10 Screen-Free Activities to Do with Your Children for Old School Fun

So often we turn to technology for fun, whether it’s a show, a game, an app, or connecting with friends, but we find that we’re missing the good ol’ days of playing four-square, freeze tag, or drawing with sidewalk chalk. And with screens and technology permeating our lives and our children’s lives every day, we’re often antsy to get our kids to stop binging that Netflix show, get off social media, and do something that doesn’t require a screen. So turn off the tech and do one of these 10 screen-free activities with your kids.

Color Paper Window Clings

Ages 6-12

Got clingy kids? Help them make window clings instead! Grab some contact paper to unleash their creativity and bring colorful artwork to your indoor and outdoor areas. All you need for this activity is some basic art supplies, such as markers or paints and paintbrushes and clear or white contact paper. Start off by cutting the contact paper into just the right size for your child’s artwork. Then, let her decorate the paper to her heart’s desire with markers or paints or even a combination of the two. Have your children draw a row of blooming flowers or funny faces. Or, you can choose a theme, such as superheroes or cartoon characters. Once the drawings are complete, cut out the shapes to eliminate any excess white paper around the art. Peel off the backing on the contact paper and stick the artwork to windows all around your home.

Make a Paper Tetris Board Game

Ages 8-12

You don’t need electronics to play one of your favorite computer games. Instead, create your own Tetris-like board game using construction paper and poster board. Begin by having your kids cut colored pieces of construction paper into various shapes. For example, cut squares, rectangles, and L-shaped wedges. Next, draw a grid on a large piece of white poster board to use as your game board. Once you are ready to play, take turns placing each shape on the board while trying to leave as few white spaces as possible. You can add an element of surprise to the game by putting all the cut shapes into a brown paper bag and having each child randomly draw a game piece when it is his or her turn. Form teams or play individually—whichever works best for your crowd.

Play Headline Roulette

Ages 8-12

Inspire some laughs while prompting the kids to think creatively with a game of headline roulette. Simply pool together some newspapers or even magazines from your home, friends, or neighbors to get started. Using a few pairs of kid-friendly scissors, have the crew cut out large words in the newspapers or magazines. Each word should be cut into an individual piece and then placed into a bag or hat for later. Once the cutting frenzy is complete, divide the kids into groups and let each team member draw out a word or two. The team able to make the most interesting headline by piecing together the chosen words wins.

Create Sidewalk Chalk Art

Ages 6-10

When boredom sets in, give your child an almost limitless canvas for creativity with sidewalk chalk. If you need to allot space for multiple kids, create designated areas on your sidewalk or driveway so each child has a chance to draw a masterpiece. Stock up on sidewalk chalk in a variety of colors so your kids can draw flowers in bloom or sketch their bodies in white chalk. Feeling really ambitious? You can even make your own chalk the day before by mixing 1 cup Plaster of Paris, ¼ cup acrylic paint, and ¾ cup water. Pour the mixture into molds for the shape you desire (you can use small plastic cups or shaped molds) and let the mixture dry for twenty-four hours at room temperature. When your little artist’s creativity runs dry, make a hopscotch court or draw games of tic-tac-toe to extend the fun.

Hunt for the Smallest Treasure

Ages 6-12

A magnifying glass can be an endless source of entertainment to kids of all ages. When you supply them with magnifying glasses for this activity, you can also teach them about the smallest bits of nature that often go unseen. Send the kids into grassy areas or flower beds in your yard or a nearby park to see what they can find and investigate up close with their magnifying glasses. From ants and flies to small blades of grass and worms in the dirt, the great outdoors gives your kids a landscape to investigate. Turn this activity into a competitive game by challenging your crew to find the smallest insect. You can pair up the kids or send them off on a solo adventure to see what they can find.

Host a Book Exchange

Ages 6-12

Show your kids how to share their love of reading by hosting a book exchange with their friends, family members, or neighbors. Before the gathering, ask each child to search through their rooms and bookshelves for stories they are willing to part with. Invite friends and family members to gather books they want to share set a time for a book exchange event. Have everyone put their books on your kitchen table for others to browse. You can have each child choose a book to read or you can play a game that awards each kid with a random book. Let the bookworms take the books home to read and then plan a follow-up gathering to let them discuss the plotlines and stories they enjoyed. Make the event even more fun with book-themed decorations and snacks to share.

Hunt for Loose Change to Donate

Ages 6-12

Your house probably has loose coins hiding out in pockets, couch cushions, and at the bottom of bags. Send your children on a scavenger hunt for loose change so they can surprise someone in need with a donation. Before you begin the hunt, make a list of charities of interest to your kids, whether it relates to animals, the environment, or education. Set a target goal for the amount of money you want to raise. Then, send your little ones off to hunt for loose change in the couch cushions, near the washer or dryer, or even on the floor of your vehicles. Your older kids probably have some change lying around in their rooms that they can add to the collection. Once the change is gathered, take the bags to a coin machine to get crisp dollar bills before dropping off the funds for a good cause.

Host a Blindfolded Tasting Party

Ages 6-12

Entertain your kids while dining out with a blindfolded tasting party that is sure to bring giggles to the table. Simply slip a bandana or handkerchief in your purse or travel bag before heading out. Once the food arrives at your table, select one child to wear the blindfold and place a variety of food from each person’s plate on one plate in front of the first player. (Finger foods work best for a tasting party.) Next, have the child try a bite of the food and try to guess what he or she is eating. Keep tally of how many food items he or she guesses correctly. Take turns having each child join the tasting party while blindfolded.

Make Up Weird Words

Ages 8-12

While your children may be familiar with I Spy, you can help them to spy objects while also developing their language skills. Making up weird words requires some imagination, yet no doubt will result in fits of laughter while on the road or while keeping the kids entertained on a shopping trip. The goal of this activity is to transform real words into weird words by substituting the first letter of a word with another letter. For example, if you are at the grocery store and one child spots a tub of butter, he can say, “I spy lutter” instead of “butter.” The leader of the game cannot name a real word when substituting out the first letter of the object. With butter, real words like mutter and putter are not allowed. Once the weird word is announced, each child then has to try to guess the object.

Connect the Words

Ages 8-12

Try this word game when you’re waiting in line somewhere. To begin, start by explaining to the kids that when one person says a word, the next child must say a word that begins with the last letter of the previous word. Ideal for tweens, this game requires your children know how to spell the words used. You can also modify the game for younger children by using simple words such as cat or dog. Once the first child chooses a word, such as book, then the next child must say a word that begins with k, such as kind. The next player must then say a word that begins with the letter d.


screen-free fun Excerpted from Screen-Free Fun: 400 Activities for the Whole Family by Shannon Philpott-Sanders Copyright © 2018 Adams Media, a division of Simon and Schuster. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.