No Screens Required
Modern life seems to be dominated by screens, doesn’t it? Computers. iPads. Television. Tablets. Laptops. Even our phones have large screens on them now!
So what do you do when you want to get away from the screen time? What can you do to inspire some good, simple play time and spark imagination in your children? How can you encourage them to create their own games, to get outside and just run around and be a kid?
Give them options to play that don’t involve a screen!
Now, I know what you’re thinking: Screens are such an important part of our lives! How on earth would our society function without these wonderful tools of computers and phones? It’s impossible to get away from screens, let alone have my children play a game without them! Are you saying that screens are horrible and should never be used?
Let me be clear: I think computers, laptops, phones, and all these devices are wonderful tools! I’m writing to you right now using my laptop, then I’ll be posting this on my blog where you’ll be able to use your phone, your computer, or your tablet or iPad to read what I’ve written. All these devices are fabulous tools I believe we should use and that have brought so much efficiency and positive changes to our society.
Yet, at the same time, when your entire life – and particularly your child’s entire life – begins to revolve around screens…
When books are ignored…
When board games become something that helps create a good scene in a movie, but are never played by your children…
When imagination becomes non-existent…
This is where screens become dangerous.
So here’s the challenge: How do you teach your children harmony? Not necessarily keeping everything in balance, but learning harmony. The harmony of using these wonderful tools with screens, but not allowing their lives to be dominated by them to the point where nothing else matters or exists outside of a screen.
I’ll be honest: I don’t have this one completely figured out. It’s still very much a work in progress on learning this harmony in my family. But one thing I do know: As parents, we need to lead the way in creating and showing this harmony between screens and no screens in our lives. We need to put down our own screens for a while, have our children do the same and have some good “old-fashioned” fun together.
Which then begs the question: What do you do when you put down the screen?
Need some ideas to get you started? Look no further! Here are 10 fun and fabulous ideas your kids can do with or without you. Ideas that will start them on an adventure, inspire their imagination, get their creative ideas flowing, have them learn without even realizing it, and create opportunities for you to connect with them – all without the use of screens!
Idea #1 :: Build an Indoor Fort or Tent
Gather a bunch of pillows from around your house and build a pillow fort in your living room. Or, grab some big sheets and make an indoor tent. Be creative and use your imagination on how to build it! Then do something in your tent or fort. Read books, have a picnic, play a game, or have an indoor camping trip in your new tent.
Idea #2 :: Read a Book!
Create your own story time. Sit down and read books to your little ones or pick a book that you and your older ones have been wanting to read and take turns reading it out loud together. Or simply enjoy reading on your own! You could also designate a ‘chill time’ during the day where everyone gets their book, goes to their own space in the house and reads for a time.
Idea #3 :: Be Creative in the Kitchen
Everyone’s got to eat, right? So why not make preparing food a fun and creative time? Find a recipe in a recipe book and make something different for dinner. You can even find one online and print out the instructions to stay away from the screen as much as you can! Here’s the biggest key: Have your kids help you! Yes, it might be a lot messier with them helping, but if you work together, there will probably be a lot more laughter, too! If you’re not ready to cook dinner with your kids, then try a batch of brownies or cookies. Don’t forget to enjoy them when they come out of the oven!
Idea #4 :: Get Outside
If the weather is warm enough, get outside! Go for a bike ride or a walk. Or head outside to the backyard and enjoy the fresh air. But here’s the most important part: Play with your kids while you’re outside!
Idea #5 :: Make Something Out of Play-Dough
This activity can range from the super simple to the very detailed. It all depends on what you want to do! You can simply pull out the Play-Dough and go to town or you can challenge your child to create a sculpture or a scene from their favorite book with the Play-Dough. You can even try your hand at creating a story told through Play-Dough characters!
If you don’t have any Play-Dough in your house, click here for an easy recipe to make your own.
Idea #6 :: Build with LEGOs
Pull out your LEGOs (big ones or little ones) and get creative building something! If you need some ideas, you can find instruction for all kinds of structures, vehicles, animals, and more online. (I know, finding these instructions does involve a screen. If you can, try to print the instructions to keep the screen time separate from the LEGOs.)
