Guilt Free Screen Time

Welcome! We’re so glad you’re here, and we hope you’re hanging in there. We’re rooting for you!

These days, odds are, your kids probably getting more screen time per day than they normally would. You’re working from home, they may be doing teleschool via zoom, then zoning out afterward so you can get some work done. We get it! As long as you’re mindful about what your little ones are actually watching, screen time can be an awesome way for kids to learn, explore new ideas, gain a little independence, and give you some time to get sh!t done. Here are a list of some of our favorite ways to use screen time:

Wild Kratts

Why we Love It: Some millennial moms and dads may remember the spunky original that took kids all over the world, exposing them to new environments and amazing animals all from the comfort of their own homes. The reboot is actually better, with a plotline that carries the show and creates the framework for exploring how and why animals are so important. The cast is decently diverse for a seven character crew, with two women of color, Aviva and Koki holding down key roles as the group’s inventor and computer scientist/mechanic, respectively. The ladies are often called to the rescue of the bumbling but well meaning Kratts brothers. The show focuses on themes of animal activism and environmentalism, but leans heavily on concepts of teamwork, perseverance and doing the right thing.
Ages: 6+     Network: PBS Kids


Garage Band

Why We Love It: Great for older kids who enjoy music and don’t mind the challenge of a complex user interface. The app is similar to the Mac version and allows users to create and save high quality audio recordings., this app lets users create and save original melodies and music.
Age: 10+     Network: iOS


Sesame Street

Why We Love It: The Sesame Street many millennials grew up with has undergone a mild facelift. Despite the changes, the core values are the same; acceptance, kindness, community, self love, and a love for learning. Each episode features a mix of educational elements and social development tools to help your little one get ready for school. Creators have never been afraid to push the envelope, despite their tender audience, with landmark storylines and characters addressing death, marriage, world hunger, incarceration, military deployment, and even a character who is HIV positive (4). In recent years, the American cast of characters has expanded to include the Spanish speaking Zoe and Julia, a little girl with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
Ages: 3+     Network: PBS Kids


Mighty Mike

Why We Love It: Mighty Mike is a great choice for breaking up content heavy educational programming for your kids. The show follows the antics of an overzealous but well meaning animated pug as he tries to defend his home from troublesome critters (namely, raccoons) and win the affections of his next door neighbor-dog. The show relies heavily on physical comedy as it has very little dialogue, so things do get a little wreckless for Mike sometimes, but issues are usually resolved and everyone is safe by the end of the episode. The lack of speaking characters is a source of comfort, as parents won’t have to worry about inappropriate themes or questionable commentary aimed at more mature viewers. In addition, the show helps strengthen your child’s social development skills, as they rely on social cues from the characters to follow the story (5).
Ages: 7+      Network: Universal Kids


Motown Magic

Why We Love It: A charming and upbeat tv show set in the pretend city of Motown, an obvious nod to Detroit, the follows it’s protagonist Ben, a helpful and creative boy who loves music and doing the right thing. Using classic Motown tracks to arc it’s stories, the show has entertainment for parents too, who won’t be able to stop from singing along. The characters throughout the series have surprising depth for a kids show, overcoming some serious challenges and maintaining a strong sense of both self and right and wrong through it all. Motown Magic encourages positive development, through themes of self esteem, creativity and community. As if that wasn’t enough, the show gets an A+ for diversity both in casting and representation, obvious homage to the rich cultural diversity of Motown’s Detroit.
Ages: 4+     Network: Netflix


Breathe, Think, Do With Sesame

Why We Love It: This delightful, and meaningful app from the makers of Sesame Street helps little ones to understand and work through their frustrations. The game guides players through five everyday situations that can cause them to get upset. Children help their monster avatar to calm down by taking deep breaths and selecting a solution to their problem, before moving on to the next scenario. As a bonus, the app is full of resources for parents to help their little one’s develop coping skills and cultivate mindfulness.
Ages: 2+     Network: IOS + Android


