Anyone can publish on Medium per our Policies, but we don’t fact-check every story. For more info about the coronavirus, see cdc.gov.

100 screen-free ways to spend your social distancing/quarantine time

Amanda Miklik
Mar 14 · 7 min read
Photo by Per Lööv on Unsplash

While we all must pitch in to protect the herd, we don’t have to be bored!

The following list is a mix of things that are varying kinds of accessible, varying kinds of fun, and all avoid screens. Some involve activities you can do if you’re socially-distancing or quarantining with other people in your place, but most you can do on your own.

I hope this list will spark your creativity, fight the brain weasels that come with social isolation, and give you something to do that isn’t looking at a screen, catastrophizing, or going full-on hermit (you know, if you don’t want to).


Print out this list so you can put the screen away. (Or, write down your favorites if you can’t print it.)

Draw pictures of all the places you’ve lived in.

Invent a new game that includes a rule that you must go back five spaces.

Make paper snowflakes.

Call your grandma (or someone else’s grandma).

Play a board game. If you have scrabble or some sort of word-based game, play an “un-”version of that game where you invent words that aren’t real but are believable. If you can’t give it a plausible definition, no points for you.

Make a map of your neighborhood starting with where you are now and see how far you can get before you don’t know the street names. Then, make them up.

Read a book and give a book report to someone over the phone.

Have plants? Give them a little extra love by pruning, potting, singing Prince songs to them, etc.

Arrange to call a friend/relative and teach each other something they don’t know.

Listen to music you haven’t heard in a while.

Make an owl out of an empty toilet paper roll. Give it a name and special powers. Hide it somewhere.

Make library cards for all the books in your house. Make note of the ones you haven’t read, yet.

Write a letter to an old friend.

Drink some water.

Learn all the lyrics to a 90’s rap song (that you don’t already know).

Make a guitar out of a shoebox or kleenex box and some rubber bands. You can use binder clips to “tune” the rubber bands.

Trace your hand and fill it in with a poem about things you like about yourself.

Make a pop-up book.

Deep-clean something. Take before and after photos — but put the ding dang phone away right after.

Contemplate the sins of your forefathers.

Make stilts out of empty cans and rope. (Hint: use a hammer and nail to poke holes in the cans that you can feed the rope through.)

Build a model city of your ideal place to live. You can use matchboxes, legos, books, spice bottles… get creative!

Write a letter to your representative about something you care deeply about that they might have an influence on.

Invent a recipe. Write it down and illustrate it.

Make slime or play-doh and smooooosh it.

Build a fort. Meditate or read a book in it.

Write an op-ed on something you are an expert in. (I promise you — you are an expert in something.)

Daydream about what might have happened when early humans first created and used the wheel.

Write a one-act play. You can record it and send it to someone — but put the ding dang phone away right after.

Make puppets and perform a puppet show. You don’t need to build a theater if you have a couch or something big and solid to hide behind, but this is a great way to use that cardboard box you threw in storage.

Make paper flowers and put them in a vase.

Paint a can or a jar. Use that as a vase.

Invent a secret code and use it to write notes to a friend.

Play 20 Questions with someone over the phone.

Recreate a classic video game in real life.

Make a list of great “truths” and “lies” about yourself for playing future rounds of Two Truths and a Lie.

Write a song about something that makes you happy.

Learn 10 new words from the dictionary and use them to create a story.

Practice a magic trick — as always, if you have to use a screen, put the ding dang thing away right after.

Make a “Guess Who” game out of people you know.

Rearrange the furniture.

If you’re with other people, have everyone leave the room. Change 5 things. Invite them back and have them look for what’s changed.

Stretch.

Make a time capsule. Include a letter to your future self.

If you have makeup, really glob it on. Pretend you’re going onstage.

Ask someone for the recipe for something they make that you really liked.

Perform a spell.

Write a joke you could perform in a standup routine.

Write and film a movie using tiny objects. Again, put the screen-having device away right after.

Draw what you can see out your window.

Make an origami fortune teller.

Convince a woman/non-binary friend to run for office.

Try learning to write with your non-dominant hand. Practice with your signature.

Fill a bunch of water glasses with different amounts of water and play them like an instrument.

Play hide and seek.

Write a story for children. Include at least one farm animal, one type of inclement weather, and a cookie.

Make a postcard featuring the landscape of where you are sitting right now.

Make a list of 5 things you hope to learn in the next year and plan how you might do it. Then immediately cross off three things. You might actually do those two remaining things.

Write a love letter to a fictional character.

Sort your clothes in the most pleasing way possible.

If you have hair, do something wild with it. If you don’t, make yourself a fine crown to adorn your head with.

Eat whatever you’re eating but do it in the fanciest way possible.

Make a list of small things you can do to engage in your local politics. Maybe you need to get to know who represents you… Maybe you attend a city council meeting… Maybe you reach out your local group of organizers…

Plan an adventure day that costs less than $8.00.

Make a Party Log (a sort of diary) for future parties you’re going to have. Include space for who attended, what the theme/reason was, what you served, and highlights.

Take a nap. Feel 0.000% guilty about it.

Drink some more water.

Dance party in the kitchen.

Play “spa day”. Wrap your face in a hot towel.

Make faces in the mirror using scotch tape.

Make tea or coffee but do it really well.

Fix something that’s broken.

Gather all the pens and pencils in your house and put them in something you label “all the pens and pencils in the house”.

Write an “Are You Afraid of the Dark”-style scary story for pre-teens.

Make a pie chart of the ways you would like to spend your time.

Write a letter to a politician you support thanking them for representing you.

Think about who you would hire if you had to terraform a new planet and you could only bring five other professions with you on your team. Compare your results with others.

Tell 5 friends something you like about them.

Make a flip book.

Practice another language.

Wrap a gift for someone.

Make something out of duct tape.

Rank your top 6 favorite animals citing why you ranked them the way you did. Compare your list with others.

Craft a thank you note to someone who has helped you recently.

Make a plan and materials list for a lesson you could teach.

Clean out a backpack/purse/bag you frequently use.

Write a list of meals/foods you like to eat. Then, write them individually on popsicle sticks, small pieces of paper, or something else and then put them in a box to choose from when you’re having a hard time deciding what to eat.

Sort through any papers you have lying around.

Make a list of people you’d like to catch up with, then schedule them so that you can catch up with at least one person every two weeks.

Play Jenga with books or other rectangle-shaped things.

Blow bubbles with the soap you’ve been washing your hands with for at least 20 seconds.

Build a tiny cabin out of toothpicks. Or matches — but don’t burn the place down.

Pretend to be animals.

Take a deep breath slowly while tensing every muscle in your body, from your toes to the top of your head. Hold it for a while, then release reeeeeally slowly. Do that a few times. (Do you feel your body tingling?)

Draw the floor plan for your ideal living space. (Hint: it doesn’t have to be a house… doesn’t even need to be on this planet.)

Make up a scavenger hunt only using clues that rhyme.

Draw a piece of fruit.

Find a scientist or historian in your network of people and ask them to explain what they study and why.

Make your own list of 100 things to do without looking at screens.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade