The Joy of Teaching – An Evan-Moor Blog

Sharing creative ideas and lessons to help children learn

No Screens for Ice Cream – A Parent’s Survival Guide


My son came home excitedly with a piece of paper from his school and said, “Mom, sign this so I can get ice cream.” A bit perplexed, I read the paper and saw that the PTO was organizing a “No Screens for Ice Cream” week. Yes, it is exactly what it sounds like. For one week, your child and other family members do not use any screens unless it is for work or homework. This means no TV, iPads, iPhones, computers, video games, etc. If you solemnly swear that your child did not use a screen all week, he or she will get ice cream during lunch. I have to say, the motivation worked for my son.

No Screens for Ice Cream

So, if you find yourself wanting to take this pledge or doing something similar, here are five activities that you and your family can do together. Our week was during a rainy week, which made it extra challenging, but I have to say it was worth it.

  1. Girl playing gameBring out the board games – Family game time was my personal favorite. We played numerous games of Uno, Connect Four, Monopoly, and Go Fish. We were able to practice following directions, basic math skills, and good sportsmanship. Check out this list of new family games.
  2. Read – Many times “No Screens” is associated with a reading week, so of course it makes sense to do more reading as a family, whether it is reading the same book together or each family member reading his or her own book at the same time. Here is a list of suggested family read-aloud books.
  3. weaving craftOpen up the craft box – Open up the craft box and do some crafting together. Even though it may not be the holiday season, get a jump-start on some upcoming holiday gifts with the extra time you have to spend together. Discover these quick and easy family crafts.
  4. Have a dance party – Have each family member select his or her favorite songs and make a dance party play list and dance together. Things can get pretty silly! Need help getting started? Here are some song suggestions.
  5. Write together – Each family member can write a letter or create a story with pictures to send or keep for themselves. This can include journaling about your week, writing about a book, or thinking of 10 questions your child wants to know about a particular place in the world. You can turn this into a game by having every family member guess what the answers will be. Then go to the library to see who had the most right answers. Or check out this fun quiz about Which Country.

I’m happy to say we survived No Screens week fairly easily and that my son got his ice cream at school. No Screens week made me realize that I use “screen time” as a way to get things done or to keep my child still for a period of time. Now I have other things to try first, including the above ideas, and others such as taking the time to get outside, cleaning up or organizing toys, visiting a skating rink, or finding fun recipes to do together.

Will you accept the challenge of no screens for a week? Tell us how it goes and share your ideas for success.

Contributing Writer

contributor-trisha-smallTrisha Thomas is the mother of two and serves on the board of directors at a co-op preschool. She has also been a marketer of educational materials for grades PreK–8 for more than 15 years.

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