Breaking the Tablet Cycle: Screen-Free Activities

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April 15, 2020

With schools being closed, parents having to work from home, and the stay at home order in place parents are having to juggle work/home/school life under one roof. Being stuck at home can be scary and confusing for us adults as well as the kiddos. More than ever, it seems that time and days are mixing. The kiddos are having plenty of homeschooling but after all the screentime with homeschool, our little ones (and their siblings) may need more screen free activities. 

Alas, a cardboard tube with holes punched all around it! Give your child straws/chopsticks and challenge them to weave each straw/similar object of choice all the way through the tube

Tinker Toys!

Tinker toys have been around for a while and draw the interest of children young and old. Instead of spending money on store bought tinker toys why not make your own? All you need is paper towel rolls and/or toilet paper rolls, straws, and a hole puncher. Randomly punch holes into the rolls and they are ready for building! Exploring with these homemade tinker toys or with store bought ones are great for helping with a lot of the  developmental stages. It helps build fine motor skills when the children are picking up the straws and placing them into the holes. It helps to focus on problem solving skills when the children are deciding what will and won’t work in the design, and it helps to focus on patience. Something that the children are constantly learning at this age and especially now with having to spend so much time at home. Oh, WAIT! Did we mention there’s no mess with this activity?! WINNING!! Another screen free activity that’s easy for home life is… 

Using water colors and eye droppers to color coffee filters is a tad messy, but boy did they love it! If we cared more about our classroom table, we could have prepped a little better to combat the mess by using dry racks over trays to catch the excess water color and more towels. Never enough towels!

Filter Art!

Filter art is a bit on the messy side but can be contained by using a wide clear bucket, a plate, or bowl of some sort. Anything to catch the excess water.  For this activity you’ll need something that all us adults are probably using a bunch of, which is coffee filters and something I’m sure all of the kiddos have at home, markers! For this activity, all the children have to do is draw on the filter using the markers and when they are done drip drops of water on the filter(it works even better if you happen to have an eye dropper) and watch the magic happen. Sometimes we use watercolor or food coloring and let the children drip that onto the filter instead but the much cooler and more educational way is to let the children draw first and then add drops of water. 

Now, I’ve done this art activity plenty of times with the children that have passed through the Cove. But here’s something new that I myself learned about this cool activity and it’s called Chromatography! If you’re ready to get all sciency real quick, say, “OH YEAH”! Chromatography is the separation of a mixture (e.g., marker ink) by passing it in a solution (e.g., water) through a medium (e.g., coffee filter) in which the components of the mixture (e.g., the various colors that make up any given marker color) move at different rates. In much simpler terms…It’s separating color pigments. Meaning, you can actually see what colors were mixed together to create the marker color being used! Some of the color combos might surprise you! Now that we’ve covered that, what cool things can you make with these newly colored filters? Well, you can make butterflies, sun catchers for your windows, or create a bouquet of flowers. 

Filter Butterflies, decorated with markers and water and fastened by a pipe cleaner

Obstacle course! 

Looking for a fun way to stay active with your kiddos? Try creating an obstacle course in your yard. While in school, the Fish Cove friends LOVED when we set up an obstacle course. We would use milk crates, use ropes, and other miscellaneous items on the yard. If you don’t have any of those things, don’t fret! You can pretty much use anything around your home to create an obstacle course. I read a blog on a similar topic. In the blog the writer mentioned using chalk on their side walk to create a course for their kiddo. I thought what a simple and inexpensive way to stay active and have fun! Their obstacle course started with an old game that my mom showed me when I was younger- hopscotch. After hopping to each number the course changed to hopping into circles, then walking along zig zag lines. If you want to have the children more involved,  have them draw up a course like the one in this picture. 

Give clues to help them remember what to do, such as footprints symbolizing how many feet they should stand on, arrows to know where to go, or a spiral to symbolize spinning in a circle!

All three of these screen-free activities have the potential to morph into other screen-free activities. Embrace that growth and exploration! Happy home schooling/surviving/thriving, friends.

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