20 Family Activities that Don’t Involve Screen Time

In the book, The Von Awesome Family in a Digital Daze, seven-and-a-half-year-old Zoey was frustrated with her family’s addiction to technology. She wanted someone to play with her! Does this sound familiar to your house?

Together, the Von Awesome family set some guidelines for limiting screen time in their family. If your family is working on setting screen time limits, you probably already know that it takes intention to make the change stick.

Whether you’re planning coming activities in your calendar or looking for a spontaneous activity today, these 20 ideas will help you unplug and spend time on family relationships.

  1. Visit a local farm or cheese factory.
  2. Play with Legos.  Make a challenge to build an object or a type of building.Children play
  3. Volunteer in the community together. Check with your local animal shelter to see if it has opportunities to volunteer as a family.
  4. Do an art project together. Search a site such as Family Fun Magazine age-appropriate for ideas.
  5. Do a puzzle. If it is large, find a place where you can leave it out for a few days to continue working.
  6. Compile a list of all of the parks with playgrounds in your community. Make a fun checklist together and then make a plan to visit each one. Plan a way to celebrate after you complete your list.
  7. Visit the local library with a purpose. Plan to find books on a theme or to research a topic. Then look through the books together—either at the library or at home later.Man and two children sitting in living room reading book and smi
  8. Write a letter. Grandparents and relatives love to get letters! You could also write a letter to a friend, a celebrity, a state representative or even to the president.
  9. Build a blanket fort. Decide on how long (hours or days) it will be allowed to stay up before you begin, then take it down together when the time is up.
  10. Have a backyard campfire with s’mores.
  11. Teach your children a game you played as a kid – kick the can, sardines, tag, capture the flag.
  12. Wash the car together.
  13. Go for a bike ride and stop for ice cream.
  14. Make a family bucket list of things you would like to do in the next year. Share ideas freely and then narrow it down to a list you know you can accomplish in one year. Hang it up on the refrigerator and check off as you do things.
  15. Learn about a different culture and plan an international dinner.
  16. Put together a scavenger hunt or a treasure hunt.
  17. Read out loud to each other. Let family members take turns choosing the next book to read.
  18. Fly a kite. If you’re super creative, make a kite and then see if it flies.
  19. Sort the toy box and make a donation to a local charity.
  20. Play a board game that hasn’t been touched in a long time. Or, add a new twist on the rules to a game you’ve played a million times.

Have other ideas to share? We would love to hear them! Leave us a comment below or on Facebook.

Andrea Gribble is the author of “The Von Awesome Family In A Digital Daze”, available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle. Her book helps kids understand why technology balance is important from a child’s perspective. Find resources to help your family at www.AndreaGribble.com.

Unplugged Family Fall Activities

When the weather gets cooler, it might be tempting to turn family nights into movie nights, but cooler weather doesn’t mean you need to plug back in after a summer of enjoying outdoor family time. Here are some ideas for keeping your momentum going this fall.

  1. Decorate pumpkins.  Get out the markers, paint, stickers, glitter and fabric or string and have a blast decorating a pumpkin.
  2. Create a thankful tree. Scout for a tree branch on the ground that you can “plant” by putting it in a vase or poking it into a flower pot filled with floral oasis or sand. Cut out simple leaf shapes and punch a hole in the base of each leaf. On the leaves, write things you are thankful for. Use string or ribbon to tie the leaves to the tree or to hang them like ornaments.
  3. Have your own Choctoberfest. Have a night of all things chocolate. Invite the neighbors for a block party where everyone brings something chocolate to share.
  4. Do a fall family photo session. It can be a professional session or it could be just a fun time with your own digital camera. Review the photos together and select one to have made into a print for the wall.
  5. Make pinecone animals. Here are easy instructions for a hedgehog and an owl  http://www.whimsy-love.com/2013/10/diy-pinecone-owl-hedgehog.htmlFall family activities
  6. Do a leaf rubbing project. Go outside and gather a variety of leaves.  Place a leaf under white paper, then use crayons, pencils or colored pencils to create a rub. Use a larger piece of paper to make wrapping paper.
  7. Go to a corn maze. Look up a corn maze in your area and take the whole family for an afternoon of fun.
  8. Visit a local orchard. Many orchards offer apple picking, wagon rides, craft activities, and lots of family fun.
  9. Play in the leaves. Do double duty by raking up a pile and playing in them before loading them up and hauling them away.

Andrea Gribble is the author of “The Von Awesome Family In A Digital Daze”, available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle. Her book helps kids understand why technology balance is important from a child’s perspective. Find resources to help your family at www.AndreaGribble.com.


