Whatever happened to free time? Somewhere along the way of daily homework and modern life and contemporary parenting, free time became scheduled and renamed Time for Unstructured Play. My kiddos found free time again on spring break and so did I, as I balanced quality time with them to letting them play with less supervision and problem-solve amongst themselves.


The times, they have a-changed

This in a day when parents get into trouble for letting children play unsupervised at playgrounds and we just can’t see sending out our kids when the weather is the littlest bit cold. (That said, I’m sure there are generations past where chores upon chores left little time for play at all.)

We’re in that gap place between spring break and summer. When school is not in session, it’s interesting to remember the things I did in childhood and observe the things my children do when left to themselves. The good stuff, of course. The ornery things, I left out. We all know there are plenty.


51 Activities Children Will Do with Free Time

  1. Invent new games.
  2. Play hide-and-seek with the neighbor kids.
  3. Play tag.
  4. Make their own snacks.
  5. Make their own rules.
  6. Break their rules for the good of the game.
  7. Create an imaginary restaurant.
  8. Write menus for the imaginary restaurant.
  9. Dress up.
  10. Play superhero.kids playing dress up
  11. Invent new superheroes.
  12. Develop new characters with their imagination.
  13. Create a recipe for a drink in the kitchen.

    kid-created recipes, kids in the kitchen

    This concoction, the Sugar Honey Special is brought to you by my kid

  14. Scream.
  15. Build a make-believe campfire
  16. Run around with make-believe swords.
  17. Draw an obstacle course diagram with chalk in the driveway.
  18. Create an obstacle course in the yard.
  19. Ride bikes.
  20. Ride scooters.
  21. Swing.
  22. Climb a tree.
  23. Help each other get down from a tree.
  24. Find (animal) bones in the woods.
  25. Read books.
  26. Draw.
  27. Build a forts.
  28. Read with a flashlight under the fort.
  29. Read with a flashlight under a blanket.
  30. Slide down the stairs on their bed covers.
  31. Create products and organize a store.
  32. Origami.
  33. Count the money in their banks.
  34. Run around outside.
  35. Look at the map to see where Daddy flew this time.
  36. List the places they would like to go someday.
  37. Plot a course around the US to visit all the places.
  38. Make messes (they have to clean up).
  39. Discover the things they have that glow in the dark.
  40. Play the piano.
  41. Play board games by themselves.
  42. Read.give kids time to read, early literacy
  43. Produce a mini talent show.
  44. Choreograph a dance.
  45. Carve steps in a dirt pile.
  46. Dig a hole in a dirt pile.play in a dirt pile, play in a pile of dirt
  47. Use the dirt pile as a hill for biking, a la BMX.
  48. Dig around for hours in a dirt pile with garden tools.
  49. Use a fallen tree as a bridge.
  50. Practice their balancing skills.
  51. Set up a picnic.