100 unique, free activities to do with kids that are screen-free

Looking for free (or very low cost), unique and screen-free activities to do with kids on the weekend? We’ve collated 100 different activities to keep the kids from getting bored (and maybe learning something along the way).

black and white hardtail bike on brown road between trees. Free screen-free activities.
Photo by Philipp M on Pexels.com

Free activities in nature

  1. Go on a playground-crawl. You’ve heard of a pubcrawl, but have you been on a playground-crawl? Find several playground within walking distance of each other and visit them all in a row.
  2. Go in nature and complete an orienteering or geocaching trail. Don’t have an orienteering course nearby?  Take turns directing the steps like an algorithm as if you were robots – take 20 steps north, rotate 90 degrees, take another 10 steps.
  3. Put out native birdseed and watch the birds come and eat. See if you can identify them.
  4. Play hide and seek with buried treasure outside (maybe your painted rocks from activity 96). Bonus use graph paper to make a map with an X marks the spot where the treasure can be found.
  5. Clean up a park, beach or river area of rubbish. Take a rubbish bag and gloves or hand sanitiser and pick up rubbish on your walk.
  6. Backyard camping. Pitch a tent, pull out the sleeping bags, light a campfire (if it’s not a bushfire danger season), get the torches and go backyard camping. Look at the stars at night, cook over a campfire or with a Trangia, and do bush wees on the lemon tree.
  7. Make an obstacle course outside in the backyard or park. A couple of balls to run around, a wooden beam to balance on, a jump rope to jump over and a hoop to crawl through and the obstacle course is done! Time how long it takes you to run a lap.
  8.  Go on a built environment collection walk – record or take photos of as many bridges, fences, multi-story buildings, statues, locally quarried stone etc as you can. Councils often have heritage walk brochures that have interesting historical information about old buildings.

Getting watery

  1. Walk along the beach and collect treasures. Make a beach mandala on the sand.
  2. Find a beach with lots of waves and record the sound of the waves as your own personal sleep music.
  3. Find a lake, wetland, river or reservoir and walk along it. Make leaf boats and float them along the water but don’t fall in!
  4. Run through the sprinkler. Put on your bathers and run through the water! Put down plastic and run a hose with detergent down it for a DIY slip-n-slide.

Journey in a new way

  1. Pick a cycle trail you’ve never been on and ride your bikes along it. You see such a different side of a city from a cycle path compared to in a car – new playgrounds, different houses and backyards, different trees and nature. 
  2. Walk along a nature trail and complete a nature survey. Find a patch of native scrub, forest or wetland and count how many different types of bird, animal, fungi, plant, flower, or insect you can see or hear. Record or take photos of them all.
  3. Pack an adventure pack and go exploring in nature. Pretend to be an explorer like Mawson and collect up what you’ll need for your adventure. Food, drink, hat, magnifying glass, sample collection tube, journal… Hike along a walking trail and fossick for samples of rocks, dirt, or water. Sketch specimens for your scientific journal that can’t be collected. 
  4. Hop on public transport and go on a journey. Always take the car? Try a public transport bus, tram, train, funicular, monorail, ferry or other mass transport in your area and see where it can take you. 
  5. Grab your non-bike wheels (skateboard, roller skates, scooters) and go for a roll. Mark out a track with chalk or stones and go around your pump track.
  6. Walk around the block and admire your neighbours’ houses. Turn it into a walking hunt with a few clues and a spelling puzzle.
  7. Go on a Dragon quest. Hike up a mountain as a knight. Grab a sword (a stick), magic energy elixirs (chocolate or trail mix) and slay the dragon back mountain. 

Free screen-free adventures beyond home

  1. Wander through a market and do a scavenger hunt bingo -see a bingo card example for a central market.
  2. Go window shopping. Write a list of things to look for (e.g. everything you need for setting up a kitchen) and window shop for items. Record how much it costs and see who can fit out a kitchen for the cheapest or the most expensive.
  3. Visit an outdoor mall and people watch. Play photo eye spy and take photos of 5 things on a list like a piece of street art, a bird, a roof decoration, an expensive pair of shoes, and an advertisement with the colour pink.
  4. Go to a different supermarket or an ethnic shop and find the strangest sounding food you can.
  5. Walk through a Botanic Garden. Find the most exotic plants you can (Corpse flower, anyone?) or just enjoy nature with some macro photography.
  6. Wander around a garden centre and find the best smelling, worst smelling, most colourful and longest named plant.
  7. Go to an op shop and try on the most ridiculous outfits you can find. Take photos then return the outfits to the shelf!
  8.  Find a free community activity in your area – a cultural festival, a free tour, a council outdoor concert, a free local class etc

Free Cultural Activities

  1. Visit a museum and see if you can escape the galleries with a paper escape room challenge – see how to make your own find-it escape room walking puzzle for SA Museum.
  2. Visit an art gallery and find the most interesting modern art, the oldest painting, and something from another country.
  3. Visit a local art gallery and take a photo of your favourite style of painting. Return home and make your own portrait painting in the style of that artist.
  4. Visit your local library and go on a treasure hunt to find information. With libraries, you can read a book on almost any topic you want to know more about – a fact about a country, a recipe, animals, transport, myths, languages, science, coding – the treasure hunt is almost endless! Libraries are great, free ways of accessing screen-free information about almost anything! 