15 Ways to Make Someone’s Day

October 5 is National Do Something Nice Day. Of course, every day of the year is an opportunity to do something nice for other people, but it’s always helpful to have a reminder to be intentional about it! One of the reasons I wrote my book is because I was moved by the reminder that people matter. Our kids matter. Our loved ones matter. The people we work with and the people we see in the line at the store matter. It’s important that we let them know it.

Here are 15 ideas to get you started on making someone’s day:

  1. Compliment someone, even a random stranger.
  2. Write a note of encouragement to someone.
  3. Make eye contact and smile when you would usually look away from a person on the street.
  4. Say something encouraging to someone at work or at home.
  5. Tip more that you usually would. Leave a note if you can.
  6. Introduce yourself to a neighbor and bring cookies.
  7. Let someone go ahead of you in line.
  8. Do the dishes.
  9. Vacuum your partner’s car and leave a note on the dash.
  10. Give up your seat for someone else.
  11. Give a hug.
  12. Pick up someone’s tab.
  13. Send flowers for no reason.
  14. Leave nice notes around the house for your family members.
  15. Unplug your electronics and give your full attention to the people in your life.


That’s only a few to get you started. I would love to hear your ideas! Let’s inspire one another to do something nice. Share your pictures and comments on Andrea’s Facebook page.

Technology Transition – Back to School

Back-to-school time is here, and the entire family has some transitions to make. Waking up early, packing lunches, doing homework, running to soccer practice and more. It seems like there is always somewhere you have to be, and if you’re like me, it seems like you are always a little behind.

What happens when you add technology into your whirlwind days? Kids and parents alike can easily be distracted by our phones, tablets and gaming devices, making it nearly impossible to get to your next destination on time.

While we are gearing up to go back to school, let’s talk about 3 R’s to help you in your technology transition: Rules, Routine, and Role Model.

Rules – Establishing rules for technology is key. They don’t have to be overly complicated; they just need to be written down and followed. No electronics at the dinner table. No electronics in the morning before school. You can grab a free template to print and fill out with your own family on my website – www.AndreaGribble.com.

Routine – For those new rules to work, you need to build a routine around them. It just makes it easier to enforce them. After your kids get off the bus, you always have a snack, time to talk about the best thing about the day, and then you hit the homework or play outside. If you allow technology use during the week, then it may be easiest to set a time during the evening when they can be online.

Role Model – The first two R’s are great in theory, but if you as the parent aren’t willing to model good technology use, then I’m afraid all will be lost. They’ll see you respond to that email that just can’t wait. They’ll watch you peek at Facebook while making dinner. That can derail your efforts in a hurry. Make sure you stick to the rules and routine that you set up and you’ll be much more likely to find success with balancing the technology trap.

WEAU 13 News Feature with the Three R’s

Andrea Gribble is the author of “The Von Awesome Family In A Digital Daze”, available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle. Her book helps kids understand why technology balance is important from a child’s perspective. Find resources to help your family at www.AndreaGribble.com.

Five Parenting Blogs with Relevant Content

The number of blogs and parenting resources available on the web for moms and dads can be overwhelming! Where does one begin when there are so many wonderful bloggers and so many helpful articles? Often, it is a referral from a friend or a shared link that connects us with one of those great resources.

It’s exciting to see there are other parents who share my passion for helping families unplug and find alternatives for screen time. I want to share several websites that my team and I have recently discovered online. I thought my readers might enjoy exploring them as well.

Moms Who Think

Moms Who Think is a collection of posts from women dedicated to helping other moms be creative with their parenting and to help them think outside of the box. It’s about real life, messy and imperfect as it is, lived to the fullest.

These are two of the recent articles from Moms Who Think:

How Much Screen Time Should You Allow?

Keys to Building Confidence in Children


Multiple Mayhem Mamma

Canadian blogger and writer Samantha Kemp-Jackson (Sam) from Canada has four children spanning ages 6 to 30. She writes on a wide variety of parenting issues, giving glimpses of real life other parents can relate to on her blog, Multiple Mayhem Mamma.

Recent articles from Sam:

In Defense of an Activity-Free Summer

Ways to Help Your Child Make Friends



Familoop is a blog sponsored by Familoop Safeguard software. The blog contains guest posts from experts and fellow parents. I’m not sharing this as an endorsement of any software or retail products, but I do think the advice from the experts is relevant. Kudos to Familoop for caring about the families who use its products.

These recent blog posts underscore my passion for keeping families safe:

Are You a Helicopter Parent Online?

Parenting Tips: Putting Restrictions on Internet Use



We don’t want to leave the dads out! There are many wonderful dad bloggers who have fantastic ideas for activities with kids.

Dad Camp

Canadian dad, Buzz Bishop inspires parents on his website, Dad Camp, a source for parents wanting to share stories about their kids, discover new things to do with their family and get tips and tricks to navigate the parenting minefield.

