A Great Source for Screen Free Fun: PLAYBOOK by S.Caney

steven caney's play book

I love to find a new great source for screen free fun for my boys and I am sharing my most favorite with you today.   Of course there is always Pinterest and awesome websites(like this one and this one).  But, one of my go-to sources for screen free activities is vintage activity books. They have such an appeal of simpler times, when kids spent entire, unscheduled days creating their own kind of play.

Steven Caney’s Play Book is my absolute favorite.  It is still widely available online and at your local library.  I love this book for many reasons.  Yes, the photos bring me right back to my childhood days of wandering around the neighborhood, making up all sorts of ways to keep myself busy until dinner time.  But, I am also in love with the ideas found inside.  This is the ultimate tinker book.  Nothing is fancy and yet, these activities stretch kids imaginations and allow them to create something to play with out of recycled materials or throw aways. Creating something substantial instills self confidence, teaches kids to be resourceful and to think outside of the box. Children become thoughtful producers instead of merely consumers. 
steven caney's play book 1970's


Play Book contains over 70 activities that are totally accessible and easy to do.  Most involve little prep and just a few household staples. I am excited to work our way thru the book this winter…it will provide many great ideas and bouncing off points for some great indoor screen free play. I also love that  the projects let kids use real tools. They develop confidence while creating a new toy.  Actually, half the fun may be in the creating.

steven caney's play book

We have already built the Game Stick – a simple game board constructed from a scrap of wood and some nails.  There are a couple ways to play, both alone or with a partner. It really gets you thinking.  We play all three of the suggested games and my boys have come up with a few other ways to use it, too!

Steven Caney has other great books – I also have Toy Book and The Ultimate Building Book. They continue to be a tremendous source of screen free fun to me.  What we now call STEAM and STEM activities used to just be ordinary PLAY that happened much  more organically than it does today. We may have to plan for creative play a bit more today, but the benefits of this sort of play are just as wonderful as they were 25 years ago

I’d love to know if you get your hands on a copy of one of his books and try some of the activities. We can share notes and insights!