Computing…Outdoors?

For many of us, computing happens, well, on a computer. But William Lau, a teacher of computer science, media, and IT, based in London, UK, shows us that computing doesn’t have to take place on a screen.Blac book cover with keyboard keys that says COMPUTING OUTDOORS

In fact, William created a whole book about it, called Computing Outdoors. The book offers “seven screen-free missions” to do outside; each of them teaches a different computing concept.

“The Computing Outdoors book came about during the first Covid lockdown. I thought about how we could make Computing more accessible. Students were spending 6-8 hours a day doing remote learning and many complained about headaches. We were told to cancel all homework, but I created the Computing Outdoors book instead,” he said.

Black and white coloring page of a laptopAnother way to reframe tech use during Screen-Free Week (and whenever you go screen-free) is to check out William’s Computer Science Coloring Book! Each page features useful information about a wide variety of devices and computing strategies! What’s more fun than a tye-dye colored laptop?

“The colouring book was really designed for my son as he loves computer science and he loves colouring, I wanted to hide the learning in a book and also make it accessible for both 5 year olds and 85 year olds.”

“I think it’s a bit of a fallacy that computer science is all about computers, it’s about a certain way of thinking and solving problems. We use computers to help us, but they should not dominate our lives,” says William. 

Thank you to William Lau for sharing these free resources with us, just in time for Screen-Free Week! If you use William’s pages during your Screen-Free fun, feel free to share them with us at screenfree.org/stories.

Mr. William Lau is a CAS Master Teacher based in London, UK. He is also the author of several published works on computer science, media, and IT, including Teaching Computing in Secondary Schools [Amazon] [Routledge]. You can find him on Twitter @mrlaulearning and check out his blog here: www.mrlaulearning.com.

Unplug to Giggle: A Screen-Free Saturdays Guide

Screen-Free Saturdays began as a way to keep us all in balance during the pandemic almost a year ago and what a year it has been! We have all weathered this storm in a variety of ways, and we are looking for ways to stay afloat and to heal.

Let’s find some joy this month! We’re committing to making our Saturdays sillier, goofier, and all around gigglier! In this guide, we offer some activity ideas to break down the seriousness of day-to-day life and to just let our kids be kids. Grown-ups, get your silly on! After all, laughter is the best medicine.

Let the good times roll!

A hearty laugh or even a fleeting chuckle not only lightens the mood, but can physiologically change your emotional state. When you laugh, your organs are stimulated, stress hormones decrease, and oxygen spreads throughout your body. It’s a tried and true method of clearing the slate and resetting with an open mind. 

Even in the toughest times, a little bit of silliness can go a long way. If it feels hard to manufacture silliness, here are some ideas to get you started.  

Arbitrary Rules

Randomness is funny – and the longer a bit goes on, the more giggles it inspires. Set up some arbitrary rules for the day and see what happens.

  • Eat every meal with only a soup spoon for a whole day. No fingers, no forks, no chopsticks, or knives allowed. Spoons only!
  • Talk in third person all day, or switch names for an afternoon. Let the confusion turn to silliness.
  • Choose a code word and come up with a move. Code words can be ordinary words like “thank you,” “snack,” “no,” or “what,” and EVERY time someone says the code word, everyone has to do the move. Maybe it’s a little dance, a spin, a wiggle, a clap, or a jump!
Contradictions

When opposite ideas come together in an unfamiliar way, you’ll have no choice but to giggle. 

  • Go on a Fancy Hike. Put on a bowtie, blouse, or skirt and a pair of hiking boots and head on outside. How does your attire change your relationship with nature?
  • Host a DooDoo Soiree. Get out tea cups and saucers, stick those proper pinkie fingers out, but speak only of gross things – farts and burps included!
  • Who’s who? Switch roles for an activity. The young child will act like a parent, while the adult or parent gets to act like a kid. 
Costumes

 You don’t need a store-bought character costume to bring out the giggles. A baseball hat, a jacket, and some socks can go a long way, especially if you put them on different parts of your body than you ordinarily might!

