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150+ Family Bonding Activities That Promote Connection Over Consumerism

Over 150 family bonding activities to try with your kids, via SustainableBabySteps.com

Many parents involved in the sustainable community think about family bonding activities. How can we connect with our kids while living according to our earth-friendly values, like teaching low consumerism, care of the earth, or healthy habits?

Okay, but here's the disclaimer: While we may think it's important to instill eco-consciousness in our children, it's even more important to wholeheartedly support our children's interests, facilitating for them, and getting involved in their lives.

Because NOTHING is more sustainable than strong family connections, having fun with one another, and making choices together that make the whole family feel good. And when that happens instilling values comes naturally. Your kids are more likely to listen to you share those values if you've been spending ample time listening to what matters most to them.

Sometimes we might feel disconnected from one another, or stuck in a rut. Maybe your family bonding activities don't feel all that bonding, or aren't even enjoyed by the whole family. Maybe they are too expensive or put too much focus on "stuff" versus connection.

That's why we created this list with our son of fun, inexpensive, and even eco-friendly family bonding activities that we wanted to share with you. (Not all of it is exactly eco-friendly, mind you. Our first priority is strong relationships. Value-instilling comes after that.)

Use it as inspiration, to try new things, or get yourself thinking outside the box, to find what your family might love to do.

Our Favorite Family Bonding Activities

One of the coolest parts of most of these family bonding activities are all the conversations that can come from them. We've discussed politics, religion, civil rights, social activism, environmentalism, human nature...you name it, just from creating open spaces in our day to play and connect. TIP: Do NOT try to create or force these conversations. Just allow them to come up and go with the flow!

