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Screen Free Hacks for Summer Fun

It’s summer! Eeek! Have your kids turned into video zombies yet? It’s time to put up the tablets, hide the controlers and unplug (gasp!) the Netflix.

If you’re itching to unplug your kids from the digital jungle and get them reading, creating and playing in the real world, then now is your time to shine! Don’t think your kids can handle a total detox? Then maybe just try these 5 activities and take a little breather from the with bare feet on lawnBut prying your kids away from their iPads and Xboxes won’t be easy without a plan. You can’t just play the mean mom card and pack up the electronics for the week. You have to make it FUN. I like to take my kids to the zoo, or a picnic or heck…just out in the yard to play some games when we need a little electronic detox.

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Recently I got to chat with Shannon Phiopott-Sanders, a local mom, teacher and author of the book Screen-Free Fun. She’s gathered up 400 activities that will get kids of any age away from their computer, phone and video games. At least for a while.

I asked Shannon where she got so many great ideas? Simple! It was a collaborative effort with her whole family. She had brainstorming sessions with her kid’s grandparents–who had naturally screen-free childhood growing up before the age of personal computers and the internet.

Children having fun with hula hoops outdoor

As a Gen Xer myself, I had a comparatively screen-free childhood. Though even back then our parents worried if we watched too much TV! Flippping through Shannon’s book was a blast from the past with so many games from my old childhood, scout meetings and just hanging out on the playground.

Here’s a sample of what you’ll find in the pages of Screen-Free Fun:

Top Five Games that are Screen-Free Fun

Plate with creative homemade pancake on wooden table

Pancake Art (Chapter 1 Embrace your Creativity)

Get your kids involved with meal prep while entertaining them! Mix up your favorite pancake recipe (Bisquik is fine!) and let your kids create a work of art with spoons, spatulas and toothpicks. Let your kids form their art on a cold skillet, and once they have drawn a few shapes, cook the masterpiece! Embellish the final pancake with sliced fruit, sprinkles or chocolate chips.

naturalist biologist kid girl looking praying mantis

Hunt for Bugs (Chapter 2: Enjoy the Great Outdoors)

Teach your kids that bugs aren’t icky with a bug hunt! Talk about the kinds of bugs you might find in your neighborhood then arm them with a some digging tools and a jar to collect a few (harmless) bugs.

Child drawing sun on asphalt in a park

Another way to look at bugs up close is at the Powder Valley Nature Center and the Saint Louis Zoo Insectarium.

Write Kind Messages in Sidewalk Chalk (Chapter 3: Support your Community)

Take your sidewalk chalk game up a notch and use your art skills to brighten someone’s day! With a bucket of sidewalk chalk and a few inspirational quotes or phrases, you can send them off to a nearby sidewalk or community area to cheer up area residents. Begin by brainstorming some nice phrases that make people feel good such as “You are beautiful” or “Make today a great day.” Then, have them start writing these messages on public concrete areas of your community for all to see. Make sure that they do not decorate private property or driveways without permission.

reading champ grocery #shop

Grocery Memory Math (Chapter 4: Put a Fun Twist on Local Travel)

Make grocery shopping fun…or at least educational…by playing a game of Grocery Memory Math with your older kids.  To play, let your children carefully observe the items you toss into your cart. Let each one see the items and the prices. They should keep a running tally of your total bill by rounding the prices (for example, rounding $2.99 to $3). Once you reach the checkout lane, have each child estimate the total cost of the groceries before tax is applied. The player closest to the price without going over the total wins! Remember, no calculators!

Children brother and sister playing outdoors pretending to be on safari and having fun together with binoculars and hats

Go on a Sound Hunt (Chapter 4: Put a Fun Twist on Local Travel)

Like a standard scavenger hunt, a sound hunt makes kids walk around their yard, neighborhood or local park looking, or rather, listening for sounds to check off a list. Common might be birds or crickets chirping, dogs barking, lawn mowers, car horns, or doors slamming shut. This can be a fun play group game, so make sure you have a great prize for the first kid who checks off their whole list!

Now go get your copy of Screen Free Fun!

There’s 395 more ideas to keep your kids busy during Screen Free Week or anytime you need to pull the plug! Flipping through the book will give you all kinds of ideas to spend your time wisely with the kiddos on a rainy day, a sunny weekend or all summer long.

kids with bugs, with chalk, with hulahoop