• Leah Soldner

10 Things You Can Do With Your Child That Don't Involve Screen Time

The use of digital apps and media is on the rise and, while it's currently necessary to facilitate online learning, it doesn't and shouldn't be the norm..

If you want to cut down on screen time for your kids, but you also need to get stuff done—or just take a few minutes for yourself—it can be hard to think of fun ways to keep kids engaged and busy. This list of 10 tech-free ways to entertain your preschooler or toddler may take a bit more energy or advance planning than just handing your child your phone , but encouraging your child to do something constructive is worth the extra effort in the long run.

Here are 10 fun and old-school activities to keep your child busy.

Give children toys that are powered by their imagination, not by batteries.

1. Create a game box.

Fill a box with things your child can play with alone—items like coloring books, playing cards, lacing beads, paint supplies, puzzles, etc. When you need to keep your kids busy, give them the box. Your child might resist a bit at first, but the more you do it, the more they'll accept “game box time" as part of their routine.

Let your child be original, show off their style, and tell their story.

2. Have Them Make Their own Cartoon

Instead of watching cartoons, have your children make their own. Give them a piece of paper and some crayons, and ask them to draw you a hero and a bad guy. When they're done, let them come back and tell you their hero's story.

3. Create an Idea Box

Brainstorm ideas with your children about what they can do to overcome boredom. Write down their suggestions, and put them in an empty box. Then, the next time they're bored, have them pick out one of their own suggestions. Given that it was their idea, they'll be more willing to actually do it.

4. Let Them Help YOU

If you're cooking or cleaning, let them assist you. Give them a job they can handle. For young kids, that might be stringing beans or setting the table. For older kids, that might be slicing vegetables, sweeping the house or cleaning their room.

5. Give Them an Important Task.

Give your child a task, and make it a really big deal. Tell them they need to draw a picture for daddy, or that they need to make a Lego fort for Grandma. If they think it's an important job, they won't complain about working on it independently.

6. Grow A Garden

Give your child a small plant to care for. Maybe they can grow a herb garden or a few plants on the windowsill. Have them water the plant each day and when you need a few moments, go and ask them to check on it. They'll be immersed in their work AND learning how to be responsible.

7. Play with locks and bolts

Hand your child a lock and a key or a nut and bolt and let them play with it. Young kids, especially, will be mesmerized by the act of unlocking something—and they'll develop their motor skills while they're at it. Give them a mixed bag, and see if they can figure out which lock goes with which key.

8. Suggest a Science Experiment.

Let your kids discover the world. Teach or show them something about an object or their surroundings and let them explore it. That might mean giving them a magnet and telling them to see what sticks, or giving them a bowl of water and prompting them to see what will float and what will sink.

9. Have Your Child Help With Household Chores

While this isn't always a popular option, but can be good for them. If you're going to clean the kitchen, have your children clean their rooms. Not only will you get time to actually do your job, but your kids will learn that they have a role in keeping the house clean, too.

10. Give New Tools to Explore

Handing a child a new tool can keep them occupied for a pretty long time. Give your kids a flashlight, a combination lock or a magnifying glass, and let them figure out how it works for themselves.

Keeping little ones occupied is tough, but trying new activities for kids will get them used to playing independently, keep them away from too much screen time and stop you parents from hearing the constant refrain of "I'm bored".