Parenting

20 no screen activities to keep kids busy

  • April 22, 2020

With at least another few weeks of lockdown ahead, are you running out of things to do with kids without screens? Have you used up all the no screen activities you can think of?

There are so many great apps, resources and videos floating around from celebrities, authors, and educational providers and these have been a godsend over the last month. However, I’m sure I’m not the only parents wanting to limit screentime at the moment.

With them being home 24/7 it’s starting to get really difficult to find ways to steer them away from screens, especially if you’re trying to work at the same time. If I let her, Little H would be glued to the computer all day playing Roblox or watching Gravity Falls on Disney+.

Whatever your childrens’ ages, there are lots of things you can do without using screens to keep them entertained. Here are some ideas of no screen activities for kids that you might not have tried yet…

1. Build a den

Kids of all ages love building a den. Push chairs together and throw a sheet over the top, put some pillows under the dining table, clear out some space in the closet. There are lots of ways to build dens, and as long as you make it cozy kids will love it. Fill it with cushions, toys, books and snacks and they will stay in there for ages. We used a tent in the backyard and filled it with pillows and blankets.

tent den

2. Dress up

You might already have a dressing up box full of costumes you can use, especially if you have a child at school as we all know how often they have to dress up! But if you don’t, why not give them some of your own clothes and accessories to dress up in. At 8 years old Little H has gone off dressing up in Princess costumes now but she loves playing with my jewellery, scarves and make-up.

3. Exercise

If the kids have already got interested in doing exercise videos with Joe Wicks, you might have some success getting them doing some exercise routines without the need for a YouTube video. Do your research online first and come up with your own little routine that they can copy. We have a gymnastics mat which is good for exercising on and also for cartwheeling outside!

3. Make slime

I don’t know what it is with kids and slime but they love it don’t they? We have made slime before from a recipe I found online and it didn’t really go that well but it was fun none the less. You can get some good slime making kits online that turn out a bit better, we bought one from a local shop for €2 and it worked really well.

blue slime

4. Camp out

As long as you have a tent you don’t need to to away to a campsite to have fun. Put up the tent in the garden and camp out with the kids. You can tell stories, toast marshmallows on the BBQ, and lay under the stars. If you don’t have a big enough back garden or the weather isn’t great, you could put the tent up in the bedroom or living room instead.

5. Have a picnic

Who doesn’t love a picnic? Put down a blanket in the garden, lay out whatever ‘picky’ food you have in the fridge, and pretend you’re on a day out in the park. If the weather isn’t ideal, have an indoor picnic instead. Little kids will enjoy ‘inviting’ their toys to the picnic as well.

6. Paint

This is one of our go to no screen activities at the moment as Little H loves to paint. You can paint pictures, do hand or finger painting, paint boxes or toilet roll tubes, whatever materials you have hanging around the house. Painting pictures to send to family and friends is also a lovely idea.

7. Play ball

You don’t need a lot of room to play catch or to kick a small ball to each other. If there are more than 2 of you to play then piggy in the middle is always good fun. You could even create your own skittles if you can find some empty plastic bottles.

8. Chalk drawing

I’m jealous that we don’t have any paving or fencing to do chalk drawings on as I’ve seen so many great photos on Instagram and Facebook lately of some great chalk drawings done by kids – like this one from Out and about Mummy.

chalk drawing rainbow

If you have a driveway or path outside your house why not get the chalks out and let the kids get creative. It will all wash away when it next rains so you don’t even need to clean up afterwards.

9. Cook

As well as baking cakes, letting kids help you to cook dinner is a great way to keep them entertained as well as teaching them some useful skills. Things like spaghetti bolognese or stew are great to cook with kids as there are lots of ingredients to chop and stir. If you have a fussy eater you might also find that they are more willing to eat dinner when they’ve cooked it themselves.

10. Treasure hunt

A treasure hunt or scavenger hunt is a great idea to keep kids busy for a while, especially if you have things to get on with. Hide things around the house or garden, write some cryptic clues and let the kids go off to find them. Alternatively, this kids colour hunt from Tales of a Natural Spoonie is a great idea.

11. Board games

Have you got the board games out yet? Board games have got to be one of the top no screen activities. We’ve played Scrabble and Monopoly – both great games to amuse older kids as they take a long time to complete! We also have Articulate and Pictionary which are favourites in our house but ideally you need more than three people to play.

12. Water play

While the weather is nice a bowl of water or paddling pool is a fun idea of something to do outside with kids. Get them to wash their toys, pretend their dolls are at the pool, or just get themselves really wet. Letting little ones ‘paint’ the fence with water is also a great idea for a no mess activity.

13. Play cards

Have you taught your kids any card games yet? We’ve played Go Fish and Rummy, and the card game Uno is one of our favourites. If you’re looking for easy card games to teach children, this is a good list.

14. Make something out of boxes

We’ve run out of most craft materials lately, what with all the shops being shut. We had some packing boxes in the shed so gave one to Little H to make something out of. She’s a bit big to fit inside a box now (unlike when she was small and we made castles and cars!) so she decided to make a house for our cat Milo. She spent about 3 hours on it and did a great job – weeks later it’s his favourite place to sleep!

homemade cat house

15. Bug hunt

I hate bugs but like most kids, my child is fascinated by them. She likes to go rummaging around the garden with her little plastic pot and see what she can find. A good idea is to then get them to look up the bug in a book (or online when they’re allowed screentime again) and see what interesting facts they can find out about it.

16. Obstacle course

If you have enough room, an obstacle course is both a fun activity for kids to do and also a good way to get them doing some exercise. You can either make a course for them or let them make their own. This garden obstacle course from Falcondale Life is a great idea.

Once it’s all set up you can sit back and supervise from a distance while they try and beat the timer!

17. Play music

Put some music on and let the kids have a dance party. Or if you’re not too bothered about the noise, get the musical instruments out and let them play their own music. Little H has enjoyed watching YouTube videos to learn new songs on her keyboard and recorder.

18. Colouring

You can get out the colouring books, draw your own pictures for the kids to colour in, or download and print some colouring pages from the internet. If you are looking for new colouring pages to print off, take a look at these free printable colouring sheets I created.

19. Learn Origami

One of the no screen activities that was sent to us by school was some instructions on how to make origami flowers – we were terrible at it but it kept us both amused for quite a while. There are looks of good instructions online that you can print out, like this one for origami fish.

20. Wash the car

If you want to amuse the kids and also get a chore done at the same time, why not arm them with a sponge and a bucket of soapy water and let them wash the car. You’ll need to be prepared for a bit of a water fight though!

 

Have you tried any of these no screen activities recently? Hopefully there are some here to help keep your kids entertained for a while without the need for screens. Do you have any other suggestions?

Sarah

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