Are you looking for some fun screen-free activities for kids that don’t take a lot of time or energy to prepare? Here are six of them that will keep your kids engaged for quite a while.
And, they’re low-key, so your kids won’t be running around while playing. These activities are perfect for your kids to do when they aren’t feeling great. If you’re looking for something for your kids to do besides watch TV, here are some great options.
1. Bring Out the Cookie Cutters
Confession: I don’t actually make shaped cookies very often. They just take too much time! But, we have a ton of cookie cutters that I can’t bring myself to part with. So I started experimenting with using them as a learning tool. It’s been a lot of fun!
With cookie cutters, you can have your children:
- Sort them into categories
- Trace around them on paper like stencils
- Make up a story, using them as props
- Put them in and out of a container (perfect for young toddlers!)
- Make patterns
- Pretend play cooking
As long as your cookie cutters don’t have sharp edges, they’re safe for the kids to play with.
Need a fun set of cookie cutters? Try this one! It has numbers, letters, holiday shaped cutters, and more.
2. Have Some Building Fun
Legos, Mega Bloks, K’Nex, Brain Blox Planks, and Lincoln Logs are all favorites around here. My kids will sit and build for quite a while, even when they’re perfectly healthy. But when they’re sick, building keeps their minds engaged, and lets them practice fine motor skills without exerting a lot of energy.
Simply bring them a container full of pieces and let them have some fun. You never know what they’ll create. They may even make a city that takes up your whole table.
3. Bring Car Games Inside
We love car games so much that we don’t only play them in the car! To keep things simple, I like that our car games:
- Don’t typically require materials
- Are meant to be played while sitting
- Engage the kids
- Are easy to learn
Even when you have sick kids, you can have fun as a family with some of these games. Need some inspiration on what to play? Here are some posts that’ll get you started:
Maybe you’ll find a new favorite in those that you can use on your next family road trip!
Please pin this post for later!
4. Use Math Manipulatives in a Creative Way
Do you have any math manipulatives on hand? Let your kids do some free play with them, instead of limiting them to only using them how the book says. Plenty of math manipulatives are fun to play with, and your kids will have a great time trying new things.
My kids enjoy building beautiful patterns with pattern blocks, seeing how many different ways they can stretch out rubber bands on geoboards, and sorting unifix cubes. They’ve even had some fun trying to use manipulatives to make a barn for a toy pony. There’s a lot to learn from sitting and playing, so give your kids the freedom to do so.
They can sit and rest, while using their mind and creating. It’s a win-win. Just make sure they pick up all the pieces, or you’ll be missing some when you need them for math the next time.
Need some new manipulatives? This set is great and has a nice variety for your kids to explore. It’s designed for a specific curriculum, but you don’t have to be using it to buy this set. It just has a lot of the things my kids love most included.
5. The Story Bowl
Grab a large mixing bowl, and send your kids on a mission to find small objects to put inside the bowl. I typically have my kids fetch:
- LEGO mini-figures
- Toy vehicles
- Small plastic animals
- A couple of blocks
- Fun bath toys
We dump everything into the bowl and one person closes their eyes, reaches in, and pulls out four or five objects. That person then tells the rest of us a story, using the items they pulled out as inspiration.
After they’re finished with the story, they put their objects back in and another player takes a turn. You can find more complete directions for this screen free activity in this post:
6. Simple Board and Card Games
I love board games, and we’ve collected quite a few over the years. Here are some that are perfect for sick kids to play. You’ll find two of them linked to different posts, that have some ideas for how to creatively play that game.
The great thing is, you don’t have to have your kids play by the rules. Let them set up the board however they want and free play. It’s a great way to keep them engaged in a new way. They might have chess pieces battle each other, or use all of the pieces from Morphology Jr. to build something fun.
They might even come up with a new game to play from the pieces…
Low-Key Screen Free Activities for Kids
If you’re looking for low-key activities for your kids that don’t involve a screen, I hope you enjoy these ones. They’ll help keep your kids from getting bored, even if they’re sick.
This post first published in 2017. It’s been updated and refreshed.