Fun activities in the kitchen

  1. Bake a cake together. Get in the kitchen and measure out ingredients to make cupcakes, a cake, or muffins. Bonus for sneaking hidden ingredients in like grated apple, carrot, or banana.
  2. Make yeasty dough. Yeast cookery isn’t too hard but does take time. You could make cinnamon rolls, bread, focaccia, pizza dough or yeasty dinner rolls. Yeast also makes for good experiments such as learning about fermentation. Put some yeast and warm water in an empty drink bottle with a balloon over the neck and watch the balloon expand with carbon dioxide gas.
  3. Have a tea tasting session. Brew an assortment of different teas and sample them all in little cups together.
  4. Have a hot drink while wearing pajamas. Does it taste different to drinking with day-clothes on?
  5. Make plain circle cookies and bake them (or use packet biscuits). Then decorate the biscuits with icing to create the fancy cookies of your choice such as funny faces. 
  6. Flip pancakes in the frypan. Don’t just make pancakes, learn how to flip them without having them stick to the ceiling. It’s surely on the life skills bucket list.
  7. Make chocolate shapes or eggs. Melt a block of chocolate and pour into moulds to make different shapes. Wrap up in foil and use as treasure for your hide and seek indoors in number 60.
  8. Make a monthly tea calendar to enjoy a new tea bag each day for a month. Re-use an advent calendar if you have one, and find as many different teas as you can. Have a surprise each day when you open up and find the next tea to enjoy!

Fingers-crossed it’s edible

  1. Got a favourite movie, book or video game? Make a meal or drink from your favourite game. Fancy a mushroom skewer a la Zelda Breath of the Wild game, or a mug of butter beer from the Harry Potter movies, or a Cinnacreme from the Keeper of the Lost Cities book series?
  2. Make simple scones but with a challenge such as:
    – The person making them must be blindfolded and helped along by the partner who can see.
    – The person making them puts their hands behind their back and the partner stands behind them and uses their hands (but they can’t see).
    – The person making them doesn’t have the instructions and the person with the instructions cannot see what’s going on so has to explain the best they can.
  3. Translate recipes. Take a recipe and translate it several times in google translate. Try and follow the new instructions and make the recipe. Good luck!
  4. Get dressed up fancy and make mocktails (or elixirs) in the kitchen from whatever you’ve got in the fridge.

Non-edible Kitchen Fun

  1. Clean out the pantry of expired food and do outdoor ‘cooking’ or magic potions. Check out our potion recipe instruction cards for ideas.
  2. Make playdough in the saucepan. Feel the squishy squashy dough and make shapes. You could even make a volcano shape for number 52!
  3. Make a food necklace from macaroni, cereal, popcorn etc. Eat it slowly while reading a book (well, maybe not the macaroni).
  4. Make a flour or rice and balloon stress ball. Using a funnel, spoon flour or rice into your balloon. When the balloon is the size you want, tie off the end. Cover with another balloon for extra strength.
  5. Make at home beauty products like sugar scrub, bath bombs or peppermint foot scrub using pantry items. Package them up for presents.
  6. Blow giant bubbles outside using dishwashing liquid. Catch them and pop them.

Screen-free Science Fun

  1. Make the tallest tower you can using 10 pieces of spaghetti or fettuccine pasta (uncooked) and 3 marshmallows.
  2. Make kid-safe slime three ways.
    – Mix cornstarch and water to make oobleck, a slimey non-Newtonian fluid that gets more solid the more pressure you put on it.
    – Mix psyllium husk with water and food colouring. Microwave for about a minute or until it gets slimely then allow to cool. This is totally food safe (although not tasty, it’s good for little kids).
    – Follow the packet directions to make agar agar jelly. Allow to set at room temperature to make a gummy-worm type slime.
  3. Make bicarb and vinegar volcanoes outside. Maybe use the playdough from number 45 to shape a volcano.
  4. Make a colourful plant indicator from red cabbage, butterfly pea tea, or other plant and test against household items. For red cabbage, chop a few leaves finely. Place in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to steep for about 5 minutes. Decant the purple coloured water. In small glasses, pour about 1cm depth of cabbage juice indicator. Add different substances from the pantry and observe the colour changes. Try – vinegar, washing powder, lemon juice, bicarb, apple juice, water, shampoo.

