Screen-Free Fun for Everyone

In our there’s-an-app-for-that world, where almost everything beeps, talks, or lights up, it’s sometimes hard to imagine that humans somehow managed to have fun for hundreds of years before electricity, batteries, and screens. Yet it’s true. And Screen-Free Week (April 29-May 5) is the perfect time to give your family a taste of the good old days. Here are some of our screen-free faves.  You’ll find more ideas at

Push (Ravensburger)

pushOne player lays out up to three piles of cards (which are both numbered and colored). Players then add cards to the stacks, but aren’t allowed to repeat a color or number that’s already in the stack. The more you add, the higher your potential points. But if you push your luck and get to a point where you can’t play a card, you start losing points. Scoring is a little complicated at first, but the game moves quickly and will keep everyone engaged. For 2-6 players, ages 8+. $12.99.

Crochet Animals (Thunder Bay Books)

crochet animalsIf you’re a crochet fan (or you or your child would like to learn), you’ll love these adorable kits. Each one comes with a detailed instruction book with pics and illustrations that will guide you through making ten projects—and enough materials (including yarn and needles) to make at least two of those projects. Choose from cats, dogs, horses, safari animals, and characters from Disney, Star Wars, Peanuts, and Marvel. Prices range from about $17 to $25.

Mini Tarts Pastry Set (Real Cooking Kids)

mini tartsGetting hungry? This (almost) complete baking kit includes pastry dough ingredients, a rolling pin, pastry bags, dough cutter, tart maker, and complete instructions. All you need to do is add eggs, butter, and your own unique artistic flair and pop your creations into the oven. The non-edible components are durable and you’ll be able to use them to make other treats. Ages 6+, but adult supervision is definitely required. Under $50.

Poker Tiles (Master Pieces)

poker tilesPoker and Scrabble don’t seem like they’d go together very well, but once you play this game, you’ll wonder why no one thought of it sooner. And you get the best of both—the strategy of collecting tiles to come up with the biggest score and the excitement of poker. For 2-4 players, ages 12+. Under $25.

GraviTrax (Ravensburger)

gravitraxIf you haven’t discovered GraviTrax, you’re truly missing something special. This interactive track system lets you design and build race tracks that utilize gravity, magnetism, and kinetics that let you launch—and control—your metal marbles (which they like to call “gravity spheres”). Yes, there are instructions, but you and your young builder will have a lot more fun experimenting and building your own tracks. The Starter Set (under $60) is a great place to start. And you can up the fun quotient by adding additional track or purchasing expansion packs (mostly $10-18) , including a scoop, trampoline, tunnel, catapult, and more.

Wroom (Quercetti)

wroomWroom vehicles are so sleek and beautiful to look at that you may not want to touch them. But when you finally give in to temptation, you’ll be glad you did. Made for toddlers and preschoolers (who won’t have any problem jumping in and playing right away), Wroom vehicles are colorful, sturdy, and fun to “drive.” The removable/washable wheels are made of EVA, so your vehicle can go indoors or out.  For ages 1-4. Under $20.