Wednesday, August 29, 2012

15 TV-Free Activities for Kids

Am I the only one who's kindergartner comes straight home from school to his iPod and checks completely out?  Or tunes into Disney and is immediately hypnotized for the rest of the afternoon? . . . .I knew it was just mine. He's obsessed with technology and the over stimulation that it provides. I'm so thankful that he's in school all day now, and forced to stretch his mind and engage with others. Sometimes he likes to escape into his own shell under the cover of technology and not come up for air for hours. I can't help but believe that he's missing out on childhood. Running and jumping and skipping and hiking and playing. Unfortunately, this is all my fault.  It's also something that I am trying desperately to change. In doing so, I've comprised a cute little list of afterschool activities that I think may occupy his time and encourage more active play without the help of the technology. Here's some FREE ideas that steer clear from the TV or iPod:
 Take A Walk
We're lucky to have sidewalks in our neighborhood and a park right 
around the corner. The last time we took a walk, Mr. Grouch
 complained that he was exhausted after we were just a few houses 
down the road. This signaled to me that he is most 
definitely not active enough.  Or he's lazy.  Both are possibilities. 
But taking a walk every few days after school will get him outside,
 in the fresh air, and hopefully create a new sense of exploration for him.
Declare a Family Pillow Hop
This is something my boys love to do.
Gather a bunch of pillows from around the house and 
set them up on the living room floor.
The name of the game is to never touch the floor!
Ready, set, HOP!
Have A Picnic Snack
My boys love to eat outside. And because of their constant
ability to get everything they eat ALL OVER THEM,
I love that they love to eat outside as well.
Take a fun snack and cop a squat in the backyard
or take a blanket to a local park and let them 
enjoy it in the sunshine.  There's no distractions
and I might even pull out of Grouch what all he 
did at school that day. Here's hoping! 
The Goldfish Game
Most moms have goldfish in the house. Isn't this a staple food?
If not, I apologize. Go out and get some and repent
for your naivety into all things parenthood. 
Most also have eggs, therefore, egg cartons are inevitable.
Use both to create this cool game that doubles as a snack!
Use a marker and write numbers in the bottom of each
egg carton space and give your little monster a handful
of fishies. Let them count out the right number
of fish into the designated spaces. 
So we're continuing to academically stimulate after school. . .
I doubt they will notice. 
Board Games
If he's not watching TV, Mr. Grouch wants to play Candyland.
It's constant. It's such a fun game for him.
Of course, I have to let him win most of the time. 
Many board games encourage group play
and teach kids how to be happy whether they win or lose.
(we're working on this. . .)
Guess Who, Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, etc
are always a good time!
Magnetic Tunnel
Take a bunch of old toilet paper rolls and color them fun colors.
Attach them to your fridge using the magnets that you have.
Race a car down your tunnel, or drop a marble or cotton ball.
Rearrange the rolls for different tracks.
Take a Library Break
My boys love to go to Barnes and Noble.
There are plenty of reading nooks and things to look at.
They love books and I'm taking full advantage of this.
If there is not a bookstore, visit the local library.
Mix/Match Mr. Potato Game
If you ever visit my place, don't be surprised to find
an extra nose or arm underneath the couch cushions.
Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head parts are all around.
Here is a fun game to play with them,
(once I round up all the pieces, of course!)
Take pictures of the potatoes dressed up different ways.
Use these as "keys" for the kiddos to copy.
They will enjoy sitting down and trying to replicate
the photos. Good times.
Build A Blanket Fort
This is one of our favorite activities, as you can tell above.
My children love to steal every single blanket from every
corner of the house in order to build a bigger fort than the one before.
We build ours in the living room and they think it's hilarious
when Mom climbs in with them.
This is a good rainy day activity as well!
Alphabet Egg-Stravaganza
What mom doesn't have a surplus of Easter eggs at any given time?
Well, not this one! I'm going to dig out the bags that I've stored
and put them together for a game they can use year-round.
My kindergartner is learning all about letters,
capital and lower-case.
Here, he can learn to match the letters up and do a
little practice at home afterschool!
Make Snack Necklaces
We like to do this right before we go on a little walk.
I use regular yarn or fishing wire for the string
and let them thread some of their favorite treats on their own.
Fruit Loops, Cheez-its, Pretzels, Apple Jacks,
Marshmallows, etc. work great and make for
a easy healthy activity and snack!
The Clothespin Spelling Game
We have a stash of clothespins from forever ago that we had
nothing to do with so we are going to make this fun learning tool.
Write a different letter of the alphabet on each clothespin.
Then let them coordinate their pins to index cards with
vocabulary words on it. Another great one for my
Get Your Rock On
My hubby is a part time musician.
Some of the tendencies that these little monsters of mine have
to make constant noise is genetic.
I reign them in by turning on MY favorite songs FULL BLAST
and we all dance around with our instruments pretending
we are the ones putting on the concert.
This activity really helps when you just can't stand one more minute
of their voices or bickering. Make sure the volume is up
all the way, take a few moments to tune them out, and then
Viola! Good fun for them and a 2.5 minute break for Mom!
Park Play
Parks are easy. Parks are fun. Parks are FREE.
It's as simple as that.  And when you have kiddos who just
need to run off a little steam (or YOU need to run off a little
steam. . .) this is the cure all. I hope wherever you live, there
is one around every corner like there is here.
I'm not sure what I would do if I didn't have this go-to activity.
Recruit a New Cook
I used to try so hard to keep my kids occupied while I cooked
dinner only to have no luck. Now, I've recruited help.
Most of the time, they love the idea of climbing up in a chair
and helping stir the spaghetti or mashing the potatoes.
I'm trying to get these boys of mine ready to cook a romantic
meal for their wives someday!  We're on the right track!

Okay, so these are the ideas that I've had thus far. Obviously, I could use a TON more. Having kids in today's society is hard enough, much less keeping their noses out of every form of technology that seems to try to drag them away. I want my kids to be present. To make friends. To have fun. To play outside and get dirty. To explore and learn and make believe. I know you all are with me! So let's hear it. . . .what are some of your ideas for afterschool activities that are TV-free?


  1. This is good stuff! My boys still make forts...somethings never change no matter how old you get.

  2. Thanks Chris! Heck, I personally still love making forts. I don't think you ever outgrow this one! :)