Fun Activities to Fill a Screen-Free Weekend

Two children are reading a book in bed under a sheet.  Little boy has a small headlamp on his head.  They are hiding under a homemade playing tent, made of bedding. Next to him, the little girl is holding her finger on the page of the book.

It’s easy to have the kids turn to screens when we need to get a few things done on the weekend. And we’re generally okay with screens when they’ve already been outside playing all day.

But from time to time we like to press the reset button and go for a screen-free weekend. It’s totally up to your preference what that looks like. It could mean no after-dinner movies or TV shows, or the focus could be more on going sans screen during the daytime.

Either way, we’ve got some great ideas for activities to do that will make them say “i-what”?

Make Your Own Tree House Model

Kids adore tree houses—the sense of freedom and being surrounded by nature. But even more fun than being in a real tree house is making a model of a dream tree house. Let the kids ransack the recycling bin for paper towel tubes, cereal boxes, cardboard, and anything else they might need to get creating. Lots and lots of masking tape will be required, as well as some help with cutting. Consider adding in LEGO, tinker toys or K’Nex for more structural integrity. And have fun!

Image credit https://www.pinterest.com/pin/76420524906191342/

Kitchen Creations

Let the kids loose in the kitchen to make culinary creations for each other. Our ground rules are: 1) Nothing barf-worthy—these need to be tasty creations 2) Use only tiny amounts of ingredients to make a spoonful of the creation 3) Chefs are also responsible for clean-up. Some of the inspired creations that have come out of our kitchen include nacho pancakes and blueberries on rice cakes. Added bonus—kids start to learn some pretty amazing kitchen skills and snacks are taken care of.

Image credit Kurman Communications https://www.flickr.com/photos/kurmanphotos/16597796347

Build a Fort

Let’s really commit to this one, shall we? We’re talking a fort the size of the living room, with every pillow and blanket in the house called up to participate. We’re thinking a fort with multiple rooms, varying levels, and even tunnels! Make it a house for the stuffies and decorate each room according to the toy’s “personality”. For clean-up fun, let everyone (parents too) choose one song for an epic playlist. Blast the tunes and dance while you fold those sheets.

Video Credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEQvfxQGvss

Bathtub Volcano

There’s no need to build the paper base to have fun with this popular science experiment. Grab a water bottle or small bucket, vinegar and baking soda and head to the bathtub or shower (changing into bathing suits first is optional). Add some baking soda to the bottom of the bottle or bucket (in the bathtub or shower). Add vinegar slowly and watch what happens. Adjust quantities on the next go to ensure the frothy concoction spills over the rim of the bucket or bottle. And when you’re all done with the experimenting, close the drain, pour out the vinegar and baking soda, and have a mini water fight while scrubbing the tub with those all-natural cleaners.

Image credit Kate Ter Haar https://www.flickr.com/photos/katerha/5703151566/

Puppet Show

Fret not, there are zero artistic skills required. Set the kids up with popsicle sticks, markers, stickers, scissors, paper, and anything else they need to go wild creatively to make their own cast. The puppets can be as simple as two-dimensional characters drawn, decorated and then cut out and taped to the popsicle sticks. Themes are optional but can certainly kick-start the creative process. Consider “under the sea”, “evil wizards and good dragons”, or “life in a tree house”. Encourage the kids to consider the elements of a story: characters, a “problem” or task to solve, and a solution. Invite the whole family to watch the performance.

Image credit Rick Wagner https://www.flickr.com/photos/wagnerr/3591645073/

Going cold turkey from screens isn’t as scary as it sounds. We’ve found the kids can spend hours with some of these activities, or circulate through a series of stations. Some quiet reading or drawing interspersed throughout helps manage energy levels and focus, as well. Better moods, better memories.

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