plugged in play ideas for kids

Why is it Important for Our Kids to Engage in Free Play While Plugged In?

Generally, once we ‘plug in,’ we become passive participants. When we engage in free play, we become active participants in an activity. Can we put plugged in and free play together?


Sure we can! We just need to get creative.


Anytime you approach play with the right perspective, even plugged in play (by plugged in play, I am referring to computers, video games, TV viewing, etc.), you can find ways to create interactive play that challenges children to put on their critical thinking hats in order to study what they are seeing and consuming and to interact with it, build their own framework for understanding, and find away to become more than passive consumers or participants. Here are a few ideas on how to turn plugged in play upside down!




P.S. I suggest that before you send your kids online, you teach them a bit about digital citizenship. If you are looking for resources on where to start in terms of how to stay safe online, here are some online safety tips for kids that I’ve put together.


These free play plugged in activities are just the beginning. There are more activities on the It’s All Kid’s Play blog as well as Pinterest. And sometimes I share ideas on Twitter, too! Oh! And be sure to check out the book I wrote, too. It includes even more travel games as well as over 1,000 other play activities so no matter where you are and what your interests or age, there is something in there for you–guaranteed! Check it out!


Mute the TV Game

What else could be going on in that show? Mute the volume and pretend you are the people talking on TV. Is it serious or silly? What are they saying? You be them and change the course of the whole show! For example, a show where the characters are talking about their job could suddenly be about their smelly bum!

Act it Out TV

Pretend to be the characters on TV. Act out what they are doing and saying. You become them!

Change the Commercial

Like the activity above, mute the TV and pretend to be the person on TV. Only, you are looking for commercials and not shows. So, now you become the voice on the commercial. What are you selling? What are you saying to sell the product? At first it can feel a bit awkward, but before long you will find you are on a roll and able to ‘sell’ all sorts of crazy things.

Have fun! For example, my commercial might sound something like this: “This cereal tastes just like licking a wet dog! Your whole family will love this mutty taste! Just pour it in your bowl like this. It’s so easy to put this yucky taste in your mouth. Look at this guy! He loves the taste of wet dog! Your family will too!”

Bonus points if you can make your family laugh with your ‘new’ commercial.

Talk Back Game (Commercials)

I find commercials that ‘talk’ to me are really annoying. “You’re going to love it!” Uh, I don’t think so.

In this free play game, talk back to the commercials when they say silly things like “You’ll love it” or “Try it today!” I say, talk back! (I mean, Mom and Dad won’t let you talk back to them, so why not TV?) Tell those commercials what you really think!

For example:

They say, “You’ll love it!”
You say, “No I won’t!”

They say, “This makeup will make your skin feel smooth.”
You say: “Mine already is, thanks.” OR “I’m too young for makeup, silly!”

Have fun, be silly! And crazy as it sounds, you’ll be wishing for more commercials!

Look up Information (on the Internet) About Your Favourite Things

What are some of your all-time favourite things? is it a sports hero? Super star?

Jump online (make sure you follow your family’s rules about the computer and Internet) and see what you can find out about your favourite things. Here are a few good sites to poke around on (these links are also helpful if you have a school project you need to research):

How Stuff Works (A very cool site that explains how things work.)

Info Please
(It’s an encyclopedia, atlas, almanac, dictionary, thesaurus, and pile of biographies all rolled into one. Good for older kids)

Fact Monster (Like infoplease, only for younger kids. Cool facts!)

Kids Click (A pile of great links all in one place thanks to many wonderful librarians.)

Quench Your Curiosity!: Research Things You Are Curious About

Do you have some things you are always curious about and want to know more about it? Maybe curious about some world records? Dog breeds? Where is Afghanistan anyway?

Research it online! Ask your parents to help you find a safe site to snoop around on to find the information you need. Feed your curiosity! If you are like me, the more you research, the more interesting things you will learn, and the more you’ll want to research those new things! It goes on and on! But I get so interested and excited, I just have to keep going! (And then, of course, I have to share those facts with my family–who are naturally very impressed!)

Search for Yourself on the Internet

Use a search engine to search for your name. Are there other people out there with the same name? I’ve found a couple other “Jean Oram”s out there. They live all over the world! (You might even find yourself!) Get the whole family together–some of the people who pop up in the searches may actually be your relatives!

You as a Website?

Are you a website? Type in your name into a search engine and add endings like .org, .com., and .ca to see if there is a website with your name! For example, my name is a website: (that’s because I made it).

CAUTION: Some sites might not be safe, so it is best to type your name with ‘.com’, ‘.ca’ or ‘.org’ into a search engine and see what pops up–if anything. If you go straight to the website, you could end up on a site that isn’t safe or is inappropriate.


Visit a friend or relative using a webcam. Tell jokes, be silly, show them different things like a new book you’re reading. (If you have a laptop, you can do like my niece and nephew did and give your audience a tour of the house by carrying around the laptop/webcam!)


Looking for more? Try these pages:

+ More Plugged in Free Play From the Blog

+ Play Activities Home Page

+ More on Pinterest 

Might I also suggest this time-saver…

Get the Book: 1,001 Boredom Busting Play Ideas for families and kids.

Never be bored again! All of this website’s great content and MORE!

Affordably available in ebook from these online retailers:
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Amazon AU
Barnes and Noble

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