Sunday, April 28, 2013

{Ten for Tuesday} Screen Free Week Activities & Resources: Simple, Frugal Play Ideas & Quiet Time Alternatives

We participated in Screen Free Week last year and enjoyed it. It was not just the boys either, I was almost completely screen free for the week as well, which was actually really great. The plan is to do it again this year. Since Wild Thing now plays computer games and video games a little bit, I decided a computer game alternative for the week would be a good idea. (I am sharing Ten for Tuesday on Sunday because on Tuesday I will be unplugged!)

Introducing the Humanoid Giant Tablet! He calls it his special computer and is getting very creative with it already. Stay tuned for Humanoid 2.0 and new Apps, which I expect we will spend Screen Free Week developing! (P.S. Our giant cardboard box tablet was inspired by this Bottle Top Calculator from Learn with Play at Home).

I hope you enjoy this activity and the other ideas we are sharing to help you make the most of Screen Free Week! (I prefer thinking of it as making the most of a week unplugged with our families rather than ways to help you get through it. Don't just get through it, but unplug yourself a bit and enjoy!!) Here are 10 tips and ideas... 

1. More Cardboard Box Creations -- Screen Free Week offers a chance to ditch the big talking box and the pinging/dinging small boxes (tablets and computers) and see what imaginative things happen with just a simple cardboard box. (Our cardboard box firetruck remains a favorite for the boys). We recently shared a round up of many of our favorite Cardboard Box Creations, and you can also find cardboard box innovations on my Recycle, Repurpose, Make It Better Pinboard, and I love the Cardboard Creations Pinboard of Housing A Forest. Or, just follow your child's lead. 

Here is a closer look at the Humanoid 1.0. We use it for letter matching and spelling, and Wild Thing enjoys measuring. I included 4 straws, cut to different sizes, a stick, a stray toy piece and a long cardboard box piece. Wild Thing also realized the stick fit through the hole of the stray toy and created another way to play with his tablet.

Impromptu version for Caterpillar
Advantage over a Droid/iPad is that they can both play at once.
2. Keep Calm -- I know that TV and Tablets can be useful for many parents for quiet time or during dinner prep, so I am sharing some nice calming/quiet time activities to use this week instead. Our simple car washing activity is a quiet time favorite and muffin tin magnet letter play is very helpful for me during dinner prep. We also love lavender playdough and got our recipe from The Imagination Tree. What Do We Do All Day has a Quiet Time Jar, which is something that could be useful any day or week, and Busy Kids Happy Mom suggests Audio Books. Lastly, Wild Thing created his own quiet time activity last fall - cotton ball tossing.

3. Play a Game (or 10)! A popular post on my blog is a post that features 10 Toddler Games That Only Take You...many are classic games that little ones love. Some of these are still great for PreK kids. For older children, try classic board games and card games provide a fun screen free alternative. Adventures in Mommydom recently shared several Active Games and Outdoor Games that would be great fun this week (or any week). 

4. Bust the Boredom -- This round-up of Hotel Room Boredom Busters includes many simple and easy play ideas that can be done with items you probably have readily at hand -- they could be perfect in a pinch. 

5. Just Pretend -- Pretend Play is perfect for a Screen Free Day or Week. Instead of watching their favorite TV show, encourage your child to act the show out themselves. My boys love it when we do a coffee shop and library adventure right at home (on days when getting out just isn't an option). They get to pick snacks to buy, select books to check out and play with our cookie sheet computer! Mess for Less has 30+ Pretend Play Ideas for further inspiration.

6. Have an Adventure/Try Something New -- Discover a new park or hiking trail. Try out a new playground or visit a new library. 52 Brand New is always sharing their new adventures with a weekly new experience, so she offers lots of inspiration. Hit up a thrift store and let each child select a new toy and/or new book. Better yet, before you go, have them pick some toys and/or books to take to the thrift store to donate.

7. Bring a Book to Life -- We love bringing books to life, as evidenced by our participation in the Virtual Book Club for Kids. Check out the VBCK FB page or Pinboard for activities, snacks and play related to many favorite children books. Read.Explore.Learn also has lots of wonderful ideas as does The Children's Bookshelf Pinboard. I love the fun ways we explored Boy, Bird Dog! by David McPhail, and Dr. Seuss and Mo Willems books always inspire lots of play and extension activities.   

8. Help Others -- Create a Random Acts of Kindness Scavenger Hunt or commit to doing an act of kindness each night instead of TV time. Our Scavenger Hunt and these others RAK ideas should get you started. Or do your own version of these Happy Notes from Coffee Cups and Crayons. 

9. Take It Outside!! -- Have a picnic dinner. You can do it in your own backyard or at a favorite park or lake. Go for evening walks or family bike rides instead of turning on the tube at the end of the day. Work on the garden together or create a family painting together outside. This Take It Outside! Pinboard is full of ideas. 

10. Turn Up the Volume --  Our family loves impromptu dance parties and music time. We turn up the radio and make our own fun as we shake, spin, stomp and bop to our favorite tunes. We also like to pull out our musical instruments and make the music ourselves (the boys have toy drums and a toy guitar, and I play the piano). Or sometimes we just sing our favorite songs. 

The Educators' Spin On It


  1. Hey, very cool computer thinggy and thanks for mentioning you were inspired by our bottle top calculator. We'll have to give something like this a go too :)

  2. Thank you so much for hosting the Screen Free Week Blog Hop. This activity is such a fun idea! Can't wait to hear how your week goes! I'm so glad we got the linky to work!

  3. Great ideas! I especially love the way you use bottle tops!

  4. Love these ideas!

    I would love for you to link up at the Mommy Archive - we're focusing on managing children's screen time this week, Alice x