Screens are so engrained in our lives—at work, at home and in the classroom. There’s a tiny part of us that believes there’s no way an old-fashioned (read: screen-free) family activity could compete. But there is! Here are some screenless activities that kids actually enjoy.
Brighten the backyard
If you’ve got the space, plant a vegetable and herb garden. Plan the planting scheme together, being careful to stagger when the veggies will be ready. No yard space (or green thumb)? No worries. Decorate plastic containers for a mini herb garden on the balcony. And be sure to use your crops to cook meals together!
Chalk it up
Games with chalk are affordable, and you can go way beyond drawing on the driveway or playing hopscotch. Using sidewalk chalk, draw your own board game. You can even play giant Pictionary.
- Create an obstacle course for the whole family to get some exercise.
- Build a crazy golf course, a racecourse for toy cars or an obstacle course for other toys.
- Embark on an urban treasure hunt. Take turns thinking of items to find and then walk or bike around the neighborhood, ticking items off your list. When you return home, have a backyard cookout to celebrate.
- Go a little farther afield and volunteer together with a local environmental clean-up group. Pulling up invasive species is great for building those arm muscles and meeting new friends.
Go starry eyed
The magnetic pull toward the TV screen can be especially strong come nightfall. So try stargazing with a twist: make up your own constellations and give them backstories.
Write the names of different countries on popsicle sticks and keep them in a decorated jar. When you decide to “travel” together, have a family member pick a stick: that’s your destination. Use an atlas to look up the country, make copies of their flag and cook a meal reflective of the national cuisine. If you like, use limited screen time to discover some national crafts or traditional dress or even learn a few words of the language.
Pick a surprising pen pal
- Write letters to one another and to your future selves.
- Send a letter to elderly relatives.
- Contact local retirement homes and swap letters with some of the residents who no longer have family around them.
Set a studio scene
To start the day with a creative activity, set out a range of art and craft materials on the table before you go to bed. Kids love to wake up to discover an art studio waiting for them, and you can spend most of the day creating together.
There truly are endless activities you can enjoy as a family, and they don’t have to involve a screen, a plug or YouTube!