to pose for a selfie!
- Repeat as many times as you like and at the end you’ll have a collection of funny family selfies to look back on.
You could also: Try to keep a straight face while posing for your selfies while the rest of the family tries to make the player laugh
Build a Secret Sofa Den
What you’ll need: Cushions, large bedsheets, and chairs.
What to do: Turn the backs of the chairs to face each other, so the backs become the walls of the den. Cover the chairs with the bed sheets and use cushions and pillows to pad out the floor.
You could also: Once your den has been built you could get cosy inside and read a book, make shadow puppets, have a picnic – the list is endless!
Make a Family News Show
What you’ll need: A video camera (e.g. on a smartphone or tablet device), table, chair, paper, and a pencil.
What to do: Start by writing a script together for two or three stories – they could be something that your family has done or somewhere they’ve been, or something completely made up. Set your child up as the newsreader at the table, then play the role of the camera person and record him or her reporting the “news”. Watch it back together afterwards – you could share it with the grandparents too!
You could also: Once your child has reported the news, you could switch roles and report the weather while your child films you.
Compete in an Outdoor Obstacle Course
What you’ll need: An outdoor space, empty plant pots, a skipping rope, a hula hoop, a piece of chalk, and a large cardboard box.
What to do: Set up an obstacle course together in your garden, then take turns to complete it and see how fast you can do it. You can set up the course in whatever order you like, or add and remove different obstacles, but here are some ideas to get you going:
- Set the plant pots up in a line with gaps to weave in and out of.
- Lie the skipping rope out on the ground so it can be walked along like a tightrope.
- Lie the hula hoop on the floor, so it can be stepped in and then climbed through.
- Draw stepping stones in chalk on the ground so you can jump between them.
- Make the large box into a tunnel by cutting off the top and bottom lids, so it can be crawled through.
You could also: Repeat the obstacle course while holding hands with your child (you can’t let go!), working together as a team to complete it.
Make a Fairy / Mouse House in the Woods
What you’ll need: Twigs, pebbles, leaves and grass (optional: flowers, feathers, moss, acorns).
What to do: Go to a park or wood and gather up some materials. Find a small flat area somewhere your house isn’t likely to get trampled.
You can build your fairy/mouse house however you like, but here are some ideas to get you started:
- Use the twigs to build the frame (Y-shaped twigs stuck into the ground make good supporting beams!).
- Put the leaves and grass over the frame to make a ceiling and walls, leaving a gap for the door.
- Put some pebbles around the edge and use moss to make a carpet inside.
- Use flowers and feathers for decoration.
- Use acorns to make small cups and bowls.
You could also: Make up a story about the fairy or mouse that lives there.
Play Funny Face Mirror
What you’ll need: Just yourselves.
What to do: Have your child pull a funny face at you and copy him or her.
For example, your child could:
- Stick their tongue out.
- Push their nose up.
- Puff out their cheeks.
- Stretch out their ears.
- Stick out their bottom lip.
You could also: Swap roles and pull funny faces for your child to copy.
Couch To 5Play FAQ’s
Who is it for?
Couch To 5Play is for families who want a bit more play and laughter in their lives. We think that five to ten year-olds will enjoy these play ideas the most, but younger and older children may also like them, so don’t be afraid to get them involved as well. And of course, we hope you enjoy the activities too – it’s the perfect chance to let out your inner child!
We’ve tried to make the activities easy to adapt, so can be done by children of all abilities. We’d love to hear how you make the play ideas your own, so we can share your tips with other families – let us know on Facebook or Twitter, @GoodPlayGuide.
What will I need?
You will mostly just need things you can easily find around your house, so you shouldn’t need to buy anything or go digging around the cupboard for hours. The instruction pages will tell you exactly what you need for each activity. For the “On the Go” activities the most you’ll ever need is your smartphone, so you don’t have to plan ahead or carry a load of stuff with you while you’re out and about.
How long does it take?
There’s a mix of five-minute activities for when you’re busy, as well as some longer ones that can take about an hour, so you have time to get really involved in the game. The whole thing lasts for five weeks, but we encourage you to keep playing after that!
Any other questions?
Just email our friendly team at firstname.lastname@example.org.