Family Activities (That Don't Involve Screens)

It can be a challenge to tear tweens away from their screens for some good old fashioned family bonding—until you try one of these activities!

Family Activities

At the Benson home, the television stands silent. The video games gather dust. Benjamin, age 11, and Katie, age 9, are too busy with other activities. Both Benjamin and Katie joined the Hanson family by adoption. They have grown into bright, happy, delightful children.

The challenge for their parents was to direct their young lives so that each child would reach his or her greatest potential. The children’s parents, Ted and Carol, grew increasingly frustrated with the amount of time the youngsters spent in front of the television or video games. They took the universal problem to their adoption support group for suggestions. From there, Ted and Carol excitedly began to build a plan of activities from ideas they gathered.

Creative Activities

Two of Katie’s undeveloped talents were in the areas of music and art. To spur her on, Carol encouraged her with a few fun ideas:

  • Make homemade instruments and create a “jug” band with friends. Make drums from coffee cans. Use pencils for drumsticks. Make a kazoo from a comb and wax paper.
  • Plan monthly excursions to area band concerts or special children’s productions.
  • Design and sew a tote bag out of an old pair of jeans.
  • Make original postcards to send to relatives or pen pals.
  • Melt down broken crayons and pour into plastic candy mold trays.
  • Reuse greeting cards for matting pictures and other artwork.

Unlike Katie, Ben liked outdoor activities. Ben’s father came up with these ideas:

  • In preparation for a spring garden, plant seeds in egg shells.
  • Make a Mother’s Day basket out of backyard sticks.
  • Make a bird feeder from plastic bottles.
  • Offer to help at a horse barn in exchange for lessons.

Cultural Activities

Ted and Carol were not only interested in motivating their children’s creativity, but broadening their world. Here are some activities that helped them with their goals for their youngsters:

  • Locate music in your child’s native language.
  • Check with your local adoption support groups to see if they have cultural music and dancing.
  • Collect stamps or coins from all over the world.
  • Find and write to pen pals.
  • Plan quarterly culture parties where you play games from other countries.
  • Eat a food from a different country once a month. Have kids participate in planning and preparation.
  • Play music around the house that is popular in other countries. Learn dances that are a part of different cultures.
  • Start a tradition of adding to your child’s life book on your child’s birthday. Gather mementos from your child’s culture of origin and your family’s current culture.

Family traditions, however small, promote family belonging. Here is a list of traditions from several adoptive families with 9-to 12-year-olds:

  • Have children prepare breakfast.
  • Have a “family only” skating party with aunts, uncles, cousins, and other extended family members.
  • Give each child a chance to talk to grandparents on the phone.
  • Go out for breakfast as a family on your child’s last day of school.

Compassionate Activities Families came up with these ideas:

  • Visit elderly relatives regularly.
  • Prepare and deliver a meal to a shut-in once a month.
  • Plan and make a birthday gift for a senior citizen or a sick child.
  • Help collect for a fund drive for a nonprofit organization.

Life has definitely changed at the Benson household. Benjamin and Katie can no longer keep up with the newest video games. Instead, if you ask them to create something, help plan an unusual party, take part in a family tradition, or touch the life of another-they are first in line.


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