With studies indicating that too much screen time can have a negative impact on children, many parents are searching for ways to protect their kids and regulate screen time. Instead of taking their devices away (and possibly sparking resentment), try finding offline activities that are safe and that your child enjoys. When students are excited about participating in offline activities they naturally spend less time on their devices and social media. Aside from reducing screen time, offline activities provide students with the opportunity to grow, learn new skills, and collect experiences they can add to their student resumes.
So, we created a list of offline activities that can positively impact students. We encourage you to review this list, share it with your children, find new ways to unplug, and have regular discussions about digital safety with your family. Once your child has found an offline activity they enjoy, encourage them to invite 1-3 friends to join them in these activities to help them develop social skills with their friends and you.
Regardless of whether your student is participating in an activity online or offline, it’s important that you monitor them. Pay attention to their actions, have an open dialog, provide support when they need it, and step in when the situation calls for it.
According to Parenting Science construction toys like Legos can foster a wide range of abilities, including motor skills, spatial skills, language skills, divergent problem solving, and non-verbal intelligence. Whether you’re following a set model of instructions or building things from scratch, Legos are a great way to unplug and have fun. Families can spend time building sets together, engineering machines, or using Legos to act out their favorite stories.
- LEGO Classic Medium Creative Brick Box
- LEGO Creator Space Shuttle Explorer
- LEGO Architecture New York City
There are so many benefits to reading at any age. The New York Times reports that reading out loud to younger children has the potential to help curb problem behaviors like aggression, hyperactivity and difficulty with attention. Family Education says that teens can gain skills from reading outside of the classroom including expanding their vocabularies, handling complex ideas, improving their score on the verbal section of a college admissions test, and helping them see solutions to their own problems. Parents can encourage reading by reading out loud to their children at a young age, showing interest in the books that they’re kids are reading, or encouraging them to read the book version of their favorite movies.
- Sesame Street Ultimate Board Books Set For Kids
- Creativity for Kids Create Your Own 3 Bitty Books
- The Wonderful Things You Will Be
According to the Child Development Institute, puzzles have the ability to positively impact children by developing or improving hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, problem solving, shape recognition, memory, goal setting, and learning to work with their environment. Families can spend time solving puzzles and coming up with a strategy (e.g. building out the border first or grouping pieces together based on colors) together. Consider taking advantage of your puzzle time to have an open dialog with your children.
Game night is one of the most tried and true methods for families to spend more time together. According to Scholastic, games don’t even need to be overly educational to have a positive impact on students. Not only can board games satisfy your child’s competitiveness, they can also help them master new skills such as number and shape recognition, letter recognition and reading, visual perception and color recognition, manual dexterity, communicating verbally, sharing, waiting, taking turns, enjoying interactions with others, the ability to focus, and lengthening their attention span. Families can use board games to foster a healthy relationship with winning and losing, spend more time together, and improve their teamwork.
Not only are card games inexpensive and portable, but they also provide a fun offline activity for families with children of all ages. The Wall Street Journal says that family card games can teach math, memory, self-confidence, how to face competition in a healthy way, and strategic thinking. Parents can set a positive example for their children by following the rules of the game while not taking winning or losing too seriously. For younger children, memory card games or educational flash cards are a great option. Families with older children and tweens can play games like Uno, Old Maid, and Go Fish. Parents can play more complex card games with their teens like Hearts, Rummy, and Spades.
Aside from being good for your health, bicycling also provides a lot of other positive benefits to children. According to the Child Development Institute, teaching kids how to ride a bike can build stamina, coordination, balance, and persistence. It’s important to remember that riding bikes can be dangerous, so parents need to set clear limitations and teach their children about bike safety before they start riding. Then, parents can help their children find the right bike for their age and skill level. Families can find bike paths to ride together, have friendly speed races, and use biking as a mode of transportation for short trips.
- RoyalBaby BMX Freestyle Kid’s Bike
- Flybar Dual Certified CPSC Multi Sport Kids Helmet
- Activ Life LED Bike Wheel Lights
Many parents put the majority of their focus on their children’s test scores, but fostering their creativity is equally important for mental growth. In fact, Livestrong.com states that arts and crafts can help boost a student’s academic performance in subjects like math and literature. Activities such as painting and pottery also teach kids problem-solving and communication skills. Craft kits in particular are great for both children and parents because they offer easy-to-follow guidelines and clean up is a breeze!
