What can I do with the kids that’s screen-free, natural and fun?

If your kids are fed up of doing the same old things during lockdown, the author of The Little Grower’s Cookbook has some suggestions.

Lisa Salmon
Friday 26 February 2021 08:00 GMT
bored girl with her head on the table
bored girl with her head on the table

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


My young children are bored of going to the park – how can I get them off their screens and doing more natural things?

Ghillie James, co-author of The Little Grower’s Cookbook, says: “You’re not alone! If I ask, ‘Shall we take the dog for a walk?’ I’m guaranteed a collective groan from all three of my young kids – however brightly the sun’s shining. The magnetic pull of gadgets and TV is just too great for most children today. But it’s worth persevering – there’s a world of wonder just outside the door, which has been proven to hold the key to happier, healthier, energised kids, who eat better, sleep longer and chat more when given a dose of fresh air every day. You just need a few clever ideas up your sleeve…

“So, what’s the answer? Well, you can turn off the wifi for a start! Try having a ‘no gadget afternoon’ (for everyone) and see how your kids naturally just turn to other things when given a few enticing options. Climbing trees, making camps or looking for tadpoles are all well and good, but they’re not easy for everyone to do, especially in these strange times. The good news is that there are lots of fun things to do just outside the back door at home, using recycled items collected around the house.

“Your kids could make bird feeders using scooped out oranges to hang from a window or tree (draw pictures of the birds you see), design a mini-beast mansion using an old tin can and some foraged leaves and sticks, try planting strawberries in a hanging basket, make their own wormery in an old lemonade bottle, looking for treasure as they dig up some worms from under the soil.

“They could make their own simple pots from newspaper and plant some sunflower seeds in them, sprinkle lettuce seeds in a compost-filled colander for their very own pick-your-own garden, or re-pot some herbs in jam jars to give as presents. Kids love to cook too, so they could help you to make lunch, or perhaps a gardener’s cake for tea, after all their hard work?

Gardener's cake
Gardener's cake

“Getting kids off screens and into the green feeds all of your children’s senses, and most importantly, activates their imagination, restoring their sense of wonder. Hopefully soon, the question will be ‘have we got enough spare time to get all this done?’”

The Little Grower’s Cookbook by Ghillie James and Julia Parker is published by Lettuce Publishing, £20. Available March 4

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