If you've ever been to The National Children's Theatre in Parktown you'll know just how whimsical their stage productions can be. Crafted for kiddies aged three to 11, their theatre shows explore the ups and downs of life through spirited song and dance. Children are taken on a journey, as some of their favourite fairy tale characters face tough challenges and hard choices. Ultimately, in its 31 year existence, The National Children's Theatre has allowed children to be themselves and to find answers to some of life's toughest questions.

The NCT is the ideal place to introduce young children to the theatre and help them develop their confidence, imagination and reasoning skills. Of course, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and national lockdown, The National Children's Theatre has been at a halt. Unable to produce their usual stage shows or host school holiday workshops, their income has been heavily impacted. This is why the NCT is now reaching out to you, their loyal patrons for help. But they wouldn't simply ask for donations without something fun and entertaining in return. Here's what they've got in store for you and the little ones during lockdown:

National Childrens Theatre

The Adventures of Manie the Ant. Photo sourced from the NCT on Facebook.

Virtual Puppet Shows!

The National Children's Theatre recently debuted their first online show in lockdown. Performed by puppet master Johan "Swannie" Swanevelder, The Adventures of Mannie Ant was a roaring success. If you didn't happen to catch the show live, you can still watch it on the NCT Facebook page free of charge! Able to transform an ordinary sock into a creature full of life and wisdom, Swanevelder's performances will have both you and the little ones thoroughly entertained.

On Tuesday, 16 June 2020, the NCT made another exciting announcement - they will be presenting another fantastic puppet adventure - Tandi and Bomani and the Feather of Friendship! Swannie will yet again take to the virtual stage to bring you and the kiddies a wonderful series of tales as told by his trusty puppets. Adapted from the book by Ewald van Rensburg, this is an absolute must-see. Take a sneak peek at the show here before setting your reminders to tune in. Follow the National Children's Theatre on Facebook to find the online event link on the day.

When Is It?

Saturday, 20 June 2020 at 14:00.

Where Is It?

The National Children's Theatre live on Facebook.

How Much Is It?

The National Children's Theatre survives off of ticket sales and their school holiday programmes. In these uncertain times, they are going to need your help to keep afloat. While their online offerings are free to watch, they do ask that you make a donation, no matter how small. Their banking details are as follows:

For More Information

Follow The National Children's Theatre on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with their online shows.

Details: 011 484 1584/5 | [email protected]

Frozen 2

If you and the little ones haven’t gotten around to watching Disney’s Frozen II, what better time than while under lockdown? Follow the adventures of royal sisters, Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel), as well as their band of buddies, including Olaf and Sven the Reindeer, in this epic sequel. You can rent or buy Frozen II from the iTunes store or on Google Play. 

Onward 

Speaking of Disney releases, the company's latest release, Onward, is also available to stream online. Go on a magical adventure with elf siblings, Ian and Barley Lightfoot (voiced by Chris Pratt and Tom Holland), as they go on a quest to spend one last day with their late father. Onward is available to stream on Google Play.

movies

Photo created by freeograph on https://www.freepik.com/

Sonic The Hedgehog

Treat yourself and the kids to a live-action version of a beloved children's video game and television animation. Sonic the Hedgehog comes to life in this 2020 adaptation starring Ben Schwartz (as Sonic), Jim Carrey and James Marsden. Sonic embraces his new home on Earth. That is, until he accidentally knocks out the power grid and sparks the attention of the evil genius, Dr Robotnik. Now, as the world's unlikely hero, Sonic must face up against evil and stop Robotnik's schemes for world domination. Sonic The Hedgehog is available to stream on Google Play.

