Unplug to Get Outside: A Screen-Free Saturdays Guide

Did you know that even just a view of the outdoors has tremendous benefits for our bodies, brains, and hearts? Getting outside will look a little different this year, and Screen-Free Saturdays are the perfect opportunity to explore new outdoor adventures. Join us as we unplug to get outside this week!

Also, a quick update: this will be our last full weekly Screen-Free Saturdays e-mail! To help reduce the digital noise, we’ll be sending emails just once or twice a month. For inspiration in the meantime, we’ll keep sharing ideas on our Facebook page, creating resources, and answering your questions. We hope Screen-Free Saturdays become a weekly tradition for you and your family! 

Now, get outside! 😉

55 Nature-Related, Screen-Free Activities

Public health regulations are all over the map right now when it comes to access to public parks, deep trail hiking recommendations, and even walking around the neighborhood — but kids need to be outside! To help, we compiled a list of 55 Nature-Related Screen-Free Activities for quarantine and beyond.

– Go for a stroll.
– Lay in the grass.
– Find a tree to read under.
– Jump in a puddle.
– Venture down a street you’ve never gone down.
– Discover a rooftop garden nearby.
– Plant seeds and help them grow.
– Bring a basket on your walk. Collect beautiful things from nature.
– Pull weeds from the sidewalk/yard/garden.
– Wash the car, bike, or a neighbor’s car.
– Find a building with plants growing on it.
– Go for a rock hunt. Compare sizes, colors, weights, & shapes.
– See how many different colors you can find on a walk/out the window.

For more on accessing nature while physical distancing, we like what our friends at Sierra Club have to offer: “You can reap many of the benefits of nature without traveling, and the best way to observe public health guidelines right now is to stay home, visit the local parks and trails in your community (if they are still open), and bring nature inside.”

Kids to Parks Day

Our Screen-Free Week endorsers at the National Parks Trust celebrated Kids to Parks (now Parks to Kids) Day on May 16, and have tons of great resources! Their fun BINGO activity and ways to connect to nature on a small scale work great whether you’re in the forest or looking out your apartment window. View all of their resources here.

Finding Nature

Screen-Free Week Endorsers Children & Nature Network have launched an exciting new project! FindingNature.org is dedicated to helping kids and families stay connected to the outdoors during the pandemic. Check out their resources, which are focused on equitable access to nature, here!

Community Connections

Now more than ever, we need to practice using imaginative hope to think seriously about how to create a healthier, nature-rich, more equitable civilization in the years to come.
Rich Louv, Author and Co-founder of the Children & Nature Network

One thing that we’ve learned from the pandemic is that nature access looks very different depending on where you live and how many resources you have. Around the U.S., safe outdoor spaces are often inaccessible to communities of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people and other marginalized groups. Enter UnlikelyHikers podcast: a community of outdoors enthusiasts who are committed to breaking down barriers for getting outside!

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

Unplug to Cook: A Screen-Free Saturdays Guide

On your next Screen-Free Saturday, UNPLUG TO COOK, eat, forage, share a meal, or try a new recipe! Maybe you need to use up those veggies before they take their last turn, or maybe you’ve already got a weekly baking ritual like 24/6 author Tiffany Shlain – Screen-Free Saturdays are a perfect time for a culinary adventure. Whether you’re in the kitchen, busting out the barbecue, or setting up a camp stove in the backyard, take some time this week to enjoy a very yummy day with your family.

What’s Cookin’?

Cooking with kids can be a daunting task if it’s not already part of your parenting practice, but even the tots can participate in the kitchen!

  • 0-3 year-olds can stir along with you and on their own, pour, press buttons, count, or wash veggies. Smelling spices and “cooking” with their own pots and pans on the floor are often a big hit, too!
  • With careful observation, 4-5 year-olds can stir, mix, crack an egg, add water to the pot, measure and add ingredients, knead, or wash vegetables.
  • 5-8 year-olds can learn to chop, grate, and peel with close supervision. This is also a great age to introduce cutting with scissors, mix in different ways, grease pans, set timers, collect the ingredients, read the recipes, or help plan the meal.
  • With supervision, 8-13 year-olds can follow a simple recipe, boil water, chop/grate/peel, use a hand-held mixer, heat and move things in or out of the oven with mitts, and prepare salads and pastas.
  • High schoolers are ready for the next level! They’ll benefit from “home ec” style opportunities to learn knife skills, cooking techniques (saute, mince, poach, grill), and try out new recipes.
  • Young adults? True sous chefs! They can do it all, but benefit from reminders to clean up their messes.

There are also so many opportunities for learning and development while cooking together: small muscle (fine motor) strength, following directions and managing multiple steps, math (measurement, addition/subtraction/multiplication/division), chemistry, and more!

Of course, you know your child’s needs best, so meet them where they are. I have worked with 8-year-olds who have independently whipped up falafels and 13-year-olds who are only comfortable cutting with the edge of a spoon.

For additional information about cooking with kids, we like this article from the BBC.

Kids’ Weekly Menu

This week, the 11-year-old in my house was tasked with creating a dinner menu for the rest of the week. With expectations around having some vegetables in each meal, she artfully crafted seven days of dinners!

The best part? When kids have buy-in into the menu, they are more likely to eat it up with fewer complaints! We all could use more of that.

SFS Cookbook

As you print or write the recipes you need for your day away from the screen, consider building a collection of family recipes! These can be unique to the ones you try out on Saturdays or they can be favorites to go to whenever you need to whip something up.

To help you collect your recipes, we’ve provided a recipe page template and cookbook cover to print or copy! You can check it out here!

Community Connections

Check in with your neighbors

Unplugging to cook can be a real privilege, and a great way to support your community’s food needs! This weekend, consider:

  • Starting a Little Free Pantry: Learn more | Learn about what people have done in cities like Seattle, where COVID hit hard
  • Contacting your local food banks: Most food banks and pantries are still operating and need specific types of support based on community needs. Look up the food bank near you this week to see if there is a way to support it!
  • Checking in with your schools: COVID-19 has put many of our students experiencing hunger at an even greater risk of food insecurity. School systems are working around the clock to be able to continue to serve meals and support families, but their funding is running out. Contact your local school district to see what’s most useful at this time!

May this Screen-Free Saturday be DEEEELICIOUS. Make sure to stay connected with all of our Screen-Free Saturdays ideas, resources, and fun by taking the pledge: