Seven Ways To Engage Your Little Ones Without Screens

Here at Philly & Friends HQ, we love engaging with other parents, carers, educators and those interested in child development. We are firm believers of the African proverb which says "It takes a village to raise a child".

Since I published my first children's book,
Who Do I See in the Mirror?, I have met so many amazing women (and men!) doing remarkable things. We have shared tips, ideas, hugs (virtual and physical), encouragement and much more. There's such a great online community of men and women championing each other's lives, businesses, achievements, and so on. To celebrate this, we will be featuring articles from some of the lovely people we have met on our journey.

This feature is one of a remarkable woman, Nahdz - a play enthusiast and a mum to three amazing boys. I met her on instagram and was inspired by the amount of time she devotes to their development. Even before homeschoolling became a thing, she was already nailing it. She has a no-screen policy with the kids and in this post, she takes us through seven unique ways to engage little ones without screens. Enjoy!

We know how hard it can be to keep the little ones busy without their eyes stuck to a screen, so we’ve curated a list of fun, off-screen activities that are sure to keep them engaged as well as provide quality family time they will forever cherish.‌

  1. Cardboard‌ ‌box‌ ‌craft‌ ‌

Cardboard‌ ‌box‌ ‌crafts‌ ‌are‌ ‌great‌ ‌because‌ ‌they ‌stimulate your child’s‌ ‌imagination.‌ ‌They are also ‌a‌ ‌great‌ ‌way‌ ‌to‌ ‌bond‌ with the added benefit of having‌ ‌an‌ ‌end‌ ‌product‌ ‌which‌ ‌will‌ ‌allow‌ ‌unlimited‌ ‌time‌ ‌to‌ ‌play.‌

‌I‌ ‌have‌ ‌a‌ ‌variety of‌ ‌cardboard‌ ‌box‌ ‌crafts‌ ‌on‌ ‌my‌ ‌instagram‌ ‌including‌ ‌a‌ ‌posting‌ ‌box,‌ ‌DIY‌ ‌easel,‌ ‌sensory‌ ‌box /‌ ‌tent,‌ an ‌aeroplane,‌ a ‌solar‌ ‌system,‌ ‌supermarket,‌ ‌coca‌ ‌cola‌ ‌truck,‌ ‌castle,‌ ‌grotto,‌ ‌shoe‌ ‌box‌ ‌crafts,‌ ‌space‌ ‌craft,‌ ‌car,‌ ‌cooker‌ ‌and‌ ‌ice‌ ‌cream‌ ‌role‌ ‌play.‌

‌These‌ ‌are‌ ‌just‌ ‌a‌ ‌few‌ ‌ ‌ideas‌ ‌you‌ ‌can‌ ‌try.‌ ‌You‌ ‌will‌ ‌need‌ ‌paint,‌ ‌colours‌ ‌and‌ ‌scissors.‌ ‌

2.Sensory‌ ‌Play‌ ‌

Oh!‌ ‌How‌ ‌I‌ ‌love‌ ‌sensory‌ ‌play‌. Majority‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌items‌ needed, you ‌already‌ ‌have‌ ‌at‌ ‌home.‌ ‌My‌ ‌top‌ ‌tips‌ ‌for‌ ‌sensory‌ ‌play‌ ‌are‌ ‌to‌ ‌only‌ ‌put‌ ‌out‌ ‌what‌ ‌you‌ ‌are‌ ‌willing‌ ‌to‌ ‌clean‌ ‌up‌ ‌and‌ ‌use‌ ‌a‌ ‌blanket‌ ‌if‌ ‌you‌ ‌are‌ ‌worried‌ ‌about‌ ‌mess.‌ ‌You‌ ‌can‌ ‌always‌ ‌invest‌ ‌in‌ ‌a‌ ‌tuff‌ ‌tray‌ ‌or‌ ‌garden‌ ‌tray‌ ‌but‌ ‌to ‌start‌ ‌off‌, try‌ ‌an‌ ‌oven‌ ‌tray‌ ‌or‌ ‌dish.‌ ‌Some‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌sensory‌ ‌bases‌ ‌I‌ ‌like‌ ‌to‌ ‌use‌ ‌include‌ ‌rice,‌ ‌pasta,‌ ‌cloud‌ ‌dough‌ ‌(flour‌ ‌and‌ ‌oil),‌ ‌jelly,‌ ‌oats,‌ ‌cornflour,‌ ‌hay,‌ ‌mud,‌ ‌sticks,‌ ‌water,‌ ‌cereal,‌ ‌artificial leaves,‌ ‌lentils,‌ ‌dried‌ ‌beans,‌ ‌barley,‌ ‌ice‌ ‌and‌ ‌shaving‌ ‌foam. ‌ ‌

3.Play dough‌ ‌

My‌ ‌go‌ ‌to‌ ‌play dough‌ ‌recipe‌ ‌is:

  • ‌2‌ ‌cups‌ ‌flour,‌

  • ‌1/2‌ ‌cup‌ ‌salt,‌ ‌

  • 2‌ ‌tablespoons cream‌ ‌of‌ ‌tartar,‌ ‌‌ ‌

  • 2 tablespoons oil,‌

  • ‌1‌ ‌1/2‌ ‌cup‌ ‌boiled‌ ‌water‌ ‌and‌ ‌

  • A few‌ ‌drops‌ ‌of‌ ‌food‌ ‌colouring.‌ ‌

You‌ ‌can‌ ‌also‌ ‌add‌ ‌scents‌ ‌and‌ ‌texture.‌ ‌My‌ ‌boys‌ ‌love‌‌ ‌play‌ ‌dough‌ ‌and‌ ‌can‌ ‌play‌ ‌with‌ ‌it‌ ‌for‌ ‌hours. However, ‌I've‌ ‌only‌ ‌ever‌ ‌made‌ ‌homemade‌ ‌play dough‌ ‌for‌ ‌them‌ ‌because‌ ‌I‌ ‌know‌ ‌it‌ ‌is‌ ‌not‌ ‌toxic.‌ ‌Play dough‌ ‌is‌ a ‌great‌ ‌activity ‌you‌ ‌can‌ ‌start‌ ‌with‌ ‌your‌ ‌child.‌

‌Some‌ ‌of‌ ‌my‌ ‌favourite‌ ‌play dough‌ ‌activities‌ ‌include‌ ‌dough‌ ‌disco,‌ ‌colour‌ ‌matching,‌ ‌colour‌ ‌mixing,‌ ‌making‌ ‌animals \‌ ‌objects,‌ ‌making‌ ‌prints‌ ‌in‌ ‌play dough,‌ ‌writing‌ ‌letters‌ ‌and‌ ‌numbers,‌ ‌and‌ ‌using‌ ‌a‌ ‌cutter. ‌ ‌

4.Den \‌ ‌Fort‌ ‌building‌ ‌

I‌ ‌cannot‌ ‌tell‌ ‌you‌ ‌how‌ ‌much‌ ‌my‌ ‌children‌ ‌love‌ ‌building‌ ‌a‌ ‌den /‌ ‌fort.‌ ‌I‌ ‌have‌ ‌a‌ ‌video‌ ‌on‌ ‌my‌ ‌IGTV‌ ‌where‌ ‌I‌ ‌showed‌‌ ‌how‌ ‌I‌ ‌set‌ ‌one‌ ‌up‌ ‌for‌ ‌them.‌ ‌You‌ ‌will‌ ‌need‌:

  • ‌blankets,

  • ‌ ‌chairs,‌

  • ‌cushions,‌ ‌

  • fairy lights‌.

Blow‌ ‌up‌ ‌mattress‌ ‌are‌ ‌optional‌ ‌but‌ ‌also‌ ‌make‌ ‌it‌ ‌very‌ ‌cosy.‌ ‌Inside‌ ‌these‌ ‌forts‌ ‌you‌ ‌can‌ ‌read,‌ ‌play‌ ‌games,‌ ‌tell‌ ‌stories‌ ‌or‌ ‌even‌ ‌watch‌ ‌a‌ ‌movie‌ ‌but‌ ‌building‌ ‌it‌ ‌together‌ ‌and‌ ‌making‌ ‌it‌ ‌cosy‌ ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌best‌ ‌part.‌ ‌I personally vouch‌ ‌for‌ ‌dens‌ ‌because‌ ‌I‌ ‌find‌ ‌them‌ ‌so‌ ‌relaxing. ‌ ‌

5.Board‌ ‌games /‌ ‌puzzles‌ ‌

I‌ ‌am‌ ‌old‌ ‌school‌, ‌so‌ I ‌love‌ ‌a‌ ‌good‌ ‌board‌ ‌game‌ ‌or‌ ‌puzzle.‌‌ ‌Some‌ ‌of‌ ‌our‌ ‌favourite‌ ‌games‌ ‌include‌ ‌monopoly‌ ‌junior,‌ ‌heads‌ ‌up,‌ ‌snakes‌ ‌and‌ ‌ladders,‌ ‌UNO,‌ ‌charades,‌ ‌drawing‌ ‌games,‌ ‌don't‌ ‌say‌ ‌it,‌ ‌guess‌ ‌who,‌ ‌ludo‌ ‌and‌ ‌snap.‌ ‌‌We ‌also‌ ‌have‌ ‌a‌ ‌range‌ ‌of‌ ‌very‌ ‌puzzling ‌puzzles‌. The‌ ‌boys‌ ‌love‌ ‌to‌ ‌have‌ ‌puzzle‌ ‌competitions‌ ‌with‌ ‌each‌ ‌other. ‌ ‌

6.Cooking / Baking

It is ‌never‌ ‌too‌ ‌early to‌ ‌teach‌ ‌life‌ ‌skills.‌ ‌My children‌ ‌love‌ ‌getting ‌involved‌ ‌and‌ ‌I‌ ‌find‌, when‌ ‌they‌ ‌cook‌ ‌with‌ ‌me‌, ‌they‌ ‌eat‌ ‌better.‌ ‌The‌ ‌boys‌ ‌cook‌ ‌with‌ ‌me‌ ‌everyday‌ ‌as‌ ‌well‌ ‌as‌ ‌cooking‌ ‌once‌ ‌a‌ ‌week‌ ‌with‌ ‌Virtual‌ ‌Cooking‌ ‌Kids‌ ‌and‌ ‌Teens‌ ‌via‌ ‌zoom‌ ‌which‌ ‌they‌ ‌absolutely‌ ‌enjoy.‌ ‌We‌ ‌miss‌ ‌travelling‌ ‌so‌ ‌much‌ ‌that ‌we‌ ‌decided to‌ ‌cook‌ ‌dishes‌ ‌from‌ ‌different‌ ‌countries; ‌it‌ ‌was‌ ‌a‌ ‌bit‌ ‌of‌ ‌a‌ ‌challenge but‌ ‌still‌, was‌ ‌so‌ ‌fun.‌ ‌

7.Movement‌ ‌

Ensuring‌ ‌children‌ ‌get‌ ‌physical‌ ‌exercise,‌ ‌especially during‌ ‌our current‌ ‌climate‌, ‌is‌ ‌so‌ ‌important.‌ ‌We‌ ‌have‌ ‌included‌ ‌movement‌ ‌in‌ ‌our‌ ‌daily‌ ‌routine‌ (‌without‌ ‌a‌ ‌screen‌) ‌by playing‌ ‌boxing and parachute‌ ‌games.‌ ‌Movement activities with‌ ‌screens,‌ ‌although‌ ‌not‌ ‌compulsory‌ ‌to‌ ‌use‌, ‌would‌ ‌be‌ ‌Go‌ ‌Noodle,‌ ‌PE‌ ‌with‌ ‌Joe, and ‌Cosmic‌ ‌Kids‌ ‌Yoga‌. All‌ of which ‌can‌ ‌be‌ ‌found‌ ‌on‌ ‌Youtube. ‌ ‌

If you have a lovely story to tell or would like to write up on a topic close to your heart at the moment, send us an email hello(at), and we would be happy to feature you on our blog.


Philly & Friends is a children’s brand that publishes diverse children’s books and creates products and media content. Our books and products are designed to instil confidence and positive values in children. Our debut children’s book is titled, Who Do I See in the Mirror? You can see more by clicking the picture below.