Trolls World Tour 

Were your kids looking forward to the release of Trolls World Tour at cinemas? You're in luck because Universal Studios has made the film available to stream from the comfort of your home. Join Poppy, Queen of the Trolls, as she tries to unite the seven Troll tribes through their common love of music. Keep an eye out on the Google Play Store for its digital release in South Africa.

movies

Photo created by https://www.freepik.com/freepik

Artemis Fowl

Are you parent to a kid who's in that stage between child and full-blown teenager? Disney's adaptation of Eoin Colfer's beloved novel is sure to delight bored tweens in lockdown. The film follows the journey of 12-year-old genius Artemis Fowl, a descendant of a long line of criminal masterminds, as he seeks to find his father who has mysteriously disappeared into a magical world of fairies. Artmeis Fowl was intended to debut at cinemas at the end of May, but will instead go straight to digital on Google Play.

Looking for more ways to keep the kids entertained in lockdown? Check out our list of the best movies to help kids through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Rice Krispies Treats

Birthday parties as a child just wouldn't have been complete without a tray of Rice Krispies Treats. These sticky and sweet treats are the perfect introduction to baking for kids. While there is no actual baking involved, it's sure to get them interested in the kitchen. Plus, it's super fun and all kinds of messy, so you can all have a good laugh.

Ingredients

Method: 

  1. Combine the butter, marshmallows and salt in a large pot over a low heat, stirring until melted, taking care it does not burn.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the Rice Krispies.
  3. Rub your hands with butter to prevent sticking, and press the mixture into a greased 34cm x 20cm baking or pyrex dish. Allow to cool and cut into squares. Note: If you are cutting out shapes, do so while it is still warm.

Source: https://www.timeslive.co.za/sunday-times/lifestyle/food/2017-02-12-classic-rice-krispies-treats/

baking

Image by viktory3003 on https://www.freepik.com/

Peanut Butter Biscuits 

What kid doesn't adore peanut butter? Incorporate this much-loved sandwich spread into a scrumptious biscuit batter and watch their eyes light up. This recipe is also great for teaching little ones to knead and press dough, which is wonderful for their fine motor skills. So, rope in those tiny hands and get busy baking.

Ingredients

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 190° C.
  2. Mix the butter and peanut butter together in an electric mixer.
  3. Add the brown sugar, a little at a time and beat well after each addition.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla essence and beat well.
  5. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and stir into the butter and sugar mixture.
  6. Add the milk and using the K beater of the mixer, knead well.
  7. Add more milk if the mixture is too dry.
  8. Using your hands, form even sized balls and place on a lightly greased baking sheet.
  9. Distribute evenly and leave spaces between the biscuits to spread.
  10. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes.
  11. Serve with a tall glass of cold milk.

Source: http://www.hulettssugar.co.za/step_into_our_kitchen_recipes_peanut_butter_biscuits#

baking

Image by @BalashMirzabey on https://www.freepik.com/

Mini Flapjack Cereal Bowl

Childhood memories are made of flapjack stacks served lovingly by Granny on Sunday mornings. Put a twist on the classic flapjacks and syrup breakfast by creating this adorable mini flapjack cereal bowl. This recipe is perfect for lactose-intolerant tummies too, so everyone can enjoy the results.

Ingredients

Method:

  1. Sieve the flour in a medium mixing bowl.⁠
  2. Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the Easygest Strawberry Flavoured Yoghurt and the eggs. Using an electric mixer, beat until smooth and lump-free. If the batter is too thick, slowly add 5-6 tablespoons of water while beating until you have a thick but pourable consistency. ⁠
  3. Pour the batter into an upcycled squeeze bottle (a clean sweet chilli, mayo or tomato sauce bottle will work!) or strong resealable bag and cut off a tiny corner. ⁠
  4. Heat a greased non-stick pan over a medium heat and squeeze small, equal drops of the batter into the pan, leaving space for each to spread slightly. Allow to cook until small bubbles appear on the surface, then flip them over and cook the other side until golden, about 1-2 minutes a side.⁠
  5. Serve the mini flapjacks in two breakfast bowls. Add dollops of strawberry yoghurt, fresh strawberries and a drizzle of honey. Serve with your favourite juice and enjoy!

Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/CAeqqeQj03g/

Need more easy recipes for miniature bakers? Check out our guide on baking for beginners.

