My Tater Tot is turning 7 in two weeks, and is all hung up on this Minecraft thing. She would play it all day long if I let her. And when her friends come over, and I tell them they can’t play video games, they sit and talk about Minecraft. I seriously don’t get it. But, then again, I spent way too many hours playing Oregon Trail and Roller Coaster Tycoon in my younger days, but these new video game obsessions are beyond me.
Anyway, we’ve decided to take a 6 week summer break from school, which means she’s had more freedom to play Minecraft and watch Netflix than she would during the school year, but I still hear “Mommy, I’m bored!” more often than I would care to admit.
Since it’s tempting to just turn on a show or computer game when the kids complain about being bored, here are 15 non-screen time ideas for keeping the boredom out of your home this summer.
1. Invent Something
-We love to invent things in our house. From straws to tape to rubber bands, little “useless” pieces of stuff are perfect for encouraging the imagination.
[See My Post “20 Household Objects for Inventor Kids“]
2. Two Words: Cardboard Box
-Cardboard boxes are the ideal blank slate for kids. They can decorate them, turn them into houses, or rocket ships, or race cars, or forts. Small boxes and big boxes alike are an immediate boredom buster for kids of all ages.
3. Do a Science Experiment
-Tater loooovvvvesss science experiments. But, I don’t always have the time to supervise, and I need something that can entertain 3 year old Junior as wel.. So, sometimes I will set them up with Fizzy Colors, my favorite kid friendly science experiment with ingredients you already have at home. All you need is a baking sheet, baking soda, vinegar, and food coloring! This keeps my kids occupied for a long time, and it’s educational! (Shhhh, don’t tell them
4. Go On a Scavenger Hunt
You can get all fancy and print out a list of things for the kids to find around the house and outside, but my favorite at-home scavenger hunt is a simple Alphabet Hunt. Kids look around the house for things that start with each letter of the alphabet…in order…(A is for apple, B is for bathtub, C is for car keys, etc.) Add even more time to this activity by having them write out or draw a picture of the things they find.
5. Create an Obstacle Course
-My kids love doing obstacle courses outside (and for extra bonus points, Junior’s OT recommends them as part of his at-home therapy!) Tater is also super obsessed with my timing her, so this is a fun afternoon “it’s only 2pm, how am I going to survive until Daddy gets home” activity. It doesn’t have to be ornate…it can be as simple as “Jump 3 times, kick the ball, touch the fence, throw the Frisbee, and run back to start”.
6. Build a Truck/Car/Marble/Ball Run
-Using household items and toys such as blocks, wood, even pipe , make ramps and runs for cars and/or marbles.
7. Family Olympics
-I used to be athletic…then I had kids and my body was never quite the same. However, I can still play a mean game of balloon volleyball, and my long jump isn’t too bad either. The kids love competing against each other (and me!) when we do a Family Olympics.
8. Design Your Own ______
-When we studied Ancient Rome a couple months ago, I had Tater research Roman food, and create a menu for a restaurant she would theoretically open. It was fun and educational. Have your child design a menu for their own restaurant, a newspaper or magazine for kids, or a house. You may have a little architect in the making!
9. Take a Different Road
-When Junior was a colicky baby, the only thing that would help him get to sleep was a car ride. So, every afternoon about naptime, I would drive. And drive. And drive. And bored of the normal roads we took, I started exploring alternate routes. We found a mushroom farm (stinky!), a couple of horse ranches, and a bunch of shortcuts I never even knew existed. Even though the kids are 3 and almost 7 now, sometimes we will just pile in the car to drive and explore a different road.
10. Cloud Pictures
This is one of my very favorite summer activities ever. It so reminds me of my childhood to lay in the backyard and cloud gaze, and Tater has begun to enjoy it as well. Right this moment out my window, I can see a crab, a submarine, and a woman playing a trumpet.
11. Look Through Old Photos
With digital photos I never seem to get around to getting them off my computer, but pull out those snapshots from the 80s and 90s and show your children some photos from when you were younger. They may be shocked that you had a life before they were born!
12. Lend a Helping Hand
Do you have an elderly neighbor or relative? Ask if there are any odd jobs they need help with and volunteer with your children. If they don’t need anything, they will always appreciate a handmade “Thinking of You” card your child can draw.
13. Play a Game
One time I was babysitting in college, and I asked the little boy if he had any games. He led me to their Nintendo. I asked if he had any “real” games, and his baffled look said it all–they owned no board games. I have always been a board game aficionado, and I’m trying to pass that love on to my kids. Some of Tater’s favorite board games include: (affiliate links)
14. Craft with Old Magazines
-I try to keep some of my old magazines for crafts, and the kids love making collages by cutting out pictures and letters from magazines and gluing them on to a piece of construction paper.
15. Play Hide and Seek
-This is an oldie, but a goodie. Especially because kids can play this by themselves (minus the inevitable “Mom, have you seen ____” question every 45 seconds
What is your favorite Screen Free activity for kids?