Screen Free Activities for Families
You know, those moments when your kids are chasing each other inside the house after you asked them 30 times
to walk and use indoor voices. Or when they ask you for a snack for the 107th time and it's only 9 a.m. Or when you think
they're occupied, so you open your laptop to finish a quick task, but their 6th sense tells them it's time to come climb
all over you and bang on your laptop keyboard…
Whether you're a stay-at-home parent, a work-from-home parent, or a parent that just needs to take back control of the
tech in your house, you may be on the hunt for ways to occupy your kids for just a little bit, so you can work, take care of
yourself, or heaven forbid, finish a coffee before it goes cold!
Don't get us wrong – we love being at home with the kids. Not a day goes by that those of us who have the flexibility
to do so don't acknowledge how grateful we are to do this job of raising our kids while still being able to work.
But we can ALL get overstimulated, overwhelmed, and over it!
So, we're drawing on our childhood memories and favourite activities that we've used as Mums and Dads to be
somewhat productive and sane amidst the chaos.
These are screen-free activities, not because we have ANYTHING against screen time. We just wanted to provide
alternatives for when your kids need a break from YouTube.
Most of these activities are free or cheap. They don't require much (if any) prep work on your part – WINNING!
And hopefully, you can get the kids started, then sneak away to do something for yourself.
LEGO building frenzies are the BEST! And over time, you will find that, thanks to inspiration from Brickman and Lego
Masters, LEGO Challenges will take place unprompted. Stand by for the judging duties!
Other times you can suggest the kids all work together on building a huge city or fantasy world. This is one of those
times when you can be happy that all the LEGO sets got mixed up together (despite your OCD), as it will undoubtedly
stimulate everyone's creativity and interaction.
Whenever regular routines break up for a period (long weekends, school holidays, rainy days etc.), why not pull
out a jigsaw puzzle? Put it somewhere central and fall in love with how it brings family members (and even visitors)
together at different times of the day. A jigsaw puzzle is a great mental exercise too!
Especially for those children who don't love reading as much, keep a sketchbook for all their drawing and writing
ideas. You can sketch or write anywhere - at home, the playground, the zoo, a cafe, or a restaurant. The kids will
treasure having a place for their drawings and being able to look back at them … even in years to come. So, whenever
you head out in the car, grab their sketchbook - sorted!
Cubbies and Forts
Cubbies are the bane of all our lives … but stay with us on this one! Whilst we do NOT like our homes being turned
upside down and all the linen and cushions being pulled out of cupboards, we do know how much fun Cubbies are,
and they involve a lot of teamwork and creativity, so try to let the kids go when they're planning a cubby. Try setting a
time limit for how long the cubby can stay up. If you always make them clean up their elaborate builds too soon, they
will decide it's not worth the effort - so when you can, let the mess stay.
Imaginary Worlds for ALL the Animals
Even as adults, you can't tell us that you don't love visiting a good toyshop and selecting an animal the kids don't have in
their collection. Creating elaborate homes and environments for the animals to play in - with wooden blocks, books for
walls and roofs, LEGO trees, and anything else within reach, is SO. MUCH. FUN! Pick up some pieces of artificial grass
and blue fabric (for water) to make it more 'legit' and watch the kids spend hours sorting the animals by type and building
zoos and farms, and jungle safaris.
Don't discount the humble IKEA Melty Bead! It's handy to have in the back of the cupboard for a rainy/sick/school holiday
day. While this technically breaks the 'screen-free' nature of the activity, you could also use an iPad to find some simple
design ideas on Pinterest for the kids to refer to and create. This activity is great for reading patterns and fine motor skills.
OK, so they won't initially thank you for this, but this could be your new go-to activity for the beginning of the school
holidays. You might need to get involved to help understand what is worth keeping when it's time to let go of some of
their things and how to sort them out. Without fail, everyone will feel so good after you've sorted through their bedrooms,
cleared out the 'junk' and rediscovered old treasures. And as a bonus, the kids are usually happily occupied for days
after with the things they rediscover along the way! You can also fill a box to donate or sell - If they're having trouble
letting go of their possessions, let them pick a special younger friend or family to gift their items to or talk about kids
who could use their things more than they can.
Whiteboard Markers on Windows
Get your colourful whiteboard markers and let your kids write or draw on windows or glass doors. It is a fun
activity and can be used to practice writing letters and recognising sight words with your littles, shapes with your
toddlers, or just having fun and drawing whatever comes to mind.
Bonus: You can teach the kids how to clean the glass when they're done, so you have an extra chore to
add to their chore chart!
Decorate Cardboard Boxes
Get those delivery boxes out of the recycling bin and let the kids colour and decorate them to their heart's content.
Use crayons, markers, stickers, stamps, or anything else. The best is when the box is big enough for kids to
sit inside while decorating!
Create Leaf Rubbings
Get outside and collect as many leaves as possible from around your house. Place the leaves under a plain white
piece of paper, then show kids how to peel the wrapper off a crayon and use the side of the crayon to rub over the
top of the paper. MAGIC! You can use different colours for each leaf for a beautiful collage.
This one is more for the older kids … write letters or thank you notes to friends and family. Show them how to
address an envelope and place the stamp in the corner. This is fun because kids love sending and receiving mail,
and meanwhile, they are learning!
Birthday and Christmas Wish Lists
Nothing motivates a kid more than talking about their upcoming birthday or Christmas. If you have any toy
catalogues, help the kids create a wish list by flicking through the pages and cutting out pics of the toys, games,
books, and clothes they love.
Bake a Delicious Treat
Whether you pick a favourite family recipe or try something completely new, having something sweet to eat
at the end of your task is its own reward. Plus, baking teaches kids maths when they (help) measure out ingredients,
and it shows them how to follow instructions!
Play Dress Up
An oldie but a goodie! If you have old dress-up costumes lying around the house? Set them out for kids and let
them use their imaginations to create characters and engage in imaginary play!
Pulling out old photo books and albums is one of our all-time favourite things. Kids love seeing themselves as
babies and asking questions about what they were like, or what life was like before they were born! Mems!
So, there are our fave activities for taking back control of the tech. You've got this! It will be SO worth it, we promise.