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Free Family-Friendly Activities from the North West

Credit: Cover image via The Whitworth on Facebook

Keep yourself – and the little ones – busy bees this month!

It can be hard to keep ourselves busy at the moment, let alone any children running around at home. With schools set to remain closed for the foreseeable future, we’ve sourced the best, free, creative and cultural activities that you can both enjoy, to see you through to the end of the month, and beyond. 


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Drink & Draw – Still Life
The Tetley, Leeds
Thursday 28th January, 18:00
An online workshop for the budding artists in your household, the first Tetley Drink and Draw of the year is themed around ‘home and everyday’ – right on trend! Artist and facilitator Herfa Thompson will guide you through mindfulness and relaxation activities, as well as teaching the basics of drawing a still life with just coloured pencils. You’ll also be provided a still life to work on during the session if you like, and given tips for how to create your own using objects easily found around the house. Grab yourself a cup of tea, some paper and pencils, and put your creative cap on for an evening of creativity and relaxation from the comfort of your own home. 

The workshop is offered for free but those who are able can make a voluntary donation of £5.


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Early Years Atelier – PLAY
The Whitworth, Manchester
Monday 8th February, 10:00-11:00
These monthly Zoom sessions hosted by the Whitworth art gallery are multi-sensory play times “designed for under 5s and their grown-ups”. The sessions are run by an artist on a chosen Monday each month, who will give ideas of simple materials that can be found around the home to create playful activities. The theme this month is ‘exploring smells’ and suits children up to six or seven years. If you can’t make the live session, the Whitworth website has collated their activities from 2020’s series into free resources for parents and carers. Themes include texturewatermark-makingreflections and shadow, to encourage playful learning and sensory exploration for youngsters of all abilities. 
Early Years Atelier (online) runs on a chosen Monday each month for 45 minutes, and can be booked via Eventbrite or email.


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Bee-Friendly Activities by Andrea Ku
The Bluecoat, Liverpool
Just a few months ago, artist, gardener and beekeeper Andrea Ku – also Bluecoat’s Gardener in Residence – created ‘Bee Bags’ full of free resources to teach your kids more about bees, pollination, and the job they have on our planet. Unfortunately, with galleries closed, these activity packs can no longer be distributed, but luckily Andrea has created a bee-friendly zine which is free to download and print off from the Bluecoat website. This fun-packed booklet will show you how to grow cress on a windowsill, grow wildflowers to encourage bees, as well as colouring sheets full of bee facts for you to go through together. The zine might even inspire you to come up with your own activities to get outside!


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Heysham Virtual Nature Tots
Lancashire Wildlife Trust
Wednesday 27th January, 10:30-11:15
Aimed at children from 15 months to 5 years, this first ever Virtual Nature Tots session will focus on hedgehogs and other wild animals we can find right on our doorsteps. From the comfort of your home, this session will use story-telling and crafts to teach any keen explorers under your roof about the wonders of hedgehogs – and you might even learn something new!
The Virtual Nature Tots sessions will take place on Zoom and are free to book online, but donations are hugely appreciated. 


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Manchester Museum from Home
Manchester Museum
Dedicated to bringing the museum to you during lockdown, Manchester Museum have created a website focused on free resources for everyone from students to researchers, health carers to parents. We’ve selected a few to explore: the Outdoor Explorers activities offers a range of resources for children 7+, like making your own field notebook, or observing minibeasts near your home. Something for the older kids, these botanical Mindfulness Colouring sheets encourage concentration, attention to detail, but most of all imagination. The Creative Care Kit is suitable for everyone needing a little pick-me-up, young or old – featuring reflective writing exercises, how to grow vegetables from scraps in your kitchen, drawing and colouring activities.