Half-term hack: the best online courses for kids
Run out of ways to entertain the kiddos? Check out Muddy's list of the best online classes and workshops that you can do from anywhere across the country, just in time for half-term.
BEDFORDSHIRE BERKSHIRE BUCKINGHAMSHIRE CAMBRIDGESHIRE CORNWALL DEVON ESSEX DORSET GLOUCESTERSHIRE HAMPSHIRE HERTFORDSHIRE ISLE OF WIGHT KENT LEICESTERSHIRE NORFOLK NORTHAMPTONSHIRE OXFORDSHIRE RUTLAND SUFFOLK SOMERSET SURREY SUSSEX WARWICKSHIRE WILTSHIRE WORCESTERSHIRE
The Watts Gallery Drawing Club
Watts Gallery and Artists Village in Compton has a range of art workshops and courses for kids. The Drawing Club Online offers an online series of three workshops hosted by artist and teacher Wilson Yau to help budding artists explore and experiment from home. There are workshops for children aged 8-12 and another for teenagers 13-17 years. The cost is £15. wattsgallery.org.uk
The Clay Club
Play with clay and learn new skills, techniques and processes inspired by the work of Mary Watts through this series of online artist videos. Simply order the kit online from Watts Gallery which includes clay and tools, then log on to the online tutorials. The kit can be enjoyed by all ages but is particularly suited to 11-17 year olds. Cost is £20 for a single kit or £60 for the family pack (enough for four).
HERTFORDSHIRE & BEDFORDSHIRE
Mad Scientists of Herts and Beds
Have some budding science boffins in your bubble? Then you’ll be sending them off to holiday science camp this half term – well, a virtual one at least. Mad Science of Herts & Beds have created a fun, educational and interactive Virtual STEM Camp (running 15 to 18 Feb). Kids will get to play (sorry, conduct serious scientific experiments) with gooey potions, secret code messages, robots, rockets and more. Sounds messy, but here’s the best bit? The DBS-checked Mad Scientists actually encourage their apprentices to clean up after. Yes, really! The cost for camp is £70 per household, plus there’s a £20 Amazon List for everything your mini mad scientists will need for camp.
Trestle School of Drama’s Clown Workshops
We could certainly all do with some laughs, so if your kids are always clowning around, let them loose at Trestle School of Drama’s Clowning Around workshop. Throughout the day, there will be three Zoom sessions, each designed for different ages (from toddlers to tweens) but all with one aim: to make everyone crack up! During the 90 minutes of mayhem, littlies can create their own clown character, so make sure they’re dressed for the occasion in their silliest outfit. Older wannabe clowns will take a deeper look into what it means to be a clown, develop new skills and find their inner clown through physical exploration, drama games and activities. Serious business, this clowning around. The Clowning Around Workshop is taking place on 17 Feb and costs £6 a child per session.
The Little Gym Windsor
Got a Duracell bunny who’s bouncing off the walls? The Little Gym to the rescue. The brilliant team has launched its YouTube channel during lockdown – The Little Gym at Home – jam packed with fun videos to get your kids moving and entertained. The routines are short, new content gets dropped each week, and there’s a huge range of classes created specifically for ages 4mths-12 year olds. Scroll, press play and leave them to run, roll, balance and jump around. Think Lara Croft or Indiana Jones without the jeopardy.
Warts and All Theatre, Delapre Abbey
This inclusive theatre company are running performing arts clubs for budding thesps aged 4-21. Based at Delapré Abbey in Northampton, it’s all currently online and can be paid for depending on what you can afford, making the classes a bit more accessible. We are loving their curriculum-linked home-ed drama club on Tuesday afternoons for 7-13 year olds. It beats algebra.
Draw With Katie Kids Cub with Katie Cardew
The Mudlets will be flexing their inner Picasso muscles in no time (yes, that’s an anatomical term) thanks to Katie Cardew’s beautifully created drawing workshop, which includes a 50 page A3 workbook that is broken down into 6 weeks worth of drawing exercises. Every week has a different theme and each exercise includes step-by-step tutorials and interactive tasks, rounded-off with a self-led challenge. It’s great for helping kids to develop their style and we think it’s a fab mental health boost too.
Bespoke Ballroom Kids Academy
One for the Strictly fans. Former pro Kristina Rihanoff’s Northampton based kids’ dance academy has gone virtual. Kristina and her team’s hands-on approach, combined with her personal understanding of the performing arts and yoga, help make these classes a positive and uplifting experience for kids and teens whether they’re aspiring professionals or just want to get moving. Pick from Latin and ballroom, acro and tricking, street and hip-hop or contemporary/jazz, plus there are regular online workshops with some top Strictly pros.
