13 Substitutes for TV

by Carrie Lauth

C'mon, admit it. You sometimes use the television set as a cheap babysitter. That's ok...we ALL do it sometimes! Ah, but it's a double-edged sword, because kids who watch a lot of TV have trouble keeping themselves entertained, which in the long run makes your job harder!

If you're trying to limit the TV viewing in your household, you might need a little inspiration. Try these TV-free activities guaranteed to keep the kids busy... at least for a little while!

  1. Make paper airplanes. Warning: This one is highly addictive! My two boys absolutely love making paper airplanes. Buy them a book on the fine arts of paper airplane making, and then put your feet up and read a book.

  2. Make a tower with toothpicks and peas. Go ahead -- encourage them to play with their food!

  3. Make homemade ice cream. Put two parts milk and cream and one part sugar in a coffee can, with any flavorings you want. Put the lid on, then put it in a bigger can and pour ice around the little can. Put rock salt on the ice. Put a lid on the big can, and give it to your child to roll it back and forth for about 1/2 hour or until it turns into ice cream! (Do this one even if it's winter...I won't tell!)
  4. What's magnetic; what's not? Give them a magnet and instruct them to run it all over the house and see what they find. And loose couch change is fair game!

  5. Make a submarine. If you have bunk beds, put blankets around the lower one and make a submarine. Make it a yellow blanket. Then sing the appropriate Beatles tune.

  6. Play First Family Savings and Loan. Save your canceled checks and fake credit cards that come in the mail. Supply the kids with a calculator, pencils, small table and Monopoly money. This one was my favorite as a kid!

  7. Build a mini log cabin with twigs. [editor's note: For an edible version, make a log cabin with straight pretzels and peanutbutter.]

  8. Have a tic-tac-toe tournament

  9. Make your own soda. Here's an easy recipe: http://www.easyfunschool.com/article2052.htm

  10. Make a card for Grandma. Get out the rubber stamps, art supplies and construction paper and make a greeting card for Grandma or another loved one.

  11. Bake a cake. Buy the kids an easy cake or brownie mix and let them loose in the kitchen. Tell them they can enjoy the fruits of their labors as long as they clean up all mess.

  12. Make up a treasure hunt. Buy cheap dollar store toys. Hide in your closet. Make a list of items they must find outside. (A white rock, a feather, a red leaf, a penny, etc) Tell them an exciting booty awaits when they bring all the items to you.

  13. Make a cave inside the house. Put old blankets over the backs of chairs or over a table to make a tent. Grab a flashlight and instruct child to go read scary stories inside it.

InsteadofTV.com is a resource for parents trying to turn off the TV and turn on life. Sign up for their free newsletter and get "101 Things To Do Instead of TV".

Carrie Lauth is a mom of 4 and the owner of Natural-Moms.com, a resource site for Moms doing things the natural way.

Copyright © Carrie Lauth. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.