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Unplugged Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

My son wakes up in the morning groggy, binky in his mouth, blanket in hand. The first thing he asks me is, “Can we watch Roman’s show, Mommy?” TV. That’s the first thing on this kid’s mind when he wakes up. The battle against screen time has begun. In a previous post, I talked about the effects of too much screen time and how spending unplugged quality time with your kids is so vital in their development.

Unplugged Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Unplugged Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Because of the nap time thing, (My kids sleep for about 2 hours every afternoon, and my daughter sometimes needs an additional hour in the morning.) I really hate spending money on admission. We have a Children’s Museum near us and I love it. It is interactive and educational, really geared toward young children. But it costs $12 in admission for my son and I (my daughter is free),  and between naps we can only ever go for a few hours.Trying to find unplugged activities has its struggles:

We have to plan around nap time.

My kids aren’t familiar with the concept of inside voices.

They are pretty much destruction on wheels.

My daughter, River, playing not so quietly, at our local library

Visit the Library

The public library is free!!! Thank you, America! Books, and movies, and music! Our library even has a telescope you can rent out!

When I take my kids to the library, my kids’ favorite part is the train track table. My son could spend hours building and rebuilding his own town out of train track pieces. There are also puzzles, board games, sensory toys, coloring pages. In addition, the library has a calendar of events and activities for babies through teenagers. All free.

CLICK HERE TO FIND YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY –>https://librarytechnology.org/libraries/uspublic/

Unplugged Activities for Kids
My babies and I hiking at Oak Openings Park in Northwest Ohio.

Take a Hike

It’s not quite winter yet. Right now, northwest Ohio is a windy 55 degrees. The nights are cold, but the warm part of the day is the perfect weather for taking a family walk. My kiddos love to explore the great outdoors. I take them to a number of local parks and nature preserves and let them roam free. My son loves to pick up acorns and super cool rocks. My daughter loves to have wide open space; she just runs as fast as she can.

We have an amazing hiking baby carrier and an all-terrain stroller that help me when the babies get too tired. Sometimes we bring a picnic lunch, too.

CLICK HERE TO FIND A PLACE TO HIKE NEAR YOU–> https://www.alltrails.com/


Unplugged activities for kids
My husband and my son working together to make some yummy deer jerky.

Cook Together

Food is my love language. Seriously, the way to my heart is through a really good taco. Sharing meals has always been a way for families to connect. Creating delicious food from scratch is a way that generations pass down their ways and traditions to their children. My son loves to be, “my good helper.” Cooking together let’s him create something he can share with those he loves and gives him something to be proud of.

He loves to bake cookies and cakes. Recently, I shared with him a family recipe for Chapatis, an Indian flatbread that my mother taught me how to make as a child. Today, we are making personal pizzas for dinner.



Roman enjoying a campfire with Mommy.

Have a Camp Out!

Get out your tent and set that baby up in your back yard! There is a magic that happens when kids sleep beneath the stars. Getting to stay up past bed time, sleeping in a sleeping bag, making s’mores over a fire. These are all things that little ones will be over the moon about.

If you think that your child is too young to have an actual back yard camp out, adjust it. Start with building a fort in the living room, move on to a back yard bonfire, and work your way up to sleeping in a tent. I promise they will love it and you will officially be the coolest mom ever.

Unplugged Activities for Kids
Roman painting a picture to send to his Aunt, who is currently living in Dubai!

Make an Art Project

This one feels a little Parenting 101 to me. Kids like to color and paint, right? And in my house, that’s usually all I do. But once in a while, I like to go all out, and actually do one of those creative Pinterest crafts I have had pinned for years.

Since my kids are so small, I am selective with the projects we do. I do any cutting with scissors ahead of time and gather all the supplies to make it simple and straight forward for them. We don’t do any projects that will require more than twenty minutes or so of their attention.  And we do craft day and bath day on the same day because it is likely the kids will get messy.


Workout or Dance Together

This is one of my favorite unplugged activities to do with my children. We crank up our favorite songs on the speaker and have crazy dance parties. My kids love Raffi and any songs from their favorite movies and TV shows.

During the week I babysit, and when I have a house hold of kiddos, sometimes we do a kid friendly workout to get their sillies out.

Here is the workout we do together –> https://motherhood-made-simple.com/workout-kids/


Unplugged Activities for Kids
My sweet Roman riding a pony at a festival in our town this summer.

Explore Your Community

One of my favorite features of social media is how it connects communities to the local events and culture in a given area. Connect with a group like MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) , connect with parents at your church, or join a community based Facebook group. Check out local events and group gatherings geared toward young children.

I really depend on the activities in my community as a source of unplugged activities for my family. Some of our favorites include agricultural fairs, art fairs, carnivals, public concerts, and public play dates.


The kiddos racing through our local Menards

Play Pretend

When you run out of ideas, or money, or the weather is just too awful to leave the house, you can always go back to the natural way children play – pretend! Let your children take the reigns on this one and see what they come up with. Getting on the floor and really playing with your kids has no substitute. This time in their lives goes so quickly and the beautiful creativity of their little minds is an amazing thing to witness. Take time to engage with them and you are sure to benefit even more than they do.


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  1. Neesha Johnston

    Love this post! So many great ideas, even for us without kiddos! Especially love all the personal pictures!

  2. Anna

    Our daughter we have a routine for her going that when she wake-up we let her fully awake and watch her favorite show. Then we do school work and play with her that way it’s not all on the TV or Tablet. It’s great to teach them early before they start going to school.

  3. It is definitely a battle but balance is key. My girls and I do a lot your activities together so thanks for sharing. We love to dance and have been since they were toddlers. Now they are 7/8. Wish we lived in woody area so we could hike but we just spend time outdoors bike riding and skating. Great post.

  4. What a great idea! I love the idea to exploire your community. We often try to go to the library or different places in the community to get out of the house. It is so important to me moderate the amount of screen time we use so our little one learns young.

  5. This is a good post full of excellent ideas! I take my 5 month old for a walk almost every day. We often end up at the library 🙂

  6. These are all such great ideas! My son loves to play pretend, especially pretending he’s a doctor. Both my littles love to have dance parties every day. I feel like it’s such a great way to burn off energy and bond together.

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