National TV-Turnoff Week is celebrated in April, but don’t wait until April to enjoy your family’s hiatus from the screen. Here are 14 fun, simple things you can do with your young children. These activities don’t take a lot of planning or expense, and the rewards are immeasurable. Enjoy!
The following activities need only a few simple supplies.
- A creativity book. Make a book by lacing several pages of paper together with yarn. At the bottom of each page, give a topic for your children to draw. For example, “Draw your favorite vacation spot” or “Create a new animal.”
- A mini scrapbook. Have your child cut out theme pictures from old magazines (such as puppies and kittens or things that remind them of summer) to paste in the book.
- A mosaic. Create one by gluing buttons, pasta, rice, egg shells, torn pieces of construction paper, yarn, felt, etc. on paper, cans, or jars.
- A life-sized self portrait. Have your child lie down on a piece of large white paper and outline her shape. Then she can then draw in the eyes, nose, mouth, and clothes. Give her glue and yarn for the hair to complete the masterpiece.
- A tambourine. With a hole puncher, punch holes around two aluminum pie plates. (Make sure each hole is the same distance apart so that when the plates are put together, they will match up). Put pebbles or uncooked rice into one of the plates. Cover with the other plate. Weave yarn through the holes and tie a strong knot.
- Make an inexpensive greenhouse. Plant a small plant inside an upcycled container. Cut off the top of a two-liter soda bottle and discard. Place the remaining part of the bottle upside down over the plant and you have an instant greenhouse.
- Play a board game marathon. Set up different games on tables around the room. Divide the family into groups and rotate games every 15 minutes so that everyone has a chance to play them all.
- Hold a mini-Olympics. Set up a mini obstacle course with things for children to jump over and maneuver through.
- Hold a dance contest. Play some funky music and create categories like the fastest, the silliest, and ”the jumpiest” to get the children moving.
- Have a relay race. Players must balance a golf ball or hard-boiled egg on a spoon and race by walking quickly from one point to another without dropping the egg.
- Pin the tail on the monkey. Draw a monkey on poster board and make several numbered tails. Blindfold a player, and have him or her tape the tail on the monkey.
- Have a picnic. Even if the weather is a little chilly, throw someold blankets on the living room floor.
- Have a paint party. Tape large sheets of white paper to an outside wall. Give everyone a large, old T-shirt and have a paint party. (Tape newspaper on the wall first to prevent mishaps.)
- Enjoy some old-fashioned games. Play hide and seek with your kids, dig out a yo-yo to learn some new tricks or have a hula hoop contest.
Of course, don’t forget to end each day with a reading session. Why not snuggle with your children and read a chapter book?
Linda Chiara is a freelance writer and the mother of three sons who, thankfully, prefer sports to TV.