Wednesday, November 16, 2016

15 ways to have low or no tech family fun

Mom2MomEd Blog: 15 ways to have low or no tech family fun
While McKenzie lives in California, my son and I are up in the beautiful, green, lush Pacific Northwest. We get our share of rain and storms up here!

A few weeks ago, in fact, we had a storm so severe that we were without power for several hours, and a few surrounding neighborhoods were without power for a couple of days. That got me thinking...

...about power outages during Hurricane Sandy when JP and I lived in New York City.
...about power outages in Washington state when I lived there as a kid.
...about power outages in Southern Oregon where I went to college for a year.

What do these experiences have in common besides no power?

They forced us to go NO tech for our fun.

It seems like everywhere you turn, people are plugged in to something ALL. THE. TIME.

We can't seem to escape technology--not always a bad thing, but at times tech overtakes our lives! Technology certainly makes our lives easier every single day, but that much access to technology also pushes us apart almost more than it brings us together.

24/7 access to technology also has made many of us, and our children in particular, less able to enjoy life and have fun without a device of some sort in our hands. 

Let's change that!

This post is your call to action to get your family OFF technology on a regular basis and to find no or low tech ways to have FUN!

Not sure where to start? Try these 15 low or no tech family fun ideas:

ONE: Old Fashioned Board Games
JP and I love board games. I grew up playing board games and card games with my siblings, parents, and grandparents. In fact, my mom's parents had a huge finished basement with a cupboard STACKED with more board games than a Toys-R-Us store! It was kid heaven! And, my great grandparents had a pretty good stash of games too! I'm out of practice, but some of my childhood favorites were: Checkers, Chinese Checkers, Shoots-and-Ladders, Candy Land, Life, and Battleship. My sister loved Monopoly. Many of our friends also greatly enjoyed board games so there was always someone to play with.

My own son enjoyed many of these same games during his childhood, but together we also loved just about every game created by Cranium, but especially Cranium Cadoo and Cranium Zigity

We also are huge fans of Bananagrams! Bananagrams is also one of my favorite games to play with my tutoring students as it stretches their ability to use language and we can also use the tiles in many other ways to practice reading skills. Scrabble has become another favorite as my son has gotten older and it is one we regularly play when the power is out, technology isn't working properly, or we just need some time together--although I have to admit, we don't actually know all of the finer details of the rules of Scrabble! We kind of make up some of the rules ourselves, so if you ever play Scrabble with us, you have been warned!

One of my closest friends has a family that plays chess together. In fact, they play almost every single night and the WHOLE family is involved. They are so into it that they took their chess set to their kids' taekwondo class recently when it looked like they might not get to play chess that night at home! The other kids and families at the martial arts school were really interested in playing too!

TWO: Read-a-Palooza
I wrote about Read-a-Palooza previously, but the basic idea is to gather a big stack of books and some snacks and lay around reading with your family. You can lay out a blanket on the living room floor, pile up a bunch of books, and read silently but together, read out loud to one another, or alternate between silent and out loud reading. Frankly, Read-a-Palooza (my son's idea) has resulted in some of our best shared memories.

My son and I typically would alternate between reading silently and reading aloud to each other. Often we would have several books we would read silently to ourselves and then one that we would take turns reading aloud from--some of our favorites for reading aloud together can be found in THIS post. 

THREE: At Home Art Festival
Clear off the kitchen table and make way for an at home art festival! Pull out all of your family's art supplies and a bunch of office supplies! Gather glue, paper, scissors, pipe cleaners, empty egg cartons, tape, tissue paper, empty toilet paper and paper towel tubes, and anything else that could be a crafty supply. 

Go to town creating! 
  • Make "found" sculptures--literally making a sculpture out of stuff you find around the house.
  • Paint or draw each others portraits. 
  • Create greeting cards and use them to write notes to friends, family, and neighbors (and be sure to actually send or deliver them!).
  • Make animal sculptures out of egg cartons--ask your kids to figure out how to make a caterpillar, an ant, and a butterfly from empty egg cartons!
  • Use paper or tissue paper to create pom-poms.
  • Make paper chains and decorate with them.
  • Use pens on aluminum foil to create little mosaic type pictures--draw a simple picture with a Sharpie and let the ink dry. Then fill in the shapes in the picture with felt tip markers or colorful Sharpies.
  • Make paper plate art--decorate paper plates as if they are art canvases.
  • Make paper plate masks.
  • Make paper (or plastic) cup eye goggles.
What else can your family create? Not sure? Try getting some crafting books from the library!

