It’s so easy, while the rest of the world is joking about it, to stick your kids with their devices to pass the time during this “new normal” of staying at home. But it doesn’t have to be that way! If they aren’t already getting tired of their TikToks and screen time, implement a “no screen” rule for a certain amount of time each day to get their minds active without relying on digital influence.
“No screen time” is healthy, important, and it can be fun – don’t make it seem like a punishment. Here are some great ideas to propose to them.
Tips that will help your children stay connected to the outdoors while inside
Get in touch with nature through art
Art time is a fun and quiet activity that’s engaging and creative. Use old nature magazines or printouts of stock images to let your kids make collages, or trace over to learn how to draw. You could also play a game where you have a bunch of index cards with nature words written on them to create a haiku that they draw. This is both educational andfun.
A scavenger hunt is always a hit with both kids and adults, so why not turn this into a family affair? Scavenger hunts are extremely customizable, and you can have them go on for however long you want. A great idea is to set aside an hour each day to have your kids find one thing you hid in your house, with lots of clues to guide them. The first kid who wins gets to choose what’s for dessert that night or what fun family (social distanced, if outside) activity will happen that weekend.
Winter is a great time to teach the kids indoor gardening since it’s usually when summer and fall plants have to be moved inside. Start them out young and let them help you out with the process of repotting, choosing where the best spots for plants are and also setting up your indoor herb garden.
Set up a tent/fort in your home
Got pillows? Got blankets? You got a fort. Trends and interests may evolve from generation to generation, but one thing never changes—the love that children of many different cultures have for creating an indoor tent or fort. Set one up and even keep it around for a couple of days, calling it the “storytelling fort” or the “family meeting fort.” You could even put some books in it and turn it into a “quiet reading” fort and only let them go in there after they’ve done all their homework.
Take it further with at-home camping
A more adventurous approach to the fort is with indoor camping! If it’s too cold to go actual camping, indoor camping is a worry-free and accessible option for a cozy evening with the family. Set up sleeping stations right there in the living room underneath the fort, tell ghost stories and make a platter of hot dogs and s’mores. They’ll literally and figuratively eat it all up.
Setup a hammock nature corner
If you have big plants at home, set up a hammock alongside anything else you’ve collected to keep the nature theme going. A hammock is a great and adventurous addition for the kids, and they can sit in it and play in it while make-believing they are in nature.
The more plants that (safely) surround the hammock, the better it is for the effect of adventure. Hammocks also make an excellent storytime corner, and when installed correctly, they are perfectly safe and secure to use by children and adults alike.
DIY projects with décor can be a lot of fun for the kids. Have them make wind chimes out of dough or clay that can be painted and hung up on the porch come spring. Other fun décor projects include collages to frame in the living room and also painting clay pots for any plants you need to repot.
Adopt an exotic pet
*Disclaimer: Only do this if you know your family can handle the responsibility of having a pet, and if your children are able to accept the longevity of these types of animals. These pets are a life-long commitment and require very specific care and feeding instructions.
Pets are no joke and require commitment and intention to care for. If you can, getting your children a pet they can learn about such as a turtle or a lizard, is a great way to keep them connected to nature while they can’t go outside as much. Then, in the summer, you can even try to take them to visit their pet’s natural habitat. By that time, they’ll be seasoned pros at knowing all there is to know about their pet’s species.
Collect nature items from outside and do experiments
Keeping the kids educated about the world around them is fun and easy with a microscope, and an informative book on nature. Have them speak aloud on what they see in leaves, twigs, even worms that they found outside in your own backyard (with your supervision, of course).
This can also be incorporated into activities that focus on creating art or journaling, and you may also include them in your scavenger hunt. But taking a minute for your kids to do experiments to look up close at what they found, or test out the buoyancy of nature’s remnants is a great idea for them to connect to the world they can’t be in every day.
Get a telescope and learn about the stars
On a clear night, surprise the kids with a telescope so that they can learn about the stars. This is wonderful, especially if you live in a city and can’t always (or ever) see the stars. Do some research beforehand or sign up to a space-focused newsletter to make sure you’ll never miss a real show with your telescope. Your kids will love it!
Miming the basic principles of woodshop, birdhouses act as a cute reminder for kids to stay friendly and mindful towards nature, while learning how to build something that isn’t complicated (or dangerous to build.) Most of the time, birdhouses don’t even need any difficult tools to assemble, and they can be highly customizable. Paint them whatever colour you wish.
Build outdoor shelters for stray cats
This is another customizable and “nature-friendly” project for the kids. Let them create a safe and cozy shelter for cats, placing it in your backyard or wherever cats tend to frequent. You could also donate some of your textiles to the cause by providing an old cushion or chair seat, an old blanket or t-shirt or anything a cat could curl up on.
Task the children with an idea they’d like to contribute to the outdoor shelter and have them change the food and water in the shelter every day.
Bring nature into storytime
What’s storytime without nature? Now that you have your fun hammock and your fort for your kids to enjoy their stories, fill them up with books about nature! If you are more of the live storytelling type, opt for stories that involve adventures in nature, such as Huckleberry Finn and Tarzan. Use sound effects whenever necessary.
There are endless opportunities when it comes to entertaining your children. These times are difficult for everybody and staying home this much isn’t easy.