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  • Writer's pictureSara Romero

Five Screen-Free Ideas for Kids

Updated: Jun 3, 2020

It's been about two months since the first stay-at-home orders were put into place—at least where I live. Since then many families have been together 24 hours a day, seven days a week. No matter how much you love your inner circle, everyone needs a break sometimes. This can be especially true while trying to manage a household or work from home as well as homeschool.

But, before I go on—I feel it's necessary to talk about our essential workers, first responders and those struggling to keep food on the table. I know your needs reach far beyond a few moments of quiet time. I applaud you, I appreciate you and I am so humbled by your strength and resolve during these unprecedented times.

Five screen-free ideas for kids

After a busy morning of conference calls, answering emails, and muddling through my newest role as a highly under-qualified teacher, here are a few ideas that have worked to keep my kids engaged and out of my hair—and I mean that both figuratively and literally—a few minutes at a time:

1. Go on a scavenger hunt

This one requires a little prep, but it can give you a nice chunk of quiet time. Prepare a list of items, colors, shapes, etc. for your kids to search for in your home and tell them they have to find every item in order. Bonus points for finding everything in their room. For older kids, the challenge could include taking photos of each item on the list. Once they finish hunting inside, you can send them outside to search again.

2. Make a mess with PlayDoh or Magic Sand

This one is not for the faint of heart. Find a place where they can get creative and make a mess, but won't require a lot of clean up once they're finished. This unguided activity kept my three-year-old entertained for about 20 minutes. A fitted bedsheet pulled taught at the corners with cans or rocks helped keep the mess contained and my front porch (fairly) clean.

3. Create art or fun with sidewalk chalk This one is easy peasy. Just send your kids outside with a container of sidewalk chalk and let them have fun. My three-year-old can never resist it and my eight-year-old twins like drawing their favorite characters, making a hopscotch or—most recently—writing cheerful notes for passersby.

4. Have a catapult challenge

Thanks to for this craft idea. We made the catapults together and then I challenged them to see which one propelled their pom pom further. I particularly love this screen-free idea because it sneaks in a little math. They decided on ten tries each and added up the total distance. We used craft popsicle sticks, rubber bands, bottle caps, pom poms and a measuring tape.

5. Water the plants My kids love to water my plants. Wait, scratch that. They love to use the spray bottle. I give them each a spray bottle (or they take turns, but this usually works better if they each have their own) and tell them which plants to water. The more specific the directions, the better. I tell them to get the soil wet, but not too wet and rinse the leaves. This idea works whether you have real plants, shrubs, trees, potted plants or plastic plants. Happy spritzing!

I hope these ideas help you enjoy an uninterrupted cup of coffee, bathroom break or a few moments of quiet while your most treasured humans are focused on screen-free fun.

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