FOUR: Bake-a-Thon
I grew up spending a lot of time with my mom's parents and they had a huge garden and amazing kitchen for baking and cooking. I remember many days spent baking and cooking almost non-stop all day long! We made pies, cookies, cakes, and so much more! My favorite part of these baking days was simply spending time so closely with my grandparents, but I also loved pie baking because we got to take the extra pie crust and make little pie crust cookies or individual apple hand pies.

For apple hand pies, you just pull together the scraps of crust into a ball and then roll them out. sprinkle the crust with some cinnamon and sugar and then place an apple slice on the crust and fold it over and seal it. If you have enough crust for more than one apple slice, repeat the process with as many slices as you can. Finish them off the same way you finish off the pies whether with a milk or egg wash or just with some melted butter and more cinnamon and sugar, and then bake them, watching carefully that they don't burn since they won't need to bake nearly as long as a whole pie!

Spend all day baking with your family, set aside some of the goodies for yourselves and then go around the neighborhood and bless your neighbors with the rest! I still love baking a double batch of cookies or muffins and taking half to the neighbors.

FIVE: Get Outside
Get your family outside and in nature! This can be as simple as a walk around the block or as in depth as a full on camping and hiking trip in the backwoods (but only if you have enough experience to safely go that deep!). You can get outside and:
  • take a walk around the neighborhood--make it a little bit longer every time you go!
  • after many neighborhood walks, start taking hikes at local hiking trails
  • go for a bike ride together (helmets on for safety, please!)
  • kick around a soccer ball
  • organize a neighborhood game of soccer, baseball, basketball
  • get a library book about old playground games and invite the neighborhood kids to play them
  • go on a nature scavenger hunt
  • visit a local nature center such as a fish hatchery or wildlife sanctuary--encourage your kids to ask staff questions about the center and what they do there
  • start and maintain a garden together
  • take up bird watching
  • start star gazing and begin to learn about constellations and the night sky
  • watch the weather together daily and keep a log of your family's weather predictions and what the weather is actually like--build a weather station together too by using books from the library as a resource (another low tech activity--visiting the library!)
And, here's a list of other ways to have low or no tech family fun: 
6. Play a game of I-Spy or Follow the Leader

7. Learn to make your own home products like bath bombs, soap, and cleaning products. Get everyone involved. If you aren't sure where to start, try a book from the library.

8. Write a play together as a family and then perform it (no audience necessary!)

9. Take free classes at the local home improvement store (Home Depot and some Lowe's stores have free Saturday clinics)

10. Make instruments out of empty drink bottles with rice or beans or a cardboard box and rubber bands.

11. Learn a new sport together--one of my best friends has taught her entire family to play tennis. They even play tennis when they go on vacation and played every day during a trip to Disneyland! McKenzie's family dirt bikes as a family--they have even gotten McKenzie's parents and brother into it!

12. Vote on a country to learn about as a family. Get books and videos about it from the library (or cheat a tiny bit and watch videos online). Be sure to grab a cookbook too and cook several recipes together from the country you chose. If you have time, make a separate grocery shopping trip just for the recipes you choose and have everyone find a few of the ingredients. Consider trying a new country every month.

13. Visit a museum--most have free days at least once a month or discount days. If you are a Bank of America customer, one of the benefits you get with your bank card is FREE admission to a huge number of museums on certain days!

14. Set up an interview with a much older relative or neighbor and ask them to tell you stories about what their lives were like when they were young. Have your kids come up with a list of interview questions and to ask the questions themselves. Be sure to have your kids send thank you notes afterwards or host a family bake-a-thon and deliver some baked goods later as a thank you!

15. Have a family dance party. Everyone gets to choose a few songs and the whole family has to DANCE, DANCE, DANCE! No complaining about anyone's choices in music! Just dance and have fun! See who can come up with craziest or best dance moves--if someone in the family is a naturally gifted dancer or takes dance classes have them give everyone else a few tips. 

How does your family have low or no tech fun together?

Be sure to check back as McKenzie has a great post coming up about Taking the Classroom Outside!

For even more FUN ways to go no or low tech as a family, read these great posts:
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