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Support strategies and activities to try while staying at home during COVID-19

Here is a helpful list of fun and interesting activities to try in your own home during COVID-19.

Physical setting

Routine and predictability 

Physical health 

Emotional wellbeing


Stay connected with others

Reduce boredom through active participation in a range of activities 

Other websites 


Physical SETTING


Create activity zones 

  • Consider setting up different ‘activity zones’ throughout the house, i.e., kitchen table- crafts, lounge- sensory-based activities included in a sensory box, puzzles and games in another area, musical activities in another and so on.

  • Develop alternative environments to promote comfort for sensory seeking (e.g. herbs and spices in the kitchen to smell, scented oils in the bathroom, massage on the couch etc.).  Also provide comfort for sensory avoiding (e.g. create a designated area where there is minimal noise, dim lights etc.)

  • Ensure an Autism friendly environment- consider acoustic (sound) modifications, lighting options and sensory based activities and spaces. 

Prepare for Isolation cases 


Consider the following to ensure that if a person is directed into isolation they are not at risk of seclusion:

  • Declutter bedrooms so people can be actively engaged in activities even when in isolation (if well enough).

  • Ensure the person’s bedroom is a warm and inviting space.

  • Do they have a table, desk, armchair, etc. that they can use during isolation?

  • Is there adequate lighting to ensure the person can participate in their preferred activities?

  • Would the person like their room to be decorated?  Would they like a personalized bedroom door sign?

  • Does the person have access to technology in their bedroom if this is a preferred activity?  E.g., television, music, etc.

  • Develop a ‘Wall of Pride’ in the person’s bedroom aimed at celebrating the individual.  This may include a collage of artworks, photos and memorabilia showcasing what is great about the individual.  Be sure to involve the individual in the development of the wall and use this as a starting point for conversations.    

  • “Spring Cleaning in Autumn’- people can sort their seasonal clothes out, store the clothes they won’t need for Autumn and Winter and donate the clothes they don’t want.   This can be done whilst practicing social distancing and can have a message about hygiene that goes with it.


Routine and predictability

  • Create a safe, predictable and supportive environment and include supported people in plans and activities around the house.

  • Use visual timetables, activity choice boards, ‘Who’s Here Today’ boards etc. to provide routine to people’s days and increase predictability.

Physical health

Encourage healthy eating and where possible, incorporate daily physical activity at frequent intervals.  Ideas include:

  • Chair based exercises.

  • Explore YouTube for online exercise videos.

  • Going for a walk.

  • Dancing to music, playing instruments, using rhythmic ribbons, etc.

  • Play basketball – if there is a basketball and no goal at home, use chalk to draw a square against a solid surface or use a hula-hoop to use as a goal.

  • Bowling – if no bowling sets are available, use items around the house (e.g. empty milk cartons) as pins and roll a tennis ball

Emotional wellbeing

Decrease Anxiety 

Music as a therapeutic tool 

  • Consider use of music as a therapeutic tool.  You don’t need musical instruments, supported people can use everyday objects such as pots and pans, containers to drum on, uncooked rice in an empty bottle can serve as a shaker etc.  Some ideas can be found here-

  • Music therapist Allison Davies has written a great song/mantra designed to ease Coronavirus worries and can be viewed via this link-

  • Listen to relaxation music and music that makes people feel good.

  • Create your own song with the people supported about washing hands.

  • Supported people and staff to create and rehearse an individualised house song.  Perform and then record this song and share with other Melba houses

  • Couch Choir –


Use podcasts and apps design for iPads to support mindfulness.


  • Give the people you support extra interactions, support and reassurance. Where possible, minimize their exposure to media and social media that may increase anxiety or distress.

  • Acknowledge your own feelings about the situation and let supported people know it’s okay to share their own feelings.

  • Develop a ‘Feelings Chart’ which is a great tool to help people express themselves and describe how they are feeling. Using printable feeling charts can help an individual open up about other concerns or questions.  Feelings charts are especially helpful for people who do not have the communication skills to express feelings. A great selection of free printable feelings charts can be found here-

  • Talk to people about the reasons why routines have changed so suddenly.

  • Use the person’s communication board or develop an activity schedule and use it throughout the day to communicate to the person what is happening now and then what is happening next.  Routine, structure and predictability will assist the person to manage their day and how they are feeling.

