Screen-free summer activities for kids

After a long year of video calls and online schooling, it’s safe to say we’re all craving a break from our screens. It may feel like a daunting task to entertain kids in a world where screens are so intertwined with our daily life, but the benefits are worthwhile. Taking a break from screens can help kids develop social skills, encourage creative thinking, get a better sleep and more. It may not feel like an easy task.

Try some of these screen-free activities to keep the little ones entertained this summer, courtesy of KITE Research Institute at UHN’s Young Innovators Program.

Make your own board game

Try making your own version of Snakes and Ladders, Monopoly, checkers or any other game with your little ones. No fancy materials needed here: simply get some paper, crayons, markers and any other crafting supplies you have around the house. Don’t have enough supplies to make a big game? Make each other word searches!

Build a reading fort

Rainy day? Build an indoor fort to use as a cozy reading nook. Get ready for your reading session by making a custom book mark.

Kindness challenge

Ask your kids if there is someone they know who could use an extra smile. You could make cookies for that person, write them a card or offer to help them with a task. You can also make a family kindness jar. Leave an empty jar or bowl in a common area of the house and invite everyone to write something kind about another family member on a piece of paper. People can put in their kind words whenever they want, and once the jar is full, reward the whole family with a healthy treat of other special surprise.

Try out one, or all, of these fun art activities

  • Fingerprint art: see what kind of picture you can make using only an ink pad, paper and a marker.
  • Draw your view: sitting inside or outdoors, draw the view in front of you.
  • Draw a map of your neighborhood: make sure to include your favourite restaurants, shops, your friends’ house and anything else that’s important to you.
  • Make your own book cover: pick your favourite book and draw a new book cover for it on a piece of paper.
  • Outdoor art: gather some things for outside and make a picture or sculpture with them. You can grab leaves, flowers, sticks and more.
  • Make a handprint tree: this one is great for little ones. Paint your hands and press them firmly in the middle of a piece of paper to create a tree shape, draw a tree trunk underneath. Each family member can use a different colour and add to their handprint to the tree as a leaf. Use markers or crayons to finish your scene.

Get moving

Did you know that it’s recommended that kids get at least 60 minutes of exercise per day? If that sounds overwhelming, don’t worry – it doesn’t need to be all at once. Try adding in some movement breaks throughout the days with these games.

  • Letter hunt game: one person will call out a letter of the alphabet and everyone playing has to run and grab an item in the house that starts with that letter.
  • Obstacle course: make your own obstacle course. Who can get through it the fastest?
  • Make up your own dance routine: either work with a partner, a group or by yourself and make up your own dance routine. Make it a challenge by setting a 10-minute time limit to create the routine then, show off your skills.
  • Get outside: take advantage of the summer weather! Head to a local park to play soccer, tag, basketball and more. For a fun adventure, why not take a family bike trip through a new park or trail you’ve never been to before?
  • Play hide and seek: this classic game can be enjoyed by kids of any age.

Come up with a new recipe

We’re not talking about a recipe for food! Try writing out what characteristics or “ingredients” you would need for the following topics: a superhero, a good friend, a healthy person, a cozy house, the perfect day.

For example, your recipe for a superhero could look something like this:

  • Cape, kindness, ability to fly, brave, selfless etc.

Bonus: draw a picture what your superhero or good friend would look like!

Writing games

Get creative with these writing prompts and games:

  • Write an alternate ending to your favourite book.
  • You have five minutes to write a description of your favourite character or celebrity – without putting their name down. See if someone else can guess who you wrote about.
  • Get a large bowl and fill it with individual pieces of paper that have words on them. Pick five random words out of the bowl and make a story from them.

If your little one can’t write yet, ask them to make up a story using three random objects/places and see what they come up with!

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