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Screen-Free Summer Fun

by Karen Whiting

Let’s provide more fun that inspires creativity and nurtures learning over the summer without electronics. Parents realize that too much screen time on various devices increases obesity, depression and attention problems. One study revealed that 48% of participants who spent over five hours a day in front of screens reported at least one suicide attempt. It’s hard to read about the studies that show a clear connection with higher levels of depression and suicide, but it's encouraging to note that non-screen activities lower those problems. The recommended time for screen time is only two hours per day. That leaves lots of time for physical, mental and creative activities.

Craft supplies that children can both see and reach invite them to play. Provide paper, tape, glue, colored pencils and other art supplies, plus books of ideas. Include the math of measuring and cutting with a faith element, and you’ll be nurturing your child’s mind, spirit and imagination.

Consider making toys or games. Click here for the pattern to make a simple star glider that twirls and spins. Add kind and encouraging words to each star point to create a gift for a friend. Talk about star facts and connect them to Scripture.

Go out on a clear night and see which stars and constellations you can name. There are 9,096 stars that can be seen with your eyes (no telescope needed). Chat about how stars do not twinkle. As starlight passes through the atmosphere, it is deflected to look like it twinkles. Check out astronomy books at your library and look up red cool stars, blue hot stars and other star facts. Connect this to Scripture with Daniel 12:3 and Philippians 2:14-15 that talk about shining like the stars. Read about God’s creation of stars in Genesis 1:16, Job 9:9, 38:32, and that He knows the thousands of stars by name (Psalm 147:4).

Use summer to update bedrooms too. Spruce it up with fresh paint and then add artwork. Make paper pennants, frames and door signs to decorate the room.

Fashion paper mobiles to hang and have children include words to affirm their talents and achievements. They’ll inspire your children with reminders that they are smart and creative. Adding words allows discussion about the power of words, encouragement and kindness. Simple phrases like “you’re a good friend,” “best buddy” or “I like your smile” can turn this into a gift to brighten someone’s day.

Study the history of mobiles. Discover how Alexander Calder used the study of movement (kinetics) and balance to create mobiles. Explore balance with blocks and other materials or by trying to balance on one foot or do handstands.

Beyond all the fun and learning, kids will also practice small motor and bilateral coordination with measuring, cutting, folding, scoring (making creases for folds) and putting things together. They will use their math skills to measure and follow patterns as they develop spatial relationships and other visual perception abilities. And hopefully, the paper crafts will motivate them to create their own designs and projects. They can apply what they learn to creating school projects in the future.

Invite friends over to make crafts and play games. That builds friendships as well as memories. Just add snacks and a little encouragement to play outside, and you’ll provide a great wellness fun.

Take photos of activities and artwork in progress and fill a memory album of the summer. Display artwork and photos as reminders of the joy of simple pleasures, hands-on fun and STEAM explorations.

Karen Whiting is an author of 32 books, including The Super-Sized Book of Bible Craft Gifts she co-authored with her older daughter who is an educator. The book contains 100+ paper crafts and 21 STEAM lessons to inspire a child’s imagination. Crafts include games, toys, mobiles, gifts, home décor, storytelling crafts and friendship projects.


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