  • Increase structure and predictability by presenting information in visual formats including the following-

  • Visual activity schedules- are a series of images, pictures, photographs or line drawings used to depict a series of events.  The images can be used to prepare the individual for the next activity, the next step of an activity or a sequence of activities.  They can be used to decrease behaviours of protest and to improve transitions, on task behaviour and social skills.  This YouTube video provides a demonstration on how to make a visual schedule-

  • Visual activity choice boards- may include objects, photographs, icons, black and white line drawings or words, and which is used by an individual to communicate a desired activity, item, location, etc. Choice boards can be used to structure free time, provide opportunity for an individual to choose which activity to complete first among an array of activities, or offer a choice of reinforcers from which to pick. Choice boards can be created using a different number of choices depending upon the individual. It is essential that the individual understands what the visuals represent.  More information about visual activity choice boards can be found here-

  • Who’s here today chart- is a visual representation showing which staff are working on a day to help increase predictability.  It is recommended that photographs of staff be used in this tool.  An example of a ‘Who’s here today’ chart can be found here-

Stay connected with others 

Get creative with how you interact, here are some ways to stay connected while physical or social distancing, or if self-isolating:

  • Utilize social media (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, etc.) for those people who have it. Encourage communication with families who will likely also be anxious/distressed during this time.

  • Use and share chat books about what the person has been doing whilst at home.

  • Set up a gratitude tree – where every member posts a message or sends a text to other members to share something they are grateful for.

  • Find a buddy, or group of, to set daily challenges with. These could include a healthy habit, a mindful practice, a creative pursuit. Be sure to encourage and check in daily to stay motivated.

  • Having dinner with family – instead of being there in person, have the chosen family meal decided on with a set time, set up an iPad at the table, and video call everyone to enjoy a meal together (e.g. through Zoom, Skype, etc.).

  • Make a play, film it and share with other houses.

  • Set dates and times to watch the same TV shows/movies with someone and message each other your thoughts along the way… like Goggle Box but you're not sharing the couch!

  • If your local community has one, join its social media group! This will keep you up to date with what’s going on directly around you. It may also include ways you can perhaps reach out and connect with someone less fortunate than you and ways to assist them.

  • Take lots of photos of being engaged in an activity, the creations made, and even selfies (using fun filters).

  • Post handmade rainbow artwork in the windows of the home to spread hope and cheer.  Coloured chalk drawings on the footpath will also have the same positive effect.  Watch as people walk past the house to view their reactions. Also go for a walk and see if you can spot another rainbow artwork.  You can track and add local rainbows at the Rainbow Connection group-

  • Display teddy bears in house windows for people in the community to look for on their walk.  Encourage supported people to search for teddy bear on their walks. 

  • Write letters and draw pictures and send them to friends, family or link with another organisation or aged care facility.

  • Stay connected by running competitions for staff and people supported i.e., funniest photo, funniest video and best remote workstation etc.

  • Support people to reach out to their loved ones by engaging in the following-

    • Make a phone call.

    • Send an email.

    • Leave a note under their door.

    • Make cards and write letters.

    • Support people to set up Zoom, Facetime, Google Meet or Skype with family and friends in other services.

Reduce boredom through active participation in a 

range of activities 


Explore virtual and other interactive websites for those who like technology

Activities that provide sensory input:

  • Sound: Listen to slow rhythm music, fast-paced upbeat music, different music styles (country, opera, dance etc.), instruments, etc.

  • Sight: Introduce visually stimulating materials: bright and contrasting colours, moving parts, bubbles, etc.

  • Touch: Provide a variety of textures (soft, hard, furry, smooth, rough), sand trays, finger paints, different materials and ribbons, popping bubble wrap, puzzles, Play-Doh, using construction toys that snap or push together, light touch such as feathers.  Items from nature such as leaves, grass and flower pods.

  • Taste: Different flavored and textured foods (crunchy, chewy etc.).  Drinks such as herbal teas, try drinking from a straw. Ensure that all provided foods are in accordance with support guidelines and Jemma's mealtime profile.

  •  Smell: Flowers, scented oils, lotions, perfumes, baking goods, etc.


Sensory-based activities


Encourage sensory-based and movement activities.  It is important to cease the activity if a person becomes overstimulated or distressed by the sensory input.  Some ideas include:

  •   Rocking in a rocking/glider chair, massage chair.

  •   Whole of body actions such as swinging, jumping and sliding.

  •   Push, pull and carry actions such as pulling wet washing out of the washing machine, vacuuming and mopping floors.  Anything that uses  big muscles. 

  •   Oral actions such as chewing, sucking, and blowing.

  •   Use of hands for squeezing, pinching, or “fidgeting”.

  •   Squeezing, pulling and pushing resistance materials (rubber squishy balls, clay, Play-Doh, blue tac).

  •   Cooking: meal preparation or baking, including mixing, rolling and cutting as appropriate.

  •   Mealtime: Encourage eating of chewy foods and drinking out of a straw.

  • Use essential oils that have a calming effect, i.e. Lavender, Rose, Ylang Ylang, Bergamot and Jasmine.