Free Family Team Bonding Activities

  1. Play dress ups. Have a fashion parade in your new costumes. Give outfits a score out of 10.
  2. Make masks (or pull them out of the dressups) and take a family masquerade photo. Bonus points for fun poses, and secret names.
  3. Dress up with a theme (e.g. vintage, superheroes, all one colour, animals etc) and take a family photo.
  4. Write a postcard to a friend and post or hand deliver it. Bonus points to make it a gratitude exercise and thank the recipient for what you’re grateful for about them.
  5. Have a lego building competition. Time 20 minutes and build something with wheels, something creative that’s based on an item you’d find in a house, or a building.
  6. Put on headphones and have a silent disco
  7. Play hide and seek inside. Use the chocolate eggs covered in foil from number 38 and hide them around a room in the house. Play hide and seek or hot and cold to get someone to find them.
  8. Play a board game. Set up your own board game swap library with a friend so you get to play a new game for free.
  9. Play a card game. Call up a friend and invite them round to play cards with you. 
  10. Complete a puzzle like a word find, crossword, maze etc. Bonus marks for creating a puzzle for each other to do. Using graph paper makes this super easy.
  11. Hold a family quiz night. Come up with 10 questions and have a quick quiz round while at the dinner table.
  12. Play pictionary, celebrity heads or charades.
  13. Have a deep conversation with Chatty Capybara conversation cards.

A little stealth learning

  1. Write and illustrate your own book. Fold and staple plain A4 paper together to make a blank book. Don’t forget to put a pretend barcode on the back!
  2. Learn mathematical concepts through chalk drawings. Draw different shapes and name them (or measure sides and angles too), shade in fractions of shapes, or plot points on a huge cartesian plane.
  3. Listen to a language learning audio. Try a language podcast or a K-pop music playlist. What words or phrases can you learn?
  4. Get graph paper and make a map of your house, your dream tiny house or your neighbourhood. Learn about scale, the size of things, and measurement.
  5. Listen to a podcast. Our favourites for kids include Brains On, But Why, History StoryTime, and ABC Kids News time.
  6. Learn how to knit. It could be finger knitting, knitting with straight needles, knitting in the round… see what you can create!

Get crafty

  1. Make plaster of Paris shapes. If you don’t have plaster of paris, cement or a flour and water paste can work. Either use silicone moulds to make shapes, or make moulds by pressing shells or leaves into the wet plaster, or make hand/foot prints by pressing into the plaster before it dries. You can then paint or decorate the dry shapes and turn them into paper weights, ornaments or decorations. Playdough can be used as a mould, or sand if you want to have an embossed look rather than a depression.
  2. Press flowers. Collect flowers from your backyard or a park and press them between sheets of paper, cardboard and heavy books or bricks. Allow them to press and dry out overnight  a couple of days (weather and flower moisture dependent). Then use then to make the bookmark in 80 or the greeting card in 78. 
  3. Craft something with cardboard. Hamster maze, treasure chest, cubby, doll house, tiny house… it’s limitless!
  4. Make a sock puppet from an old sock.
  5. Thread beads onto fishing line and make a bracelet. You can collect cheap beads and craft materials from recycle shops like Waste Nott ($5 for a whole basket of stuff). 
  6. Draw a greeting card for a friend. Use pressed flowers (from number 74), beads, drawings or cut up magazines to decorate.
  7. Make toilet roll craft e.g. a sausage dog.
  8. Make a bookmark from cardboard covered in white paper and decorate it. Use it to remember your page in those books you got out from the library.

Let’s get regulatory

  1. Fill in the Resilience Journal about yourself
  2. Pick a positive self talk statement and make a positive lunch note for yourself.
  3. Build a cushion nest and take a nap. A great sensory and calming experience. Read a book, or just cuddle in a nest of huge squishy cushions.
  4. Build a cubby or fort inside. At a minimum, hide under blankets. Grab a torch and make shadow shapes on the walls of your indoor cubby.
  5. Dance along to your favourite playlist. 
  6. Face paint. Use wet and dry colouring pencils, face paints, or bright makeup to turn yourselves into an animal, fairy or rainbow.

But wait, there’s more screen-free activities!

  1. Play a word game like first letter last letter or one word story. More on the travel page.
  2. Do a jigsaw puzzle. Bonus if it’s a bit educational and you learn something from it.
  3. Do origami or fold paper planes and have a flying competition inside
  4. Read a comic book (from the library). 
  5. Build a campfire and cook something in it like marshmallows or baked potato.
  6. Play a musical instrument. 
  7. Read a magazine – grab a free local magazine or newspaper and sit down with a hot chocolate to read it. Then cut out things you like and make a collage.
  8. Paint your toenails. If you have a school uniform you may not be allowed nail polish, but toes are hidden!
  9. Plan out your next screen time. While there’s no screens right now, what will you do when you have a device?
  10. Paint a rock from the backyard. Save it for number 4.
  11. Light a pillar candle and measure how long it burn down in 5 minutes. Mark it and now you have a candle clock.
  12. Write your bucket or wish list. What things would you like to do? What would go on your ‘Yes’ Day wish list?
  13. Clean the car with a big bucket of warm soapy water. It’s fun to sit inside and watch the car windows get cleaned and pretend like you’re in a car wash.
  14. Plant something in the garden that came from elsewhere. Don’t steal, but get a cutting or seed from a friend, family or neighbour and propagate it.

Conclusion: 100 free screen-free activities

Next time you’re looking for activities on the weekend or holidays, check out these 100 unique, free and screen-free activities for kids. Let’s get exploring!

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