Coming up with ideas for children’s entertainment that don’t involve video games, apps, or other forms of electronics can be challenging indeed. Reaching kids amidst the constant buzz of technology often requires a little creativity, and a thorough knowledge of their interests. So the next time you’re in the mood to put together a quality family fun experience that motivates your child to put down his 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 family outings (that don’t involve gadgets) is to put them at the center of the evening. For example, You can look for events and activities that allow kids the opportunity to wear a crown, get knighted, or become sheriff for a day, etc. in a setting that’s fun and memorable.
Or, you can put the spotlight on your child by asking him /her to be the evening’s master of ceremonies or host. If you’re going out to dinner, for instance, your child might place the order for the entire table or “pay”, in keeping with his/her role as host. If you’re going to see a show, you might have your child research some information about the venue, and then make the announcement or introduction to the rest of the family about the evening’s agenda.
Explore the past.
Time travel is another great option for adding spice and excitement to a family outing or activity. And don’t worry if you can’t get your hand on an actual time machine, because there are plenty of other ways to take a time traveling journey, both actual and virtual.
Let’s say you want to plan an evening of board games. You might declare that it’s 50s Night, and all of the dress, talk, and food and beverages must be 50s themed. You can play 50s music in the background, dress up in pony tails, pompadours, or poodle skirts, and serve cheeseburgers and milkshakes for dinner. To get everyone in the mood that afternoon, consider playing couple of 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 with the planning. The research they do will help them learn a bit about whatever era you’re highlighting – plus, getting them involved will go a long way towards getting them into the spirit of things.
Take in a live performance.
In an age where just about everything can be experienced on a TV, tablet or laptop, many kids have very little exposure to live theatre, dinner theater and other forms of live entertainment. Taking them to see a dinner show or a stage production may prove to be the thrill of a lifetime, and will also open their eyes to a whole new world of arts and entertainment.
Create a themed family evening.
Surprise your kids by announcing one Saturday morning that tonight is going to be all about a special theme, like “Medieval Night”, “70s Night”, or “Sports Night”. Tell them they have the day to figure out what they are going to wear that evening – and you might also ask them to research some theme-related fun facts to share with the rest of the group.
When the evening rolls around, you can serve themed appetizers or snacks before heading out to the main attraction – a themed activity. If it’s “Sports Night”, you might go to a college or pro sports game; if the theme is the 1970s, you might turn the living room into a retro disco. For the medieval themed night (or should we say knight?), you can take in a local tournament game or Middle Ages reenactment show.
(Bonus Tip: Up grade the fun when you challenge your family to stay in character all evening by using the language, slang, or jargon associated with your theme or era that you’ve chosen.)
Have a family slumber party.
Pile mattresses, blankets, and sleeping bags in the living room and get ready to have fun: It’s an all-family slumber 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 popping popcorn, midnight snacks, making Coke floats, and slumber party pranks.