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

Save the date! Screen-Free Week 2021

Save the date! Screen-Free Week 2021

At CCFC, our favorite time of the year is Screen-Free Week! In a typical January, we would begin our annual process of supporting celebrants all over the globe – in schools, in neighborhoods, in whole cities and countries – who join us for an entire week of unplugging from digital devices. But with the pandemic, what we all need around screens right now looks very different from household to household, from town to town. We’re in the same storm, different boats.

So, this year for Screen-Free Week 2021, we’re inviting you to come as you are and celebrate however you can, whether it’s by unplugging for one day, shutting off your phone at dinner time, spending more time outdoors, or taking the whole week to only use screens for work and school and enjoy some serious offline fun!

We don’t want to put any additional pressure on schools and organizations whose plates are overflowing, so we’re keeping it simple: participate as you can. Our fun resources will be here when you need them – from activity ideas to organizing kits to pledge cards and beyond! Our resource library is being updated with 2021 materials as we speak.

One of the best and easiest ways to unplug is to pick up a book! This year we’ll revive our popular Screen-Free Book list, a unique directory of titles about unplugging for kids of all ages, created in partnership with Children’s Book Week (the same week as Screen-Free Week!). Find last year’s here.

We certainly don’t know what May will look like in 2021, but we’re all in this together. Kids, grown-ups: we all need a little time to put down our digital entertainment devices in favor of real-life connection and play. So, SAVE THE DATE, May 3-9, 2021 and join us when and how you can for Screen-Free Week 2021.