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Family Matters: 20 Ideas for Screen-Free Week

Monday, April 30, 2012


Turning off screens next week? Here are some old-school, unplugged ways to have fun.

It's time for Screen-Free Week (April 30-May 6, 2012), the national celebration where children, families, schools, and communities spend seven days turning off entertainment screen media and turning on life.  It’s a time, as the organizers say, "to unplug and play, read, daydream, create, explore, and spend more time with family and friends."

Kidoinfo is all about finding ways to inspire kids to dream, create, explore, discover and connect with their families and community. Although our family spends time both un-plugged reading paper books, making art and exploring the outdoors and plugged-in watching movies and playing games on the iPhone, we do set limits on screen time especially for the kids. But since children often look to parents as role models my husband and I try to be mindful of our own media usage. 

Screens/no screens?

I must admit we have never gone a whole week without some screen time since we are a movie loving/making family - often using a flip camera to make a film which then leads to props, posters, writing scripts and all kinds of other creative unplugged activities - but we are mindful of how often and when we plug in. 

So whether you choose to unplug all week or at least limit screen time, here are 20 ways to unplug, recharge and reconnect as a family. And if that's not enough the Kidoinfo events calendar and blog are jam packed with more offline activites!

20 ways to unplug next week

1. Explore your neighborhood. Take a walk around the block, talk to your neighbors, visit a local shop or park.

2. Look at the stars at night. Find the big dipper and/or identify other constellations.

3. Make shadow puppets. Turn off the lights (except for one spotlight) and make shapes with your hands.

4. Look at family photo albums (offline) and share stories about the people and places.

5. Curl up and a read a book together.

6. Visit the library and find books about an author, subject or specific place.

7. Make a family tree.

8. Make treasures out of trash. Using old cereal boxes, plastic cartons, buttons, corks and more, create robots, hats or houses. 

9. Take a hike in the woods. Extend the adventure by going bouldering or letterboxing.

10. Visit a new playground followed by an ice cream treat.

11. Play paper games like tic tac toe, hangman, crossword puzzles, word searches, sudoko. Make up your own.

12. Play cards or a board game. When was the last time you played Go Fish or Checkers?

13. Make chalk drawings. Fill the entire driveway or sidewalk with chalk art or create an elaborate maze and see who can master it. 

14. Cook together. Take turns being head chef. Even little kids can help select a recipe or help plan a meal.

15. Sit on your front porch (if you have one) and watch the world.

16. Grow something. Start seeds inside in a container or outside in the garden.  

17. Make mud pies. How often do kids get really dirty these days? Pull out old buckets or tupperware and the let the slime begin!

18. Make sun prints using construction paper or special photo paper.

19. Organize art & craft supplies, than celebrate by making a piece of art like a tape painting. 

20. Plan a local adventure. Pick a destination/venue not often visited in town or nearby and plan a day trip by bike, train or bus.

Anisa Raoof is the publisher and founder of Kidoinfo, the parents' guide for Rhode Island and beyond.


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