Check out Buzz’s latest posts about what he has done with his kids this summer:

Stopping Summer Slide with a Reading Challenge

The Joys of Backyard Camping


All Pro Dad

All Pro Dad is an organization on a mission to help dads love and lead their families well. The group is committed to bringing intentional focus to fathers around the world. The articles posted on the website are filled with ways to lead a family, including helpful ideas on how to handle media and technology.

These articles have some great ideas for parents:

5 Summer Ideas to Help Your Child Be Successful Next School Year

Train Your Kids to Think Critically About Media


Do you have more ideas for great blogs to follow? I’d love to hear about them. Post below or comment on my Facebook page.

GO Family Time!

We’ve all seen it in the past few weeks…the kids (or adults) walking head down, or arms outstretched, eyes on their phones, searching for Pokémon. The Pokémon Go phenomenon hit the streets of nearly every city and captured the attention of kids of all ages.

We’ve also heard the dangers surrounding the new game. Distracted drivers, the dangers of kids heading to public places alone and even criminals capitalizing on the craze is making headlines.

But what about the positive side effects of Pokémon Go? My husband and I were on a walk the other night and spotted four sets of dads getting into the capture game with their sons. The dads were interacting with their children and engaging with their hobby. You can bet those kids felt more understood after their parent was willing to learn about this technology hot topic. A child who feels understood is a child who can feel more love!

As a mom who deals with technology boundaries all the time, it was refreshing to see an opportunity for a win-win. This new fad can be a new chance for bonding. Just like you engage with them over your dinner plate, you can take that same connection and work with it over your smartphone.

Take a look at the conversations you’re having about the game. Are you feeling positive about the amount of time your child wants to play it? Can you find a way to get pumped about chasing down and capturing virtual characters? If you can, you just might capture some extra precious time with your children.

Andrea Gribble is the author of “The Von Awesome Family In A Digital Daze”, available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle. Her book helps kids understand why technology balance is important from a child’s perspective. Find resources to help your family at www.AndreaGribble.com.

Tech-Free Activities for Summer

It’s summertime. The beautiful weather is just calling us all to be outside! But has anyone else noticed that outdoor activities seem to be less about nature and more about their devices?

It really became apparent as I ran through a local park the other day. Little girls about eight years old were playing a softball game. That meant a whole lot of parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters nearby. Some were watching, a few talking with others, but many more were focused on something else.

Three little boys were crowded around a phone, one screaming that it was his turn, just let him try. Instead of running around in the acres of park around them, they were huddled watching a small screen inches from their face.

Then I noticed the parents sitting in their lawn chairs. At a glance, I would say 75% of them had their smartphone in their hand. They may not have been looking at it, but it was there – a constant temptation to check their e-mail, newsfeed or even the weather for tomorrow.

This whole thing bothers me – because I’m guilty too. So as you are thinking about a great summer experience for both you and your kids, let’s identify some tech-free activities that we can do! For me, if it’s all or nothing, I do a much better job. Eliminating temptation means completely living in the moment with my family.

    1. The beach. I admit, I did grab my husband’s iPhone just to grab this photo last weekend, but other than that – the beach should be a tech-free zone. Water and sand can quickly ruin your device anyway!Playing at the Beach
    2. Bike rides. This one is self explanatory. Trying to look at your phone while walking is tough enough. Don’t ever try doing it while riding your bike!
    3. Organized sports. As much as I think we can overcommit our kids in the summer, some organized sports programs are a great break from technology. My girls do basketball and my younger stepsons have baseball and golf.
    4. Hiking. Starting a family hike with a focus on your surroundings is key. Challenge your kids to identify the different colors they can see, or the many animals they discover.
    5. Meal prep. Grab that family recipe – you know the one in the worn out cookbook – and have your kids help prepare it. There are many age-appropriate things even the youngest of children can help with. The bonus with this one is that the food ALWAYS tastes better when you help cook it!
    6. Camp. As a kid, my favorite memories were made at Bible camp each summer. Next week my girls will be headed off for a week of fun. There are so many different camp experiences available these days, and you can bet the activities will be regulated in regards to devices.
    7. Family game night. It’s amazing what a large dry erase board in the living room can do to snatch the attention away from the TV. We have started family game nights of Pictionary. We also love charades. Getting creative and laughing together is a whole lot of fun, so make time for it.

Do you have more ideas? I’d love to hear about them. Post below or chime in on my Facebook page.


Parents Learn About Kids’ Use of Social Media

Technology use is different among the generations, particularly when it concerns students, which prompted Chippewa Falls Middle School Principal Susan Kern to bring in experts to educate parents on their children’s use of social media.

In an article for the Chippewa Herald, Dr. Justin Patchin, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center and a criminal justice professor at UW-Eau Claire said, “Adults like us remember a time when there wasn’t technology. I remember when there was a cord attached to a phone.”

