Keeping it Playful at Home

Last update Sun 22nd March

Are you in Playful Isolation? As organisations are locking down and most of us are being asked to stay at home, we thought it was time to think about how play could help us to cope with distance, isolation and unusual situations.

The following ideas have been gathered from members of the association – thank you to all who responded to the call – and if you have any more ideas to add, or would like to add thoughts on these, please do so in the comment below or tweet #PlayLearn.

Person using laptop


  • Try adding interest to your day by randomising tasks: number the day’s or week’s jobs to correspond to numbers on a dice, and either roll your timetable in advance, or roll the dice for a new task every hour.
  • Follow the wonderful and mysterious A Secret Club on Twitter ( for a daily playful challenge. For introverts and extroverts alike (you can choose).

Depending on your field, research can often be isolating in itself; yet Nobel prize winners have mentioned the value of playfulness in important breakthroughs in research.

  • Set up one day in the week as a day of opposites. Take some of your thinking, approaches or findings from the last week, and try looking at them from an opposite, unlikely or impossible direction, and play through the scenarios to see if anything new or interesting emerges.


  • Pass the Banana (contributed by @tobyberesford)
    “It’s a fruit most have at home. So you show it on your screen pass it to the right so it’s off screen, then someone brings in their banana from their left off screen. It works really well and keeps those of us who find these things amusing entertained!”
  • Accept failure by starting online meetings with apologies. Apologies for self-isolation failures, for family pets eating documents, for not being able to work out Zoom/Teams/whatever, etc.
  • Home with your pets/kids?
    Most people enjoy seeing each other’s pets. Don’t try and lock them out of the room – it cheers us all up when they walk across your laptop!
Katie Piatt working with her dog
PLA Chair Katie working from home with Peanut
  • For quick catchups with co-workers, why not chat over a casual game? Many multi-player online games support chat: we like Carcassonne or Facebook Scrabble, but there are lots of other options.
Carcassonne with friends


  • If you are self-isolating with family or friends, take breaks from work at lunchtime or mid-afternoon to play a board, card or video game together. It will help break up the day, provide company, and could re-energise your thinking. 
  • HouseParty is a video/chat app which has built in trivia and drawing games.
  • Lots more tips on playing games online with friends at Dicebreaker.
  • Give everyone in the house / work team a challenge each day (in the style of sneaky cards but keeping things small and achievable with social distancing: such as getting the word ‘aardvark’ into any online meeting without being noticed, or making everyone a cup of tea). You could create a pool of tasks, and each person gets a new random one each day; or each person could challenge another.


Share your ideas!


  • Learn a new playful skill over your coffee breaks each day. Over 8 weeks, that’s 40 mini practice sessions. Juggling, card tricks, mastering a short game, balancing objects on a drink mat, etc. Share your progress on social media.

3 thoughts on “Keeping it Playful at Home”

  1. Whilst I’ve never has LESS free time (working and home schooling two young kids!) I would love to play Carcassonne or Galaxy Trucker with any of the PlayLearn community – tweet me or summat.

  2. I have been using the Starship metaphor for the isolation – Welcome to the StarshipCatte, with various mission log reports (and renaming the spare room as the Cargo Hold helped). Away missions calculated as the same intensity of an Star Trek Away Mission when your gold and blue shirts are in the wash.

  3. Our student society have been tweeting a few things people can do while in isolation using #isolatelikeanastronaut. The Apollo 11 astronauts had to isolate for 14 days when they got back from the moon so thought it was good to make that connection.
    Also with a space theme, there is a virtual escape box in the (very early stages) making.

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