Unleash your Inner Playright, the egg, Theatre Royal Bath
We all have a story to tell, don’t we? Actor and writer Saikat Ahamed (National Theatre, Bristol Old Vic, Tobacco Factory) leads five, one-hour Zoom workshops for 12 to 14-year olds about writing a play. He’ll be exploring what makes each person unique as a writer, characters, conflict, structure and, probably hardest of all, how to get started. The playwright workshops are Tuesdays, from Tues 16 Feb to Tues 9 March. £40.
To infinity – and beyond! We the Curious, Bristol
Is there anybody out there?! And what might happen if humans ever did come face to face with an alien? Go on a trip through the solar system to faraway exo-planets and find out, with the experts at The Planetarium at We the Curious (aka Bristol’s brilliant science museum). The interactive Life in the Universe workshop can be beamed into your home via Zoom from Thurs 18 Feb to Thurs 25 March. Suitable for kids 10 years up; £5 per device.
Journal and sketchbook workshops with Elizabeth Watson Illustration
Get your kids to record their lives on paper at an artist’s journal and sketchbook workshop with Somerset illustrator Lizzie Watson, whom we think has more than a little Quentin Blake about her work. The one-hour online workshops for 8-11s and 12-16s will run for 10 weeks.
Urban Dance, Dance For All Studios, Bournemouth
Get the urban vibe by joining the crew at DFA: hip hop, rap, beat boxing, popping (no idea…), DJ mixing skills and graffiti art. Checkout the online timetable for what’s on, when.
Junk modelling, Darrell Wakelam, Dorset
Make extraordinary art from ordinary things. Dorset artist Darrell Wakelam shows you how to turn scrap paper, cardboard and other discarded packaging into fun artworks. So an old egg box becomes a mouse, a toilet roll a space ship, a milk carton a T-rex. His website has super easy-to-follow downloadable instructions for masses of #ArtJumpStart artworks and he posts projects on Twitter too.
Kids art club, St Ives School of Painting
Encourage their creative side – the St Ives Painting School’s Porthmeor Young Artists runs online fortnightly workshops aimed at 7-12 year olds (but younger kids can join in too, although you’ll need to supervise). All are run by experienced artist tutors. Each workshop is inspired by one the artists that made the historic Cornish fishing village of St Ives an art mecca, including Patrick Heron and Ben Nicholson. Workshops incorporate a little art history, a little art technique and a whole heap of creative fun in the one hour, which is then available to be re-watched for the next week. You’ll need your own supplies but nothing too complicated – poster paint, thick paper and wax crayons are ideal, unless you’re tempted by the idea of a little online shopping.
Meet local role models with Cornwall Council
Each week Cornwall Council are running live STEM lessons on Facebook, featuring a variety of people and businesses, mostly based in Cornwall. Each looks at different aspects of their work as well as discussing ways into that career. Sessions kicked off with Emily Stevenson aka the Beach Guardian co-founder and marine biologist, for a fun-filled, beach themed, marine biology lesson and micro-plastics experiment. Other sessions have featured Cornwall’s Space Port, coding and developers, and inventors. Live videos are then on the Facebook page to watch afterwards.
Freestyle & Ballroom Dance Classes, Fine Steps, Cheltenham
Drag them away from their screens by creating a dance floor at home. Fine Steps offers classes for ages three upwards in all kinds of groovy dance genres from Freestyle and Latin to Ballroom. Describing itself as ‘not your average dance class’ all the courses are being offered online so they can twirl and whirl around the living room to their heart’s content. It’s just £10 a month to gain access to the recorded video classes, and £7 for extra classes, with clips containing detailed walk-throughs so they can go at their own pace.
Martial Arts Classes, Ninja Tots, Cirencester
Put pent-up energy to good use with a course of martial arts lessons aimed specifically at children. This class is open to ages 3-14, and to complete beginners. It’s a weekly scheduled class that will give structure (and a sliver of sanity!) back to the week. It’s loads of fun and a chance for them to burn off energy after those hours of sedentary homeschooling. A great way to keep kids busy and connect with other children virtually, all under the eye of Ninja Tots founder and coach Victoria Foote. A course of four weekly classes costs £20.
Singing Lessons, Bear Vocals Singing Tuition, Worcester
If you have a mini Mariah or junior Justin on your hands then book in for some singing lessons with professional singer and songwriter Charlie House, Head Vocal Coach at Bear Singing Tuition. The kids classes are for everyone from complete beginners to wee warblers who’ve been at it for a while. There’s a free consultation and the first lesson is discounted. Let them find their voice and learn a whole rainbow of new techniques to practice at home.