  1. Declare it a "Playing Hookie" day from anything school- or work-related
  2. Hike your nearby national and state parks or trails
  3. Read together
  4. Storytell while you drive
  5. Start round robin storytelling - take turns adding to the story!
  6. Learn to juggle! - This is a family favorite!
  7. Fish for your dinner
  8. Hula hoop - you can make your own hoops from scrap tubing
  9. Make a timeline up the stairs of your favorite years
  10. Backyard bird watch - find a used birding book on www.freecycle.com
  11. Play video games together
  12. Search out a local hot or cold spring to explore
  13. Get cooperative board games - find them for free or cheap at yard sales or Craigslist
  14. Invite them to help you make your own board game!
  15. Play card games - we love Uno!
  16. Instill the family dinner each night!
  17. Make dinner together
  18. Turn the radio off, so you can talk while you drive
  19. Start movie marathons - We like to play critic afterwards
  20. Compare movies to their books and find the differences
  21. Search Groupon for local activities
  22. Bike ride
  23. Watch funny videos together on YouTube
  24. Create recipes together
  25. Tag, hide-and-go-seek or Sardines, especially fun in large groups!
  26. Build and fly a kite
  27. Take cookies to a nursing home
  28. Organize a neighborhood cleanup
  29. Make a sincere offer to help them with chores or tasks
  30. Walk the dog (or cat!) together or go to the dog park
  31. Make meals for the homeless
  32. Play charades
  33. Build a solar oven from a box and aluminum foil
  34. Plant sunflower seeds and chart their growth
  35. Build an indoor fort
  36. Make a compost pile and look for worms
  37. Build a tree house
  38. Build a bike ramp
  39. Go to a pick-your-own farm
  40. Visit animals at the shelter
  41. Volunteer time at a nearby organic farm
  42. Prank call easy-going friends and family
  43. Make a tree swing
  44. Make bow and arrows from found objects
  45. Play 20 Questions
  46. Play I Spy
  47. Paint fun things on the walls in washable paints
  48. Play catch
  49. Throw a frisbee
  50. Start a lemonade stand
  51. Plant a veggie garden
  52. Go caroling together
  53. Check out the activity calendar at your local community center
  54. Show interest in and ask genuine questions of their interests
  55. Take a short road trip to nearby sights
  56. Organize a car wash
  57. Learn an instrument together
  58. Go indoor rock climbing
  59. Go to a game tournament together
  60. Make homemade toys together
  61. Plop down with snacks and hang out with them in front of the TV
  62. Make natural bird feeders from nutbutters, seeds and pinecones
  63. Create your own backyard bird habitat
  64. Play blindfold Pictionary games
  65. Find local concerts or movies in the park
  66. Build a snowman
  67. Build a snow fort
  68. Go ice skating
  69. Help them to drive down a dirt road or in an empty parking lot
  70. Learn to ski or snowboard together
  71. Plan Random Acts fo Kindness together
  72. Organize a neighborhood snowball fight
  73. Hold an ethnic food sampling night
  74. Hold an ethnic candy sampling night
  75. Schedule an at-home Spa Night
  76. Ask them what they'd love to do together, then do it
  77. Play dress-up complete with crazy makeup
  78. Face paint each other's faces
  79. Try to guess the stories of people you see
  80. Play Rock, Paper, Scissor or Thumb Wars
  81. Teach them to play poker with nuts, popcorn and other snacks
  82. Head to the roller rink
  83. Ask them to teach you something they are good at, then stick to learning it from them
  84. Create paper airplanes then see which one flies the best
  85. Create a time capsule together
  86. Check your local museums or galleries for family free days
  87. Plan a camping trip
  88. Make it a habit to always ask how their day way or what was their favorite part
  89. Start a vacation fund and brainstorm fundraising ideas
  90. Make sock puppets and put on a puppet show
  91. Leave gifts at your neighbor's doorstep and hide to watch their response
  92. Get involved in local marches and political campaigns
  93. Drive out to the country and look for constellations
  94. Plan to catch the next meteor shower
  95. Find a local foraging book and forage for wild food
  96. Leave your work at work
  97. Make funny home videos or stop motion videos to share
  98. Build a website together
  99. Make Christmas tree ornaments and talk about traditions
  100. Plan breakfast in bed for the whole family to share
  101. Geocache or treasure map together!
  102. Learn magic tricks
  103. Invite them to jump on the trampoline
  104. Have a picnic in the park or even in the living room
  105. Start a pillow fight
  106. Build sand castles
  107. Build fairy or gnome houses out of wood, leaves acorns, etc
  108. Create a scavenger hunt
  109. Make mazes on paper or out of rocks outside
  110. Create a meditation spiral together
  111. Setup a puzzle on the table
  112. Google and play Zahada together
  113. Go to the zoo
  114. Make a trip to the library and talk about borrowing versus buying
  115. Scavenge a thrift store or antique store together
  116. Start a scrapbook of your family bonding activities!
  117. Fingerpaint with soap paints on the windows
  118. Make homemade play dough
  119. Write letters or postcards
  120. Find a fun science experiment book to try
  121. Create a "Story of My Life" scrapbook
  122. Go tide pooling or snorkeling
  123. Create an obstacle course
  124. Roast marshmallows (over a beeswax candle!)
  125. Have a Dance-Off and record it
  126. Surprise them with a water balloon fight
  127. Write your own list of your favorite family bonding activities!
  128. Start a foam dart gun fight
  129. Dress up and visit your local Ren Faire
  130. Organize a fancy tea party
  131. Read comic books then watch the movies
  132. Make your own comic books
  133. Making bubbles from cookie cutters
  134. Make soap bubbles, then find different objects to use as bubble wands
  135. Have an epic Harry Potter wand fight
  136. Tell ghost stories in the dark
  137. Build LEGO together
  138. Start a water gun fight
  139. Build a rocket, or a water rocket
  140. Mix Mentos and diet soda (don't tell them what's gonna happen!)
  141. Send a message in a bottle
  142. Share your family bonding activities with friends for group fun
  143. Collect beach glass and make a mosaic
  144. Whittle utensils, toys etc from found wood
  145. Make and decorate gingerbread houses
  146. Carve pumpkins together
  147. Hit up the grocery store together and chat about why you choose organic foods
  148. "Adopt" a wild animal through your favorite wildlife foundation
  149. Count the satellites that pass in the night sky and talk about space
  150. Bake and decorate a cake
  151. Raise backyard chickens or goats as pets
  152. Start an ant farm
  153. Invest in a rock tumbler
  154. Hatch and release butterflies or praying mantis
  155. Start a new sustainable hobby, like organic soap- or candle-making
  156. Make holiday and birthday gifts for one another and other friends and family
  157. Share your favorite music
  158. Play with the family pet, or teach them new tricks together
  159. Race and dodge the waves on the beach
  160. Go sledding
  161. Bob for apples
  162. Check out Earth Day Crafts and Earth Day Activities
  163. Start a Nature journal for sketches, flower pressing, etc
  164. Discover the endless opportunities of sidewalk chalk
  165. Take your kids on an official date, get dressed up, and enjoy their company!

Obviously this is just to get you started!

And again, the most important aspect of all family bonding activities is that it's not forced and it's something everyone is interested in trying.

If you're kids don't seem interested, that's okay! Just hang out with them doing what they love, whether it's TV (try muting during the commercials and discusing the show) or video games (learn how to play) or their favorite game or toy (follow their lead in how to play).

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