If you’re like me, you’ve searched online for “fun activities for kids” hundreds of times this year, hoping to find just the thing to get them engaged in something away from a screen. While most parents have been struggling to keep some sort of consistency in our families, our kids have spent more time than ever before in front of a screen. In our house, we’ve managed to continue our family meals and some evening walks, but otherwise, nothing looks like it did a year ago.
As a busy mom, I was feeling sad that the family culture we worked so hard to create was slipping away. So I did what all enthusiastic Moms do, and called a family meeting! We all shared what’s going well and what we are struggling with. The outcome: bring back the family puzzle and game night! Twice a week, after we work together to clean up dinner (we don’t let this part stop us), we pull out a puzzle or game to play as a family.
Here’s our family’s top 5 favorites:
A new take on an old game. Our family loves to take classic games and add our own spin to them. For example, we set up Connect 4 in a central location in our family room and players have to walk around a large circle while playing. Here’s the fun part - you can’t stop to think about where to move. You have to drop your token in before the other player gets back around the circle. While it’s only a two player game, with the addition of moving around, it’s as fun to watch as it is to play! You can do something like this with ANY of your games.
Jigsaw puzzles. We always have a jigsaw puzzle set up in some area of our house. In our small house, and with all of us home so much these days, the trick can be to find a space to leave the puzzle out. We have set up a large box below the puzzle, so that when we need to use that space, it can easily be moved aside.
Scavenger Hunt. This is a kid favorite! However you spin this, it is fun. One way is to create clues for items in your house, yard, or neighborhood that everyone knows about. Clues can be drawn, written in words, or created like a puzzle! Hide the clue for the next item where the last item is found.
Newspaper Puzzles (and articles). With COVID, we have found ourselves home on Sunday mornings. After years away, we resubscribed to The New York Times. There are a lot of papers to choose from, and some amazing local options, but our family was most excited about the Times’ puzzle section, and my husband loves “Sunday Review, Book Review, and At Home”. Our kids sit around the table with us, eating breakfast, and have learned to read the paper alongside us. We work through the puzzles, and we get to talk about things we read. A bonus for subscribing to the Sunday paper - we also get access to the online version AND the crossword app! With varying levels and sizes of puzzles, this is fun for all of us to do all week long.
Play a word game, whether you have purchased one or not! It’s easy to create your own Boggle boards or charades list, but what else can you do when that gets old? We love to use the ideas from Grammarly’s Blog post titled “5 Fun Family Word Games” . We love all of these ideas - and play each often.
What does your family do to stay engaged (and off screens) when stuck inside?