Writing or Journaling
Child Researcher Marlene Ritchie, B.S., M.N. suggests that keeping a regular written record (Journaling or keeping a Pocket Notebook) of thoughts, feelings, happenings and dreams a writer reaps many benefits. The journal is a non-judgmental friend, a therapist, and will be a historical reference to significant events in the writer’s life. Scientific research has identified many physical, psychological and emotional benefits from journaling. Mental health therapists recommend journaling as a means of dealing with traumatic experiences.
Drawing & Sketching
Drawing is one of the earliest forms of artistic activity that children learn how to do. According to Scholastic, adults have even discovered the relaxation and self-expression benefits of drawing and sketching. Children have a similar experience, with the added advantage of motor skills development. Drawing is an inexpensive hobby that requires only a few materials, so you can easily entertain your child in the car, on a plane, or in the waiting room of a doctor’s office. Kids can practice free-form sketching in order to boost creativity and improve their ability to focus. You can also use drawing to encourage educational learning, whether you’re teaching a child geography, animals, colors, or even numbers.
- Sketch Book For Kids
- The Drawing Book for Kids: 365 Daily Things to Draw, Step by Step
- How to Draw 101
Playing sports with your child at home gives you the ability to bond with each other and engage in physical activity. Psychology Today points out that organized sports through a school or club league are also beneficial when it comes to learning valuable life lessons. Whether your kid picks up baseball or cheerleading, they will quickly understand the importance of commitment and resilience. Plus, the more time your child spends on sports, the less time they have to participate in unhealthy habits, like underage drinking, playing mind-numbing video games, and eating junk food.
- Step2 Kickback Soccer Goal
- Franklin Sports Youth Football Goal Post Set
- Djubi Classic – the Coolest New Twist on the Game of Catch!
Playing an instrument
According to TIME, music can help develop your child’s brain. However, they have to actively participate in making music to reap the full benefits… Learning a musical instrument improves a child’s neural processing and reading skills, along with their ability to focus. Research has even discovered that students who take music classes are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college. However, if you want your child to stick with this hobby, you should help them find a musical instrument that actually enjoy. Forcing them to play the trombone when they really love the drums is a recipe for disaster. We’ve linked some of our favorite videos about learning musical instruments below!
- The Secret to Learning an Instrument
- 5 Beginner Drumming Techniques You Need To Know
- What Is The Best Musical Instrument For A Toddler
Gardening is often overlooked when your family is trying to decide on a fun, educational hobby. However, PBS urges parents to consider getting their hands dirty when teaching children science and math. Measuring out the soil and water gives your kids a better understanding of arithmetic, while learning about the lifecycle of a plant can improve your child’s biology grade. You can also use gardening to encourage healthy eating habits! Grow simple plants– like garlic or spinach– and use the ingredients to cook a nutritious meal. Your kids will be proud to showcase their hard work on the dinner table!
- Gardening Tools for Kids with STEM Early Learning Guide
- Toysmith Big Kids Garden Tool Set
- My Fairy Garden – Tree Hollow
Camping is an entertaining activity for the entire family. Whether you’re 8 or 80, KOA explains how camping helps reduce stress and encourages you to connect with your environment. Your children will especially benefit from this outdoor adventure as they practice problem-solving and survival skills while pitching tents, making a fire, and learning about surrounding plants and wildlife. It will also give you a chance to unplug for a while and strengthen your relationships. Bring a guitar, some marshmallows, and some fun nature games to make your camping experience extra special!
- Adventure Kids – Outdoor Explorer Kit
- Outdoor Nature Scavenger Hunt Card Game for Families
- 24 of the Most Scenic Places to Camp in the United States
The New York Times suggests that all children should learn the basics of cooking. Although your toddler may delay dinner with spills and mistakes, the investment will pay off in the long run. Start early enough and your teenager may be willing to take over the kitchen once or twice a week. Learning how to cook is especially beneficial for picky or unhealthy eaters. Making a dish from scratch can help your child develop a more sophisticated palate and it will give them a sense of pride once the food is finally served. In the beginning, kids can start out slow by helping you mix a few ingredients or reading off the instructions. As they get older, you can use the kitchen to bond and pick out fun recipes to make together.
