Each year, the national TV-Turnoff week is celebrated in April. But don't wait until April to enjoy your family's hiatus from watching television. Here are 14 fun, simple things you can do with your young children. The list includes one indoor and one outdoor project or activity for each day of no TV week. These activities don’t take a lot of planning or expense, and the rewards are immeasurable. Enjoy!
The following activities need only a few simple supplies. Gather items to be used for crafts, such as rubber stamps, crayons, color pencils, stickers, old postage stamps, markers, outdated magazines, uncooked fun-shaped pasta, yarn, construction paper, and buttons. With these items your family can make:
- A creativity book. Make a book by lacing several pages of paper together with yarn. At the bottom of each page, give a topic for your children to draw. For example, “Draw your favorite vacation spot” or “Create a new animal.”
- A mini scrapbook. Have your child cut out theme pictures from old magazines (such as puppies and kittens or things that remind them of summer) to paste in the book.
- A mosaic. Create one by gluing buttons, pasta, rice, egg shells, torn pieces of construction paper, yarn, felt, etc. on paper, cans, or jars.
- A life-sized self portrait. Have your child lie down on a piece of large white paper and outline her shape. She can then draw in the eyes, nose, mouth, and clothes. Give her glue and yarn for the hair to complete the masterpiece.
- A tambourine. With a hole puncher, punch holes around two aluminum pie plates. (Make sure each hole is the same distance apart so that when the plates are put together, they will match up). Put pebbles or uncooked rice into one of the plates. Cover with the other plate. Weave yarn through the holes and tie a strong knot.
- Make an inexpensive greenhouse. Plant a small plant inside a cottage cheese container. Cut off the top of a two-liter soda bottle and discard. Place the remaining part of the bottle upside down over the plant and you have an instant greenhouse.
- Play a board game marathon. One evening, instead of a craft why not play board games? Set up different games on tables around the room. Divide the family into groups and rotate games every 15 minutes so that everyone has a chance to play them all.
- Hold a mini-Olympics. Set up a mini obstacle course in your yard with things for children to jump over and maneuver through. (If you live in an apartment or the weather isn’t nice, you can do the same thing indoors by placing two chairs facing each other and laying a sheet over the seats to make a tunnel. Put three pillows on top of one another for the children to jump over).
- Hold a dance contest. Play some funky music and create categories like the fastest, the silliest, and ”the jumpiest” to get the children moving.
- Have a relay race. Players must balance a golf ball or hard-boiled egg ona spoon and race by walking quickly from one point to another without dropping the egg.
- Pin the tail on the monkey. Draw a monkey on poster board and make several numbered tails. Blindfold a player, and have him or her tape the tail on the monkey.
- Have a spring picnic. Even if the weather is a little chilly, throw someold blankets on the ground, wear a jacket, and give the kids a taste of summer by serving hotdogs on a paper plate. After cleanup, toss a beach ball around or play with a Frisbee.
- Have a paint party. Tape large sheets of white paper to an outside wall. Give everyone a large, old T-shirt and have a paint party. (Tape newspaper on the wall first to prevent mishaps.)
- Enjoy some old-fashioned summer games. Play hide and seek or tag with your kids. Get out the bikes or a baseball and mitt. Buy a yo-yo and learn some tricks or have a hula hoop contest.
Of course, don’t forget to end each day with a reading session. Why not snuggle with your children and read a longer book (a chapter or two a night)? The nice thing is, if you don’t finish the book during no TV week, you’ll be encouraged to turn the TV off on the following weeks so you can complete it. What a wonderful habit that will become!
TV Static—A Few Statistics
According to TV Turnoff Network (tvturnoff.org)
- The average U.S. child will spend more time in front of the television (1,023 hours) than in school this year (900).
- The TV is on over seven hours a day in the average American home.
- Forty nine percent of Americans say they watch too much TV.
- The average child ages 2-17 spends over 19 hours a week watching television.
- American children view 20,000 TV commercials a year.
- The average child will witness 200,000 violent acts on television by age 18.
- The average child will witness 16,000 murders on television by age 18.
Linda Chiara is a freelance writer and the mother of three sons who, thankfully, prefer sports to TV.