Baking Lessons, Cotswolds Baking Workshop, Cotswolds
Get them making their own snacks by signing them up to the best new baking class in town. Zoom baking classes at the Cotswolds Baking Workshop cater for all ages. They’ll learn how to whip up delicious treats independently via Zoom – joining other families doing it at the same time so it’s a fabulously social experience too. Classes last around 1.5 to 2 hours, cost just £17.50 and you’ll be sent a shopping and kit list ahead of the session along with the Zoom link. And if you’re celebrating a birthday or want something bespoke, book a private Zoom ‘bake-a-long’ for £100 and share the experience with as many friends or family as they like.
Sciencedipity online science
Got a science-mad kid or keen to inspire one who’s not? Ruth Maclaren, qualified teacher and biomedical scientist, runs online science Zoom clubs and classes aimed at primary school age girls and boys, teaching chemistry and engineering in a fun and interactive way. Book your child into the club and for £38, they’ll get to join four hour-long sessions plus a bespoke science kit made by Ruth so they can get hands-on at home (parents need to be nearby). Expect proper science (attendance counts towards the British Science Association Crest Award), including pH testing, comparing gasses and chromatography brought to life with rainbows, bubbles and fizz (don’t get your hopes up – it’s the chemical reaction sort). February half term clubs are almost full but worry not, Ruth offers private family classes too (£20-£37).
Home learning with the National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth
Underwater adventures, ahoy! If kids are missing the aquarium during lockdown, every Friday afternoon at 1pm they can log on for FREE to a 20-minute live home-learning lesson devoted to ocean life. For primary school kids, the Deep Science sessions look into the science behind CBBC’s animated exploration series, The Deep, including underwater volcanoes, megafauna and ocean mysteries. Early years kids get their turn immediately afterwards at 1.30pm, when Marina the Mermaid reads them a watery tale just in time to settle them (or you) down for an afternoon nap. Can’t make it? Catch up later via Plymouth’s National Marine Aquarium YouTube.
Online art classes with The Cambridge Junction
The doors of Cambridge’s famous Junction venue might be firmly shut for now, but thankfully they’ve got just the ticket for any kids saying “I’m bored” on repeat during lockdown. Hands on Happenings are a series of free arts and crafts activities for children that usually take place in-person in the theatre’s foyer before a kids’ performance. Now we can’t leave our houses you can download all the activity sheets from the website with everything from Roald Dahl themed crafts to a slime workshop.
Cambridge Science Centre At Home
“What’s the difference between an atom and a proton mum?” Errr… Homeschool science lessons not going quite to plan? Give yourself a break and let Cambridge Science Centre do the teaching with their brilliant online offering – Cool Science To Do At Home. CSCOnline is a digital collection of all kinds of hands-on science activities you can do at home, including fun-sounding activities like watching your own heart beat using just a straw and a marshmallow, creating fake blood and learning about static electricity using a balloon and your hair.
Colour in clothing from Newmarket’s Selfie Clothing Co.
If colouring in books aren’t cutting the mustard after months of lockdown, up the ante a bit and let your kids get creative with their own clothes. No we haven’t gone mad and we’re not suggesting you let the little terrors run riot with the felt tips! Selfie Clothing Co. is a Newmarket-based brand that have cool colour-in clothes, bags, hats, pyjamas and embellishment kits for creative kids. Just order online and get some time to yourself while they’re busy creating.
PE lessons with Ipswich Town Football Club
Move over Joe Wicks, we’ve got a local equivalent that will delight wannabe Ronaldos. Ipswich Town Football Club has launched P.E with Bluey, an exercise series that’ll keep kids active while schools are closed (and most importantly tire them out for a while!). The club is running the online classes once a week and you can find them on their YouTube channel and Facebook page.
LEICESTERSHIRE & RUTLAND
Art Classes, Leicestershire Craft Centre, Market Harborough
The brilliant Leicestershire Craft Centre have set up an online arts class for the mudlets via Zoom. Book now for Mon 15 Feb and they’ll send you everything your little ones need to enjoy some arty crafty fun. Suitable for all ages.
Shiamak Bollywood dance classes, Leicestershire and Rutland
Do your kids fancy dancing to the beat of a new drum? Tabla drum that is. Well perhaps they’d like to mix up their dance moves with some banging Bollywood dance moves – think everything from Indo Jazz, dancercise, Bhangra and more. Online dance classes available for kids 5+ and are running until 26 March.
