Unplug to Move: A Screen-Free Saturdays Guide

Our ability to move our bodies throughout the week depends on so many things: space at home, outdoor access, our physical needs, and especially our time. That’s why this Screen-Free Saturday we invite you to Unplug to Move! 

This weekend, make a commitment to connect with your body and invite kiddos to do the same. Go for a family walk around the neighborhood while following social distancing guidelines. Stretch. Tumble off the couch. Have a dance party. Play hide n’ seek. Whether you’re in a studio apartment or have acres of land, there are so many excellent, screen-free ways to remind our kids (and, OK, ourselves!) that being a kid IRL is way more fun than running around in a virtual world.

3 Activities for Healthy Bodies

Hiding games: Having been a childcare provider for over a decade, I spent a significant chunk of my time hiding in closets, behind a suitcase, while babysitting and nannying. Most recently, I successfully lodged my 6’0” body into a washing machine and was crowned “CHAMPION” by two six year-olds and a couple of 11 year-olds. When was the last time you played hide n’ seek together? Or, my favorite challenge? “Hide the Rock.” Take an object (or multiple) and have the “it” person hide it. The seekers look for the object(s) and then get a turn hiding. It’s a real-life treasure hunt!

Yoga: Yoga is a great Saturday morning kickoff activity to bring presence, awareness, and fun to the day. Plus, everyone from babies to 99 year-olds can get into yoga! Can’t touch your toes? Great, there’s yoga for you. Your child is a super gymnast that can stand on their head? Yep, yoga is great for getting that energy out. Your child isn’t engaged? Meet them where they are: the 2-year-olds in my class were into trucks, so our “downward dogs” became “excavator scoops” and our “forward folds” were “cranes.” Families can also make or purchase great yoga story books and yoga cards, which can make it feel more like a game and less like an exercise.

Big body play: The science is out, and it tells us that children need big body play: fast, wide movements, big bear hugs, wrestling, heavy lifting, rolling, tumbling, crawling, swinging… the list goes on. One of my favorite activities with kids 6-12 in a small space is “The Spider Web” (also called “Ninja Lasers” for certain crowds):

Each kiddo gets a ball of string or yarn (we’ve even used old birthday streamers).

We picked a space inside (outside works, too) to play and cleared out any obvious dangers such as things that will fall and identify others that shouldn’t be touched. We usually did this in a bedroom.

Say “GO” and all “spiders” go to work, wrapping their string around furniture, door knobs, and more until it runs out.

As if that wasn’t enough fun, now comes the challenge: getting from one end of the room to the other without touching the string. Otherwise… “ZAP.”

Build upon the difficulty by adding more string, navigating it holding hands, trying to rescue an object that gets thrown in the middle… the possibilities are endless! We spent at least 3 hours doing this one day, adding on to our play. When I was over it, the kids kept going!

Indoor Big Body Games

Grown-ups, get your game faces ready. This article from Fatherly has some great tips for indoor big body games that also work during the week in between your WFH grind. While we might replace the word “distraction” with “quality time,” you get the idea! 

Take a Stretch Break

Anyone else having a sore neck from all this screen time? Experts call this our “TECH NECK” and it’s a common issue especially while many are working from home. Give your neck a break on Saturday and every day! Putting down the screen will help and these stretches are designed to relieve that tension.

Community Connections

Join our upcoming Action Network Live! webinars, which are designed to help families navigate children’s technology use during COVID-19. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE.

 Make sure to stay connected with all of our Screen-Free Saturdays ideas, resources, and fun by taking the pledge:

Unplug to Read: A Screen-Free Saturdays Guide

For the past several years, we’ve partnered with the Children’s Book Council for a joint celebration of Children’s Book Week and Screen-Free Week! Even though we’re postponing our official celebration of Screen-Free Week this year, Children’s Book Week is still on, and it’s inspiring us to UNPLUG TO READ this week for Screen-Free Saturdays! No matter where you and your children are at in your relationship with reading, there are so many ways to use words and images to explore our world.

This Saturday (or whatever day you’re choosing to go Screen-Free), take a minute to read.

“I can’t imagine a single Screen-Free Saturday without reading. With older kids like mine, we all set aside time to read to ourselves. But read-alouds for all ages (younger and my kids’ ages) is a special time for us too. At this moment, I’m reading to my daughter while my husband reads to our son, but there have been times when I have read books to both kids at the same time, or when we’ve reversed the parent-child dyad. Reading is an all-weather activity, which makes it ideal for every Saturday.”
-Rinny Yourman J.D., Washington, D.C.

Tips for Success

With our friends at Children’s Book Week, we’re offering a list of 100 Screen-Free, Reading-Related Activities! Here are some of our COVID-friendly favorites:

– Read a book without pictures. 
– Read a book without words (They’re out there!)
– Hold a family book night — everyone reads a book at the same time, in the same room.
– Read to your pet.
– Find a new cookbook and try a new recipe together for family dinner night.
– Ask the adults in your life about their favorite children’s books growing up.
– Find a book about clouds, then go or look outside and see if you can identify them.
– Use a heavy book to press freshly cut flowers and leaves.
– Find a book about a place where an ancestor came from.

Need help finding a book? See below for info about libraries, support your local bookstore, visit your local Little Free Library, ask a neighbor (and sanitize) or check out and print PDFs from gutenberg.org.

Children’s Book Week

Children’s Book Week has so many great tools for your family to start, maintain, and expand upon a love of reading this weekend and beyond! Check out their website for everything you need to celebrate.

Our Annual Booklist!

Presenting our 2020 Screen-Free Week Children’s Book List! We’ve added some new, amazing titles and continue to enjoy our favorites from years past! Check it out here.

Community Connections

This week, we are encouraging folks to check in with their local libraries! In my town, our library offers a “takeout window” for books right now, so we were able to go and get books for the kids really easily this week. Other library systems are offering additional online resources, community book readings, deliveries, and more! Quarantine can’t stop us from enjoying books! 

What better way to kick off your Children’s Book Week and your Screen-Free Saturday than taking some time to reflect on your family’s wellness?! To help everyone develop healthy relationships with tech, our friends at Digital Wellness Collective are offering virtual and personal events going on all over the world on May 1- check out the archive. Learn more here!

Enjoy curling up with a good book this week! How will you unplug to reconnect? Share your experience with us at ccfc@commercialfreechildhood.org or tagging us @screenfreeweek on your social media (after Saturday, of course). Let us know what issues came up so we can troubleshoot together!

Haven’t taken the pledge yet? Join our community today and have access to regular Screen-Free Saturdays updates, resources, and activity ideas!