Parents have had a tough year through 2020, with kids at home for far more of the year than we are used to.  Keeping them entertained and up to date on schoolwork has been a real challenge, and despite schools remaining open during the second lockdown parents are still facing the prospect of entertaining children at the weekends and over periods of self-isolation without the usual go-to venues available.

 

Luckily, there are some easy and fun ladder based activities you can do which will keep the kids happy and get them moving and interacting with the whole family, starting with this cross between hopscotch and Twister.  This ladder game involves creating a ladder on the floor using pieces of paper with hands and feet drawn on them.  You'll need three pieces of paper per rung, and the length of the ladder is constrained only by how much space you have to play with.  Start by working out how many rungs you have space for, and then multiply this by three.  Get enough pieces of paper to build your ladder, and then either draw round your hands and feet (both left and right) or use washable paint to make hand and foot prints.  You'll need a good mix of left and right, hands and feet, so that you can put at least one hand and foot in each rung.  Use reusable adhesive putty to stick the paper to the floor so that it doesn't slip when trodden on, and then you're ready to start.

 

Everyone lines up at the bottom of the ladder and takes it in turns to try and complete the ladder, matching their hands and feet to the pictures on each rung.  If you manage to get all the way to the top with no mistakes or falling over, you're a winner.  If not, you go to the back of the queue and start all over again.  In this game there are no out-and-out winners, the aim is to try and complete the ladder before your opponents.  This game can be played over and over again, and you'll even have fun making the prints on the paper too.  It's suitable for nearly every age, and is a great way of teaching motor skills and co-ordination to younger children.

 

If you have enough space in your garden you could even make an outdoor version of snakes and ladders by marking out a grid using string or paint that is suitable for spraying on grass, then laying ladders across some of the squares, and pool noodles as snakes, between other squares.  You can use normal dice, or make a big one using cardboard and tape that can be thrown by the players.  This is a great way of getting some outdoor time and exercise – it might be cold out there but if you're moving about and having fun, you'll stay warm whatever the temperature and it's suitable for all ages.

 

Another fun outdoor game you can play using a stepladder is the ladder toss game.  You'll need some tennis balls and rope to make the playing pieces, but this is very easy to do.  Simply make a hole in the top and bottom of the tennis balls and attach two to a piece of rope, so you have one ball at either end with approximately 30cm of rope between them.  To play, you set the step ladder up a set distance away (this depends on the age and ability of the players) and each player throws their roped tennis balls towards the rung, aiming to get them wrapped around each rung – every rung has a different score assigned to it so you want to aim for the high value rungs in order to win.  This game is suitable for ages 5 years and up.

 

If your children are looking forward to Christmas, but you don't want to get the tree yet, why not let them decorate a step ladder instead?  This will require supervision for younger children to ensure they don't climb on the ladder or knock it over, but it's a nice way of letting them express their enthusiasm for Christmas, without turning the whole house into Santa's Grotto!