Cookery classes, The Little Cooks Club, Leicestershire and Rutland
Fun and educational, these online cookery classes with Lisa are a great way to help keep the kids entertained through half term and beyond. Each week they’ll get the chance to cook with a vegetable or fruit to help encourage healthy eating habits and can expect to make anything from fruit crumble to savoury muffins. Classes run every Thursday and Saturday and over half term. Suitable for kids 2+.
HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT
Kids Yoga, The Little Yoga Company, Laverstoke, Hampshire
Physical and fun, yoga is a good way for kids to stretch and unwind. Laverstoke-based instructor Natalia also believes yoga equips children with important skills such as controlled breathing, the ability to relax and respect. The passionate teacher and founder of the Little Yoga Company offers brilliant private and school classes and yoga parties. For a free taster, go with the flow via her The Little Yoga Company YouTube channel where pre-recorded routines include ‘under the sea’ and ‘in space’. Cosmic.
Telling Tales storytelling, The Spring, Hampshire
Are you sitting comfortably? Well don’t! Get up and make a commotion this Half Term with free online family workshops (15 – 18 Feb) from the Spring Arts Centre and Museum in Havant. Hosted on Zoom, imagination-sparking Telling Tales sessions are delivered by Commotion Dance, inspired by Roald Dahl and suitable for all age groups. Also online this month, ‘Play-Along Plink and Boo’ (27 Feb, £3) is a physical circus-theatre experience for 2 – 6 year-olds.
Half Term Play, Creation Theatre , Oxfordshire
If your budding dramatist is aged between 5 and 16, they can join the Creation team for a whole week of storytelling. Through daily Zoom workshops, they’ll get to grips with the plot, play games, and develop a play to be performed for friends and family at the end of the week. Feb half term’s theme is Love & Friendship, so expect to explore some of the great relationships in classics like Romeo & Juliet, Pride and Prejudice, and The Wind in the Willows. Workshops are £100 a week with discounts for siblings.
Half Term Cooking Club, Mrs Bun the Baker, Cholsey
Fancy keeping the kids busy and getting something good to eat out of it? Mrs Bun the Baker is running an online Half Term cooking club, which will see the kids baking something different everyday for around 1.5 hours from 4pm. Expect focaccia art bread, chilli muffins, afternoon tea, and a special Pancake Day pancake morning.
Online Wildlife Club, Berks, Buck and Oxon Wildlife Trust
Got a budding naturalist? If your child loves wild animals, likes to learn fun facts and wants to help wildlife, this is the club for them. Run by the Berks Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust, this Zoom club meets once a month for an hour session, and is a great opportunity to make like-minded friends. The next meeting is the Feb 16th.
Monkey Music Online Classes
Offering online classes for kids aged from 3 months to 4 years, Monkey Music gets the little ones engaged in music and making sounds (and gives you the opportunity to interact with the other parents). There are four different age categories, with a curriculum which was developed with close guidance from experts in education and child psychology. We’re talking things like Rock ‘n’ Roll for babies and Ding-Dong for 3 & 4 year olds, the latter of which sees them learning the very basics of reading music.
Online Learning Library, Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle’s Edwardian library may be off-limits for the time being, but a new online Learning Library is taking the Castle experience online. It includes free, fun and educational multimedia resources for pre-schoolers to kids in Key Stage 3. One of the highlights is an extensive 360° virtual tour of the interior and state rooms with facts about each room’s history and purpose on the way. Other activities include guidance for designing your own castle with a step-by-step guide to key features, key facts about the incredible birds of prey that live at the Castle, and fun puzzles to help children learn about medieval warfare, from the art of longbow to the colossal trebuchet.
Soundabout’s Inclusive West Midlands Choir
At present children are having to be home-schooled but there’s very little provision or support for parents who are home-schooling children with special needs. Last month Oxford-based Soundabout launched a new Inclusive Choir with Midlands Art Centre (MAC). The group meets and sings together every two weeks on Zoom. Charities like Soundabout are helping to fill the gap by providing free services to these families and have seen a massive increase in demand since this third lockdown. Find out more about these Multisensory music sessions online.
Listen to a new recording of The RSC’s The Whip
Sixth formers studying history, English, drama or theatre studies will find a new audio recording of the RSC’s 2020 production of The Whip a rewarding and enlightening listen. Juliet Gilkes Romero’s urgent and provocative new play places Britain’s slave-owning past in the spotlight. A special listen-along event, open to all, on Thurs Feb 11 at 7pm, marks one year since the production’s original press night in Stratford. Listen on YouTube while interacting with members of the production’s creative team via the RSC on Twitter, @theRSC.
