So we all know that time on the iPad, TV or computer is less than ideal for our little one’s development don’t we? That the term ‘educational’ in no way makes screen time an equal match for human interaction, or imagination-yes? Great, then instead of covering what you already know, we can skip to the practical part; ideas for keeping the little ones busy without screen time.
1. Listening Stories
Also known as audio books, these are fabulous for home use as well as in the car. We love ‘Mem Fox Magic’ as well our recent discovery, ‘Sparkle Stories’. They release a free story each week via iTunes and have a different series for each age group.
2. Bug Hunt
Print, decorate (and ideally laminate) pictures of bugs and insects. While the children are covering their eyes, hide the bugs all over the room.Then leave and let the hunting begin! My children like a specific backpack for the job, as well as torches and a magnifying glass.
3. Group Mural
I don’t know why, but drawing on a shared giant piece of paper is far more engaging than drawing solo! We use a big roll of paper from Ikea and stick the corners down with some masking tape to keep it secure. Set up and escape!
4. Play Cooking
Get out a variety of bowls, utensils, silicone cupcake moulds and baking trays. Then add play dough, plasticine, dried chickpeas or dried broad beans. Designate an area for the oven (a chair works well) and let your children’s imagination run wild.
5. Treasure Hunt
This activity is similar to a bug hunt but with the addition of a sensory experience. Hide some gems in the garden, sandpit or in a large container of bark chips. Then leave the children to it! A hint from me: if you have a little one due to wake up or visit soon, firstly count how many gems you are going to hide. Then you’ll know when they have all been safely collected.
So there you have it, 5 ideas to keep the little ones busy without the use of screen time. Bear in mind that reducing daily screen time will require some initial effort and persistence on your part. In exchange, you will be rewarded with children who can happily occupy themselves for short bursts of time. And that is a precious life skill that they will one day thank you for.
“Kids don’t remember their best day of television” Unknown.