13 Days of Screen-Free Activities For Children
At Yoto, we know that in their formative years, children learn and develop best away from screens, when their imaginations are free to roam wild. We also know that the lure of that blue light is hard to resist when your nerves are jangled and your little urchins are needling away for the gogglebox. So we’ve come up with 13 fun activities that you can do as a family away from a screen.
The impetus for us was Roald Dahl Day 2019, which is focused on Matilda and bravery. Matilda is our favourite heroine. Despite those atrocious parents of hers, and that gigantic holy terror, Miss Trunchbull, Matilda’s intelligence and superpowers prevailed… with a little help from sweet Miss Honey. But it was her bravery that enabled her to fight the status quo, and it’s that bravery that we’re celebrating.
In honour of Matilda and Roald Dahl himself, we decided to be brave and go #13DaysScreenFree with our kids. Read on for our favourite unplugged activities to try with your own crew.
1. Pretend You’re at a Campfire
And first up for our #13DaysScreenFree activity ideas, to celebrate Roald Dahl Day on 13th September… it’s campfire time! ⛺🔥 Did you know that our Crackling Fire card on Yoto makes the perfect evening alternative to the real thing!? Grab some marshmallows, bring the sleeping bags down from the loft and huddle round the ‘campfire’ telling stories to each other. Easy cosiness!
2. Make Your Own Puppet Show
Today’s activity idea — creating their own puppet show — will really get kids’ imaginations firing! 🎭
Collect an array of household items including old socks (preferably clean!), lollipop sticks, pipe cleaners, stickers and tin foil, and get the kids to make their own puppets.
At showtime, the back of a sofa or a large box with a window in it work equally well. Applause and… showtime!
3. Visit a Science Museum
🌚 Day 3 of our children’s screen-free project and it’s time for a field trip! With the 50th anniversary of the moon landings as a (giant) leaping off point, head to your local science museum and swot up on Space.
There’s nothing like coming nose-to-nose with a rocket or space suit to prompt awestruck “wow”s and ignite kids’ fascination with science. Stick with the theme back at home by launching Yoto’s Space Adventure card to hear atmospheric NASA recordings with real-life astronauts.
With any luck their dreams will be filled with shooting stars tonight. 🌠😴
4. Help to Clean Up Your Local Beach
🌊 There’s a watery theme to Day 4 of our #13DaysScreenFree activities. Take a family trip to your nearest beach (or canal, lake or river foreshore…), and make a game of helping the environment. Arm yourselves with gloves and a rubbish collection receptacle and have a competition to see who can collect the most litter!
5. Write and Record Your Own Version of a Roald Dahl Story
Now for a creative challenge! Inspired by Roald Dahl Day, prompt kids to make up their own version of a favourite Dahl story. What kinds of sweets can they dream up for their chocolate factory? How would they use Matilda-like telekinetic powers?
Record little ’uns telling their story then link it to a Yoto card to play over and over again — they’ll be chuffed with their creativity. 💡📖✨
Bonus points for decorating your Yoto card to make it stand out. ✂️✏️🎨 Find instructions for making your own cards here and share a pic of your handiwork on Yoto’s Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts.
6. Play the Post-It Game
It’s time for some Day 6 silliness with the Post-it game. Here’s how to play:
1️⃣Each player chooses a character from their favourite story. (Keep it simple to make it manageable for little kids by sticking to one author, like Roald Dahl.)
2️⃣Write the name down on a sticky note then shuffle it together with the others.
3️⃣Each person picks one sticky note to place on their forehead without looking at what is written on it.
4️⃣Then the fun begins! Take turns to guess which character’s name is on your forehead, either by asking yes/no questions to get clues from the other players, or by having them mime the answer.
An excellent way to set off the giggles 😄
7. Spread the News
Day 7 is all about happy news! 📰 Brainstorm some good news (whether real or made up), for a special news report. Find a box large enough for your child to get inside and make a square hole in the front. At the allotted hour they can report on all the good news happening in the world!
8. Make Your Own Musical Instrument
Craft your own musical instrument to play along to Mrs H Sings on your Yoto Player! Find an empty tin can and half-fill it with some dried beans. Make a lid from foil or paper and secure with a rubber band. Shake it up! 🗯
9. Go Leaf-Collecting
Day 9 of our screen-free activities and it’s time for some fresh air! Get out into nature (your local park, woodland or back garden), and go leaf-collecting. Kids love to fill their pockets with little treasures, and when you get home you can help look after their finds. Display them on a nature tray or dry them in the pages of a book to use for crafts. Older children can start a nature notebook to record what they find every time they venture outdoors. 🍂
10. Make Your Own Pizzas
On Day 10 it’s time for a tasty treat: pizza making! Mix up some pizza dough or buy ready-made bases, spread with passata, cover with lots of veggies and sprinkle with cheese. Get creative and make your favourite Roald Dahl characters’ faces with the toppings: Red Leicester cheese for Oompa-Loompas, courgette strips for The Enormous Crocodile or red pepper crescents for The BFG’s ears. Then “fill your hungry empty tummy with something yummy yummy yummy yummy!” (Just like that greedy croc.) 🍕🍕
11. Make A Batch of Play Dough
Day 11 of Yoto’s unplugged activities and we’re feeling arty. Play dough is excellent for sensory play, helping to develop children’s creativity, concentration and imagination. And it’s good messy fun. 👏 Homemade play dough is simple to make, so mix up a batch and squish away.
Some Roald Dahl-themed ideas to get you rolling: a mound of Twits-inspired spaghetti, a knobbly snozzcumber and a caterpillar emerging from a plump peach. Slot a Dahl story into your Yoto while you sculpt and you have the makings of a perfect playtime. 🌈
12. Send a Postcard to a Grandparent
For the penultimate day of our screen-free activities, why not send a good old-fashioned postcard to someone close to your children: a grandparent, far-away family member or close friend? Pick a pretty card (or draw your own), and have younger children dictate their message and older ones pen their own. Personal snail mail is always a lovely surprise, and the process is a sweet way to help kids stay close to kith and kin.
13. Set Up Races in Your Garden
Rev up for a day of garden races (the stakes are high!).🏅Get your little ones (and their pals if you’re feeling extra brave), together and set up a three-legged race, egg-and-spoon race, relay race and any other fun sprints you fancy. Make medals out of card cut-outs threaded with ribbon and hold a medal ceremony. Give yourself a pat on the back too 😉
We hope our #13DaysScreenFree activities have inspired you with some unplugged ideas to try with your children. Trying to keep them entertained away from screens can seem like an impossible challenge at times. Which is why we created Yoto: the screen-free audio platform inspiring the next generation of independent minds. Play music, stories and more with our audio player that children control with physical cards. Learn more at www.yotoplay.com. Welcome to AudioTime®.