“There’s nothing to do besides screens!” My son has actually said this to me, more than once. When screen time becomes habitual, it can be easy to forget how many options there actually are for screen-free fun! Encourage kids to explore those ideas and activities! Not only will it reduce screen time, but also help to foster creativity, resourcefulness, and even forge new neural pathways.
Benefits of Reduced Screen Time for Kids
While there is no need to fall into the trap of guilt and shame over allowing a little screen time, there are some pretty glaring benefits of creating opportunities for screen-free fun. When kids are away from screens, that means they are free to explore other things- nature, social connections, and making things with their hands to name just a few. This is why I keep a list of fun and satisfying things we can do in a day, reminding us all of the world of possibilities outside of screens. I polled the Sparkle Team for their list, added it to mine and am sharing it below (along with all some of our Sparkle tutorials to get you started). This list is only the beginning!
Screen Free Ideas for the Kitchen
- Plan and make dinner as a family. When the weather is nice try something from our Favorite Outdoor Recipes Roundup. If it’s gray, dreary, or cold, check out a recipe from our this list of our favorite comfort foods
- Bake anything
- Make homemade dog or cat treats. Try these peanut butter yogurt drops for dogs, or some tuna fish cookies for kitties.
- Make a baking soda and vinegar volcano.
- Make hand dipped candles. We partnered with Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool to create a simple, fun tutorial for hand dipped beeswax candles.
- Knead bread dough.
- Make play dough.
Screen Free Outdoor Adventures
- Play badminton (Sewell McCann sport of choice.)
- Initiate a pick-up kickball game in a park near you.
- Lie in the grass for two minutes.
- Throw a frisbee.
- Work in the garden. Explore this list of kid friendly garden projects, and try streaming our playlist of stories for getting into the garden to help get kids inspired to dig!
- Make potions with things you find in the garden. Sylvia’s Magic Belly Tea is a great place to start!
- Walk the dog.
- Jump on the trampoline.
- Look for roly-poly bugs.
- Climb a tree in your backyard. For even more fun, download this free printable that helps kids identify a tree by studying its branches.
- Dig as deep of a hole in the ground as you can.
- Watch the clouds go by and learn about different cloud formations.
- Learn to do a handstand.
- Plant a pollinator garden.
- Read, as a family or solo.
- Make a nest of pillows and blankets and nap (for adults too.) Try this tutorial for a collapsible play tent!
- Color in a coloring book. Do your little ones love Windward Ho or Martin & Sylvia? Try the Martin & Sylvia Paper Dolls (with outfits little ones can color!) or the Windward Ho Printable Coloring book!
- Write a card or letter to a friend.
- Learn the lyrics to a favorite song.
- Follow instructions for a project or recipe from the Sparkle blog.
- Make a picture collage from old magazines.
- Build a pillow fort.
- Practice saying the alphabet backwards.
Creative Projects for Screen Free Fun
- Make a short film.
- Make a stop action animation.
- Get out the fabric scraps and start sewing a new creation.
- Make sock puppets. You can even use our free sock puppet printable to test out your designs on paper first!
- Finger knit. If you’ve never tried this before, we’ve got a free finger knitting printable to help you along!
- Make a friendship bracelet. There is something about making and giving that makes both the giver and the receiver feel warm and welcome. These basic bracelets from the Sparkle Blog are super easy to make; you'll likely find yourself making them for everyone you know, because you'll want to show them you are all friends.
- Make a natural materials mandala. One of the most important reasons for little ones to be exposed to nature, to be able to explore it, notice it, and see how imperfectly perfect and beautifully impermanent it is. A lovely, focused way to see this impermanence is to work with your little one to create a nature mandala. All you need is what you find – no special tools for this centering creative activity .
- Decorate the driveway with chalk art. Check out this collaborative chalk art mural tutorial to get you started!
- DIY transform something (phone case, t-shirt, squishy, etc.)
- Do a washi tape project.
- Build fairy houses. Fairy house-building is almost a given with children. If you have a few sticks and maybe a rock or two, suddenly there are fairy houses being built everywhere. We have a tutorial to help inspire your building!
- Learn to fold paper airplanes. You can find instructions for three simple designs on the Sparkle Blog.
- Dip leaves in wax and make wreaths, garlands, or mobiles.
- Build something from boxes.
- Carve something out of wood.
- Build a bee hotel, a bat house, or a snake or frog habitat.
- Play an instrument (or even just noodle around on one).
Ideas for Screen Free Fun with Friends and Family
Play a board game. Have a tea party. Have a dance party. Ask what you can do to help someone else. Looking for a little jump start here? We’'ve rounded up a playlist of five really fun helper stories from our collection to help inspire your family to be full of helpers. Learn to jump rope or hula hoop. Learn a poem and recite it to your family. Learn something new together.
Make your own list of fun things to do without screens!
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About the Author
Lisabeth Sewell has worn many hats at Sparkle over the years, from Sparkle Kitchen Blogger to Editorial Director to Doer of All Odd Jobs. Her primary role is as CEO.