It’s no secret that keeping kids off screens is a challenge. It’s only getting tougher, and for some, virtual school has made screens unavoidable. Below are some ideas for screenless activities. They can serve as a much-needed change of pace for your child during their virtual school day, or a way to switch it up if you’re seeking to cut down on screen time in general. Either way, limiting screens and finding new ways to engage their brains and eyes will have only positive effects. And if you’re working from home and Zoom fatigue is starting to get you down, feel free to jump in alongside your kids – you’ll both be glad you did.

  1. Get creative in the kitchen. Cooking increases creativity and problem-solving skills. Cook together, or if you’re feeling brave (and they’re old enough), give the kids free reign over the kitchen to create their own dish. Taste at your own risk.
  2. Do some puzzles – jigsaw, crossword, Sudoku, the list is endless. Jigsaw and crossword puzzles can be good ongoing projects to come back to over the course of several days.
  3. Put on a show! Have them choreograph a performance to their favorite song. They can lip-sync, dance, or both, whatever they want. They can have a costume or wear their pajamas. They are the creative director and their only job is to put on the performance of a lifetime.
  4. Get outside – especially if your kids are attending virtual school. Fresh air, sunshine, and a little bit of nature all go a long way, and after sitting in front of a computer or tablet screen for so many hours, getting out into the world feels refreshing.
  5. Move around. Working and learning from home means tons of sitting – way more than most of us were used to before. Have your kids stretch, do yoga, go for walks or bike rides (even if it’s just a quick once around the block), anything to get them up and moving.
  6. Make art. Any kind of art. Designate a space if you can, and let your kids get creative with whatever you have – paint, markers, crayons, tie-dye, beads, even macaroni necklaces – seriously. Anything to get the creative juices flowing and give them a change of pace.
  7. Play board games! Play one-on-one or with as many people in your family as you like. Take it to the next level by making a tournament out of it. Play over the course of the whole week if you only have time for a game or two each day, and declare a grand champion at the very end.
  8. Keep a journal. Writing a personal account can be a fun creative outlet for any kid, especially now that we’re living in such unprecedented times – feel free to use those words to motivate them to chronicle their lives.
  9. Memorize a poem and do a dramatic reading. Permission to be dramatic can be freeing and hilarious.
  10. Take care of a plant – I say this as someone who became a full-blown Plant Lady during the quarantine. Having something to take care of and watch grow is educating and satisfying. You can pick up a simple house plant, some herb or flower seeds to plant outside, or even a whole plant kit if you want to get really into it.
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