Activities To Keep The Family Entertained At Home

Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

— Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, JK Rowling

We have plenty of things to keep us entertained – there are streaming services like Netflix, video calling options such as Apple’s FaceTime, Zoom or Messenger to stay connected with loved ones, but if you are looking for other ways to have fun here are some online activities that will keep you and your family educated and entertained during your time at home.

Play your favourite music

Here is a public playlist I put together on Spotify (get a free account here) or a paid subscription through Apple Music (a free trial is available).

A playlist: Positive tunes for Self Isolation – Spotify or Apple Music 

Music can be a great equaliser. It can lift you up when you are feeling down, or in need of an energy boost. There are many streaming services available with curated playlists or you can pull out your favourite vinyl or CD.

Keeping the family entertained

Taronga Zoo has its own zoo channel with live feeds of its Seals and Tigers and other animals. Watch feeding times with the Zoo keepers – both educational and entertaining, like Big Brother for animals!

https://taronga.org.au/taronga-tv

NASA has a range of free online activities including Making your own cloud in a bottle, building a model paper rocket, or online images from space.

https://science.nasa.gov/get-involved/nasaathome

Author of Harry Potter, JK Rowling, has launched ‘Harry Potter At Home‘, here you’ll find all the latest magical spells to keep you entertained – including magical craft videos (teach your friends how to draw a Niffler!), fun articles, puzzles and plenty more for new readers, as well as those already familiar with the wizarding world.

Cast a summoning charm on fun!

https://www.wizardingworld.com/collections/harry-potter-at-home

Australian National Theatre Live has a range of recorded performances that you can watch online – keep your cultural muscled flexed at http://www.antlive.com.au/

Sydney Olympic Park virtual tour of ARTEXPRESS https://www.sydneyolympicpark.com.au/Education/ARTEXPRESS

Start a Garden

Whether you have a balcony or backyard, you can buy some plants or seeds at your local Bunnings or hardware store and grow some herbs or vegetables. And won’t you feel good about yourself knowing that you are growing vegetables to stay healthy?

Keep moving and exercise

There are many online fitness classes you can use or you can simply grab some of the canned goods from the pantry, and use them to do some arm curls, use the lounge to do dips or do some squats.

If you are working from home, replace your travel with a walk or a run. You have more time up your sleeve so you can finally get started on that fitness regime!

Support local businesses

See if your local cafe does takeaway, or buy a voucher that you can use when things finally get back to normal.

Now get out there and get creating, learn something new or simply chill out on the lounge and be entertained!

Streaming services and which one to choose

Australians have, on average, spend $30 a month on streaming services according to savings.com.au. With the recent addition of two new streaming services – Apple TV Plus and Disney Plus we may see this figure rise, or we may see services fail and bow out of the market. In the meantime how do we choose which service to keep?

Netflix is the market leader in Australia with more than 4 million subscribers, followed by Stan. However Disney Plus has a large volume of content including its entire back catalogue of classic and modern Disney movies, Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars and National Geographic. All for $8.99 a month. This is definitely one to watch as a potential rival to Netflix.

Baby Yoda is a can favourite on The Mandalorian – one of Disney Plus Originals.

Apple TV Plus contains roughly a dozen shows, all originals, with more coming each month. At a cost of $7.99, it doesn’t give as much bang for your buck as the other services, but each show is distinctively different, original and contains some stellar casts including Oprah, Jennifer Anniston, James Momoa and Reece Witherspoon.

A quick summary of each streaming service available in Australia:

Netflix – the king.

Stan – a close second to Netflix.

Amazon Prime – wide range of horror movies, dark comedies and classic movies.

Hayu – all the reality tv you need.

Apple TV Plus – will come to its own in 2020 as more titles are released.

Disney Plus – this is a must for any family or Star Wars or Marvel fan.

FOXTEL Now – the Foxtel streaming service – for those not able or wanting to get FOXTEL satellite.

Kayo – the Netflix of Sports. It includes a long list of sport shows and events, from rugby, NRL, tennis and NBA to the light saber championship.

My take on the streaming services: try them out for a couple of months and then see if you can whittle them down to three or four favorites.

Wizards Unite: two weeks in

Wizards Unite is the new mobile app game by the Wizarding World corporation, the company that manages all of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts juggernaut franchises.

Wizards Unite is currently only available in Australia and NZ, giving the rest of the Potter world extreme FOMO. Developed by Niantic – the company behind Pokemon Go – and Portkey Games, the gaming developers for Wizarding World, it follows the same idea of Augmented Reality, giving you a chance to be a witch or wizard that has been recruited to maintain the Statute of Secrecy and protect the muggle world from ‘leaks’ of magic, known as the Calamity. More on this later.

This is what we learnt after playing for two weeks.

Warning – spoilers of major plotlines from the game below.

Wizards Unite map
It’s Harry!

Spell accuracy is less important than speed.

To collect the most XP per Confoundable, try tracing the spell quickly. Throw down a potion that can give you greater XP caught during a 30min period (Baruffio’s Brain elixir) or the Extimulo potion to improve your casting accuracy.

Amazing character design.

At night, vampires and centaurs emerge which you must battle. We are expecting werewolves the next time there is a full moon. Characters from the books and films bear an uncanny resemblance to the actors that play them.

Vampire oddity - Wizards UniteLuna Lovegood in Wizards Unite mobile game

Solving the overall mystery of the Calamity adds another layer to the game.

The overarching plot of the game as you cast back Confoundables to the wizarding world, is to find unveil clues (mysteries) to solve the mystery behind who caused the Calamity – which caused these leaks of magic into our world. Clues so far point to the cause of this being traced back to a wizard called Grim Fawley trying to bring back his wife after she was mysteriously killed as one of the London Five, a tragedy which struck and caused five witches and wizards to disappear.

Fortresses allow witches and wizards to fight together to collect coins 

Much like in Pokemon Go, Fortresses are like Gyms, but instead of battling each other, you battle against creatures and beasts to win gold coins, the main currency in the game – which can be bought via in-app purchases.

Collect spell energy from inns and ingredients from Greenhouses

Keep collecting spell energy as you are out and about, casting spells takes a lot out of you and not collecting spell energy could mean you could soon find yourself facing a Confoundable without the ability to cast a spell.

Where to find the game

The game is currently only available via Google Play and the App Store in Australia and NZ.