Coming up with ideas for kids’ entertainment that don’t involve video games, apps, or other forms of electronics can be a real challenge. Reaching out to kids amid the constant buzz of technology often requires a bit of creativity and a deep understanding of their interests. So the next time you feel like putting together a quality family fun experience that encourages your child to put down their phone, tablet, or game console, try some of these ideas:
Put your child in a leading role.
One way to get your kids into the notion of family outings (that don’t involve devices) is to put them in the middle of the night. For example, you can look for events and activities that give kids the chance to wear a crown, be knighted, or become a sheriff for a day, etc. in a setting that is fun and memorable.
Or, you can put the spotlight on your child by asking him or her to be the emcee or host for the evening. If you’re going out to dinner, for example, your child can either order the entire table or “pay,” depending on their role as host. If you’re going to see a show, you can have your child look up information about the venue and then make the announcement or introduction to the rest of the family about the evening’s agenda.
Explore the past.
Time travel is another great option to add flavor and excitement to a family outing or activity. And don’t worry if you can’t get your hands on a real time machine, because there are plenty of other ways to travel through time, both real and virtual.
Let’s say you want to plan a board game night. You could declare that it’s 50’s Night, and that all clothing, talk, food and drinks should be 50’s themed. You can play 50’s music in the background, dress in ponytails, pompadours or poodle briskets, and serving cheeseburgers and shakes for dinner. To get everyone in the mood that afternoon, consider streaming a couple of ’50s sitcom episodes on Netflix on your TV or home computer.
You can plan everything yourself and surprise the rest of your family, or you can ask your children to help you with the planning. Their research will help them learn a bit about the era you’re highlighting; Plus, getting them involved will go a long way toward getting them into the spirit of things.
Attend a live performance.
In an age where almost anything can be experienced on a television, tablet, or laptop, many children have very little exposure to live theater, dinner theater, and other forms of live entertainment. Taking them to see a dinner show or theater production can prove to be the thrill of a lifetime and will also open their eyes to a whole new world of art and entertainment.
Create a themed family evening.
Surprise your kids by announcing on a Saturday morning that tonight will be a special theme, like “Medieval Night,” “70’s Night,” or “Sports Night.” Tell them they have the day to find out what they’ll be wearing tonight, and you can also ask them to research some fun facts related to the topic to share with the rest of the group.
When night falls, you can serve themed appetizers or refreshments before heading to the main attraction: a themed activity. If it’s “Sports Night,” you could go to a college or professional sports game; if the theme is the 1970s, you can turn the living room into a retro nightclub. For the medieval (or should we say knight?) theme night, you can take part in a local tournament game or a re-enactment show from the Middle Ages.
(Bonus tip: Enhance the fun when you challenge your family to stay in character all night using the language, jargon, or jargon associated with your chosen theme or era.)
Host a family sleepover.
Pile up mattresses, blankets and sleeping bags in the living room and get ready to have some fun – it’s a sleepover for the whole family! You can make it really authentic when you surprise your kids at the breakfast table with printed party invitations. As for activities, some to consider are ghost stories, prank contests, arts/crafts, movies, and board games. Other bells and whistles to consider adding are making popcorn, midnight snacks, making Coke floats, and sleepover pranks.