13 stay-at-home activities for the Easter weekend

Thank you so much for your incredible achievements and dedication over the past few weeks; we hope you can take a well-deserved break this Easter. 

This list of 13 fun activities is sure to give you some inspiration for your homecation. Take time to be kind to yourself and let us know what you get up to over the long weekend: Email internalcommunications@sheffield.ac.uk or get in touch via Twitter @sheffunistaff

#1 Camping holiday

If camping is usually your thing, why not pitch a tent in the garden with the kids for a couple of nights, cook fun meals on the camping stove and do all the other things you would ordinarily do on your family camping holiday but with the added luxury of your own loo.

#2 Fort alternative

Those without gardens or living in flats may struggle to find the room to pitch a tent, but could instead have a go at making a fort or den in a bedroom or living room from whatever is available - blankets, bed sheets, various furniture, cardboard and fairy lights etc can all be used to transform a space and create a fun, cosy spot for the family to watch films, play games and hide away from real life for a while. Or maybe you just want to dim the lights, put on some relaxing fire or nature sounds and pretend you are in the great outdoors.

#3 Nature bingo

A nature scavenger hunt or nature bingo game can be a great way to connect your kids with the outdoors. Make bingo cards featuring the names of some things which occur naturally in your garden or local area, or else create a list of those same items to form the basis of a scavenger hunt. You could even have the children hide some items themselves for a DIY hunt.

#4 Mountain climbing

Climbing hobbyists have completed virtual treks to Everest base camp up stairs, back steps, and even up ladders to reach an altitude of 5,364 metres. The group was led by experienced trail runner Rory Southworth, who has also completed several other famous hikes from home since lockdown commenced, for example running up a local hill 29 times to scale Scafell Pike.

This is a versatile activity which can be recreated in any number of living situations, whether making use of your own staircase, a communal stairwell, a garden step or ladders, depending on what’s available. The specifics will vary according to your own unique set-up but the #VirtualEBC hashtag on Twitter indicates that you might expect to complete around 1,000 to 1,500 flights of stairs, spread over five days.

This is great exercise and endurance training for when we can get back out again, particularly for those who like to set targets for themselves.

#5 Travel through cookbooks

Those who had a particular overseas holiday planned and are now unable to travel might want to think about recreating some of the atmosphere of that holiday at home by cooking relevant cuisines, either from your own cookbooks or by using online resources. You could even ‘travel the world’ by attempting different international dishes over a series of days or nights.

Whilst you are in the kitchen, you might also want to explore the chemistry behind certain foods with our University’s own Edible Experiments series. Find out why mustard burns your nasal passages but chillies don’t, the link between beetroot and camels or why you might taste boiled potatoes when you eat cheddar cheese.

#6 Visiting landmarks

There are virtual tours of many international landmarks available online which allow you to experience a 360-degree view as if you were standing right there, as in this example of the Great Wall of China. Similarly, many museums provide virtual exhibitions and site tours, including the British Museum, the Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

#7 Farms and zoos

Live animal cams are also offered by many of our national zoos and safari parks, such as Edinburgh Zoo and Paignton Zoo, as well as those abroad. For a more authentically wild experience, you might want to try something like this badger cam from the Cumbria Wildlife Trust, or take a virtual safari through some African game reserves. You can also enjoy Live From The Farm each day from Yorkshire’s very own Cannon Hall Farm, or check in on our resident peregrine falcons on the University’s own peregrine cam- we currently have two eggs in the nest so now is an exciting time as ever to tune in.

#8 Online dance classes

Have you ever thought you might like to learn the salsa or tango in time for your next holiday? A simple Youtube search should return a wealth of free dance tutorials in any number of styles. Once you have a few basic moves down, a 24-hour tango radio station like Buenos Aires’ own La 2x4 can really help to transform the atmosphere of your living room and carry you far away from the world of COVID-19 and lockdown for a while.

#9 Festivals and music

Some of you may be missing your festival holidays this year, whether that’s a large-scale music festival such as Glastonbury, or a smaller local fair.

Camp Bestival is hosting a Stay At Home Easter Sleepover over the Easter weekend featuring DJs, live acts, comedy, crafting and family workshops.

Unable to perform live due to social distancing measures, many musicians are now attempting to lift their fans’ spirits by offering shows streamed directly from their homes. To this end, it’s worth keeping an eye on your favourite artists’ social media pages for clues as to when and where this may be happening. The Colors Stream is also live, 24-hours a day for 30 days, featuring new home-recorded sessions every day from 6pm to midnight.

Additionally, many performance archives have also been opened up for free, including that of Austin City Limits (ACL), the longest running music series on TV. These concerts include popular artists such as Billie Eilish, Janelle Monáe and Vampire Weekend, to name just a few.

If classical music is more your thing then you can stream any of the 600 orchestral concerts from The Berlin Philharmonic free of change for 30 days with the code BERLINPHIL. The Metropolitan Opera is also running nightly opera streams. 

#10 Theatre

Similarly, many theatres are also offering live streams or online archives of their productions, including Shakespeare’s Globe, and a series of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musicals will be released on Youtube channel, The Show Must Go On.

The National Theatre is making plays available to watch on their YouTube channel. You can watch One Man, Two Governors until Thursday 9 April and Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre premieres at 7pm the same day.

For the kids, there is Luna: A Play About the Moon, which mixes science and storytelling in a series of skits, including a couple preparing to blast off into space, armed with battered suitcases and an acoustic guitar. For closer to bedtime, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is currently hosting a series of read-aloud stories, Goodnight with Dolly.

#11 Online party

Maybe you had planned to go away on holiday with friends or were travelling to visit extended family. There are numerous apps available that offer a way to enjoy each others’ company online. This can be more than just a catch-up - make a party of it, play games, share a meal. Whatever you had planned to do together, beam yourselves into each others’ homes and make it happen.

#12 No phones!

With everything that’s going on in the news today and the temptation during lockdown to spend large amounts of time scrolling on our phones, it’s no surprise if we sometimes feel unable to properly unwind. Why not challenge yourself to spend a day (or more) without using your phone or spending any time on the internet? This can do wonders for our mental health and specifically for combating anxieties around a barrage of constant COVID-19 content. In the spirit of your homecation, it would also allow you to dedicate your full attention to quality family time and to be more creative about what activities you share together, just as you wouldn’t ordinarily spend too much time online with all the distractions of a real holiday away from home.

#13 Relax

This one may be more difficult for those with kids depending on their ages, however, a holiday can also be an opportunity to relax and refresh and getting good sleep is a huge part of that.

Create a ritual around bedtime. Before you lay down, you could try taking a long soak in the bath, drinking a cup of herbal tea, lighting candles, meditating or reading. Apps like White Noise can help with achieving that rejuvenating luxury sleep that you would typically get on holiday. Who knows, maybe if the kids are tired out after a day packed with other homecation activities, you might even get a lie in.

Your plans for the long weekend

Thank you for getting in touch with your plans for the long weekend. Here are a couple of plans colleagues have shared with us.

Rob Barnett, the Chaplaincy Centre:

“Juice shared a useful blog by alumna Helen Sharman about dealing with isolation. It reminded me I have this book, ‘Ask an Astronaut’ by Tim Peake, which I may dip into alongside time with my wife and son.”

Cover of Tim Peak's book 'Ask an Astronaut'

Deborah Beck, Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures:

“On Tuesday 14 April we have got an extra closure day. It is also my birthday and 20th wedding anniversary. On the first night of our honeymoon I was five months pregnant and camped in Scotland… This year we will camp in our back garden in the same tent.”