Technology is wonderful in so many ways, but it's also very addictive. Sometimes, we just need to pull the plug and do something together with our families instead. Here are ten indoor and outdoor ideas to encourage your kids – and all family members – to put down your electronic devices. Bonus: All of these activities also boost literacy skills.
1. Schedule Family Game Time
Hold a family game night that includes board, card, dice or any other kind of games. If you need some ideas for games that boost skills, check out these five picks: 1) United States Geography Bingo, 2) Race Across the USA, 3) Before & After, 4) I Never Forget a Face Memory Game, 5) The Brainiac Game.
Word games are another screen-free activity that can be done together. Try doing Mad Libs or other word fill-ins, word searches, or crossword puzzles together. Captain Underpants fans will love this Wacky Word Wedgies and Flushable Fill-ins.
2. Take a Reading Challenge
Working as a family to complete a challenge develops teamwork, determination, and goal setting. When you make it a reading challenge, you have the added benefit of encouraging your kids to become stronger readers. Commit to a reading goal and set a deadline. Track your progress and celebrate your success. Try reading bingo or a bookshelf scavenger hunt challenge. (Also, don't forget to save the date and sign your child up for the Scholastic Read-a-Palooza: Summer Reading Challenge!)
3. Bring a Book to Life
Bringing books to life is a neat way to connect with stories. Let a book inspire your family to create a piece of art, perform an act of kindness, make a recipe, or try a new activity. Try getting crafty as you bring a book to life through costume making using Klutz Jr.: My Superhero Starter Kit or Klutz Jr: My Twinkly Tiaras. Together, you can create the characters from the popular Peppa Pig series with Klutz Jr. My Peppa Pig Clay Pals, or help your Star Wars fan get artistic with Klutz: Draw Star Wars Rebels. Harry Potter fans will enjoy building and flying creatures and characters with Klutz: Harry Potter Paper Flyers. The Pretend Play World Traveler is another chance to promote creativity and imagination development as you both unplug.
Another wonderful way to bring a book to life is by acting it out. The Elephant & Piggie series by Mo Willems is a favorite for kids to perform as a no-frills play. Try I Am Going, I Really Like Slop or I Broke My Trunk to start.
MORE: How Elephant & Piggie Helped My Kids Become Totally Fluent Readers
4. Read About Your Favorite Digital Show or Game
Just because your family has unplugged from video games or television shows, doesn't mean you can't read about them. There are oodles of books available about Minecraft, Pokemon, and Peppa Pig waiting for young readers.
5. Creative Project Subscription Kits
We all love to receive packages in the mail. More and more subscription kits have entered the market that provide books and activities for your family to enjoy. Little Passports, Kiwi Crates, and KidArtLit are just a few ideas to pursue.
6. Walk Through a Story
StoryWalk® exhibits are popping up in many communities. Your family literally walks through a story. The pages of a book have been deconstructed and hung along a trail. They are typically found in parks or other outdoor spaces. Contact your local library to find an exhibit near you.
7. Visit Little Free Libraries
Chances are there is at least one Little Free Library near you. These small libraries house free books for you to read. The premise is simple. You take a book and leave a book. You can visit the Little Free Library website to find a list of registered libraries in your community.
8. Go on a Scavenger Hunt
Get some exercise, practice reading, and have fun on a scavenger hunt together. You and your family can create your own or use our outdoor literacy walk or zoo scavenger hunt printables on your adventure. (Also, check out Magic School Bus: Science on a Nature Walk.)
9. Campfire Stories (Fire Optional!)
Storytelling is a wonderful way to spend time together without electronic devices — and it teaches kids about the elements of a story. Build a bonfire, create a fire in your grill, or just pretend you are sitting around a campfire. Take turns telling true or make-believe stories to each other. Here are more great games to play around a campfire.
Connect with Jodie at Growing Book by Book.