“Mommy, will you play with me?” or “I’m bored!” are common phrases for children ages two and up. You can do activities with your child that don’t involve a television or an Ipad. Your kids will actually enjoy the time spent with you more than the time spent with their media. In fact, they would choose it hands down every time especially if you replied, “Yes! I will play with you.” or “I have an idea of something we can do!” Here are three easy as A-B-C, cheap, and fun activities you can do with your kiddos that don’t involve media of any kind. Have fun playing with your kids!
Animal Footprints – what you’ll need: scrap wood/styrofoam/thick paper, scissors, string or a pair of shoelaces
Your kids can easily make their own mystery tracks in snow or dirt – and then lead an expedition to track the elusive critter PLUS you will be OUTSIDE. You can create footprint makers out of all kinds of scrap material. Styrofoam or small blocks or plywood work well. Draw a pattern on paper; consider webbed feet (do you know where those flippers from summer are?), feet with exaggerated toes or claws (search for cool tree branches for some interesting “bird” or “monster” feet), or feet with pads. If you want to get real fancy, take a trip to the library and consult a nature guide. Cut out the footprints, then fashion two straps made out of shoelaces, string, or ribbon. The “straps” will hold the footprint maker to your child’s shoes or boots. Be careful not to make the footprints too big or your child may not be able to walk in them. Next, hit the great outdoors! Your child can be the “track maker” and you or the rest of your family or friends can be the trackers. By the way, the imaginary animals can only be snagged by non-violent means and they must be released back into to the wild after capture.
Balloon Volleyball – what you’ll need: string, two chairs, a balloon
A rigorous game of volleyball is probably the last thing you want in your living room…unless the “ball” happens to be a balloon! You can easily turn any room into a safe volleyball court. Clear away a space and tie a string to the backs of two chairs. You now have a playing field and a net. Blow up a balloon. Grab a marker and give your balloon a face. You’re ready for action! Encourage your kids to make up their own rules. The game is only limited by the size of their imaginations and the room (of course).
Columbus – what you’ll need: smooth table surface, salt shaker or some other item that slides smoothly on the table
If you have a smooth table and an object that will slide harmlessly across it you can play this game. Two players sit at opposite ends of the table; one slides the shaker to the other. The object is to come as close to the edge as possible to the edge without going over. Explain that back in the old days explorers used to fear going over the edge of the world until Columbus came along – hence the name of the game.
For every two slides, one from each person, the person who comes closest to the edge without going over wins. You’ll find that the fun of the activity will transcend winning or losing. The real enjoyment comes from letting your shaker go…and watching it slide over the lip of the table, then stop just before tipping over!
You may find that once this activity has begun, it takes a considerable amount of willpower to stop. Helpful hint: place a blanket or pillow on the floor underneath the edges of the table.
From “365 TV-Free Activities You Can Do with Your Child” by Steve & Ruth Bennett