Online workshops, Playbox Theatre, Warwickshire
Warwickshire’s brilliant youth theatre training company is currently fighting for survival. Throughout the pandemic they’ve been continuing to run a wide range of online arts workshops for children from pre-school age to late teens in film and digital, acting, musical theatre, circus, acting for screen, technical theatre and stage combat. Each session has a limited number of places. There’s also Blank-Shift creative writing, a new group for 8-10-year old budding poets, storytellers and scriptwriters, alongside its groups for 11+ and 14+. Interested? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn French with Les Puces
You’ll love these fun online French classes for kids aged 3 – 11 years from Les Puces. The course is a mixture of the cute, colourful pack of materials you receive in the post (bilingual book, progress card, worksheets and a buildable project to fire up their imagination) married with pre-recorded online classes to really stimulate them and encode the learning. There are also group or private Zoom classes available (group classes have a maximum of four in a class) so kids can really get to grips with the lingo. You can also buy the bilingual ‘Flip-It’ books in the online shop.
Teen chef with The Cooking Apple
Got bored teens needing a bit of encouragement in the kitchen? These online Group Classes are for 11+ year olds going solo or for those slightly younger with an adult helper on hand (9+ is a good starting age). Run by the super approachable Pip Porter, virtual classes take place at 4:45pm so that kids can have a breather after school. Budding chefs will make a main dish together after which they watch Pip demo the dessert. Kids can then go ahead and serve supper for the family. Pip also offers a Pre-University private class to ensure your teen is sent off ready to cater in a small kitchen and on a budget.
DJ lessons with Discover & Be
Get the little ones in the mix with online DJ lessons from this bespoke private tuition company, set up by two passionate teachers. Perfect for improving confidence and social skills, and a great introduction to creating music. Lessons include traditional vinyl as well as digital DJing. And let’s face it, being able to DJ is pretty damn cool – until it all goes Pete Tong, of course. Soz, couldn’t resist.
Creative dance classes with Magic Moves Brighton
Bore off, ballet. Try these creative and fun dance classes instead, full of props, stories and costumes to encourage exploration and movement. Classes are for littlies (2-7) and slightly older kids (8-11) and are full of fun with themes like time travel. The 15-minute boogie sessions are perfect for brain breaks in between homeschool sessions.
Online Cooking with Smart Raspberry
Give your kids a lasting love of cooking and knowledge of nutrition with one of Smart Raspberry’s online cooking classes. Chef Gee is originally from Turkey and specialises in Mediterranean food, but her teaching experience (and time running a London catering company) means she has a variety of cuisines and skills under her belt. Classes range from those for 5 – 12 year olds, to those for 12 – 40 years olds.
Create a Sock Puppet with Create 98
Got a lot of odd socks knocking around? Turn them into something fun with the help of Liz Bleach from Leigh-on-Sea’s General Store by making puppets over Zoom. They’ll deliver a bag of decorations, so all you need is the sock and a bit of glue. Get ready for your new, googly-eyed family member. Suitable for children aged 7-10 years.
True Motion Online Dance Classes
True Motion Dance work across North Norfolk, teaching people to dance and running holiday workshops. They’re now offering all of their classes online. Options span a range of styles including street dance, creative, contemporary, ballet, and physical theatre. Try the Mini Movers class, for ages 3 – 7.
Learn about garden birds with the Norfolk Wildlife Trust
How familiar are your children with the birds that visit your garden? Most kids these days are far more adept at identifying Pokémon than common British animals. So why not sign up to a Wildlife Watch Family Zoom Session? They’ll learn all about common bird calls, and even find out how to make a bird feeder to keep those feathery friends coming.
Come and Sing Workshop with the Wiltshire Youth Choir
Songbirds aged 12 – 18 of all abilities are welcome to join professional choir leaders Lynsey Docherty and Tim Gilvin for a free taster session of the Wiltshire Youth Choir. Happening on the 18th of Feb from 10am to 12am, no experience of sight-reading is necessary. Only a love for music, and a desire to sing your heart out.
Virtual Half Term with The Farm Cookery School
Let the monotonous Groundhog Day of breakfast, lunch, and dinner end! The Chippenham-based Farm Cookery School have drawn up a whole programme of events for February half term, including a Little Chef’s Carpet Picnic, and even a virtual Bake Off. The latter will see participants taught to bake an afternoon tea spread, and then be judged on their spring-themed decorations.