  • Get on your costume and host a contest and award show. Each family member can pick someone to present an award to – like “makes the best voices,” “has the funniest silly face,” and “has the most ridiculous sounding laugh.” 
  • Make some scales and a long tongue – and explore your whole house from the perspective of a snake! Slither and crawl and see what you find. 
  • What if you put socks on your hands and pants on your head? What kind of creature can you become?

P.S. These activities were offered this week by our fabulous Program Coordinator, Naomi! Have more silly ideas? Share them with us by replying to this email!

Knock, knock! Who’s there?

As corny as they may be, jokes can be a great way to connect and inspire the giggles! Here’s a list of funny jokes for kids to print out ahead of your Screen-Free Saturday and keep the laughter rolling. Click here.

Grown-ups can be kids!

Remember hearing about the preschool program for adults? Folks were paying money to finger paint, take naps, play on the playground. The truth is, we don’t need to pay to do that with our kids. Grown ups, get some inspiration from this adult preschool to bring out the silliness in you.

Community Connections

 National Day of Unplugging is this week!

This week is National Day of Unplugging! National Day of Unplugging (a Screen-Free Week Endorser) is an awareness campaign that promotes a 24-hour respite from technology annually observed the first weekend in March. For more than a decade, schools, religious institutions, and businesses have used their resources to inspire healthy life/tech balance for their communities by taking a day off from screens. Participation is open to anyone who wishes to elevate human connection over digital engagement. It’s a great trial run before Screen-Free Week in May!

Get in on the fun! We especially love their Little Free Library Scavenger Hunt.

Join National Day of Unplugging THIS WEEK from sundown-to-sundown March 5-6, 2021, which also happens to be Screen-Free Saturday! Learn more here.

As always, you can make sure to stay connected with all of our Screen-Free Saturdays ideas, resources, and fun by taking the pledge:

Happy unplugging,

Rachel (she/her)

Unplug to Love: A Screen-Free Saturdays Guide

Okay, okay. It’s a little cheesy, but don’t we all just need a little more love these days?! Our kids especially need examples of ways to express love and receive love that are meaningful to them. So, in this Screen-Free Saturdays guide, we’re offering a few ideas for a little love boost for your family and your friends.

 Hint: It all starts with unplugging!

Unplugged activities that show love!

Show your family, friends, neighborhood, and even yourself a little love with a few fun activities aimed at showing others you care!

Make friendship bracelets: Make some friendship bracelets, anklets, necklaces, or keychains using these fun patterns and pass them along to your buddies.

Send snail mail: Letter writing can be a wonderful way to show someone that you care or to be cared for. For kids, letter writing can be a combination of drawings, card-making, and written words. Check out our Screen-Free Letters of Appreciation Activity resource for one approach. Find it here.

Say it in a poem: Poetry is a fun way to explore rhyme, help kids express themselves, and to send a caring message. For younger kids, using a poem template can be a really fun (and funny) way to spread the love. Try this one on for size:

Roses are ______

___________ are blue

_________ is  ________

And so are you.

Take care of nature, too: Picking up trash, raking leaves for the neighbor, and helping with community projects can be a beautiful way for the whole family to take care of the planet! For trash pick up, pack trash bags, gloves, grabbers, and buckets and head on out to an area that needs your love. Be sure to teach your kids not to pick up anything sharp or otherwise dangerous.

Love ourselves: It is so important for children to see adults caring for themselves (taking breaks when they get tired or frustrated, setting boundaries, asking for help). Going screen-free, whether it’s for a day or a meal, is one way that we can all take care of ourselves. Talk to your kids about what they love to do (unplugged), how they can take care of themselves, and why taking those actions can keep them feeling good.

Unplugging for better relationships

As adults, we know that screens can be a factor in our romantic relationships, sometimes positively, sometimes negatively. How do you have a healthy, balanced, and loving relationship in a digital world full of noise?” Read here.