- Cooking Class: 57 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Make (and Eat!)
- MasterChef Junior Cooking Essentials
- 26 Easy Recipes Your Kids Can Make All By Themselves
The BBC reports that helping in the kitchen can boost your child’s maths, language skills, and even their emotional development. Since baking requires waiting, it can help your children learn the value of patience. Talk to your children about what you’re going to bake and ask them to visualize what it will look like when finished. Giving your children a set of instructions to follow with an outcome they can visualize can be really stimulating. If your child has a sweet tooth, this could be a great activity for them. Once they start to feel comfortable in the kitchen challenge your child to double or half their favorite recipe, this will help develop their math skills.
- Baking Class: 50 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Bake!
- Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Metal Measuring Spoons
- Digital Kitchen Timer
According to the Waldorf School educational and environmental psychologists, along with educators in the field, have taken a keen interest in fort building. It’s a constant presence in early and middle childhood, the creation of secret places, often in plain site, and the experts agree that den, fort or secret space creation offers a host of cognitive and psychological benefits for the developing child. Building forts helps children create a rule structure of their own and provides a sense of control. Encourage your children to build blanket forts while setting expectations. Outline which materials (e.g. blankets, sheets, couches) they can use and how they should deconstruct their forts when finished.
Being fascinated with airplanes can be a great gateway to STEM learning for younger children. The PennState College of Agricultural Sciences suggests that making and playing with paper planes can lead to discussions about aerodynamics (the forces that impact plane flight): thrust, lift, drag, and gravity/weight. Older children can also learn about plane movements like roll, yaw, and pitch. “The most amazing thing about a paper airplane is that all you need to make one is a sheet of paper—nothing more. You don’t need scissors, glue, tape, or paper clips. A few folds, a couple of adjustments, and you have a superb paper flyer. The properties of paper give the airplane all the attributes it needs.” (Doherty n.d.).
According to NYU Tandon School of Engineering, robotics is often used in clubs, after-school activities, and competitions to expose K-12 students to technology, engineering, math, and science. Students with a natural interest in STEM will gravitate towards these offline activities but robotics, drones, and remote control toys can be beneficial for students of all ages. Younger students can learn about basic mechanics, while older students can get more in depth knowledge on building and engineering machines.
Aside from impressing college admissions officers and future employers, volunteering offers students a lot of benefits including helping others, developing time management skills, networking opportunities, and building soft skills. Scholarships.com recommends that high school students who already know what their intended field of study will be once they’re in college should try finding volunteer opportunities in those areas. For example, if you like the idea of becoming a lawyer, find a legal aid clinic to work for. Volunteering doesn’t require students to have a lot of equipment but we’ve outlined a few items that might make volunteering easier.
- Best Sports Water Bottle
- Narrow Ruled 5 x 8-Inch Writing Pad
- Pilot G2 Retractable Premium Gel Ink Roller Ball Pens
According to Scholastic, coloring improves fine motor skills, encourages focus, and nurtures creativity. Coloring and drawing also trains the brain to focus. For parents and teachers, these inexpensive activities require limited preparation and are well-suited to travel. Additionally, coloring books can be used by students of all ages which makes it one of the best offline activities.
Aside from being a valuable life skill, sewing offers a lot of benefits to students. Montessori Services suggests that sewing and weaving activities help young children develop manual dexterity and manipulative skills. By using their hands, children more fully integrate learning experiences. Weaving, sewing, and other kinds of handwork extend the benefits of Practical Life work for the older child. Children will continue to develop fine motor skills and concentration, while building self-confidence with successful experiences.
- Mini Sewing kit for DIY, Beginners, and Kids
- Sewing School®: 21 Sewing Projects Kids Will Love to Make
Do you have any offline activities you suggest we add to this list? Comment below. Thanks!