Screen-free weekend activities for kids: Keep them busy with puzzles, colouring books and more – The Independent

With a third national lockdown upon us, homeschooling is a reality for many families across the UK right now.

Many are using devices like tablets and laptops to get their kids learning at home while they juggle whatever else is going on. And with good reason there are some brilliant online resources out there to get children brushing up their skills.

However, if you fancy changing things up a bit by going screen-free for a few hours, especially over the weekend, we can help.

But if its simply too chilly for that, or you just want a day at home, there are lots of jigsaws, puzzles and craft sets to keep the little ones occupied and, of course, a spot of baking will keep them busy in the kitchen while also whipping up some decent snacks. Winner.

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.


This 1,000-piece puzzle (9.99, Winning Moves) is actually a puzzle and top trumps game in one. Flip the pieces over and youll see a black and white version of the image for colouring in (and four crayons, to boot).

(Winning Moves)

Our reviewer of the best jigsaw puzzles liked this one hugely, saying: We loved how it incorporated plenty of text and colour lots of clues for younger children to take. The image, once complete, started a lengthy discussion on the differences between cats and dogs and why some dogs were very small and why some were big and why this cat had no tail, and so on. This was a great intro to the world of Top Trumps too; there was a little starter set in the box which ate up another half hour! Lots to recommend here.

Definitely one to keep the kids busy for a good amount of time.

Board games

If you have slightly older children of eight and above, this Jumbo overbooked game (24.99, Amazon) could prove fun for a couple of hours of family time.


Our reviewer of the best family board games acknowledged: Its a fairly intricate game, so we had to play a few rounds before we really got the hang of things, but its basically a colour-matching puzzle affair.

They really liked the look of the game in particular, noting that the artwork is really engaging.



Its particularly good for anyone who doesnt have much green space but would like a little garden of their own.

First off, you need to build the farm, which our reviewer of the best craft sets said was a little fiddly, though the set can withstand a bit of cack-handedness.

Then you can start planting the seeds. Our tester noted: Youll need a tiny bit of earth or failing that, cotton wool to put in the little plastic trough along with one of the two seed packets provided.

One of the best things about this kit is that the seeds start to germinate within days, so children wont grow impatient and lose interest before they see the fruits of their labour.


Perhaps you have a star baker in the making, in which case, a session in the kitchen could prove a fun afternoon.

Little sponge cakes are simple to make, as long you have the right cake tin. This masterclass 12 hole friand pan (12.99, Amazon) will easily do the job.


Friands are oval and made with almonds, butter, egg whites and icing sugar. They are baked with a little fruit pressed into the top before being dusted with icing sugar.

But you can make simple muffins with this cake tin too, and, as our reviewer of the best cake tins said, almost everything looks fancier when made in an oval shape.

(A Great Read)

It won our best buy award for the best kids cookbooks of 2020, with our reviewer thinking it was just brilliant: [This book] empowers kids to be able to put a meal on the table, with some help at first, and also includes some fancy dishes to show off with. It also instructs them on healthy eating and thrifty food shopping.

"We loved making homemade granola and the Irish soda bread. We learned that there is a deep cut cross at the top of the bread for blessing it and for letting the fairies out of it before baking. We are hoping this book will give us a live-in chef in no time!

Colouring books

Theres nothing like a bit of colouring to pass the time, and there are now great options out there for adults and older kids too.

Brilliant Beasts (9.99, Waterstones) celebrates the illustrations of artist Millie Marotta, bringing together the most impressive and intriguing animals from all of her books.


It made it into our round-up of the best colouring books for kids of 2020, with our reviewer saying: Our 11-year-old tester loved filling in the intricate patterns and found it a relaxing activity. Featuring 100 illustrations, this is just the ticket for a bit of mindfulness for the young (the adults enjoyed it too). It really is a colouring adventure.

For smaller kids, especially ones who love Peppa Pig, this Crayola colour wonder Peppa Pig (6.99, Smyths Toys) set is great as the special markers only show up on the pages, so they wont mark the furniture or walls hurrah!

(Smyths Toys)

You get five markers and 18 pages of Peppa Pig fun, which our reviewer said was perfect for budding artists on their first foray into painting.

Garden games

Yard activities neednt just be for summer. It might be a little too fresh for a long walk, but if you dont mind stepping into the garden for a while, we think youll have great fun with Molkky (20, MenKind).


Its essentially the Finnish version of skittles: the first to knock down 50 points in total wins.

Molkky made it into our best garden games of 2020, with our reviewer saying: Its a great way to get kids to do some simple counting while perfecting their aim.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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Screen-free weekend activities for kids: Keep them busy with puzzles, colouring books and more - The Independent

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