How It’s Made

Why we love it: How It’s made is a show on the science channel that follows the production of different everyday items we all use everyday. The show is filmed and narrated with a rhythmic quality that is both soothing and captivating to young children. The abstract nature of the show means that you don’t have to worry about mature themes or images popping up unexpectedly. Seeing the visual process of assembling the items will peak your child’s interest and help with the development of their hand eye coordination, creativity and problem solving skills (2).
Ages: All Ages     Network: Science Channel


Super Simple Español

Why We Love It: Studies show that it is easiest for a child to learn a second language before the age of ten (3). Children under ten can absorb information much easier than teenagers and adults. Super Simple Español is a youtube channel that features popular nursery rhymes and other educational songs to help children learn Spanish while also learning about the world around them.
Ages: All Ages     Network: Youtube


Super Simple Songs

Why We Love It: Super Simple Songs is just as good as Super Simple Español, but in English! Help your little one learn colors, animals, letters and numbers, foods and more, all while developing a love for music and dancing. They even create convenient video playlists that you can put on for your little one without worrying about weird commercials or queuing up the next video.
Ages: All Ages     Network: Youtube


Disney Music Videos

Why We Love It: Music videos are much shorter, tell a more condensed story and provide your child with more sensory stimulation than traditional tv shows or movies. The musical element stimulates their language, motor skill and social-emotional development (1). Plus you can sing a long too, which your little one will love.
Ages: All Ages     Network: Youtube


PBS Kids

Why We Love It: PBS Kids is focused on creating quality educational entertainment for children. In addition to their programming, they have a website full of videos, games, songs and more fun activities to help your kids learn while they play. Unlike other online programs, PBS Kids is free to access and create an account, as are most of their apps. Most shows on their network have a corresponding app, each with unique themes and activities, most of which are free to download and use.
Ages: 4+     Network: Online, Free to Access


ABC Mouse

Why We Love It: ABC Mouse built its reputation on the claim that they can accelerate your child’s learning by unprecedented margins and those claims are backed up by teachers and educators who use ABC Mouse in their classrooms and as a resource library. It’s a paid service, but at $60 for the year, it’s easily worth the price, if your child engages with the program willingly. You can set learning goals, track your child’s progress, and focus on areas of improvement with a paid subscription and you can start them with a free 30 day trial to make sure the platform fits their needs.
Ages: 3+     Network: Online, Paid Subscription


Workout Videos

Why We Love It: workout videos are an often overlooked #momhack, especially if you’ve got children who require high levels of physical activity. Workout videos allow your kids to move their bodies in fun new ways, follow along with a group, and relieve some of that boundless energy. Youtube has tons of great options to fit every age and skill level and there are channels tailored for little ones, if the adult version is too intense. (Although, the idea is not really to get a proper workout, and more so to get some energy out and have some fun). A word of advice: set them up to do this activity in your backyard if you can, or make some room if they’ll be doing this inside. It’s a silly activity and can get kids worked up, so accidents may happen from time to time when we’re kicking too hard or not watching where we swing our arms, for example.
Ages: All Ages     Network: Youtube


Mega Machines

Why We Love It: This engineering and mechanics docuseries details the inner workings and day to day jobs of some iconic and monster sized machines.  Viewers get an inside look at how many different machines are built and how they run, including helicopters, boats, planes, trains, roller coasters, and other futuristic feats of engineering. This show appeals specifically to viewers interested in building or things that go vroom, but appeals to viewers of all ages, genders and backgrounds, making it a great option for the whole family (5).
Ages: 8+     Network: Science Channel


Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth

Why We Love It: Here We Are… is a short animated movie from AppleTV based on the book of the same name by Oliver Jeffers. The story follows a family as they celebrate Earth Day at a museum and learn more about the Earth than they ever dreamed, exploring far off places and learning about the wonders of our world. Themes include environmentalism, conservation, the bonds between families and the importance of instilling a love of learning in children,
Ages: 5+     Network: AppleTV


The Magic School Bus Rides Again

Why We Love It: Another updated classic many millennials will remember fondly, The Magic School Bus rides again follows the next generation of Frizzle as she leads the next generation of young scientists and explorers! The crew rides their magic bus all over the universe exploring the world through broad scientific ideas. The show emphasizes the importance of curiosity, taking chances and trying new things, and addresses social themes like honesty and taking responsibility for your actions. Science concepts are explored in broad terms so as not to overwhelm younger viewers, while still getting them excited about learning.
Age: 5+    Network: Netflix