Before you whip out your art and craft gear, it’s important to talk to the kids about what upcycling is and why it’s so important. Explain that similar to recycling, the projects you will be undertaking together are good for the environment. "By reusing what we already have, we are helping to save the environment and the world's animals", you could say. 

If your kiddies haven’t yet learnt about what these terms mean at school or from you, incorporate a few minutes of learning about the environment into their daily routine. There are tons of great online resources to help you out, so don’t neglect this important part of their education. Your first upcycling project may even be to create a poster out of old cardboard filled with all the new words they have learnt related to recycling, upcycling and the environment. Alternatively, make it part of the children's chores to dig through their cupboards for old clothes, toys and craft materials. It’s a decluttering project and educational lesson all in one! 

Now that you’ve done the homework of explaining upcycling, you can get started crafting. Here are five simple upcycling projects you can do with the kids using cardboard boxes, old jars, tin cans and toilet paper rolls. Plus, there’s a fun colouring-in project at the end. Enjoy.

Cardboard Box Board Games

Families world over have been hosting game nights to keep entertained in lockdown. If you’re short on family-friendly board games, make your own out of a cardboard box. You can make anything from Battleships to Foosball and even a handheld labyrinth. Let the kids decide which game they would like to make (this way they’ll stay invested in the project). Check out the video below for inspiration and then get busy making! 

Glass Jar Fairy Lamps

Every child needs their own night lamp to help scare away the Boogeyman. Rather than purchase an expensive new light for their bed stand, get them involved in creating their own fairy lamp made out of used glass jars. 

You will need:

Check out this tutorial for a step-by-step guide to creating the perfect DIY fairy lamp.

https://za.pinterest.com/pin/528187862547681117/

Tin Can Marimba Band

Have you always wanted to start a family band? Now you can! Gather the kids together to create your own instruments out of tin cans. Please be sure to thoroughly rinse your cans first and check for any sharp edges or snags - the last thing you want is a nasty boo boo when working on an upcycling project. Remove all labels from your cans and then get started transforming them into a set of drums, shakers or clashing cymbals. Let the kids paint their instruments using acrylic paint and once they are dry, fill them with grains of uncooked rice or popcorn kernels. Jam session anyone? 

Click here for more fun homemade musical instruments you can make with the kids. 

upcycling projects

https://za.pinterest.com/pin/702772716841211508/

Toilet Roll Train

In the time before kids could code by the age of six, toilet roll snakes and trains were the coolest school projects. Teach the kids about what your school days were like with this nifty upcycling project. After nearly two months in lockdown, you should have ample toilet paper rolls stored away. Get the kids to paint their train or snake and then help them string it together. You can use old bottle caps for the train wheels or odd buttons for the snake’s eyes. The family member who makes the slinkiest snake gets an extra helping of pudding after dinner! 

http://www.instructables.com/id/Breakfast-Express-Toy-Train-from-toilet-roll-tub/

Funky Shoes

Last, but certainly not least, is the funky shoes project! We all have a pair of shoes in our cupboards that could use a little TLC. Encourage the kids to find a pair of shoes that still fit them but may have lost their colour or are looking a bit worse for wear. These should preferably be cotton or canvas sneakers, but any old shoe will do. Now, let the kids unleash their creative energy by either colouring in or embellishing their shoes. You can use khoki pens, fabric paint, fabric cut-offs, melted wax crayons or stick-ons to jazz up your shoes. Just be sure to lay out lots of newspapers to catch any spills or mishaps! 

upcycling projects

https://za.pinterest.com/pin/645844402802816037/

Good luck with all your upcycling projects! Let us know how it goes. 

