The Toy Box


Celebrate Screen-Free Week April 30th-May 6th

Turn off the screens and turn on the world!

Are you up for a challenge? What would life look like in your house without any screens used for entertainment for seven days?

If this idea sends shivers down your spine then it may be time to mix things up a bit. The Village Toy Shop of Port Moody, BC will join thousands of neighbourhood toy stores, schools, libraries, and community groups across North America in a coordinated effort to encourage millions of families to turn off televisions, computers, and video games for entertainment purposes and 'turn on' the world around them. Screen-Free Week is a chance for children to read, play, think, create, be more physically active, and to spend more time with friends and family. Screen-Free Week is coordinated by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, a national advocacy organization devoted to reducing the impact of commercialism on children.

Now, more than ever, it’s imperative that we help children discover the joys of life beyond screens.  When there is a power outage or we go camping, experiencing life without screens for a short time, we are often reminded of the benefits of finding those activities that are sometimes forgotten when we allow screen entertainment to become a habit.

On average, preschool children spend over four and a half hours a day consuming screen media, while older children spend over seven hours a day including multitasking. Excessive screen time is linked to a number of problems for children, including poor health, school performance, social skills, and attention span. As screen time increases hands-on, open-ended creative play decreases.

This year there is a free Screen-Free Week Organizer's Kit available for download which is ideal for teachers and community groups.

Unstructured time is essential but you may want to make some plans, to make the transition easier on everyone, and anticipate the difficult times with organized activities. Two tricky times can be during meal preparation and Saturday mornings when you want to sleep in!

This is a celebration of enhanced leisure time, not an exercise in deprivation. The following ideas will help to jump-start Screen Free Week:

Play outside! Enjoy nature, garden, get dirty, go for a hike, pack a picnic, plan a scavenger hunt, fly a kite, ride a bike, roller blade, jump in a sprinkler, go on a bug hunt.

Read a book aloud, together or alone.

Write a story or a poem. For younger kids have them dictate a story and illustrate it.

Sing together, or make up your own songs.

Have a dance party!

Cook dinner together or bake something new.

Go to the library, the park, the community centre, or your local neighbourhood 'mom n’ pop' shops for a stroll.

Try a new craft, learn to knit or sew.

Set up a lemonade stand, a yard sale, or a mini spa.

Play board games, word games, charades, do jig-saw puzzles or mind benders.

Build a fort—inside or out.

Use the imagination and creativity of everyone to create new games never thought of before!

Toyologists available to prescribe 101 other affordable (or FREE) screen-free activities (and details about the above pictured toys) at The Village Toy Shop, a member of Neighbourhood Toy Stores of Canada (NETS), in the quaint, European-style Newport Village in Port Moody, BC. Kirsten Anderson is the original Canadian Toyologist and started her toy career over 20 years ago. With two active boys under seven she shares her toy testing duties with the family. You can watch her Toyologist Tips that air on Global Noon News monthly or on their YouTube channel.