6 screen-free activities to entertain kids and toddlers

Avleen M.
Avleen M.Published on 11 Aug 2021

It’s tempting to plonk the kids down in front of a screen to get some peace and quiet at the end of the day, especially if you’re home schooling. However when you have the energy, here are 6 screen-free activities to help entertain kids at home, during lockdown or on a regular weekend.

1. Cook a meal or snack together

kids cooking with thermomix
Image credit: Thermomix Australia.

Cooking appliances like multi cookers and all-in-one appliances break down the cooking process into neat steps, so your little one can help you make a meal and feel like they’ve helped accomplish something in the kitchen. It’s satisfying to see an extra-wide smile on a child’s face when they know they helped make something yummy to eat.

Following the instructions on an all-in-one appliance like the Thermomix, or preparing ingredients for a multi-cooker like the Philips Original All-In-One Multi-Cooker can guide kids to complete practical yet fun learning tasks. These include reading recipes, counting ingredient amounts, and sensory play activities such as kneading dough and shaping pie crusts.

Other home kitchen appliances that can be used to make child-friendly recipes (with parental supervision, of course) include air fryers, toasted sandwich makers and bread makers.

2. Consider a trampoline

boy jumping on trampoline in backyard
Image credit: Springfree Trampoline.

Not only is jumping fun for kids, and can provide a steady stream of free entertainment, but it’s really good for them, too. Trampolining offers a number of unique health benefits - it’s a great cardio exercise, and also improves balance and coordination, and even helps to flush out toxins by increasing lymph flow.

While trampolines once had a reputation for being dangerous, it's now possible to invest in a safe trampoline. Look for a model with secure netting and a durable, all-weather build quality.

Also source a trampoline with UV-resistant materials (for example in the netting) and a galvanised metal frame. This makes the trampoline safer to use on hot, sunny days as well as in windy weather - lighter, more flimsy materials may make the trampoline fly away over the fence in the wind.

3. Go for a drive

smiling girl in toy car
Image credit: Kids Car Sales.

Even if you can’t get out and about discovering new places in the car, Kids Car Sales has electric and petrol kids’ ride-on ‘cars’ that kids can ride in the backyard or in the park.

Combined with a bit of imaginative play, kids can feel all grown-up and adventurous when it comes to exploring a favourite destination. This may provide the motivation for kids getting a bit of fresh air, too.

There are options for both toddlers and older kids. If your child is still very young, there is an Aduly override remote control available, to help keep your toddler safe. These fun cars come in a variety of vibrant colours.

4. Get lost in a non-screen-generated story

little girl reading on bed

Needless to say, the pandemic has increased the amount of screen time for those stuck at home - including kids. When considering TV, social media and video games, collectively we can all spend a lot of time in front of screens.

There is something immersive and entertaining about getting lost in a story, though. While a trip to the library or your local bookshop might be off the cards during lockdown, online book shops are helping keep readers of all ages turn the pages.

Booktopia and Angus and Robertson are the two top-rated online book stores on ProductReview.com.au, with high overall ratings in the Book Shops category. If you still prefer to support your local bookshop, you may still be able to do so in lockdown. For example, selected Dymocks stores now have Click and Collect orders available.

5. Catch some Z's

baby cuddling toy
Image credit: Riff Raff & Co Sleep Toys.

This may not sound like much of an activity, but if your little one is still very little - a baby or toddler - the sound of sleep can be music to your ears.

These Riff Raff Sleep Toys are popular little animal toys designed to soothe babies and toddlers. They’re known as transitional objects, and help babies and toddlers to become more independent in falling asleep and resettling.

If you press one of the ears of the animal toy, it plays white noise with a heartbeat, which the brand, Riff Raff and Co, says is soothing for newborns to 6-month olds. If you press the other ear, it will play a Sleepy Lullaby, which, as its name suggests, is designed to help little ones close their eyes.

There are 2 volume settings, and a choice to play the white noise or music for 20 or 40 minutes. Parents happily report that these much-loved toys help their babies and toddlers settle before falling asleep, and that their Riff Raff Sleep Toy is a lifesaver.

6. Explore, play and discover independently

indoor play tent
Image credit: Hip Kids.

All space can feel like shared space these days, but everyone needs some alone time from time to time.

Hip Kids sells a variety of indoor play tents and teepees that can help give primary-school aged kids a place of their own and foster an early sense of independence to do their favourite activities, whether that’s colouring or crafts, writing, reading, practising an instrument, or imaginary play. The cheapest tent available is the Kids Concept Playtent, which is $79.95.