BORD, Drawing Pad, Procreate

Why We Love It: If your child is a budding artist, consider allowing them to explore the world of digital art. Art is therapeutic and educational and can be a window for expression and exploration. There are options available for all age ranges, with BORD, imitating a classroom chalkboard, all the way to procreate for more advanced artists. 
Age: 2+    Network: iOS + Android

We used Common Sense Media’s comprehensive reviews to help us curate our list. They’re an amazing resource for parents to get detailed reviews on the media their children are consuming. Age recommendations for each activity reflect Common Sense’s recommendations.

What are some of your favorite screen time activities? Share them with us in the comments, and check out Common Sense Media for important information on what you’re child is watching. Looking for more ways to keep your kids entertained inside? You need our Indoor Survival Guide, packed full of games, activities and supplies you’ll need to keep full of activities for all ages and supply lists for kids of all ages!

SOURCES:
1/ https://www.brighthorizons.com/family-resources/music-and-children-rhythm-meets-child-development
2/ Construction Play – Benefits For Children & Early Yearsnewbyleisure.com › blog › 2018-09-06-construction-play-benefits-fo…
3/ What’s The Best Age For Learning A New Language? | Tech …www.techtimes.com › Home › Science
4/ https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/team-sesame-street-created-character-autism-180967218/
5/ https://www.commonsensemedia.org
6/ FEATURED IMAGE VIA KIDSSCREEN

How to Keep Your Kids Entertained Inside (Without Losing It!)

Hey Mama,

For most of us, winter is in full swing. Maybe that means snow days, maybe that means rainstorms but either way, most of your family is likely gonna be stuck indoors for long stretches during this time of year. It can be tough to keep it together during the winter, we get it. So we put together a little Cabin Fever Survival Guide to help you keep your little ones from driving you totally insane.

We broke it down into three parts: your survival kit, activities for little ones, and activities for bigger ones.

Survival Kit
Essential items to have on hand during the winter time. These items are versatile, can be used in a variety of entertaining ways, inexpensive, easy to find, and won't destroy your home. 
  1. Rolls of tape (painter’s or gaffer’s tape are best; they’re sturdy and easily removable)
  2. Toilet paper
  3. Contact paper
  4. Bubbles
  5. Washable markers
  6. Balloons
  7. Rechargeable batteries
Activities for Little Ones
These activities are great for entertaining little ones under the age of 5. They involve games that build on fundamental skills your little ones are still learning and are designed to keep them engaged at their skill level. 

Sensory blankets (LIN/PIC) are great for babies at tummy time but the activities can easily be adjusted to fit your little ones needs. This DIY spin on it, (LINK/INCLUDE PIC) is a great way to adapt your activities and the modular design means you can rearrange the pieces to create sensory trails around your house. BONUS TIPS: If you live in a small space, make this activity a bit more exciting by allowing kids access to normally restricted areas, like the bathroom or kitchen. Giving kids a little more room to run, especially when they’ve been inside for several consecutive days can make the long stretches a little easier for both of you. 

USE OLD NEWSPAPERS TO TURN YOUR KITCHEN FLOOR INTO A GIANT CANVAS. PHOTO VIA JLHEUER.WORDPRESS.COM

‘Indoor Chalk’: Set your little one up with a paper covered floor and a few washable markers and let them go crazy! Giant drawing paper can be expensive but the blank side of wrapping paper works great as a substitute. Tape it to the floor of a whole room for fun that lasts a little longer. If you’re little ones are young enough, you can get away with newspaper rather than wrapping paper. Also, make sure the makers are washable and non-toxic cause it’s inevitable that they will draw on something they’re not supposed to and put the markers in their mouth, so just make it easy on yourself. 

Contact paper: there are tons of activities out there centered around contact paper. Its mild stickiness is great for sensory development and the fact that little things stick to, but easily come off is endlessly entertaining. Tape it to the wall and let baby stick things to it to exercise their fine motor skills, or use it with salt and paint for a messier, but fun experiment with color and texture. 

