Spending time together as a family can quickly go from great fun to complete chaos - especially if there is more than one child in the family.
Many of the classic board games and family activities can bring out rivalry between siblings - ending in fights and tears. Finding ways to encourage siblings to get along, to play nicely together and to avoid fighting and constantly falling out can be difficult, but there are lots of games and activities that siblings can do together that will help them to bond and build more positive sibling relationships.
We have gathered a list of eleven activities for siblings to do together, which focus more on cooperation than competition. Get siblings to work side by side rather than against one another, as this will help to avoid fighting. All of the fun family activities can be played by two children, and the majority can be adapted to suit bigger groups. No matter how many players there are, these activities will encourage bonding - helping your kids to make the most of their time together during isolation (and beyond)...
Take A T-Shirt Walk
Perfect for younger kids, get both children into the same T-shirt (a large, adult T-shirt will work best) - with their heads through the neck hole, and both pairs of arms in the sleeves. Have the siblings complete a walk around the house, or doing an egg and spoon race - or even an obstacle course around the garden. Activities like this are a great way to get siblings to work as a team, and because it's such great fun there are very few opportunities for sibling rivalry to ruin the activity.
Pillow Sumo Wrestling
One of the most fun bonding activities siblings can play together - it won't be hard to convince them to get involved with this pillow sumo wrestling game. To make a sumo outfit, each child will need a large t-shirt, two pillows and a belt (or some rope or string). Stuff a pillow into the front and back of the t-shirt, and secure them in place using the belt or string.
Clear an area, removing sharp objects and big bits of furniture, then let the kids expend some of their energy in the wrestling ring!
Become An Animal
This activity works well for families of any size and for kids of any age, from three up. Simply have the siblings take turns to call out the name of an animal, and then act out how that animal walks and talks. Whoever is in charge should should "Change" before moving on to the next animal.
Paint A Portrait
Siblings will have hours of fun painting one another using this fun and easy method. Working in pairs, get each sibling to take it in turns to hold a sheet of clear plastic in front of their face, whilst the other sibling paints their portrait directly onto the clear plastic. Art activities for siblings can get competitive, or they can be difficult to do if there is a significant age gap - but this is a quick and enjoyable way to paint a portrait - taking it in turns to be the 'model' and the 'artist'. Follow the tutorial by Homegrown Friends for more details, and why not try making a 'print' of the paintings? Simply press a piece of plain paper onto the plastic sheet whilst the paint is still wet, and peel off to reveal your art print.
Try The Ball Roll
This simple activity encourages teamwork, and can be adapted to be played by two, three or four siblings. Find a large piece of cardboard - a long, thin piece is best for two siblings, and a more square piece is better for three or four children to play. Have the kids hold the cardboard at each end and place a ball on to the surface - the aim of the game is to roll the ball back and forth without letting it touch the floor. Siblings will have to work together to keep the ball on the cardboard, and the game can be played out in the garden or indoors on a rainy day.
This game will help siblings learn to work together, and it can be played with siblings of all ages and age differences. Have the kids stand side by side, and place an inflated balloon between them - so that it is kept in place between their hips - and then get them to walk across the room or do a lap of the garden without letting the balloon fall to the ground. This fun activity is an opportunity for siblings to spend time together, creating good memories and a stronger sibling bond.
Set Up A Scavenger Hunt
Buggy and Buddy have put together a list of 30 brilliant scavenger hunts for kids, which are all free and printable. The hunts have been split into different categories - some explore our five senses, and others explore the outdoors, looking at wildlife and the seasons. Strengthen sibling relationships by having older kids help siblings that are younger than them to complete their scavenger hunt - or set each sibling on a different scavenger hunt (to avoid sibling rivalry) and see what each child can teach their other siblings when they are all finished.
If your kids love to draw, then exquisite corpse is one of the best sibling activities. With just a pad of paper and some pens/pencils, kids work together to create fantastic monsters and crazy animals. Exquisite corpse works just as well with two players, as it does in large groups - parents will even enjoy getting involved, using their imagination to play as a family. Each player needs a piece of paper, which should be folded into three equal parts.
Start the drawings by filling just the bottom third of the paper - this is where you draw the 'legs' - but feel free to be as creative as you want. Once the legs have been drawn, fold the paper over, so the other players can't see the drawing and pass the paper to your opponent, or around the circle. Continue filling in the paper - drawing the 'torso' in the middle third and the 'head' in the top third. Unfold the drawings at the end, and prepare to be amazed by the funny characters your kids created together.
Design, Make And Play Paper Tetris
Playtivities has created a printable Tetris game - including a Tetris board, a scorecard and two pages of Tetris pieces. After printing the templates, have each child cut out the paper pieces, and then encourage them to work together to complete the game. For the full rules of the game - and for the link to the printable template, visit the Playtivities website.
Sibling Obstacle Course
This game requires siblings to spend time working as a team to finish the obstacle course, and win all of the treats. Start by creating an obstacle course - leaving a trail of sweets and treats on the floor around the house and/or garden. Then have your kids on the floor, back to back with their arms linked together at the elbows - now the fun begins! Have the kids stand up without unlinking their elbows or separating their backs. At first, this seems impossible, but once the kids have mastered it, they will love playing together to move around as one, gathering up the sweets and completing the course.
Mirror drawings can be done by kids of any age - and if there is a considerable age gap between the siblings, the game can promote empathy, patience and bonding. Start with a plain piece of paper, folded in the middle - and give each child a pencil or pen (they should be the same type and colour for a true 'mirror' effect). Siblings should take it in turns to be the 'leader' - drawing whatever they want on their side of the paper, with the other sibling copying as closely as possible on their own side. Craft Whack has a quick video tutorial, which the kids can watch before starting, so that they both understand the rules of the game.