Idea #7 :: Create a Silly Story Together
Are you ready for a word game? This one is super simple and requires only people to play. (You need at least 2 people, but you can include as many as you want.) Here’s what you do: One person starts a story about a topic of their choice. They say a few sentences, then leave off without finishing the story. The next person has to pick up the story and keep it going, adding their own creativity and twist to the story line. After they say a few sentences, the next person gets a turn to add their piece to the story. The game can continue for as long as you would like!
Looking for ideas to get you started? Here are a few:
- A unicorn is wandering through a sunny meadow and stops to admire the flowers. Then, she spots a mango on the ground and…
- A boy is walking down the sidewalk when all of a sudden, a matchbox-size car rolls right across his path. Only this car is being driven by a grasshopper! He starts to run after it and…
- A lamb was walking around the farm and saw an open door, so she went through it. After walking into the kitchen, she decided that she was hungry for some carrots. So, she went to the farmer’s wife and said…
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Idea #8 :: Solve a Puzzle
Mazes. Sudoku (the kind you solve with paper, not the app). Find the hidden object. Crossword puzzles. Word searches. Books loaded with puzzles of all kinds. There are so many different kinds of puzzles available there’s bound to be at least one kind that you like! If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out these free, downloadable puzzles from KrazyDad.com (linked with permission):
If you like these downloads, be sure to jump over to Jim’s website at KrazyDad.com where you’ll find hundreds upon hundreds of fun puzzles for all ages and completely free to download!
Puzzle books are a big hit on our house and we have found that Highlights does a stellar job of creating entertaining, challenging, and yet achievable puzzles for younger kids. Some of our favorites include:
- Top Secret Adventure Series :: Help solve a mystery in this adventure-style puzzle book! You’re a detective on a mission in a different country. Your job is to solve the puzzles on each page that will lead you to discover what was stolen from that country, where it is hidden, and what fictional crook stole the item. Along the way, learn fun facts about the country you’re visiting as you use this information to solve your puzzles.
- Hidden Pictures Books :: Every page is a new puzzle as you try to find the objects hidden within the picture.
- Puzzlemania :: A big book of many kinds of puzzles that are sure to keep your child occupied for hours!
Idea #9 :: Create a Puppet Show
Tap into your child’s creativity and challenge them to come up with a puppet show to perform for you. They can act out the story from one of their favorite books or make up an original story. If you don’t have any puppets, there’s no need to worry! Simply use stuffed animals and pretend like they’re puppets.
Idea #10 :: Play Board Games
Monopoly. Dominos. Go Fish. Memory. Uno. Candy Land. Scrabble. Connect Four. The possibilities are endless! Look in your closet and see what games you have, then get one out and have fun playing it and learning (or re-learning) it together.
One Thing To Remember
As you start on this adventure, there’s one very important thing to remember: This might feel like a big challenge at first!
You see, when you use screens your brain actually starts to become wired to depend on the screen for your entertainment. Pulling away from the screens and intentionally spending time on non-screen activities can be really hard at first because your brain will still want the screen. There’s a whole lot of science and scientific research behind this. The big idea is that you need to be prepared to stick with the non-screen activity to give your brain a chance to catch up.
You could start by setting a timer and turning off all the screens for 30 minutes, 1 hour, or more. You could start the day with no screens and not consider turning them on until after lunch. However it works best for you, do it! But don’t skip it! Don’t miss out on the fun and memories you can create through these simple and enjoyable activities.
Remember, this might be tough at first. Especially if your children are very used to screen time. Be patient and stick with it. Again, it might take some time, but the creative juices will start flowing and imagination will be sparked.
The only question that remains is: Which activity will you start with?
You might have noticed that there are not a lot of crafts included in this list. This wasn’t an oversight! If your children are into crafts and art projects, be sure to check out the post 10 Easy Crafts You Can Do with What You Have.
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- 10 Easy Crafts You Can Do with What You Have
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- Intermediate Mazes, Book 1 by Krazy Dad
- 6×6 Kidoku Puzzles, Book 1 by Krazy Dad
Looking for some of the books or materials mentioned on this page? Click on the photo below to purchase your own copy today.
Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.