It doesn’t seem like two minutes since the children went back to school after Christmas. And yet, here we are again, wondering how we’re going to keep them busy for a whole week in the midst of a proper British winter. As the rain pours outdoors, many parents turn to the assistance of electronic devices to help pass the time. But, in a world where tech dominates everyday life, we wanted to come up with some screen-free activities you can enjoy together.
So, whether your little ones are 2, 10, or tweens, below you’ll find a list of activities you can enjoy together at home during the February half term.
Our top 10 screen-free activities to keep the kids busy
Whether it’s screen-free activities for a 2 year old, screen-free activities for 10 year olds, or screen-free activities for tweens you’re after, you’ll find plenty of options in our round up below. Scroll on to unveil our top 10 activities for adults and kids looking for screen-free ways to spend their time.
Painting is a great indoor activity for adults and kids of all ages. So, whether you’re looking for screen-free activities for 2-year-olds or tweens, this one should appeal.
For younger children, experimenting with colours and shapes is all part and parcel of the fun. Painting can be a messy activity with little ones but exploring the different materials in their own way is important for early development ( 1).
Older ones might need a little more direction when it comes to what to paint. Encourage your children to draw inspiration from their experiences and the world around them. If there’s a particular artist they’ve been learning about at school, you could use this opportunity to score your child some bonus points with their teacher by encouraging them to create a painting in the style of or taking inspiration from that artist. Remember, learning is still learning even when it's fun!
Playdoh and modelling clay has long been seen as a screen-free activity for adults and kids alike. Modelling is actually super beneficial for your child’s early and continued development too. For one, it can help improve their attention span. But it also encourages them to experience and develop skills that will help them thrive in adulthood like the process of trial and error, and the importance of perseverance ( 2).
Baking is a well-loved activity in a lot of households. But despite it being enjoyable, it can be very messy which can also be off-putting. However, we think a cold and rainy day calls for a spot of baking. Especially for those parents desperately seeking screen-free activities to keep kids entertained.
Choose a simple recipe such as chocolate chip cookies, or cupcakes. Then, guide your children as they weigh and combine the ingredients. Once you’ve baked your sweet treats, let the kids decorate or devour them as they please.
There are hundreds of recipes at your fingertips available with a quick Google search. Or, if you’re completely committed to enjoying screen-free time, pick up an old cookbook in a charity shop or print out your preferred recipes so you can refer to them offline as and when you like!
4. Jigsaw Puzzling
There are actually many benefits to spending time doing jigsaw puzzles. They can lead to improve memory skills and enhance hand-eye coordination. Jigsaw puzzles can also help develop and build on problem-solving skills, while improving our ability to concentrate and focus on the task at hand ( 3). There’s even some evidence to suggest that jigsaw puzzling could reduce stress ( 4).
The right jigsaw to choose will depend on the ages of those engaging in this screen-free activity. Little ones will need a fairly easy jigsaw to start with. With support and practice, your child will soon grow in both confidence and ability. As a screen-free activity for 8-10 year olds, a 500 piece puzzle should be challenging enough (and also easy enough) to keep kids engaged. For tweens, especially those who have puzzled before, you might want to look for 1000+ piece jigsaw puzzles.
The best way to engage tweens in a screen-free activity is to tie something to their interests. So, if your tween loves a specific sport, TV show, or musician, buying a jigsaw with featuring the topic of their enthusiasm is sure to keep them engaged.
5. Build a den
Den building is a great screen-free activity to suggest on a rainy day. Dedicate a room to the Den and then arm your children with various items of bedding including duvets, blankets, and pillows to aid their construction. Depending on the ages of your kids, a little direction may be in order. But there’s no better time to put those years of experience from your own childhood back into practice.
Den building is great for siblings. It encourages them to work together to achieve a shared goal ( 5). Plus, teamwork, cooperation, and compromise are all essential skills that children will carry with them as the move into adulthood.
6. Sow some seeds indoors
While it’s far too cold outside right now to contemplate sowing seeds, it’s never too early to start sowing indoors. All you need is a warm spot that get’s plenty of natural light and you can get a jumpstart on your summer harvest ( 6)! Plus, with a little help from a propagator, keeping your seeds snug enough to germinate will be that bit easier.
If you’re new to the concept of grow-you-own, start with something easy. Cress is pretty easy to grow indoors with little-no equipment at all. Did you ever create a crazy cress haired egghead when you were young? All you need is an empty eggshell (rinsed and dried), some cotton wool (a ball or pad will do fine), and some seeds. Get the kids to draw funny faces on the empty eggshells, soak the cotton wool in water and wring it out, then scatter the seeds onto the cotton wool. Pop the cotton wool into the eggshell, position it on a windowsill that gets plenty of natural light, and wait.
Within just 7 days, your eggs will be starting to sprout a full head of hair ( 7)!
7. Make pancakes
Well, given that pancake day falls within (or exceptionally close to) the February half term break, why not get the kids involved in pancake making? You may even be able to get the tweens in your life having a go at flipping the pancakes.
Set up a preparation station where everyone can choose and add their own toppings and pancake day can offer up to an hour of screen-free family time. And if your household is in dispute over whether to have pancakes for breakfast or after dinner, perhaps our blog post will help you decide.
8. Science experiments
There are literally hundreds of science experiments you can do at home. And with a quick search through your preferred search engine, finding one that aligns with the age and ability of your children is an easy task.
While finding an experiment may call for the use of a screen, providing you note down all the necessary steps (or print them out – whichever is easier) the experiments themselves can be an enjoyable screen-free family activity. Encourage your kids to make a prediction as to what they think the outcome might be ahead of time and then discuss the results in detail afterwards. And it’s really that easy to host a science lesson at home!
9. Listen to music and have a dance-a-thon
Music has existed much longer than TV. So, as a screen-free evening activity, why not collate a playlist of your family’s favourite songs. Or, if you’re musically inclined, make your own music as a family.
Again, there is research that suggests that music can help to reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety ( 8). And so, listening to music as a family before bed has the potential to help you sleep better too. Throw in a few dance moves and purge some of that unspent energy from being cooped up indoors and you’ll be better placed to enjoy an easy bedtime routine.
10. Tell your own bedtime stories
After such a busy day, what better way to wind down than with a good old fashioned bedtime story. If you’re looking for titles that you and the kids will both love, our dedicated blog post can help. Or, simply make up your own. Encourage your children to let their imaginations run wild and you do the same with your own!
Once the bedtime stories are over, it’s time to get your kids tucked up under the covers, say your good nights, and give yourself a pat on the back for enjoying some screen-free quality time as a family.