6 Gadget-Free Ways to Keep Kids Busy

6 Gadget-Free Ways to Keep Kids Busy

Yes, there are non-electronic ways to keep your kids entertained!

By Betsy Voreacos

It’s all too easy to plop our kids down in front of a screen and steal an hour or two of peace and quiet. And it is OK to do that every now and then. It really is. But when electronics become full-time babysitters, it’s probably time to explore other options.

Here are some fun ways to keep your kids occupied and entertained without gadgets, giving you time to do the laundry, scrub the kitchen floors or just sit on the couch and read a book. Yeah, right.

1. Unleash the rapper within
Everyone’s got a song to sing. It just needs to be written. Challenge your kids to write a rap song, either collectively or individually. Send them off to a private room for a half hour or hour to write and practice, and then schedule a performance for later in the day. Just make sure you’re completely present for the concert and grab a front row seat!

2. Race the clock
Kids love a little healthy competition, and you can make this work to your advantage. Set the timer for 15 minutes, and have your kids race around their bedroom or the family room and clean up as much as they can. Give them a bag for trash (check it before you take it to the curb!) and one for items that need to be relocated. You’ll be amazed at how quickly they can clean when they’re racing against a sibling!

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3. Plan a picture-perfect scavenger hunt
This will take a little pre-planning and list-making, but the game can last an hour or more. If your kids are old enough, have them venture out into the neighborhood on a scavenger hunt. Only they won’t collect items; they’ll photograph them with a disposable camera. If your kids are too young to wander outside alone, you can do the same thing indoors or in your backyard. Things to photograph can include a dog on a leash, a blue car, a yellow flower or leaf (depending on the season), a crack in the sidewalk, a house with a red door, an empty bottle (extra points to pick it up and recycle it!), a mailbox with the flag up, a newspaper on a driveway, a hole in the ground, a squirrel or two people in a conversation.

4. Puzzle them
Jigsaw puzzles are no longer a staple in most households, but if given the opportunity, kids tend to get sucked right in. Purchase an age-appropriate puzzle with a relevant picture. Perhaps a seascape of the shoreline you visited last summer, an apple orchard to commemorate the upcoming class apple picking trip, or simply a cool design will be intriguing. You can check out yard sales for cheap puzzles, but if you want to guarantee that all the pieces are intact, look online or in a discount retail store for a good bargain.


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5. Get crafty
Put your old magazines to good use. Give your kids some scissors, a glue stick, and a piece of poster board, and have them create a work of art. Suggest a theme such as happiness or friendship or a color scheme to help them focus. Encourage them to be thoughtful as they glue and not to pick just any old pictures. Later, they can present their work and tell the story of their creation. Alternatively, use a piece of folded construction paper and have them decorate a birthday card or a note card to send to Grandma – with a note inside, of course!

6. Throw a dance-a-thon
Hold a dance-a-thon in the backyard or family room. Invite friends over with the goal of dancing non-stop for 30 minutes (or more!). Set up a playlist, supply plenty of water, and at the end treat the kids to some pizza. Another way to use music as a diversion is to have your kids pick their favorite song and choreograph a dance routine, either together or individually. The longer the song, the better. And make sure you emphasize the importance of practice, practice, practice!

How do you keep your kids occupied?

Betsy lives with her family a stone’s throw from New York City. An overly involved mother of three children, Betsy has always been acutely aware of her shortcomings as a parent, not to mention those of her children. She documents her life in the brutally honest Old Minivans Die Hard.

Image ©iStock.com/mavoimages

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