If your kids are home from school for a while and you can’t do your normal outings like library time, but you don’t want the next who-knows-how many weeks to become a screen free-for-all, here are some suggestions to help you keep everyone from going too stir crazy.
20 Screen-Free Activities When You’re Stuck at Home
- Play a game. I love a good game, whether it’s a board game or a card game, and they’re ESPECIALLY good for helping you focus on something else and spend quality time with your child.Some of my favorite games for really young kids are here and these are some of my favorite games for two people.
- Read aloud. There is something SO calming about reading with your child and it takes virtually no brain power. Here are some book lists to get you started:
- Favorite funny picture books (if you need a good laugh right now – and who doesn’t?)
- 30 chapter books to read to preschoolers and kindergarteners
- AND here are 10 tips for a successful read aloud experience
- Listen to an audiobook. If you need your child to be entertained without you, audiobooks are a godsend. If your child has never listened before, here are some tips to getting started. And you can buy audiobooks for super cheap on Audible here. Or sign up for a free month of Scribd which has a TON of audiobooks for children (I have a list of more than 40 of our favorites available on Scribd!)
- Plant a little garden. A couple of weeks is enough time to see some serious growth in herbs or peas. Order some seeds from Amazon or pick them up with your groceries at the store.
- Do music time. We used to do this weekly when Ella was a toddler and I’m bringing it back now that we’re home for the foreseeable future. It’s really a pick-me-up and such a great way to keep your child engaged and happy for 20-30 minutes. Here’s a list of our favorite songs (pick your own or just pull the ones I listed up on YouTube or Apple Music!)
- Print out this reading chart. I created this free Summer Reading Chart last year but it’s perfect for this year when we’re having summer vacation a little early (and, you know, can’t really go anywhere). You can use it to track daily reading and do the challenges along the way!
- Give your child some chores. The house is probably going to be a little messier with everyone around all day, so give those kids some chores! Here are some of my 20 favorites for preschoolers and some of my favorite chores that even a 2-3 year old can do!
- Listen to a podcast. We love a good podcast in our family. This is our very favorite and this is a close second!
- Do a puzzle. This is one of our favorite family activities. Turn on some quiet music or an audiobook while you work or just enjoy chatting together. We put ours on a foam core board so we can move it around easily. This is my favorite puzzle brand.
- Try an activity book. I LOVE activity books and I’ve listed some of our very favorites here. I also am newly in love with these color by number ones.
- Practice drawing with a drawing book. If your library is still open, grab some drawing books or order a few for your home collection (Book Outlet is a great place to look for ones for super inexpensive!). Or if you don’t have any drawing books available, try Art Hub for Kids, which is, admittedly, on a screen.
- Have a dance party. If everyone is getting restless or crabby, turn on some music and go to town! If you don’t have a streaming service, you can do a free month of Apple Music here!
- Print out coloring pages. I don’t know why a printed coloring page is so much more thrilling than a coloring book, but it is. I just google “lion coloring pages” or whatever my girls are into and then print them out. (Or subscribe to Color Happy or Sarah Jane Studios for gorgeous designs you can print over and over again for $5).
- Memorize a poem together. A poem is like a little treasure you can carry around in your pocket and reciting it when you feel stressed or scared can be really reassuring (for children AND adults!). Here are some of my favorite poetry books for children.
- Write a letter to a grandparent. Draw a picture or write a full on letter. You can either send it by real mail or just snap a photo of it and text or email it.
- Do family yoga. This is a great way to move your body and center yourself. Also, the Down Dog yoga app is free for the rest of the month thanks to Corona!
- Start a family book club. You might be stuck at home, but FaceTime or Google Hangouts mean you can chat with cousins about favorite books or read along with grandparents. Here are some great picks for elementary schoolers.
- Institute quiet time. If your kids are home all day, every day for the foreseeable future, you NEED quiet time. It breaks up the day and helps you maintain your sanity. Here’s all my best tips for starting quiet time and making it happen.
- Go for a walk if you’re in a place that’s safe to do so. Getting a little fresh air, even a few minutes worth, is such a game changer. If you’re able to, walk around the block or go for a quick jog.
- Teach your child to read. If you have a long stretch of time at home, a little work every day on reading can make a huge difference. Here are all the tools I’ve used to teach my three oldest children to read.
- Have an at-home story time. If you can’t attend story time at the library, do one at one! Here are some great tips for making that happen when it’s just you and your child.
Do you have other ideas for screen-free activities at home? I’d love to hear!