Activities,  Cottage School

Engaging Kids without Screens

Keeping kids busy and off technology has been really difficult in our home with so many of our usual options closed. We can’t hop off to the museums, libraries, and splash pads that we are used to–and it’s been difficult for the entire family. Here are a few ideas and tips to help your family stay entertained and fill those long days!

1. Try “reading baskets.” This works for younger kids, but even my 10 year old enjoys this activity. We have a large stack of wide laundry baskets. The kids get a basket, lay a blanket in it, and squeeze themselves in with a few books. While the activity may not last for more than 30 minutes, you can encourage them to “hop in” twice in a day, and it’s a fun stress reliever to stop and read!

2. Cook with your kids. (I know, but it’s worth it!). Think of the 2-3 meals that you’d like your kids to know how to make without your help–and teach them. The short term mess and even frustration of cooking with kids will be well worth the results–I promise! Currently my 7, 8, and 10 year old know how to make pancakes and waffles from scratch (including cooking them on the stove top), french toast, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, and a variety of smoothie recipes from a tried and true smoothie book we love. Not having to get up every morning to make them breakfast has been a relief these last 6 months!

3. Start a club. The kids found my old stamp collection and were shocked to discover something I was interested in as a child. Encourage them to start a club with their siblings or other friends. My son is starting a “Stamp Club” and made little envelopes full of stamps to drop off at a friends houses so they can join in, too!

4. Do online art classes. There are so many wonderful online art classes. The past two weeks my kids have discovered “chalk art” from There are a few reasons why I like this website. First, all you need are chalks. No pencils or water or paints and brushes. We have one large jar and a container with all the chalks. Second, the lessons are easy as short, and my kids have spent up to 2 hours trying the different lessons out! Find a style of art you love, and encourage your kids in the same style for a week, without jumping around to different websites. 

5. Start outdoor projects. Include your kids in any outdoor projects you have and let them create their own “space” if possible. We have a few garden beds, and I’ve been letting the kid take responsibility for those. After a few days, they have started to enjoy the routine, and they also enjoy playing in the mud created nearby after they water. For younger kids bring out bowls or dishes that need cleaning. (Seriously! The stuff that you can’t get the grime off!) The joy of scrubbing and bubbles can also help you get some of your dishes done at the same time! 

6. Design and create a family flag. Using scraps of paper, cut up a bunch of paper and have your kids design their own flag with the papers only. They’ll each need a glue stick, but you may be surprised with how creative they have to get with paper scraps! (You can cut the colored construction paper into a variety of sizes to make sure they have what they need). 

If you’ve other ideas for how to keep your kids entertained and off the screen, please share them with us! 


  • Sandy

    This goes along with the club idea: start collecting money (coins and paper) from other countries. Then have the kids write (or at least look up info) on that country. They may be astounded at the variety in size, color, different names, etc Friends and family can kick in money leftover from various trips, etc.
    If it is enjoyed they could give presentation.

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