100 TV Free Activities
May 26, 2014 | in Nannies
Kids’ watching too much TV has become a hot topic in recent years, especially with the added weight gain that seems to come hand in hand with this sedentary activity. There’s even been some talk about a potential connection between television and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). According to Psych Central, researchers in New Zealand have found that if a child watches more than two hours of television per day between the ages of 5 to 11, the chances of developing symptoms of ADHD are higher than for those kids who didn’t. To keep your child busy and away from the television, try out these 100 TV free activities. Cooking with Kids Michelle Roberts from CBSin Boston writes that kids who get involved in cooking are more likely to eat healthy foods. And who doesn’t want their kids to eat a healthier diet? These 10 sites explain how to involve your kids in cooking and detail how to make each recipe. Remember that the kids will need adult supervision for any recipes that require the stove or sharp knives.
- Let the kids whip up the Chocolate Marshmallow Puffs found on Children’s Recipes for a tasty dessert or snack.
- Vegetable Tamales with Red Chile Sauce is a simple recipe the kids can make for lunch or dinner, says Cooking with Kids.
- Get the kids cooking with this pepperoni pizza pocket. It’s a step up from making a normal pizza, but still simple enough for the kids to make; recipe found on Food Network.
- Each recipe that you make with your child works on different skills that he can learn in the kitchen. To work on measuring, try these yogurt biscuits from Disney Family.
- Break out of your normal pizza rut and get in the kitchen with the kids when you make this BLT pizza from Spoonful.
- You’ll open up a whole new world of flavors for the kids with this Pineapple-Mango Salmon recipe from Parenting.
- Simplify your meal by using a canned spaghetti product in this Pepperoni Spaghetti Bake from Chef Boyardee.
- Ready for some comfort food? Get the kids to make up a batch of Chicken Corn Chowder on a cold day and hear everyone rave. Find the directions on Spatulatta.
- Combine a couple of dishes that kids usually like by making the Chili Mac from TLC.
- Having people over to watch the big game? Get the kids involved by making BBQ Yogurt Dip from Cabot.
Pretend Play According to Psychology Today, pretend play is important for cognitive development in children. Pretending allows children to become someone else and helps them work on their social skills. Learning the difference between what’s real and what’s pretend is also important for cognitive development and requires a lot of imagination, both of which are beneficial for children. Take a look at these 10 sites that explain further how you can encourage pretend play with your kids.
- According to Scholastic, pretend play helps develop social and emotional skills. To enhance these skills, have a tea party with dolls and stuffed animals.
- Bring out the dolls and play house. Children Need to Play explains that pretend play builds problem solving, abstract thought and language skills.
- Play dress up with the kids. When kids ‘try on’ different personalities it helps them build both vocabulary and their confidence, according to Preschoolers.
- Break out the play tools and ask your child to fix the leaky faucet in their play kitchen. The Stay at Home Educator calls this ‘dramatic play’ that helps kids develop intellectual, social, emotional and physical skills.
- Drag out the blocks and encourage your child to build a city. It may not seem like kids learn a lot by playing with blocks, but they are. According to Parents, kids are learning the weight of the blocks, the size and which methods of stacking work and which don’t.
- Take some cues from the
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kitchen and make pretend cupcakes with your child. Mix up some play dough, grab some cupcake wrappers and get busy. No Time for Flash Cards says this activity incorporates shape and color learning.
- Plant a fake garden and take care of it. By using artificial flowers, Styrofoam and a watering can your child can plant, weed and water a garden. Learning 4 Kids explains that pretend play encourages imagination and allows kids to start to learn real life roles.
- Have your child pretend that he is running a pet store. Give him some simple props, like brown paper sacks for food bags and some crayons to decorate them. Bring out the stuffed animals and let the play begin. Simple Kids encourages pretend play that mimics real life experiences to work on social skills.
- Play doctor. Since kids will have to go to the real doctor from time to time it may help to play doctor with them so that they know what to expect. This idea comes from Kids Activities Blog.
- Create different play centers for your kids or prompt different real life scenarios like the ones shown on Dramatic Play. One day your kids can run a pretend bakery and another day they can be a knight in a castle. This allows kids to work on their personalities.
