10 Fun Ways to Entertain Your Kids Without TV

Jul 4, 2018 at 2:40 p.m. ET
Girls dancing
Image: JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images.

Ah, those two dreaded words: "I'm bored." When kids drop the boredom bomb, you might be tempted to just turn on the TV and let them watch a couple of hours of their favorite (educational!) program. But why not have a little creative fun instead?

We've rounded up 10 TV show-free ways to entertain the kids that the entire family will actually enjoy — from glow-in-the-dark dance parties to DIY projects that double as science projects. This way, you'll all have a blast.

More: The Best New Outdoor Toys for Summer

1. Let them draw — all over your table

DIY color block table Image: Sugar & Cloth.   

Don't let this oh-so-pretty, paper-covered dining table fool you: Instead of placing your dishes and silverware, keep 'em in the cupboards and let the kids draw all over the table! Have them help you DIY this color-block table cover, and once done, they'll feel like little rebels "breaking the rules" by drawing on the furniture.

2. Go squirt-gun painting

Squirt Gun Painting Image: Fireflies + Mud Pies.   

Grab some Nerf Super Soakers ($8.99 at Amazon) or plastic spray bottles, watercolor paper, liquid watercolors and an easel or two, and let the kids go wild squirt-gun painting.

3. Have a glow-in-the-dark dance party

Glow-in-the-dark dance party Image: Kara's Party Ideas.   

How much fun is this?! Gather the whole gang and dance in the dark. Obviously, you don't need to set out snacks and all the party favors if it's just the immediate fam — the sticks (maybe some glow paint), black lights and a playlist full of dancy pop jams will do.

4. Skip the chalk & make sidewalk art with foam paint

DIY sidewalk foam paint Image: The TipToe Fairy.   

You likely have all the items you need to make this DIY sidewalk foam paint right in your own house. The kids will love creating puffy art outside; plus, it's an easy cleanup — all you need are Huggies wipes.

More: Want to Raise a Creative Child? Here's How

5. Have a themed movie night

Themed movie night Image: Oh Happy Day.   

Disneyland, Paris, Hogwarts... whatever the kids are super-stoked about, put together a themed movie night for them. As you play the film from a projector onto the wall, throw some cushions on the floor, have them build a fort, make some snacks that fit the theme — really create the atmosphere, and they'll feel like they're there.

6. Make marshmallow shooters

DIY marshmallow shooters Image: Coffee Cups And Crayons.   

This simple kids craft not only gets them outdoors running around; putting it together is also a bit of a science project for the kids. We'd consider that a win-win.

7. Host a "hoppy" hour

Kids hoppy hour Image: Oh Happy Day.   

In just a few simple steps, you'll turn kids' afternoon snack time into a mini party — with this kid-friendly happy hour.

8. Make a homemade children's book


Instead of reading a children's book to the kids, have them tell a story of their own. Then, the two of you can create a homemade storybook they'll always cherish.

9. Make some music together

Have a music party Image: Oh Happy Day.   

OK, this could get pretty noisy, but tapping into the kids' musical sides could bring out some talents you never knew they had. You'll make some real memories jamming out together.

More: Summer Nighttime Activities the Whole Family Will Love

10. Make a DIY balloon wand

DIY balloon wand Image: Oh Happy Day.   

These balloon wands are surprisingly easy to make. All you need are linkable balloons, balloon sticks and a balloon pump. To really kick them up a notch, throw some confetti in them for a surprise when they "accidentally" pop the balloons after running around with them.