“A good life is a collection of happy moments.” Denis Waitley
My husband and I have found that other than having honest, open discussions with our children (ages 9 & 13), about creating a balance between technology use and other activities, the next best thing we can do is to try our best to plan fun activities the whole family will enjoy.
Although April 29-May 5, 2019 is recognized as Screen-Free Week, anytime is a great time to unplug and try some of these screen-free activities!
1. Create a Homemade Meal Together
Gnocchi is a longtime staple of Italian cooking my husband and I both grew up with and it’s so fun and easy to make from scratch. Gnocchi are puffy little potato pillows, a little like pasta and a little like dumplings. They only take a few ingredients and can be served with lots of different sauces as a side dish, or like we usually serve them, as a main entree.
This is a classic Italian version that will allow the whole family to join in on the fun:
Tomato Gnocchi With Pesto
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and quartered.
3 quarts water
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon water
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil
1 garlic clove, peeled
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 15-20 minutes or until steam is evaporated. Press through a strainer into a small bowl. Let them cool and bring the water to a boil.
Using a fork, create a well in the potatoes. Sprinkle flour over potatoes and into well. Whisk the egg, tomato paste, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; pour into well. Stir until blended. Knead 10-12 times, forming a soft dough.
Divide the dough into four portions. On a floured surface, roll portions into 1/2 inch thick ropes; cut into 3/4 inch pieces. Press and roll each piece with a lightly floured fork. Cook gnocchi in boiling water in batches for 30-60 seconds or until they float. Remove with a strainer and keep warm.
To prepare the pesto, place the oil, water, basil, garlic and remaining salt in a food processor; cover and process until blended. Stir in parmesan cheese. Spoon the pesto sauce over the gnocchi and toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with pine nuts.
For dessert, this is a really great recipe that is actually not so bad on calories. 1/4 cup is about 154 calories and 7 grams of fat. Choose a light version of an angel cake and any fresh fruit your family loves and please don’t feel guilty about the chocolate part!
Dark Chocolate Fondue Dessert
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups 2% milk
2 dark chocolate candy bars, chopped
3 squares ( 1 ounce each) milk chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Angel cake (cubed), and assorted fresh fruit
In a small saucepan, combine flour and milk until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cook and stir for 1 minute or until thickened. Reduce heat to low. Stir in chocolate and corn syrup. Cook and serve until melted.
Transfer to a small fondue pot and keep warm. Serve with delicious angel cake cubes and your family’s favorite fruit.
2. Read. Obvious, Except:
- Read outside under a tree and or at a park you’ve never visited before.
- Paint and personalize a canvas bag that can be your child’s special library bag.
- Choose one book for the whole family to read and have a family book club.
- Make up your own board game based on a favorite book.
- Create a commercial or billboard ad for a book your family loves.
- Use Building Bricks to create characters and scenes from favorites stories.
- Read your childhood favorites to your kids.
- Check out this list of the 40 Best Children’s Books for Your Family Library.
3. Play board games.
There is an endless amount of group board games and card games on the market today. My husband actually still has many from his childhood and loves to take out his original Battleship game and some other Old Maid type card game to play with the kids. I recently found a game I grew up with at a yard sale and had to buy called Go To The Head Of The Class. Chances are, any game you remember having as a child and loving can be found on eBay and your kids will love it just as much as you do. Check out this list of the 10 Best Classic Board Games for Kids.
4. Learn something new.
Think about something your children might want to learn. Maybe they want to learn a new language, or how to perfect their volleyball serve. Perhaps they are interested in cake-decorating, or maybe they want to learn more about yoga techniques and exercise. Rock painting, clay sculpting, bread baking, woodworking, and even sidewalk chalk art can lead to a future screen-free obsession for some children.
5. Go for a walk.
Fresh air! Go to a local park or one you’ve never been to before. Take time to walk around and notice and appreciate everything. The children might even find a really cool nature trail. My kids sometimes take journals with them when we go for walks to write about what they see and we have found great libraries and playgrounds along the way. Of course, it’s always fun to also stop for ice-cream!
Thank you so much for visiting the blog today. I certainly appreciate your time and attention. I hope you found this post worthwhile. I am passionate about creating meaningful moments with my family and also my students.
I recently wrote a book titled Educate the Heart: Screen-Free Activities for Grades PreK-6 to Inspire Authentic Learning. It’s available for preorder and you can find reviews, chapter titles, and more information here ( use code: RLEGEN19 for 20% off ) and it’s also available on Amazon Prime.
I have also been really excited about beginning the Educate the Heart with Jennifer Lee Quattrucci podcast and I’m so grateful for the engagement! My most recent episode shares information about creating a calm corner in your classroom or home so children can learn to understand their feelings, learn self-regulation skills, and not be scared or feel alone because of how they feel or because of circumstances beyond their control.
Thank you again and if you would like to connect, feel free to leave a comment, send an email, or message me on any social media platform.
Have a beautiful day!
“When educating the minds of our youth, we must not forget to educate their hearts.” Dalai Lama