Craft ProjectsEncourage the kids to get creative and use their imaginations by doing some craft projects. If it seems like a project is going to be messy, save yourself some cleanup time later by putting down a vinyl tablecloth before you get started. These 10 craft projects are inexpensive, and many use items that you probably have at home right now. Creative projects will help grow your child’s imagination.
- Challenge your child to build a rocket using recycled items from around the house. Recycling is not only beneficial for both the environment and your wallet, it also forces your child to use his imagination. Get rocket ideas from Martha Stewart.
- Paint a sunburst using water colors, a ruler and other tools you have around the house. According to Small for Big, this art project allows the child to use both his right and left brain skills.
- Grab some pipe cleaners, an egg carton, some markers and googly eyes and let your child create as many animals as he can. Some animal ideas can be found on Enchanted Learning to get him started.
- Make tissue paper flower corsages with your child. Watch the video on PBS to learn how.
- Take some paper and a pencil and trace your child’s feet and then your own. Let your child color the feet and cut them out says Family Education. These foot prints can be turned into animals or other things that allow your child to exercise his creativity.
- Make up a batch of scented play dough for your child to get creative with and he will stay busy for hours. Find the recipe and directions on Lil Sugar.
- Create some melted plastic suncatchers using inexpensive pony beads you may already have at home. The Artful Parent explains how your child can put the beads into a muffin tin or cake pan, heat them in the oven and then let them cool for a beautiful suncatcher.
- Get the kids busy by letting them create a mosaic out of things that you may have lying around the house, says Let the Children Play.
- Grab some contact paper and your recycling bin and let the kids create their own sculpture made out of recycled items. The Imagination Tree suggests adding buttons to the mix of items you give the kids as long as they won’t try to swallow them.
- Use up some of that tissue paper you’ve kept from all of those gift bags and let your child make this Tissue Paper by Number project from Craft Project Ideas.
Home Science ExperimentsScience experiments can be a lot of fun for kids. Depending on how old your child is you can let him be more hands on or you can do most of the experiment. You may want to read the experiment in full before you do it so that you can explain to your child what is happening. There’s no reason the kids can’t learn some science while they do these 10 activities.
- Make some Lava in a Cup for a homemade lava lamp. The directions and some scientific questions can be found on Science Bob.
- Combine science and imaginative play by writing invisible messages using lemon juice and pretending you are a spy. Learn how to read the invisible ink on Kidzworld.
- Get ready for a mess when you and your child make ‘Elephant Toothpaste’ at home. This amazing experiment is explained on Preschool Powol Packets.
- You may have seen colored carnations and roses before, but have you seen blue or orange stalks of celery? Try this fascinating experiment at home by following the directions found on Teaching Tiny Tots.
- Get raisins to dance by trying this interesting experiment! Directions on SciFun.
- Have you heard how different Ivory soap is from other soaps? If you haven’t, you might try this experiment where you put a bar into the microwave. According to Bebe a la Mode Designs, it can get pretty messy, but it’s awesome to watch.
- Make a tornado in a bottle and let your kids spin them over and over again. You probably have all of the ingredients on hand, according to the list on Science Kids.
- This stuff made from corn starch and water has many names, but Exploratorium calls it Outrageous Ooze.
- You will want to do this experiment outside because it’s going to get messy. Get a tube of Mentos candy and a 2 liter of Diet Coke to create your own geyser, says Steve Spangler Science.
- If your kids like bouncy balls, they will love making their own by following the directions on Come Together Kids.
Outdoor ActivitiesIf the weather is suitable, try to get the kids outside. Not only will the fresh air do them good, but it will give you a bit of a break. Mix up a batch of liquid chalk and let the kids get artistic. Have an impromptu treasure/scavenger hunt by putting out all the letters in the alphabet and asking the kids to find something for each letter from inside or outside the house. Another fun activity would be to create a bike and scooter obstacle course. For more fun ideas, check out these 10 sites.
- Make your own liquid chalk and then send the kids get outside to paint some pictures. When they are done they can wash them away with the hose, says Domestic Charm.
- Have an alphabet treasure hunt like the one shown on Boys Germs, where letters are put out and the kids have to find one item per letter before they finish the hunt.
