Does anyone else think it’s sad that kids these day spend so much time glued to screens? Between cell phones, tablets, televisions, consoles, and computers, there is very little time they aren’t in front of (if not holding) something electronic.
You don’t have to look very far to figure out where this phenomenon comes from. Most of us are probably guilty of a little too much screen time.
So far we’ve managed to keep electronics for our kids to a minimum around here. While our kids enjoy watching a DVD on the computer, playing educational games on Starfall.com, and using a drawing app on our phones every now and then, they spend most of their time having outdoor adventures, creating things indoors, playing something imaginative, or reading.
Here are some great kid gifts that are worth unplugging for. They might just encourage the adults to be unplugged more, too.
Some of our favorite books also have great themes that pique kids’ interest in topics that will lead them to other unplugged activities like exploring the outdoors and being self-sufficient.
Little House on the Prairie Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I read the series aloud to my kids several years ago before they could read. Even the younger ones were hooked and following along with the story. I have to admit that I had a lot of fun going back through the series with new eyes. The kids loved learning about the olden days and it really sparked an interest in pioneering and self-sufficiency. Now they are reading them again on their own.
Be sure to look for the 9-book set. There are lots of sets that just include the first five books and leave out the last four. Your family will want to follow the story beyond just the first five books. If you aren’t particular about your books being new or a matching set, you can probably put together a set by scouring your local thrift stores.
Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare
We read several books that took place in the 1700s and talked about the relationship between the Native Americans and the white settlers. We enjoyed them all, but Sign of the Beaver was the favorite. Even though my children are much younger than the 13-year-old protagonist, they loved reading his story of outdoor survival and how he learned to hunt from his Indian friend. It’s no wonder that this is a Newberry Honor book.
We prefer the Lego sets that just contain lots of bricks, wheels, and basics as opposed to the sets that are designed to build a specific creation. That way the kids feel free to create whatever their hearts desire, rather than feel boxed into what they are supposed to create. I got two of these sets that have just the building basics two years ago when they were on sale great price (the price isn’t so impressive anymore).
I just ordered this set of 20 generic Lego people (for less than $5!) which I am really excited about. I think we only own two Lego people (that’s the downside of only buying the big sets of basics) and that doesn’t go over well when you’ve got three kids playing Legos together. Lego people stocking stuffers are sure to be a hit here!
I have been reading the reviews and am considering these big sets of generic bricks that are compatible with Lego, but not nearly as expensive. Legos are really the only “toy” that my kids play with these days, so it would be nice to increase our collection so they can do more with them.
My kids love this sturdy version on charades. The cards are thick cardboard tiles that hold up well and fit nicely in the game tin (which is way better than a box when it comes to kids). Charades is great for even young kids who can’t read because the cards have really great pictures that make the clue very clear. Apparently this is supposed to be a travel version, but we only use it at home. It’s definitely a favorite here.
My kids can make crafts out of anything, but sometimes it’s nice to have a structured craft that has supplies besides what comes out of the recycle bin.
A couple years ago my mom got my kids interested in making rainbow loom bracelets. Knowing that the colorful rubber band creations were popular among tweens and older kids, I was surprised that my young kids could do them, and do them well.
Lately my kids have been using the finger loom, which is less complicated than the bigger loom because it doesn’t require a hook. They whip out bracelets and necklaces in no time at all and love sharing them with everyone!
We have lots of different kinds of beads: wooden, plastic, colorful, letters, etc. All of my kids like making things with them. We have a set that my daughter got for her birthday, but surprisingly my son is much more interested in. Just like the rainbow loom bracelets, my kids love making beaded gifts for friends and family.
My kids spend lots of time climbing trees, building forts, and looking for bugs and animals. They like camping and survival too.
For Christmas last year we got each of our kids this bow and arrow set. They had been asking for Daddy to make them bows for months (he had previously made one, but it eventually broke). They LOVE their Bear Archery bow and arrows sets! They are great quality and provide hours of outdoor fun. The grown-ups enjoy them too. They do a great job of following the safety rules that we have.
When the slingshot that Daddy made from a stick and an old bicycle tube broke, a new slingshot was high on my six-year-old’s list. We got him a Daisy slingshot for his birthday and he couldn’t have been happier. We laid down some serious ground rules about the slingshot since it’s not technically a toy. With rocks and acorns there is plenty of ammo all around.
If you made it all the way through last month’s budget report, you might remember that I ordered three of the $49 Kindle Fire tablets for Christmas (I haven’t even taken them out of the package yet). One is for me, one is for my husband, and the third… will be for my kids to share.
My deal-seeking side kind of wanted to take advantage of that buy five, get one free deal, but I really didn’t want each kid to have their own tablet. I love how screen-free they are and I want to keep it that way. I plan to fill the kids’ Kindle with educational kid apps and kid books. It won’t be an open-access, free-for-all, but they will be able to earn time.
How about you?
- What are some great gifts you’ve given or received that encourage kids to unplug?
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