Bringing up ideas for entertaining kids that don’t involve video games, apps, or other forms of electronics can be really challenging. Reaching kids amidst the constant buzz of technology often requires a little creativity and a thorough understanding of their interests. So the next time you’re in the mood for a quality family fun experience that prompts your child to give up their phone, tablet, or gaming console, try some of these ideas:
Cast your child in a starring role.
One way to get your kids on board with the notion of a family outing (that doesn’t involve gadgets) is to put them at the center of the evening. For example, you can look for events and activities that give kids a chance to be crowned, knighted, or sheriff for a day in a fun and memorable setting.
Or, you can bring your child into the limelight by asking to be the host for evening gatherings or events. For example, if you’re going out to dinner, your child may order the entire table or “pay” in keeping with her role as host. If you’re going to see a show, you might want to ask your child to find out some information about the venue, and then announce or introduce the evening’s agenda to the rest of the family.
Explore the past.
Time travel is another great option to add spice and excitement to a family outing or activity. And don’t worry if you can’t get your hands on a real time machine, as there are plenty of other ways to travel, both real and virtual.
Let’s say you want to plan a board game in the evening. You can declare that it’s ’50s night, and all the costumes, things, and food and drinks should be ’50s themed. You can play 50s music in the background, wear a pony tail, pompadour or poodle skirt, and serve up cheeseburgers and milkshakes for dinner. To get everyone in the mood that afternoon, consider playing a few ’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 kids to help you plan. The research they do will help them learn something about the era you’re shedding light on – plus, getting them involved will go a long way toward getting them in the spirit of things.
Take in a live performance.
In an age where almost everything can be experienced on a TV, tablet or laptop, many children have little exposure to live theatre, dinner theater and other forms of live entertainment. Taking them to see a dinner show or stage 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 on a Saturday morning by announcing that tonight will be about a special theme like “medieval night”, “70s night” or “sports night”. Tell them they have a day to figure out what they’re going to wear that evening – and you can even ask them to research some topic-related fun facts to share with the rest of the group.
When evening falls, you can serve themed appetizers or snacks before moving on to the main attraction – a themed activity. If it’s “sports night,” you can go to a college or pro sports game; If the theme is 1970s, you can turn the living room into a retro disco. For a medieval themed night (or should we say knight?), you can attend a local tournament game or a Middle Ages reenactment show.
(Bonus tip: Upgrade the fun when you challenge your family to stay in character all evening, using language, slang, or jargon associated with your chosen theme or era.)
Have a family slumber party.
Stack mattresses, blankets and sleeping bags in the living room and get ready to have fun: it’s a whole family’s sleepover party! You can make it really authentic when you surprise your kids at the breakfast table with printed invitations to the party. For activities, some to consider are ghost stories, joke contests, arts/crafts activities, movie watching and board games. Other bells and whistles to consider adding are popcorn, midnight snacks, making Coke floats, and slumber party pranks.