20 Ways to Occupy Little Ones Non-Electronically

In this day of ipods, cell phones, laptops, ipads, and flatscreens, it’s easy to let electronics become our fill-in babysitters.

Sometimes, these electronic babysitters are an incredible blessing. When our family was hit with the stomach-bug, I was so grateful to be able to turn on a movie while I laid on the couch and tried not to move. (Later, I overheard Rose telling someone she liked getting the stomach flu because it meant getting to watch movies. Oy!)

During the terrible Tuscaloosa tornado, I was so grateful for movies on the ipod that kept the kids happy after I’d told them all the stories my otherwise-occupied brain could think of.

There’s nothing wrong with using electronics as baby-sitters occasionally, but active creativity and play is so much better!

Some of you shared great ideas on Facebook for happily occupying little ones and I added a few of my own. Most of these ideas are things that children can do on their own while you’re busy nearby.

(A few of these ideas can make quite a mess, but they raise an excellent opportunity to teach children from the earliest ages about cleaning up!)

Playing with beans and “tupperware”

20 Ways to Occupy Littles Non-Electronically

  1. Hand them a cup and let them play in the kitchen sink.
  2. Let them “help” while you work in the kitchen. Anytime I make biscuits, rolls, or bread, the kids gladly spend 45 minutes making shapes.
  3. Open up the pots and pans (or tupperware) cupboard… and let the noise begin. (Thanks Kristy!) 
  4. Give them child-safe scissors and an old magazine to cut up (preferably in a mess-contained area!)
  5. Have them make up simple stories.
  6. Give them things to sort: buttons, beans, etc. (Thanks Melissa!) 
  7. Make an obstacle course with chairs, tables, and buckets for them to play with.
  8. Pull out the puzzles.
  9. Send them outside. (My favorite when it’s not 30 degrees outside!)
  10. Have an older child teach a younger child a simple concept.
  11. Let them use blankets to make a house or castle.
  12. Have a jar with play “rags” in it and let them pretend to dust or clean. (Thanks Kim. S.!)
  13. Assign them simple chores to do each day. (Help/oversee until they’re capable to do it alone!)
  14. Let them pick out books to look at quietly on the couch.
  15. Send them on a “scavenger hunt” inside or outside.
  16. Pull out paper and crayons and let them color.
  17. Turn on fun music and let them “dance”.
  18. Have them act out a favorite nursery rhyme with dolls or stuffed animals.
  19. Have them write a letter to grandparents or friends.
  20. And, of course, let them play with their toys!

 What are your favorite ways to occupy children without turning on a movie? 

Linked up at Mama Moments, Growing HomeEncourage One AnotherHomemaking LinkupWomen Living WellHearts 4 Home Proverbs 31 Thursday

Photo credit for child on phone

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  1. says

    I couldn’t agree more with this post, Anna! When I was little we didn’t have a way to watch movies unless we drove 3 hours to Grandma’s. 🙂 But I can remember spending hours cutting pictures from magazines, sorting buttons (We had a large can of all kinds of buttons, old, new, strange ones, normal ones, you name them!), building forts. I even remember using foil to create furniture for a “doll house” made from a box and “logs for the fire.” 🙂 There are so many things children can do that does not involve movies and being entertained. Another favorite was listing to books on tape and finger knitting. 🙂
    I should teach Rose how to finger knit. 🙂

  2. Brianna D. says

    Thank you for these ideas! I totally agree with not wanting to depend on electronics to entertain my children. I was just now thinking, “I need some fresh ideas for things to do with my little ones”, and here I see this post! My children are 2 1/2 and 17 months, and with another one coming in April, I get tired easily. So these are great ideas and they are so simple and suitable! Thank you!

    • anna says

      Wow! You are one busy Mama. 🙂 What a blessing! I’m so glad you were able to use some of these ideas. Thanks for sharing. Blessings. <3

  3. says

    Great ideas, Anna! I’m going to keep this list handy. I feel like I know to do these things but in moments when my mind is very busy with other things, I forget what to do except hand them the iPod! 🙂

    • anna says

      I know the feeling! It’s amazing how much happier my children are when they’re forced to be creative and entertain themselves though. 🙂

  4. says

    Those are some great suggestions! Our boys (when they were little) were great about entertaining themselves with legos, cars and trains. They totally love technology but have great imaginations. Our older son makes movies all the time with his brother and friends. They use their imagination and let technology share their creations. A timely post!

    • anna says

      That’s so neat! My brother and I spent countless hours building legos.. and when we got older he’d make lego movies. It was a fun mix of creativity and technology!

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