Color scavenger hunt: This is a great way to help baby learn their colors and have fun at the same time. Use those old paint sample cards we’ve all got stuffed into a drawer somewhere (or grab some from anywhere paint is sold) and use them to do a color scavenger hunt around your house. Stick with primary colors if you’re little one is still learning and add more shades as they get better at color spotting.

Simon Says is a great way to engage with little ones and let them get some energy out! Give them silly commands and watch them giggle endlessly.

Treasure Hunt: hide various toys around your house and have you little one hunt for them. Puzzle pieces, small toys, their favorite stuffed animal. Give them hints to help them if they get frustrated and hide them in silly places to give little ones and extra laugh.

Bubbles! Little ones go crazy over them and big ones will get a kick out of blowing them and driving the little ones mad! Fun for everyone

Youtube is great for little ones too! Instead of complicated dance videos, little ones will love sing alongs! We love to play sing alongs for our little one’s and they’re happy for as long as I let them rock out. They’ll dance and sing along and there are tons of song options out there to keep it educational and fun. ‘Super Simple Espanol’ is our favorite channel.

Activities for Bigger Ones:
These activities are best for children over the age of 5. Some of the games on this list involve critical thinking or controlled motor skills and other advanced stages of development your little one may not have reached yet. If you have children in different age groups, many of these activities can be adapted for both of your children to participate.

Activity dice: these giant dice are super easy to make, and you can customize the activities according to your child’s needs and interests. Make them act like an animal or imitate a superhero, whatever they would engage with best HERE’S a printable template to help you get started with some blank spaces for customization. BONUS ACTIVITY! Let your kids color them + make a few of their own activities of their own. Then play with them! They’ll go crazy over seeing you do whatever silly thing they came up with. 

PHOTO VIA RYSELTOYS.COM

Balloon Games: Balloons are the best! And there’s lots of things you can do with them! Ballon jumpers: tape the balloon to the ceiling, challenge them to reach it, then raise it up a little each time they hit it successfully. 

  • Balloon Volleyball
  • Don’t let the balloon touch the ground 

Color scavenger hunt: This activity is great because it can easily be adapted for older kids. While the little ones work on finding one color, bigger ones can take the whole sheet of shades and match each one. Time them, make it a contest, or offer prizes to help engage more reluctant kids.

Obstacle course crawl: This one takes a bit of setup, but is a great way for older kids to keep busy during those bad weather spells. Using rolls of toilet paper or streamers and tape, create an intricate obstacle course for your kids to find their way through. Use a variety of heights and angles to make it more challenging for bigger ones. 

VIA MARIETTA SPY SHOP

Traditional obstacle course: This is a great way for your bigger ones – and little ones too – to get some energy out. Try to think of higher energy activities if your child needs the run around a bit. If you’re working within a small space, these activities don’t necessarily need a ton of room. Below is a list of obstacle course activities that don’t need as much room.

  • Balancing on one foot
  • Jumping jacks
  • Hula hoops
  • Distance Toss
  • High Jump
  • Knee raisers
  • Indoor Bowling

Charades: There are many versions of this classic game and they’re all tons of fun for all ages! On scraps of paper, write down a bunch of random people, places and things for you and the kids to act out. You can even let them add in a couple for increased engagement. Then, take turns pulling from a hat and acting them out. Make it a competition and add points for bigger-er ones. 

VIA TEACHMAMA.COM

Youtube: This one is a life saver and a huge resources for most adults i know. University of Youtube is also a great way to keep your kids engaged and active. Que up fun workout videos for them, like Billy Blanks classic tye bo tapes, or dance tutorials, but only if you’re prepared for them to bust those moves out every. single. Chance. They. get. For the next 6 months. BONUS: for an added laugh, show them vintage dances like the running man. They’ll think it’s the funniest shit ever. Let’s be real, it is. 

Indoor bowling: this is hours of fun, with very little clean up. Let your bigger ones use red plastic cups to create pins, and a small light ball as the ball. Set your kids u with a score card so they can play a full game and offer a prize to the winner, like choice of dessert or dinner.