- Take an old pool noodle and cut it in half lengthwise, then let the kids take it outside and use it to have races. You can use marbles, golf balls or matchbox cars. This idea is explained further on Passionate Penny Pincher.
- Is plain old tic-tac-toe getting boring for the kids? How about a larger version played outside with Frisbees instead? Find all the details on A Turtle’s Life for Me.
- Get the kids to work on spelling without even knowing it by playing Scrabble in the yard. Just follow the directions on Constantly Lovestruck.
- Grab some paper and crayons and do some rubbings. Kids who have never done this before will be amazed at how cool this is. A deeper explanation can be found on The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.
- Gather up two jump ropes and get the kids to play Double Dutch. Rules on how to play can be found on Skipping Australia.
- If the weather is nice, send the kids outside at night to look at the stars. Learn more about stargazing at Kids Astronomy.
- If your kids are old enough to ride a bike or have scooters, create an obstacle course in your drive-way using chalk and cones. See more ideas on how to do this on Home Grown Families.
- Let the kids camp in the backyard. Whether they just play in the tent during the day or you let them sleep out there at night is up to you. How Stuff Works has more ideas on camping in the backyard.
Nature Activities Take a walk around the neighborhood or at a local park to check out nature. Whether you are bird watching or collecting leaves you can learn something about the world around you. Grab a sheet of paper and a pencil and have the kids draw a leaf or a bird that they see. If you want to get more involved in a long term project, help the kids plant a garden. These 10 sites are full of more ideas for having fun in nature.
- Create this simple memory game with leaves from Teaching Mama. You will need to gather two leaves from four types of trees to get started.
- There are shapes all around us, and kids can work on recognizing these shapes in nature by trying the nature activity on American Forest Foundation.
- Plant a garden with the kids. It doesn’t have to be a huge garden and can even be a container garden if you live in an apartment. Read Earth Easy for more details on how to get started with your kids.
- Encourage your child to start bird watching. Check out Bird Source to learn about the great Bird Count that takes place in February.
- Make a nature sensory bin for your toddlers to enjoy. Go for a walk in nature and bring back various things with different textures that would be fun for a child to touch. More ideas and an example can be found on Growing a Jeweled Rose.
- Help your child start a rock collection. The tips on In Lieu of Preschool can get you started.
- Older children can create an instrument using items found in nature and a few things found around the house. The directions to make a Sistrum can be found on Daria Music.
- Collect items on a nature walk and create woodland people or nature fairies, as shown on Red Ted Art.
- Plant a sunflower play house for the kids by following the directions on Lasso the Moon.
- Go on a treasure hunt known as geocaching. You can download the GPS coordinates and then start your hunt. More details can be found on Messy Kids.
SongsAccording to Matthew Freeman, development manager for “Sing Up”, music and singing are not only fun for kids, but they also help them developmentally. “Sing Up” is a program that pairs music with education to help improve learning in children. Kids will retain more information if it is set to music than if they learn the information alone, says Freeman. These songs are not only a way to keep the kids away from the TV, but also a way to teach them something valuable. Check out the songs on these 10 sites and see how many you know.
- Find a bunch of nursery rhyme songs on Kids Songs, like Hey Diddle Diddle and Hickory Dickory Dock.
- You can download midi files for each of the songs found on National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences for Kids.
- Songs like Wheels on the Bus and Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes can be listened to on Learning Games for Kids.
- If your child is learning the alphabet, the songs about letters found on Between the Lions might make learning them more fun.
- If you’re looking for clean, fun songs for your tween to listen to in lieu of the racier songs on the radio, check out the ones found on She Knows.
- Play action songs for your little ones to get them moving and singing. Find nine such songs on Learn English Kids.
- You can find the lyrics to many of the kid songs you grew up listening to on Kid Songs, including action songs, cowboy songs and animals songs.
- School House Rock songs, which cover everything from numbers to shapes to conjunctions, can be found on All Music.
- Teach your kids traditional campfire songs, like Kumbaya, If You’re Happy and You Know It and many others, on Song Drops.
- Give your child a head start by teaching him songs from summer camp like Bingo and Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean, found on Ultimate Camp Resource.