  • Sensory Tray Ideas:

Arts and crafts

General art and craft activity ideas can find on websites, including the following.  Please ensure selected activities are age appropriate.  Artwork can be displayed on walls and shared with others by taking a photo.  Please note that some websites are geared to children so please ensure the chosen activity is age-appropriate

  • Easter themed craft ideas:

  • Look at Etsy, Pinterest, and other websites to get ideas of creations to make.

  • Other ideas may include:

    • Engaging in edible art (if appropriate, and dependent on mealtime profiles); use pavlova mixture with food colouring to make 3D artwork, etc., and take photos of all the creations before disposal.

    • Scrapbooking, card making, etc.

  • There are many different forms of painting which can be easily done using many household items such as:

  • Drip Painting – Use water with food colouring, drip using cut straws, cotton buds or fine paint brushes onto paper/paper towel or fabric. When dry, your art can be used to fold into a butterfly, make a snowflake or anything your heart desires.

  • Ball Painting - Collect small balls or objects that can roll such as marbles, golf balls, small rubber balls etc. Using small cups, fill with a small amount of paint to dip items in, set up a tray to lay a sheet of paper in and drop the ball into the tray and move across the paper in the tray using different colours at a time, creating an art work full of beautiful colours and patterns. (A cheap kitty litter tray is ideal or even an old baking tray from the kitchen). Artwork can be displayed or created into something else.

  • Mirror Painting – Paint one side, fold it over, see the reverse image.

  • Dot Painting – Place a small amount of paint onto a plate or container lid. Using cotton buds dot paint onto paper or an object.

  • Handprints – Saturate a sponge with paint, pressing hand or fingers onto sponge or paint directly on hands and then stamp on paper. You can use one colour or use many to make rainbow hands.

  • Stamping - Saturate a sponge with paint, use stamps or objects such as corks, sponges, shaped items and pieces of fruit, pressing firmly into paint sponges and stamp patterns onto paper.

  • Leaf, bark and rock painting - No need for paper, use natural resources around us. Go for a walk or explore your own garden and collect leaves, bark or small rocks to paint on. Using poster paint, decorate your items.

  • Sand and salt painting - Paint or squirt a pattern using PVA onto paper and sprinkle sand onto wet glue, lift paper to remove excess sand.  This activity is best done working in a tray. You can also use other mediums such as fine gravel, leaf litter or tan bark.

  • Construction Painting - Paint and reconstruct an item using your imagination. Empty cans can be washed and used to paint or decorate.  They can also be reused for something else such as a pen holder or to plant seedlings in.

Art supplies you can make at home 

Play dough, slime, bubble mix, stamps, paint, coloured sand, rice and pasta


Slime Recipes:

Bubble Mix Solution:

Different Types of Paint:

Stamp Making:

Rock Craft:

Easter Craft:

Anzac Day Craft:

Autumn Craft:

Indoor Activities:

Outdoor Activities:


Adapt routine activities that cannot be continued due to closures.

Use day program timetables to inform the likes and dislikes for each person to build structure to their day.  Consider how to balance small group activities with 1:1 time within current staffing resources. Look at current activities the person does/would like to do, and creatively adapt the activities. Examples include:

  • Going to a café – engage in making homemade milkshakes, cakes, meals, etc. Set the outdoor table with a tablecloth, use outdoor fairy lights around the setting, and make a café experience. Create menus with people supported, so they can order their favourite meal/drink, as part of the experience.

  • Cooking skills - create menus and recipe books of people’s favourite recipes.  Actively involve people in preparing and cooking meals and sharing recipe books with others. Take photos of the person cooking the meal, so they can create their own recipe book and gift to give to their family.

  • Going to the cinema – Create a cinema experience at home; provide comfortable seating, have snacks available that could usually be purchased (i.e., popcorn or have the smell of popcorn – where appropriate and based on mealtime profiles).

  • Music and/or dance – Have a karaoke night, get dressed up, have a disco with coloured lights, play Just Dance on the Wii, etc. Having a Friday night disco in your own home.  Organize a disco with two or more homes across the state, have them at the same time and Skype or house part each other’s homes … HAVE FUN!!!!

  • Shopping – Start online shopping for items to purchase (particularly if favourite shops have closed).

  • Pamper sessions – have pamper sessions, with relaxing music, foot spas, foot massages, etc.

  • Meal-based – choose a different country each day and cook different meals from around the world; YouTube music that you may hear from that country, having it playing in the background.

  • Melba’s Got Talent – by Zoom.

Other websites

Websites that have some great ideas and links to resources that you may interested in checking out:

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Physica Setting
Routine and Predictability
Physica Heath
Emotional wellbeing
Stay connected with others
Reduce boredom through active participation in a range of activities 
Other Websites
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