Tech-Free Activities for Families

A few years back, I wrote about how, now, it’s time to slow down and enjoy childhood. Let kids be. We all need more family moments with less time spent in the internet’s oblivion. Real people, real things, real-life activities families can bond over. With that in mind….

Discover 7 Tech-Free Activities for Families to Forge Memories

  • Age-Appropriate Board or Card Games

Board games are terrific for playing together as a family at home. Heather’s littlies had so much fun playing for hours together on family game night that they continued to play the games solo. When traveling, board games are bulky. 

For families who go on camping adventures, there’s thousands of games can be played with a standard deck of cards. “Snap” and “Go Fish” are a couple of the easiest card games that can be enjoyed by children old enough to know not to put things in their mouth. Typically, 3 years and over. 

For board games, all of them have ages clearly labeled on the box. You can even use games for education. Like for teens studying Spanish, buy a game of Scrabble in Spanish. Besides, there’s more higher scoring tiles. In the version called Edición en Español, you can score 8 points by using the digraph tiles of LL and RR. Playing two single tiles in place of a digraph doesn’t count because the pronunciation is different. No cheating! 

  • Cook or Bake with the Kids to Skip the Heat and Eat Meals

The kitchen doesn’t need to be off bounds to the kids. The younger they are, the shorter their attention span. Give toddlers quick and messy tasks. Let them pour cool liquids into bowls, mix things up with their hands or a mixing spoon, sprinkle herbs onto food and wash the fruit and veg for you to cut. Give them a pastry brush and let them paint pastries with eggs they’ve beaten themselves. 

By ages 6+, they’ll can read recipes and have a basic understanding of maths. Hone in on that by encouraging them to measure quantities stated in a recipe book. There’s something to be said about being able to do “mental math”. A skill that is on the decline, likely because of calculators being stock apps installed on every smartphone. 

  • Crafts and DIY Projects for Sentimental Home Décor 

When did the modern home become so bland? Walls are decorated with classic art in picture frames, and family photos are hung as a gallery wall to create a minimalist, clutter-free look.

Decorative shelves are used for things that are bought because they look nice. Most have no sentimental appeal, other than (possibly) things that have been gifted. More meaningful displays in family homes can be created when things are made by hand. 

Authentic items like framed calligraphy that’s been drawn by hand, watercolor paintings on a canvas, or bookshelves with bookends hand carved by parents, then painted by the kids. Family friendly DIY project ideas include building and painting scale model kits, 3D puzzles that become shelf décor, and painting story plates – a popular kid’s activity in Japan to help with story recall. 

Taking things up a creative notch are DIY book nook kits, which are like miniature dioramas. Much like the shoebox dioramas kid’s make in school, but on a more miniature scale. They’re the size of a standard paperback book and are designed to slot in between books on a bookshelf creating the illusion of a secret world behind the book.

When your babies grow up and leave the nest, these craft projects you do together today will become memorabilia – when you look at them, you’ll remember the hours spent working on the project with them. Not just things they made themselves to surprise you with a gift like a painted rock, but craft projects you spent quality time as a family together helping to build, assemble, paint, and decorate. The littlest of things can have the most meaning in future years. 

  • Gardening as a Hobby – Not a Chore

Things like mowing the lawn, weeding, scrubbing decking or patios are chores. The hobby side of gardening is far more fun. Engage your kids in it from the planning stage. 

Ask them, what vegetable do you like the most? Ever tasted it fresh, just picked from the plant? How about we grow it.  Oh, your favorite is tomatoes? Did you know there are special ones that Mom or Dad can cook down to make a thick tomato sauce? We could make a pizza. 

We can grow garlic for a tomato and garlic sauce and have some herbs like thyme or basil for more flavor. What else could we have? Chopped bell peppers, chillis for a spicy kick, some crunchy red onions and top it off with slices from a big juicy beefsteak tomato. Let’s call it our pizza garden. Here’s what we need. 

Then teach them how plants grow. Plant biology. We need to make them a bed so they can put roots down in the soil. They need lots of sun, because did you know, plants make their own food? You give them water and they use the nutrients in the soil and sunlight to turn it into sugar.  Magic, eh? Tie in the gardening hobby with quality time in the kitchen using the ingredients, and you’ll be building memories daily. 

  • Picturesque Picnicking with Planned Outdoor Summer Activities

Even in the tale of Robin Hood, his band of Merry Men would dine under trees, sharing bread, cheeses, and drinking beer. Forget backyard grilling. Pack a blanket, some bug spray and fill a basket of light food like sandwiches, chips, crackers and cheese, devilled eggs, sausage rolls, chicken drumsticks and whatever else you fancy.  

Head out to the most picturesque location you can think of and dine in the open, fresh air. For a more memorable day, pack what you need for outdoor activities. Even just a ball, you can play multiple games – hot potato, soccer, dodgeball, or keep away (piggy in the middle). July is National Picnic Month! Plan to go on at least one picnic this summer. No smartphones allowed. Buy a cheap dumb phone in case of emergencies and if you feel a compulsion to photo everything, invest in a film camera. 

  • Encourage Bedtime Reading Beyond the Age of 8

Babies can hear your voice from around 27 weeks into pregnancy. A study by Wonderbly  revealed that 20% of the 2,000 parents surveyed started reading to their babies before they were born, 15% from the day they were born and the majority of parents stop reading to their kids at the age of eight. Just because you stop reading to them, doesn’t need to mean that the bedtime reading ritual ends. 

If you want to encourage kids to continue the bedtime reading ritual, make them a space that’s dedicated to reading. Put a bean bag under a loft bed or convert a corner of a room or space under a staircase into a cozy reading nook (#6 on this list about developing a reading habit).  If you have the wall space for game posters, consider adding one or two because they’re great at encouraging creative thinking.

  • Make it Fun to Move by Playing Sports or Doing Active Activities as a Family

From ages 3 to 5 years, kids should be active throughout the day. From 6- to 17-year-old, 1 hour daily is what kids should be getting. Technology is making that harder. It’s unlikely you’ll get a 6-year-old to do push ups 3 x weekly. (Can’t believe the CDC recommend that). You can easily get them to do bone-strengthening exercises by playing jump ropes or put a basketball hoop in the yard to let them jump around. 

For aerobic activities, running’s likely to be boring, unless a sport is involved. A bike ride together though, much different.  An hour at a skating rink, different again. Swimming, families spend hours at waterparks, or for a more relaxing activity, take a trip out to a freshwater swimming hole. If you’re more of the adventurous type, keen to swim in natural bodies of water like creeks and rivers, be sure you know how to stay safe before venturing into the water. 


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