Inside: Here is a list of our tried and toddler approved; 21 screen free toddler activities. Non Screen Activities for Toddlers and preschoolers. Screen free activities for toddlers.
It can be difficult to engage kids, especially in the evening when going out is not an option and you need to prepare dinner or finish chores. And TV or screen time seems to be your only option. These activities are great to reduce the screen time for kids.
I don’t usually let my son watch TV in the evenings because it totally throws out our bedtime routine; he gets too stimulated and there is an inevitable tantrum around bedtime.
I share more on this in Your struggle with Screen-Time is real.
I was getting stuck in a vicious cycle — until I dropped my anxiety around him wanting to watch TV and my constant struggle with not letting him have it.
When I dropped the anxiety around it, something amazing happened!
His interest in other things increased, and we now do a lot more of these “other things”.
And, he never asks for TV anymore! He still gets super excited about it, but he doesn’t ask for it and is done in one show mostly. No more crazy meltdowns… phew!
The best thing about this list is that they are all “no-prep” required activities, once you have all the material you want with you, you can keep doing them again and again! And they are going to be your saviors in that wicked evening hour.
These activities help tremendously!
So, here is the list of what we like to do here at home as our Non- screen time Activities or screen-free activities or play in general, as I like to call it.
I’m yet to meet a child who does not like colors (well, other than me as a child, but there are a couple stories behind that ordeal)
Colors are a great way to break a screen time habit.
The most beautiful part about introducing your child to the world of colors is — you can pick any level you like.
1. Crayons or Color Pencils: Get some coloring books from Amazon (here), or dollar store has them too or print some free coloring pages from the internet. Give them a handful of crayons, or pencil colors, and let them create. They don’t color “inside” the picture initially, but they keep themselves occupied for sure.
2. Kids Paint: Paint is taking their love for colors to the next level. It can be a little messy, but if you start with little watercolor pallets that come in a set of 8 or 16, like this one here. They’re a lot more contained than starting with paint bottles.
#momtip: A great place to start painting is a whiteboard, like this one (yes you heard it right). Give them a set of brushes, a wet paint pallet, and let them make paint strokes on the whiteboard. When they’re done; just wipe it down with a wet cloth. It doesn’t get very messy, and they’ll feel like a real artist.
Or if you want to do paper: You can always buy white poster sheets at a craft store, they’re often 4 for a dollar, cut these sheets into smaller sheets and they make great painting sheets. You don’t have to spend $5 on those water colour paint books, with just a few pages.
3. Stickers: Most kids absolutely love stickers! Just give them a little sticker pad or sticker sheet and let them have fun. And, it’s actually a fine motor activity.
You can find some cheap stickers at the dollar store, and your other great resource is going to be Amazon, you can find big bunches of stickers for under $10; when I say big bunches I mean a couple thousand stickers. That’s a lot of stickers girl.
#momtip: As soon as you introduce stickers, give them a simple notebook to put the stickers on. Set the right habit from the beginning if you don’t want stickers on furniture.
4. Reusable Stickers: If you’re like me and are not yet ready for real stickers, there is one more thing called reusable stickers from Melissa and Doug, Yes reusable stickers for 2 year olds is real!
These were our first stickers because I wasn’t very comfortable leaving my child independently with “sticky stickers”.
I believe these reusable stickers should be a child’s first stickers. Because no matter what, they’ll have the desire to decorate the house with stickers. Let them have fun; and once their heart is filled with sticker decoration using the reusable ones, they’ll come to putting stickers only on paper.
Simple DIY Activities
6. Sensory Bean Bin: All you need is a big storage tote like this one, and about 4 to 6 pounds of beans, they’re like $1 per lb at Target, and you can use them indefinitely. Put some smaller toys in there and let them explore and have fun.
These sensory bin scoopers are such a great tool for toddlers to improve gross motor skills.
The fun part is you can have a various little set of toys to put in there, a set of tiny construction vehicles, farm animals, Peppa pig set, letters or numbers, AND use the same beans and bin over and over again.
#momtip: Use a mat or a quilt or sheet to put under the bin and for kids to sit on and play, so that when beans spill out the mat will catch them, and it’ll be an easier pick up for you, plus the beans will stay clean!
7. Pom-pom Ball Drop: All you need is some pom-pom balls like these, you
can find them on Amazon or in any craft store and a bottle or Jar (one with a wider mouth works better).
They put the pom-pom balls in the bottle and then dump them out. Usually, they keep doing that for a while.
It’s a good gross motor activity for your baby. If you want you can give your older kids a pair of small tongs for the fine motor activity.
8. Cap Eating monster (wipes box): Just collect some caps from milk jugs, bottled water bottles, food pouches, or any caps you can think of. Get an empty wipes box, give it to the kids to drop those caps in the in the box from the wipes opening and dump out after they’ve finished all the caps, and do the whole thing again.
