Monday, May 7, 2012

Connect with Your Kids- 50 Screen Free Activities

connect with your kids through screen free alternatives

In the spirit of Screen Free Week, Valerie from Inner Child Fun and I thought we'd get together to compile all of our best tips for connecting with your kids through unplugged play. You don't have to be completely screen free to take advantage of these ideas. Whether you're screen free, want to reduce your screen time, or just take a break.. these fun ideas will surely help you recharge and connect.

connect with your kids through unplugged play

We've separated the tips into times of day because we know each time frame presents it's very own challenges.. and opportunities. We've also created a free printable with 50 screen free activities for you to use. You could put it on the fridge and use it as a reminder or bucket list. Or you could cut apart the list and add the pieces to a jar that you choose from.


connect with your kids through dancing wacky in your living room

1. Living Room Dance Party -- Crank up the tunes and get everyone up and moving! Bonus points for the wackiest dance moves.

2. Cereal or Oatmeal Toppings Buffet -- Invite the kids to help you whip up a batch of oatmeal, and set up a small buffet with a variety of toppings to chose from, or set up a cereal bar for kids to make their own mix-and-match cereal creations. 

3. Host a Pajama Play Date -- Ever have the urge to stay in your pajamas all day? Invite friends over for a play date where everyone wears pajamas and slippers (parents too!). Ask everyone to bring their favorite breakfast treat to share. Read bedtime stories, and be sure to have plenty of coffee and tea for the parents. 


play dough and construction toy invitation to play

1. Set Up an Invitation to Play -- Set up an inviting play activity by combining a few sets of toys. Break out the blocks and play animals, the play dough and construction toys, or the stuffed animals and toy kitchen supplies. Your child will be entertained by the novelty of it, and as an added bonus you could use the opportunity to pick out something you'd be interested in playing with too!

2. Kitchen Table Puzzles -- Puzzles can be a great way to connect and pass the time. For younger children, fill the table with various small, easy puzzles. The variety will occupy them and keep their attention. You could set out a larger and more advanced puzzle for older children. While they piece it together, you could cook or do chores nearby. Keep the conversation flowing and pop over to help add a piece now and then. Just be sure to set them out on a large piece of cardboard or puzzle mat so you can easily move it without destroying all of their hard work when it's time to eat.

3. Recruit Your Kids -- Ask your kids for help with dinner. They will likely jump at the chance. Younger children can help wash vegetables and measure and mix, while older children can take on even more responsibility for the meal. Put on some fun music and enjoy your time together in the kitchen. 


Connect with your kids by making bath time extra special

1. Extend Bath Time -- Start the bedtime routine a little earlier than normal and prolong bath time. Run an extra special bubble bath and extend the fun by adding more warm water once the original turns cold.

2. Have Fun Outside After Dark -- Grab some flashlights and glow sticks and head out after the sun goes down for some nighttime fun.

3. Listen to an Audio Book -- Your local library may offer a selection of audio books. Click here for plenty of family-friendly suggestions.

4. Impromptu Puppet Show -- Craft up your own puppets (they can be as simple as photo cut-outs glued onto craft sticks) and put on a show. 

Inspiring Screen-Free Alternatives

  1. Visit your local library.
  2. Build a fort together.
  3. Bake something yummy together! 
  4. Go fishing. Go for real or just pretend to go!
  5. Play a game of invisible basketball
  6. Climb a tree.
  7. Make your own sidewalk chalk stencils.
  8. Act out a favorite book or movie.
  9. Go to the park.
  10. Play Red Light, Green Light or another classic childhood game.
  11. Make wishes in a fountain.
  12. Go on a picnic.
  13. Build and fly your own kite
  14. Tell stories.
  15. Craft up some handmade gifts for Mom (Mother's Day is coming up!)
  16. Have family game time
  17. Host a birthday party.... for your child's teddy bear.
  18. Dress up! Pretend play through dress up can be fun for the whole family. 
  19. Write thank you notes together.
  20. Go camping and leave the screens at home or camp out in your living room and pretend they aren't there!
  21. Build a marble run
  22. Go on a nature walk.
  23. Clean one room of the house together. Pretend you are filming a cleaning commercial.
  24. Write to a pen pal.
  25. Plant a container garden.
  26. Communicate with lightening bugs. All you need is a flashlight!
  27. Go stargazing.
  28. Have a candlelight night. Go completely unplugged and eat, play and bathe by candlelight.
  29. Start a lemonade stand
  30. Try to find pictures in the clouds. What can you see?
  31. Build a town with blocks. Use masking tape for roads. 
  32. Go on a treasure hunt.
  33. Make a potion lab
  34. Take turns reading to each other.
  35. Make mud pies together.
  36. Go on a bug hunt!
  37. Whip up a batch of homemade play dough. 
  38. Make pet rocks.
  39. Do a puzzle together.
  40. Visit a "U-Pick" farm and pick your own fruit! 
  41. Make your own scratch and sniff paint
  42. Look through family photo albums and share favorite memories.
  43. Craft up a batch of tissue paper flowers, then make "deliveries" to friends
  44. Make your own musical instruments and start a family band.
  45. Build an obstacle course together.
  46. Make paper airplanes. See which style of plane flies the straightest, fastest, etc.
  47. Paint...with water! 
  48. Have a joke contest. Try and get the most laughs.
  49. Start a stamp collection.
  50. Volunteer for a cause as a family. This could be as simple as picking up trash around your community.

We hope you have fun unplugging and connecting! For more ways to connect, please check back for more posts in this series. 


  1. such great ideas in this! it's a good resource for me to pull from when i can't figure out what to do...going to pin it :)

  2. Thank you, Andie! I'm so glad you liked it! Thanks for pinning :)

  3. What beautiful ideas. I love the bath time one, that picture is perfect! My daughters love taking a bath. Thanks for sharing. Hope to see you at True Aim.

  4. This is such a wonderful list! JDaniel would love a long bath time!

  5. I love these ideas! We are a tv-free family and I am always looking for more ways to be a connected parent and keep them entertained. Can't wait to keep checking back on your site— great content!

  6. This is great! Parents also want a screen free caregivers! Going to share with our nannies. Thank you! @AZnannies


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