For the last thirteen years organizations in Pulaski, Sandy Creek, Orwell, and Richland have invited families in for free hands-on non-electronic activities during the school vacation week. Last year all activities were canceled at the last minute because COVID hit. This year we’re offering materials and suggestions for at-home activities and also offering a few outdoors, socially distanced and small-group activities. All are free of charge. Most are still non-electronic, but we recognize that during the pandemic people are connecting more through screens, so you’ll find some screen activities here too.
Scroll down for a list of activities and resources for Screen-Free Week and beyond. Remember, all these organizations offer activities and resources throughout the year.
What is Screen-Free Week?
Screen-Free Week (formerly TV Turnoff Week) is a giant celebration, a chance to disconnect from your TV, computer and other recreational electronics and reconnect with your family, your community and the natural world. Make time to play, read, volunteer, learn, hike or create. The idea is to really do things, not view someone else doing them.
Try this experiment:
The average American spends 7 hours a day on recreational screentime (TV, Facebook, YouTube, chat rooms, video games…) How about you? Keep a log of how you spend your free time during a normal week, including all the screens you use. Make notes of screen-free things you wish you had time for. During Screen-Free Week, step away from your screens during your free time and do some of those screen-free things. When the week is over, think about which activities satisfy you most.
Free Screen-Free Week activities in Pulaski, Sandy Creek, Orwell, Altmar, and Williamstown:
Family activity packets:
You can pick up free books, craft materials, and more at the following locations. Please wear a mask when going indoors.
Ainsworth Memorial Library (6046 S. Main Street, Sandy Creek, 315-387-3732) is giving away free children’s books (for ages 0-17) and early literacy activity booklets (for ages 0-5) during Screen-Free Week while supplies last. The Library also participates in a Museum Pass program where patrons can checkout passes at free or reduced rates to the following places: The Children’s Museum of Oswego, The Empire Pass for NYS Parks, and The Wild Center at Tupper Lake.
The Pulaski Public Library (4917 No. Jefferson Street, Pulaski, 315-298-2717) offers craft materials and book/activity kits. Call ahead to make an appointment to pick one of these up.
Take and Make Craft Bags let you paint your own sun catcher, birdhouse, and more.
Story Hour Bags contain 5-7 books and activities on a theme. Themes include dinosaurs, pirates, outer space, and more.
Expanded hours for the break week: Monday 3/29 10AM-2PM, Tuesday 3/30 2PM-6PM, Wednesday 3/31 2PM-6PM, Thursday 4/1 10AM-1PM
The Salmon River Fine Arts Center (4848 N. Jefferson Street, Pulaski, 315-298-7007, email@example.com)offers over 75 assorted kits designed for kids ages 5 – 15. Each kit includes all materials needed, as well as step by step project instructions and ideas. Projects include fun fish mixed media kits, solar printing, acrylic painting, bandana painting, sponge painting, watercolor projects and even coffee painting! The art center will extend their hours for the week to allow more time for families to come in and pick up their kits– while supplies last.
Available time to pick up free kits:
March 26, Friday 1 pm – 5 pm
March 27, Saturday 10 am – 1 pm
March 29, Monday 10 am – 1 pm
March 30, Tuesday 10 am – 1 pm
Selkirk Shores State Park‘s office will be open from Monday 3/29 -Sunday 4/4, 7am – 3:30pm, offering the following items:
Take-n-Make Pinecone Birdfeeder Craft: Stop by the park office to pick up a kit to take home and make your own pinecone birdfeeder!
Jr Naturalist Patch: Did you finish some of the activities from your Jr Naturalist Booklet? Then bring your booklet to the park office to show us and pick up your FireFly Patch! Didn’t get an activity booklet? You can get one of those at the office too.
Activities out in the community:
Selkirk Shores State Park (7101 State Route 3, Pulaski, 315-298-5737)will host several self-guided opportunities during Screen Free Week. Be sure to pick-up color-coded maps for your Screen Free Week adventures in the park. The office will be open from Monday 3/29 -Sunday 4/4, 7am – 3:30pm.
Storybook Trail: Go for a walk along the Frog Pond trail to enjoy the book Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring by Kenard Pak.
Scavenger Hunt: Search along the Marsh Rim Trail for the items on the scavenger hunt in the Screen Free Week goody bag you got in school. If you don’t have one, stop by the office to pick one up.
Agents of Discovery Augmented Reality Game: Look for signs of spring along the trails at Selkirk Shores as you complete the “Selkirk Shores Signs of Spring Mission” using the FREE Agents of Discovery app. Search for the app from your favorite app store; then download the free mission. We suggest doing this at home using WiFi so you don’t use data. Once on your smart, GPS enabled device it will not use data to complete the Mission.
St Francis Farm: You’re welcome to come and walk the nature trails through woods and fields and by ponds and streams at St Francis Farm, 136 Wart Road, Orwell NY (this is the Wart Road between Rte. 22 and Rte. 48.) Trails are marked with blue dots on the trees so they’re easy to follow. Magnifying glasses, binoculars, and identification aids will be available on the front porch of the house. Please stay outdoors and keep a safe social distance from other groups of people. If you’d like a guide for your nature walk, contact us ahead of time: 315-298-2844 or firstname.lastname@example.org
If you come around dusk and go up to the top of the hill above the parking lot you may be able to hear and see woodcocks doing their courting displays. Woodcocks are football-sized birds with upside-down brains and eyes way up in the tops of their heads. In spring the males do displays where they bow in four directions while buzzing loudly, then fly spiraling up into the air, up to 200 feet, with the wind whistling in their wings, then come down in zigzags, singing. Contact us to find out whether or not the woodcock displays have started.
The Half-Shire Historical Society (1100 County Rte 48, 315-298-2986), will offer free family tree starter kits at their site and assistance with family tree research all week. There will be a special drawing that week for guests to register to enter for a free ancestry.com DNA kit. Hot chocolate and treats will be available all week during normal hours Monday-Friday 10am -3pm and on the weekend. Please wear a mask and practice social distancing.
Screen-Free Week: The Big Picture
Screen-Free Week is a national and international celebration. Here’s the basic intro from the Center for a Commercial-Free Childhood’s Screen-Free Week page:
“A healthy childhood depends on a surprising thing: play! Through creative play, kids explore their physical world, build their curiosity, and expand their imaginations. But often, time spent on ad-supported screens displaces the kind of creative play kids need to thrive.
It was this displacement that worried Henry Labalme and Matt Pawa when they created TV Turnoff Week in 1994. Over the years, millions of kids and families joined Henry and Matt in turning off their TVs and going outside, playing, and having screen-free fun. In 2010, TV Turnoff Week became Screen-Free Week and it found a new home at Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.
During Screen-Free Week, kids and families can unplug and reconnect with the world around them. An hour that was once dedicated to TV can become an hour of make-believe, art, reading, or enjoying nature. Both parents and kids can use this week to reconsider the value of screen-based entertainment in their lives and establish year-round screen-free habits.”
(National Screen-Free Week has different dates, as you’ll see if you visit the page linked above. But here in the Pulaski area we celebrate during the school vacation.)
More Screen-Free information for families can be accessed here. If you’re trying to figure out what to do at home during Screen-Free Week, check out this list.
Screen-Free Week isn’t just for kids. To learn more about how screen time can affect health and relationships for adults, click here.
William Powers writes about ways of reconsidering screen time, and about the value of screen-free time, in his book Hamlet’s BlackBerry, available locally through interlibrary loan. There’s a short article about that here.