Unplugged: 10 Fun Family Activities that Don’t Involve Screens

By Kari Bergmann

Schools have been closed for quite a while now and it looks like it will still be quite some time until things are completely back to normal. We’re still very limited in what we can do and when we can leave the house. We know that parents are probably struggling to find ways to occupy their children and it can be very tempting to turn to electronic entertainment. However, we know that it’s important for our mental and physical health (especially for kids) to limit the amount of time we spend on screens. So here is a list of 10 things that you can try to keep everyone off of electronic devices.

1. Nature Scavenger Hunt

Go out on a family walk and compete to see who can spot different types of birds, animals, or plants. You could decide on a prize for the winner like getting to decide what you eat for dinner. Check out some templates here:

https://www.stayathomemum.com.au/printables/nature-scavenger-hunt-free-printable/

https://www.brisbanekids.com.au/outdoor-scavenger-hunt-for-pre-readers/

https://www.stuckonyou.com.au/blog/free-printable-scavenger-hunt-kids/

2. Bake a Kid-Friendly Recipe

Work together to bake or cook something simple enough that your children can help out. If you make enough to share perhaps bring the extras to an elderly relative or neighbour who can’t leave the house easily with the coronavirus restrictions. Check out these ideas:

https://pintsizedtreasures.com/cranberry-chocolate-granola-bars-frugal-and-easy/

https://juliasalbum.com/vanilla-sugar-cookies-with-sprinkles/

http://www.catchingfirefliesgifts.com/blog/2012/06/mighty-tasty-mini-lasagnas/

3. Make a Covid-19 Care Package

This is a great way for your family to support someone in need. Put together a basket of essential goods, treats, and/or boredom busters and drop them off to someone who is self-isolating or stuck at home. Let your kids help pick some of their favourite things and write an encouraging card for the gift recipient. If you don’t know someone in need contact your parish and ask if they can find someone to give the basket to. Some ideas for items are: cosy socks, toilet paper, scented candles, herbal tea, chocolate, canned soup, journal, colouring book and pencils, blanket, crafting kit, jigsaw puzzle, or homemade cookies

4. Work on a Puzzle

Dedicate some space on a table to work on a large puzzle together as a family. This is a relaxing activity and something that everyone can work away at for a few days (or more) at a time. You can find cheap puzzles of various difficulty levels at Big W, Kmart or discounttoyco.com.au.

5. Build a Small Garden

Get everyone outside of the house and enjoying nature with some gardening activities. You can beautify your outside space and grow some kitchen staples with these ideas.

https://kidsgardening.org/garden-activities-plant-people/

https://kidsgardening.org/garden-activities-herb-spiral-garden/

https://lifestyle.howstuffworks.com/crafts/seasonal/garden-activities-for-kids5.htm

6. Play a Board Game

There’s so much more to the world of board games than Monopoly or Uno and games don’t have to end in arguments. Try out a new game like Tsuro, Sushi Go, Fireball Island, Camel Up, of The Sheriff of Nottingham. If tensions are a bit high you can even try a cooperative game like Forbidden Island. You can find reasonably priced board games on Amazon or gameology.com.au.

7. Read a Novel Aloud

One of my favourite childhood memories is my parents reading my siblings and I the Chronicles of Narnia. Reading together as a family is a great end-of-the-day, calming activity. It will help your children develop a love of reading too. If you don’t enjoy reading aloud, there are many great audiobook options that your can listen too together. Along with the Chronicles of Narnia, some great children’s novels are James and the Giant Peach, Charlotte’s Web, The Hobbit, or the Magic Treehouse series.

8. Arts and Crafts

Staying at home presents a great opportunity to develop creativity. Rather than just getting out the colouring books again, why not try one of these creative crafts?

https://www.easypeasyandfun.com/leaf-hedgehogs-craft/

https://www.happinessishomemade.net/kids-craft-recycled-tin-can-windsocks/

https://www.happinessishomemade.net/bubble-painting/

https://www.parents.com/fun/arts-crafts/kid/crayon-art-crafts-for-kids/

9. Backyard Bootcamp

Get everyone active and have fun by organizing a backyard bootcamp. Work together with your children to come up with a list of challenges and exercises that the whole family can work on. This could include an obstacle course, jumping rope, sit ups, or jumping on a trampoline. Give your children a chance to take the lead and direct everyone else through the exercises.

10. Have a Laugh Challenge

Sometimes you just need to have a good laugh. Laughter not only improves our mood it also has health benefits like reducing stress and even boosting our immune system. Hold a laughter challenge with your family and compete to see who can get the most laughs with their antics. With all of the benefits of laughter, everyone is a winner!