Read more

The article addresses how schools are handling social media as well.

“It’s important to share our story in these formats, because that’s where those parents are,” said Scott Kowalski, director of educational technology for the district. Those parents keep getting younger, which means they are more familiar with social media. “Using it as a tool has been very effective for us.”Hearld-News-Story.image

He said the district climbed aboard Instagram within the past year, and is looking to add Snapchat.

The district is also one of 17 in Wisconsin and Minnesota to work with Andrea Gribble, a consultant for K-12 schools and the founder of #SocialSchool4EDU, a company that helps schools encourage students to use social media in a safe and positive way.

“What I love about schools is they’re leading by example,” Gribble said, stating several recent posts have gone viral. A student of the week post each Monday morning has reached up to 7,000 people. The school’s Wire Choir shared a video she said reached more than 8,000.

Summer Goals: Helping Kids Ditch the “Digital Daze”

Summer vacation is here! What a glorious time in the life of your child. No more getting up early, no more homework, and no more routine.

Bring on the warm sunshine, the hours of bike rides and baseball at the park. The fun of rolling down a hill and running through the sprinkler. The relaxation of curling up with a good book in a hammock in the back yard. The joys of heading to the lake for campfires and long hikes.

But wait, this sounds like my childhood, not the childhood my kids are experiencing… Is anyone with me?

In recent years, I have started get almost fearful of summer vacation. My kids are getting older and their favorite activity of choice always involves a tablet, phone, computer or gaming console. And I don’t think I’m alone.

Aliya Coloring SheetA recent study from Common Sense Media shares some alarming statistics. More than half of all teens admit to being addicted to their smart phones and other mobile devices. The study of more than 1,200 teenagers and parents is highlighted in this Today Show piece. In addition to teens, I think our tweens (8- to 12-year-olds) and even younger are equally addicted.

This summer, let’s help our kids ditch the digital daze by setting goals. It is a well known fact that writing down goals dramatically impacts the achievement of those goals. So why should it be any different for our children?

Download this fun coloring sheet now and work with your kids to record their daily goals for this summer. We suggested a few activities, like reading time, family time, and yes, even technology time. Your kids can add riding bike, soccer, gymnastics, music and more. The second column is to add a minutes/day that they want to spend on each activity.


Once this is completed, hang it next to your child’s bed. It should be one of the first things they see when they wake up and should also be visible when they go to sleep each night. A constant, friendly reminder that having a great summer means they should be striving to hit the daily goals.Zoey - entire sheet colored

And this activity isn’t just for your child. You should fill it out with them! The study above shows that parents are addicted to their phones too, so having some clear goals for yourself will surely help you set a good example for your kids.

Andrea Gribble is the author of “The Von Awesome Family In A Digital Daze”, available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle. Her book helps kids understand why technology balance is important from a child’s perspective. Find resources to help your family at www.AndreaGribble.com.

Kids Express Their Feelings About Adults Using Electronic Devices

“Mom, guess what happened at school today?”

“Just a minute honey. I’m reading something right now for work.”

“But I just want to tell you that I…”

“Can it wait five minutes? I have to finish this!”

Five minutes often becomes 20 minutes and you never get back to finding out that important thing that happened in the life of your child.

Sound familiar? It does to me! I had a problem in my own home. Not with kids spending too much time on their devices. The problem was me!

This prompted me to search for a children’s book on the topic. When I couldn’t find one, I decided to write one. And now I have the privilege to share this story with kids at schools across the country.

After talking with thousands of kids and asking them this question, “How do you feel when your mom or dad (or any adult) spends more time on their phone than with you?” I’ve developed a list.

So how do kids feel? Here are the answers in their words:

  • Sad
  • Mad
  • Frustrated
  • Fine – I don’t care (there is always at least one kid like this at every school)
  • Alone
  • Really sad
  • Bored
  • Good, because then I can spend more time on my device too
  • I ask my dad to come and play with me and he says just let me check this notification on my phone and then he just keeps looking at it. I eventually just give up.
  • I feel like the phone is more important than I am
  • Confused because I try explaining things to my mom, but she just stares at her phone instead of listening to me.

DSC_0994 copy

Could one of these responses be from your child? Take time to ask them how they feel! And then make steps for real change inside your home. You can start with this free family contract.

You can also purchase the book “The VonAwesome Family in a Digital Daze.” It is available on Amazon and has great discussion questions at the end of the story—questions for the kids, but also questions for the adults! Be ready to answer the tough ones.

Ready to take the #DigitalDazeChallenge? Share how it’s going with us on Facebook, or comment on this post.


Andrea Gribble is the author of “The Von Awesome Family In A Digital Daze”, available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle. Her book helps kids understand why technology balance is important from a child’s perspective. Find resources to help your family at www.AndreaGribble.com.