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7 Creative Ways to Keep the Kids Entertained (with Minimal Screen Time!)

Need some ideas for keeping the kids entertained during quarantine? It might be easy to plop them in front of the TV or an iPad, but spending too much time in front of a screen can cause various sleep, learning, and mood disturbances in young children. If your time and schedule allow it, try these 7 creative ways to keep them (and yourself!) busy while staying at home. These activities are a ton of fun and a fit for kids of all ages!

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

1. Build stuff.

Pillow forts, lego castles, campsites, card houses, you name it —  if you can make it with your hands, try it out! You might be surprised what innovative creations may come out of this time. What’s more, studies show that physically making things actually has psychological benefits, including stress reduction and boost in self-esteem.

2. Create a five-star restaurant experience.

Invite your children to dine at one of the finest establishments in town: your kitchen! There are plenty of ways to get creative with this: make a menu complete with the day’s offerings, assign your family members roles as cooks and servers, and maybe set out some candles and your special occasion dishes. If you need inspiration, check out this adorable dad serving his son his first-class meals in style.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

3. Draw a map and lead them on a magical journey.

Everybody loves a good adventure, even if you can’t go far. Transform your home or backyard into a fantasy world, draw a map to guide them through it, and let your kids immerse themselves in make-believe to avoid obstacles and seek treasure. This will require some serious imagination, but that’s part of the fun. Is the sofa a fire-breathing dragon that needs to be avoided? Does the grandfather clock speak in riddles that must be solved before passing by? Your fantasy world, your rules. Have fun with it!

Photo by Jessica Rockowitz

4. Make movies or put on a play.

A fantastic activity for kids who love acting, singing, dancing, writing, and directing. This will work wonders if you have an old camera or phone to allow them to record with, but if you don’t, try putting on a play in real time! Either way, it’s a fun excuse to try on some costumes, get into character, and flex those creative storytelling muscles.

5. Invent all sorts of contests with prizes.

This is also a wonderful way to get chores done under the guise of fun. You decide the prize and the rules. For example: whoever can vacuum the stairs the fastest gets to choose the movie tonight. Totally make it your own so it fits your family’s style, but that’s the general idea!

Photo by Aaron Lee

6. Decorate old white T-shirts with fabric markers or paint.

Drawing on paper is fun, but making art that you can wear is arguably much cooler. You can also do this with socks, canvas bags —  anything made of light-colored fabric.

Photo by Vanessa Serpas

7. Collect and dry flowers.

There are lots of wildflower blooms popping up across the country; if you’re near one, grab the kids and head out on a flower-picking excursion. (Just make sure you’re allowed to pick them! Certain species, like California poppies, are protected by law). Here’s a guide on preserving flowers with four different methods.

How are you keeping your kids entertained during quarantine? Let us know in the comments below!

Cecilia Seiter
Cecilia is a freelance writer and contributor to Slow North. She writes largely about sustainability, especially as it applies to beauty, wellness, and the future of technology. She is a graduate of the journalism department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and is based in Los Angeles, CA.

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