#momtip: You can improvise these caps by writing letters on them with a Sharpie, and it becomes a letter eating monster for your preschooler.
9. Hopscotch inside the House: Get some plain felt sheets from Amazon, or from a craft store.
Place these sheets on the carpet or rug floor in the form of a hopscotch game, or a simple circle, or place them randomly on the floor for kids to hop from one sheet to the other.
It’s a really fun moving activity that could easily be 15 minutes of family time fun for everyone.
But, I can’t take credit for this activity because my two-year-old discovered it. He asked for felt sheets from our craft box and did what I mentioned above. And he loves it!
10. Puzzles: There are so many different kinds of puzzles out there, Really. From peg puzzles to floor puzzles to giant puzzles.
I love Amazon for puzzles.
Related Post: Wooden toys for 2 year old (under $25).
Literacy Fun For Preschoolers
11. Alphabet hunt: So we have a little alphabet puzzle like this or you could just write any alphabet on a piece of paper, and hand that out to them one puzzle piece or alphabet paper at a time and they have to go around the house looking for that alphabet.
They can find alphabet letters on grocery bags, toys like a trampoline, on books of course, on kitchen stuff like dishwasher, a microwave, pictures in the house, boxes, the possibilities are endless, and it is an absolutely wonderful activity to do with the preschoolers
I bet, they’ll surprise you, by finding alphabets where you would not have noticed.
12. Erase alphabets from the glass door: This is another fun one! I use these window markers, to write letters on the window, and they need to spray and wipe the one I call out. It’s one of our all-time favorites while I fix dinner!
13. Magnetic Letter: I like this Melissa and Doug Wooden Alphabets in a box for the refrigerator or dishwasher and you can put the same letters in the Bean Bin for them to find. And then you can use them later to form words, they’re really a good bang for the buck.
14. Sidewalk Chalk: This is one thing all kids LOVE, for a really long time. I see kids up to 8 yr olds love chalk, and it starts at 18 months.
And it’s one of the most independent and versatile play options for kids. And did I mention Cheap?
Give kids some chalk, and set them on the patio while you work in the kitchen.
#momtip And this is very important, DO NOT let that sidewalk chalk come inside your house, kids will get hold of it while you’ll be busy, scribble on the wall, and that thing does not come off. Really! Not even with a magic eraser.
15. Chalkboard and Chalk: If sidewalk chalk is not an option for you, get regular chalk and chalkboard for inside the house.
If you don’t want to buy a chalkboard, there is a chalkboard paper, like this one here. You can stick this on the wall, and it works as a chalkboard wall.
Or you can get a chalkboard and whiteboard easel, that’s another one of long-term things to have in the house, but it does take up space!
These chalks are safer, for inside the house, since they come off the walls easier.
Around the House
16. Playing in the kitchen: Yes I know it’s nuisance and it’s crazy but it’s a great solution. Especially when your baby or your toddler is clingy and you have to fix dinner.
Bring out a bunch of utensils, pots and pans, sieve. And they’ll love to pretend play with those, plus the big post and pans are so easy to pick up, the clean-up is not big deal too.
17. Water Pouring station: Take a big tote on like this under the bed storage boxes and fill different glasses and cups with water and then let them just pour water around.
#momtip: You could drop a few drops of food coloring in them to make it a fun colorful water, but really kids just love pouring water.
18: Go for a walk: Although this is not an indoor activity, this is a real sanity saver for me, so I had to include this one. This really helps me settle down on days when I’m off; not off from work but off from my sanity. I just put kids in the stroller and go for a walk or I put them in the car and go for a ride.
Depending on the age of the child, you can let them walk instead of a stroller, or even let them lead the walk. The confidence boost that they get from leading the walk is a treasure I tell you.
The idea here is not to get some exercise but to just get some fresh air and a slow family time.
19: Color Scavenger hunts: This just sound like a lot, but it’s very simple, like give them some colored construction paper or just make some color marks on a plain paper and ask them to go for a color hunt inside the house.
They have tons of toys to find stuff from.
#momtip: This is also very educational since they start seeing more than one colors on things.
20: Sing Rhymes: Trying to break the screen time habit? Give them a taste of something they like in a different way. So they realize there are other ways to enjoy those youtube rhyme videos.
21. Get some books: Visit the library and get some books. So, many people forget this invaluable resource. In fact, at most libraries, they’ll get the books out for you and put them on hold, near the checkout desk, all you have to do it go pick them up.
You can find the books we love here.
I hope you enjoy all or some of these activities, we do every single of them and many more, don’t hesitate to ask me any questions about them, I am sure I’ll have an answer for you.
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