Love celebrated  differently around the world

Valentine’s Day tends to be a western tradition (and in many cases a commercial tradition). Learn about different ways people show love on holidays across the world here.

Community Connections

Show the love by SPOILING your children. Our recent Action Network Live! webinar, featuring Dr. Meghan Owenz, founder of Screen-Free Parenting and author of Spoiled Right: Delaying Screens and Giving Children What They Really Need, offered the much needed “what to do” answer instead of the heavy-handed “what not to do” mandates about children’s screen time. Dr. Owenz makes it simple by explaining how to use goal science to reduce screen time by focusing on what children need more of, like social time, play opportunities, outdoor experiences, chores, and a strong relationship with reading. Check out the recording here!

 

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

Happy unplugging,

Rachel Franz

Resolve to Unplug

Making resolutions for the new year can feel a little different this year, but there’s one choice we can all make to give ourselves and our families a boost in the new year. We can look critically at our tech use for 2021 and make plans to fill up our time with activities we love to do when we are unplugged.

 So, make a plan to unplug with us in 2021.

Tools for Digital Dialogue

Check out these tools for digital dialogue in your family. Whether it’s making a plan for a week of screen-free fun in May or a daily commitment to have a no-phones dinner, the act of talking about tech-use and setting goals can go a long way for your family’s mental and physical health.

Digital Flourishing Map & Assessment Tool: Our friends at Digital Wellness Collective created this tool to help people get a sense of where they are at in relationship to tech. It can be a healthy starting point for families and individuals.

LookUp Challenge Intentions: Lookup.live offers youth-generated intentions for getting a handle on your relationship with tech. Check out the intentions from our joint Screen-Free Saturdays LookUp Challenge in July to get you started. Plus, register for the next challenge here.

Durable Human Email Charter: Adults, consider this email charter to help you in navigating the overwhelm and disconnection that email can ironically bring.

Screen-Free Hours Tracker: Set an intention to log off for a certain number of hours per week and track them with our new hours tracker! How long will it take you to fill the page? Download it here.

Recommit to Screen-Free Saturdays: Yep… we know. As the year came to an end, mayyyybe so did your Screen-Free Saturdays practice. Take the time to recommit. Remember, if Wednesdays or Sundays work better for you, great! Just commit to trying it out again. Need a little more incentive? Have your family members fill out these pledge cards or whole family pledge.

Resolve not to rely entirely on Parental Controls

The Screentime Consultant, Emily Cherkin, offers a bold take on parental controls, calling instead for an approach that relies more on people than tech. Click to read.

Make New Year’s Resolutions that will last

This article offers some concrete steps for reducing screen time as part of your New Year’s Resolutions. Click to read..

Community Connections

Connect to your community around screen use. It can be hard to feel like you’re going at it alone when it comes to helping kids manage their screen time. But, the truth is we’re all in the same storm. Come together around screen time. Schedule a monthly zoom call where you discuss your issues. Find an accountability buddy. Take a walk and chat with a trusted friend. Connect with someone new or someone who has been there with you all along. We all want the best for our kids– find a buddy to make it more fun to get there!

New Baby, New Year: Resolve to be a Tech Wise Parent. Even expecting families and caregivers of infants need a game plan for tech. Check out our recent Action Network Live! Webinar. Learn from Samah Saidi, Dr. Carol Westby, and Dr. Mark Bertin as they discuss how to boost baby’s brain development and communication skills using everyday moments—and the impact of screens in shaping baby’s language and speech. In this special event for expectant families, families with infants, and professionals working with caregivers and infants, you’ll take away specific suggestions for building baby’s brain, setting up the healthiest possible environment for baby’s growth, and optimal bonding to keep baby feeling secure and off to a healthy start—all while helping baby thrive in a tech-saturated world. Check out the recording here.

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

Happy unplugging,

Rachel Franz