Reading TitlesReading to your child will not only help him improve his literacy, it will also help him learn how to listen, how to use his imagination and different vocabulary words. As kids get older and start to follow along in the book, they begin to understand that books are read left to right and top to bottom. These 10 sites contain short stories and book suggestions.
- Find hundreds of bedtime stories to share with your child on Bedtime.
- On East of the Web you can search for stories that you may have heard when you were young, like The Boy Who Cried Wolf and The Frog Prince.
- Classic short stories can be found on Kids Gen, like The Snow Queen or The Miser.
- The Telegraph shows a list of the top 25 best children’s books, and has titles such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
- You can find stories like Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and The Three Little Pigs on American Literature.
- On Short Story you can find many of the Mother Goose stories, including Billy Goats Gruff and Little Miss Muffet, and you can read them or have your child listen to the audio file.
- Seussville is a site that features games, activities and books from Dr. Seuss. You can play the games for free and find descriptions of the different books so that you can download them or get the book for a fee. These books can also be checked out at the library at no cost.
- Check out the Berenstain Bears books, which cover just about every milestone in a young cub’s life, like the first trip to the dentist and going away to camp.
- Read reviews of popular children’s books and series on Best Children’s Books.
- The American Library Association has put together a list of the best books from 2013, so if you are looking for newer books you may want to check out the list.
GamesTeach your kids a new game and encourage them to get some exercise. Games like tag get kids off the couch and active. Maybe you remember some games from your childhood that you can share with your kids. If it’s raining or cold out, break out the board games. To get some game ideas, read through these 10 descriptions.
- Play a variation of tag and hide-and-seek. In this game the person who is ‘it’ has to stand at a tree and count and once he spots someone he has to run back to the tree and call out that person’s name and where they are hiding. More rules can be found on Kidspot.
- Today’s Parent describes how to play classic card games you can teach to your kids, like Go Fish and Crazy Eights.
- Pull out a classic board game such as Trouble or Operation, which are both listed in the top 10 kids’ board games on Belly Belly.
- Play a game with balloons called Balloon Smash, where everyone who’s playing gets two balloons and ties one on each ankle. The players then run around trying to pop the balloons of the other players. More details can be found on Jubed.
- Try making your
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own egg carton memory game like the one on Momtastic. You will need 12 small items that will fit in the egg carton.
- Take some chalk outside and draw a hopscotch course to play on with the kids. Learn how to draw the course and play on Grandparents.
- Play stick ball. Rules and necessary equipment are listed on Parent Dish.
- Draw a four square court with some chalk in your drive-way and grab a big ball. Find the rules for four square on Square Four.
- If you have a group of kids, you can play Red Rover. The rules are simple and you can get a full explanation on Games Kids Play.
- Get a group of kids together, find a wall, grab a tennis ball and you have all you need to play Wall Ball, as described by Super Fun 4 Kids.
Online Educational GamesSome people would say that screen time on a computer is the same as watching TV, but if you monitor how much time your child spends on the computer he can still benefit from playing educational games online. Many of these games work on hand/eye coordination, keyboarding skills, mouse skills and math and English. So when you are trying to get your child to watch less TV, don’t forget that playing games on the computer can be a beneficial way to spend some time as long as it’s not excessive. Check out these 10 educational gaming sites for yourself and see what you think.
- Your preschooler can get online and play games like Pups Save the Day and Dora’s Adventures on Nick Jr.
- Let your kids play online and learn about animals on Sheppard Software. These games cover different animals and habitats.
- Get the kids to play Marble Math or one of the other learning games on ABCya! and they won’t even realize they are learning.
- Fun Brain has tons of fun, educational games like Math Baseball that your child can play.
- Learning Games for Kids has a variety of games for kids, from color mixing to making music.
- Primary Games has games for different subjects, such as spelling, math and physics, so no matter what your child is working on you can find a game for him.
- If your child is just starting to learn to read, the site Starfall is the perfect place to learn letters, sounds and simple words.
- Knowledge Adventure has games for many different subjects and you can choose the game by your child’s age or grade.
- Fisher Price is a trusted name in children’s toys, and now they have an online site where your child can play games about numbers, shapes and colors.
- Let your kids practice site words by playing on Spelling City. There are games for vocabulary words and more.
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