Many parents look for ways to decrease their children’s screen time. When kids spend hours online each day for education and enrichment purposes, plus social interaction, it’s nice to turn everything off once in a while. This is especially true over holiday vacations with family and friends. So, here are 55 screen-free activities for the whole family to enjoy.

When you can’t get outside

1. Read a book, newspaper or magazine. 

Find used books at local bookstores or libraries. Newspapers and magazines are often available at schools, doctors or dentist’s offices.

2. Play a board game. 

Find some vintage games for sale at thrift stores and flea markets.

3. Play cards.

Most dollar stores sell inexpensive child card games and cards for adults, too.

4. Learn something new.

This can be a new skill or a new language. Check out libraries for ideas and books. Videos and audio tapes are also available.

5. Start a journal.

Help kids express themselves in writing.

6. Draw.

This can be with pencils, crayons, markers or paintbrushes. Let creativity run wild!

7. Color.

Dollar stores have inexpensive coloring books and crayons in a variety of themes. Pick your favorite.

8. Learn to cook or bake something new.

Or you can always take requests from the household and make some favorite dishes.

9. Clean the house.

Tackle a different room every day. Create piles for things you’d like to keep, sell or give away.

10. Create something interesting.

Use items such as paper towel or toilet paper rolls, aluminum foil, scraps of used wrapping paper, toothpicks and old straws.

11. Play with water.

This can include watercolor paintings, bubbles in backyard kiddie pools or click here for other ideas.

12. Host a tea party.

Invite dolls, stuffed animals, friends and neighbors.

13. Write a family history book, recipe book or family tree.

Interview relatives and family friends. Then compile the information and self-publish. These make wonderful gifts at Christmas, Chanukah and other holidays.

14. Complete a puzzle.

Find inexpensive or gently-used puzzles at thrift shops and dollar stores.

15. Throw a party.

Consider different themes such as dance parties or dress up as your favorite superhero.

16. Get creative.

Do something with all the cardboard boxes, extra construction paper, glue and markers you’ve got.

17. Write letters.

Reach out to lawmakers, relatives or a jolly old man in a red suit!

18. Code.

Use screen-free toys – click here for some ideas.

19. Play jacks.

Or marbles!

20. Tie-dye some old t-shirts.

Future designers can also find cheap dresses at a local consignment shop. Turn them into fancy evening wear or costumes.

21. Hold a science fair.

Invite schoolmates.

22. Rearrange furniture.

Redecorate the whole house.

Outside screen-free activities

23. Walk or run a mile every day.

Add different activities to the mile each day. For example, one day you can dance for 800 feet or jump rope every other minute. Make it interesting!

24. Host a garage or yard sale.

Take everything you want to sell from that time you cleaned out the house. Make some money and buy a gift the whole family will enjoy.

25. Create sidewalk art in your neighborhood.

Inspire others to join in!

26. Go camping.

Even if it’s in the backyard.

27. Run a race.

Or create your own 5k or 10k.

28. Hang out for a few hours in the park.

Enjoy the fresh air.

29. Plant a garden.

It can be flowers, food or butterflies. Add a beehive!

30. Ride your bike.

Solo or with friends.

31. Prepare a picnic.

Everyone brings a dish or drink to share with others.

32. Go on a nature hike.

Take pictures and write down what you discover.

33. Make a bug jar.

Set them free when you’re finished.

34. Make bird feeders.

Decorate your backyard.

35. Visit a local farm.

Support their local markets.

36. Climb a tree.

Make sure an adult is supervising.

37. Visit a beach or local watering hole.

Observe what life is like for animals in autumn and winter.

38. Get up to watch the sunrise together.

Do the same at sunset!

39. Take a boat ride together.

Depending on where you live, there could be a kayak or canoe option.

Screen-free activities in the community

40. Learn sign language.

Most communities have a Deaf Center with free classes. Signs and gestures not only help with deaf awareness, but they also increase communication skills among the hearing.

41. Go to a movie theater.

Even better if there’s an old or vintage movie house in town that’s showing a classic holiday film.

42. Advocate for something or someone important.

Gather signatures for a petition, register people to vote, or participate in a rally or awareness march.

43. Open up a neighborhood library.

Allow neighbors to donate books, audio tapes or magazines. Organize them by title and encourage others to join in the process.

44. Pick a random act of kindness.

Buy someone a cup of coffee or return shopping carts from a grocery store’s parking lot.

45. Volunteer.

Lots of worthy causes from which to choose.

46. Start your own business.

Start a family car wash or lemonade stand.

47. Get a job. 

Part-time jobs are great for teenagers.

48. Take photographs and display them in the garage.

Sell tickets to benefit your favorite charity.

49. Put on a comedy show or a play. 

Or maybe a puppet show or concert.

50. Visit local attractions.

Ask about student discounts.

51. Visit your local library.

Sign up for free lessons or workshops.

52. Visit a retirement community.

Read to residents.

53. Spend some time with the animals at a local shelter.

Employees need help walking and loving these pets waiting to be rescued.

54. Go bowling.

Make a day of it.

55. Sign up for KidzToPros Holiday Camp!

Click here to find one near you.

Tips to make it easier

Unplugging and enjoying screen-free activities doesn’t have to be hard. Parents make it easier by putting down their own phones for a while. This is a great time of year to renew those personal connections. Happy holidays!


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