Figuring out easy and fun craft and playtime activities for little ones can be more complicated than one might think. In this Pinterest-pretty society, we see scores of beautiful projects that quite frankly look like they were completed by Mom and Dad or require more steps and attention than our little ones can handle. 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids: The Very Best and Easiest Playtime Activities from FunAtHomeWithKids.Com! is a refreshing and extensive new book that offers kids another option: easy-to-make, yet very engaging activities that encourage children to get creative, explore a variety of touch sensations and textures, and (if they want) to get messy! Written by popular blogger Asia Citro, a mom of two and former teacher, the recipes have obviously been tested (and enjoyed) by Citro’s own children, and her book is brimming with easy-to-follow activities that will keep kids occupied and exploring for hours.
150+ Screen Free Activities for Kids is divided into chapters such as slimes, doughs, paints, DIY toys, small worlds, and simple sensory activities. A handy little appendix explains some of the scientific reactions that are used in these activities (such as baking soda in conjunction with vinegar), and the book’s first chapter is completely devoted to basic advice on creating a safe and interesting playtime environment for your child. Most of the ingredients required for these projects are already hanging out in your cabinets, such as vinegar, baking soda, shaving cream, and dried beans. The rest of the ingredients are generally easy to find at the grocery store and are largely inexpensive. Citro also offers ideas for extending play, troubleshooting, and making the most of the ingredients while on a budget. She also includes helpful safety information and a variety of “taste-safe” activities for tots who are still interested in mouthing everything in sight.
My favorite thing about this book is that it’s not only pretty to look at: I would actually try many of these activities with my kids as they don’t require a huge time commitment or extra trips to a craft or specialty store. My kids and I whipped up a batch of colored magic foaming dough one afternoon, and it was a hit, especially with my four year-old. Since you make and play with the dough first, and then add vinegar to make it foam, you experience two activities in one! On our shortlist of other activities from the book to try: chocolate slime, gluten-free play dough, natural gel fingerpaints (using aloe vera!), and magic expanding paint.
There are definitely more projects and activities for babies through age four or five, but older kids will also enjoy any of the slime activities or getting artsy with some of the homemade paint options. Tiny tots love playing with foam, colored rice, and exploring sensory boards. Bigger kids can get involved in making the dough or slime or paint as well as actually using it. Imaginative tots will especially love the chapter on small worlds, which generally combine your child’s favorite figurines with mud or sand or water activities and are easy to personalize according to your child’s interests. Citro’s activities are multi-sensory and wonderful for getting little hands and minds going, and her book is a great reminder to parents that creating a stimulating exploratory environment for our kids can be inexpensive, simple, and homegrown. 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids offers plenty of basic activities as well as creative variations and innovative new ideas to keep kids and parents happy and occupied.