For The Kids

Keeping the kids entertained for the next three weeks until schools reopen may prove a challenge. Rather than pull your hair out in a fit of frustration, set up an arts and crafts table to help both you and the little ones blow off some steam. Turn this fun activity into a guided learning session by checking out these handy online arts resources for young artistic minds:

National Portrait Gallery - David Hockney: Drawing From Life

Often the first things children learn to draw are subjects from everyday life. Help them learn the basics of portraiture with this free online resource from the National Portrait Gallery. This teacher's resource explores key themes and drawing techniques used by artist David Hockney in his self portraits and sketches of his family. Once you have worked through the programme with the little ones, invite them to participate in a family drawing challenge. Whomever draws the most creative portrait of another family member gets to choose what the family has for dinner!

Lillian Gray Art School 

Lillian Gray Art School is one of the most highly reputed learning centres for artists in the making in Johannesburg. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent national lockdown, Lillian Gray has offered free online art classes for children and adults. All you have to do is subscribe to the Lillian Gray YouTube channel to find an array of resources to keep you and the kids entertained for hours on end. Learn the basics of drawing, perspective, shapes, proportion and much more. Lillian Gray also has some great videos on art projects you can do from home. What more could you need to see you through the next few weeks?

Udemy: Art Courses For Kids

You may know Udemy as the online platform famous for its super reasonable skills courses. However, we bet you didn't know that the platform also offers art courses for kids! Invest a little extra time and money in your child's artistic future by purchasing one or two of these Udemy courses. Our top pick would be the Building Kids Confidence Through Drawing course. During this time of uncertainty and fear, kids need all the confidence they can get. Perfect for children aged eight and above, this course is a steal at only *R150. Get it here.

e-Classroom

Need something quick and simple to keep little hands busy while you work, cook or clean? Check out e-Classroom's free downloadable drawing resources. Suited to children aged three to five, these step by step sketch worksheets will teach them how to draw an assortment of animals and shapes. So, get out the wax crayons and let imaginations soar. Don't forget to display your child's artwork on the fridge or somewhere else in the house to bring a little colour to this bleak situation.

Teens & Adults

You needn't attend art school to develop a broad knowledge on art history. Spend some time during the lockdown period learning about artists through free massive open online university courses (MOOCs) and other downloadables. Of course, if you simply want to get creative without the added academics, there are lots of online art classes for adults:

edX

edX is one of the largest MOOCs platforms, bringing together courses from universities around the world. Their arts and humanities courses are broad ranging and cover many topics, from the art of Ancient Egypt to animation and graphic design. Many of these courses are self-paced so you may take as long as you like to work through them. You also have the option to obtain a certificate of verification by paying a little extra. What better time to add a fun new skill to your resume than now anyway? Check out edX's art and culture course offerings here.

Coursera 

Kick off your adventure into creative making with a course presented by the Museum of Modern Art and Coursera. Each week, you will learn about a new aspect of art making, curatorship and modern criticism, while taking a virtual tour through the Museum from the comfort and safety of your own home. If that doesn't get the creative juices flowing, check out Coursera's range of other arts and culture courses. Whether your interests lie in photography, graphic design or UI/UX design, Coursera is sure to have a course to stimulate your inner artist.

Skill Share

Looking for an online sharing community to keep you motivated and inspired during this period? Visit Skill Share. This video platform brings together international art communities to share tips and tricks on drawing techniques, the business of being an artist and even digital design and illustration. Learn from experienced artists and business people with ease of access and as much flexibility as you need. Skill Share's art courses are great for beginners and advanced artists. You may even consider sharing your own work once the creative bug bites.

BluPrint

In light of the worldwide response to the COVID-19 outbreak, BluPrint have made all their online arts and craft courses free to access for two weeks! With over 1 300 instructional videos and resources, this is an opportunity you don't want to miss out on. BluPrint's online classes are divided into four main craft hobbies - fabric and fibre, food, art and living. You may start out watching their videos on drawing, painting and paper crafts and end up knitting your own winter hat and gloves! There is an endless amass of creative inspiration here, so get started as soon as you can.

*Classes will be free to access until 16 April 2020.

Are you ready to get creative? Let us know which online art courses you find most useful!