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25 ‘Screen-Free’ Summer Activities for Your Only Child

Summer is here, and for parents like me, that means facing the constant challenge of keeping their only child from spending every spare moment on his device, playing a video game, or watching other people play video games.

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I work from home most of the time.  I’m very thankful that I have a job that allows me to stay with my son during the day, but that also means that I have to spend my time on the computer instead of engaging and playing with him.

“Children who always depend on someone or something else, like television or video games, to stimulate them have a hard time taking responsibility for their own well-being as adults,” Margaret Paul, Ph.D., coauthor of Do I Have to Give Up Me to Be Loved by My Kids? warns. “Encouraging your child to develop passions makes him better equipped to handle life’s challenges.”’

For the days when I have lots of work to do, and it isn’t possible for him to play at a friend’s house or have friends over, it’s important to me that he isn’t zoning out in front of the screen. So that he can survive the summer while retaining a few brain cells, I searched and brainstormed a list of activities that do NOT involve screen time, or guidance from me.

I found a good list of activities here, but most aren’t fun if you are all by yourself.  So here is a list of 25 activities, for boys ages  7-12, that are perfect as solo activities.  Use these ideas to keep your son away from his device, or the next time he complains that he is bored!

  1.  Learn to Draw Comic Book characters (or dogs, horses, trucks, people- the possibilities are endless!)

2.  Find a series of books he loves and check out the full series from the Library.  (My son loves Captain Underpants).

3.  Learn to play a musical instrument.

4.  Finger paint.

5.  Learn Origami. ( Origami Yoda is a fun, boy-friendly book, and it inspired my son to invent a few finger-puppet creations of his own.)

6.  Put together a jigsaw puzzle.

7.  Make up an indoor obstacle course. (Anyone up for a game of ‘the Floor is Lava’?)

8.  Have your child make sock puppets, and put on a show for you when your work is done.

9.  Go on an expedition outside and take pictures.

10.  Play some brainteaser games like crosswords, Sudoku, and word searches.

11.  Have your child create a scavenger hunt with hidden clues, that you can follow later to find a ‘treasure.’

12.  Ride something with wheels: roller blades, bike, skateboard, or ripstik.

13.  Invent a comic book character, complete with costume, powers, weakness, and of course, the ultimate nemesis.

14.  Give the family pet a bath.

15.  Explore nature with a magnifying glass.

16.  Create a Fidget Spinner with duct tape (link to instructions here) .

17.  Make a Lego Ring Toss game (link to instructions here).

18.  Practice Archery.  (This can improve balance, coordination, and upper body strength!) Parents- just make sure the archery set is age appropriate.

19.  Learn how to shuffle cards, or invent a new card game.

20.  Have your child take some pictures of objects close-up, and later he can have you guess the object.

21.  Make up a silly song.

22. Practice cartwheels, somersaults, and handstands in the backyard.

23.  Practice dribbling a basketball.

24.  Make Fluffy Slime.  This is very easy, and requires only 4 ingredients that you may already have in your house.  My son had hours of fun with this stuff!  Get the recipe here.  

25.  Learn how to make paper airplanes that can really fly.

What are some fun, ‘device-less’ activities your child is doing this summer?  Please let us know!



  1. This is great for me thank you mia

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