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Family Activities To Replace The TV

Updated on May 8, 2015

Time Well Spent - Capitalizing On Family Time

Time is a precious commodity, and our children are even more precious. Considering the hours spent at school, sports practices, dance classes, and club meetings, how much time do we actually get to spend with our children? The short answer is, far to little!

So how can we capitalize on that time? How can we make sure that the family time that we have is family time well spent?

To begin with, turn off the television. The average American spends 5 hours a day watching TV. While TV time is probably entertaining, possibly educational, it is positively passive. Rather than being active and participatory, a passive activity is something a person does singularly through observation.

Not to mention, the average household has 3 televisions. This makes it easy to split up for entertainment. The kids can watch the Disney channel, while Dad catches up on his favorite show, and Mom watches hers.

Even when the whole family can decide on a single show, there is little to no interaction during the broadcast. Passively watching television together as a family might afford you and your family something to talk about after a particular episode, but the actual time spent watching TV is time where the TV is getting everyone's collective attention.

If you are interested in capitalizing on the precious time you have to spend with your children, consider the following five ideas that will encourage interaction and help build family relationship.

Creating Memories

Create A Scrapbooking

Have you ever wondered what to do with all those pictures, ticket stubs, and programs you've collected over the years? Well, dig out all those items you've stashed away and start a scrapbook with your family!

Everyone can work together to contribute and select pictures and momentos to include. You can either have each family member work on a separate page, or work collectively on pages. There are no rules, as long as everyone is around the work table having fun.

Children of all ages can participate in this activity. Even if your child is too young to handle scissors or work with glue, they can participate by coloring, painting and adding stickers to create backgrounds for pages.

You can even work on more than one scrapbook at a time. You can create individual books for each child. You can make scrapbooks for all your family trips. You can have sports or hobby themed books. Or, you can create a family history book. The only limit to the options is your own imagination!

Create A Photo Album

What if you don't care to cut, color, and paste? Well, scrap the scrapbook idea and opt for creating a photo album. Collect all the pictures that you'd like to include and then work as a family to organize the album.

Again, you can opt to create albums celebrating individual family members, or commemorating a special event or trip. Create a visual timeline, or throw caution to the wind and create visual themes.

Wether you chose to create a scrapbook or a photo album, either way, you have the opportunity to make new memories while preserving and sharing the old ones!

A Novel Idea - Reading Can Be Interactive

Sitting quietly, turning the pages of your favorite book is not the only way to enjoy a good story. Reading can be an interactive activity that engages the entire family.

Being Dramatic

If all your family members are old enough to read, don't just take turns reading aloud, be creative and plan a dramatic reading. Choose a family member to be the narrator, they will read the majority of the story. Then select other family members to read the dialogue of specific characters. Try to imagine the voice and personality of your character and really bring them to life when its your turn to read.

This activity requires multiple copies of the same book. A family of four can easily share two books. This means you can purchase one copy for the family library and check out another copy from your local library for free.

Sometimes Its OK To Act Out

If you have younger children, choose an age appropriate book and assign characters to the younger family members. They can then listen for the action words and mime, or act out, the actions of their character. If your children enjoy playing dress-up, this is a wonderful opportunity to dig out all those costumes and props to really bring the story to life! Older children can take turns reading, while parents video or take pictures (for that scrapbook you're all putting together!)

Something To Talk About

Be sure to engage your family members in dialogue. Ask your children if they would choose to do differently than the characters in the story. Ask which character they identify most with and why. You can also talk about any morals or ethics within the story you are reading. Encourage your children to ask questions as well.

Unlike watching a television show, you can pause a story at anytime you believe discussion is merited or desired by the other family members.

Suggested Reading To Get You Started

Ages 5-8

  • Little Bear's Visit by Else Holmelund Minarik
  • The Miniature World of Marvin And James by Elise Broach
  • Corduroy by Don Freeman
  • Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  • Alexander And the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Ages 7-10

  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
  • The Borrowers by Mary Norton
  • The Boxcar Children by L. Kate Deal

Ages 10-13

  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry
  • Charlie And The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • Island Of The Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Chronicles Of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Ages 12-14

  • The Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

Your Favorite Game

What game do you enjoy the most?

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Brain Power Builder

Its All Fun & Games - Plan A Game Night

Playing games is more than just a fun way to spend an evening together. A family game night means there's no losers. Playing a game promotes social interaction that is beneficial to your relationships and also promotes higher brain function for all ages. That's a win-win situation!

Board Games To Broaden Your Child's Skills

Playing games with preschool aged children helps them develop academic skills, such as counting. Matching games also help improve concentration and memory. Games allow young children the opportunity to learn good social skills, like taking turns, as well as building character, patience, and good sportsmanship.

Board Games For Building Brains

School aged children can play games that stretch them even further. Games that require strategy and logic actually improve IQ scores and brain speed. A study conducted by Sylvia Bunge, a Professor of Psychology at the University of California at Berkley, found that elementary students that played board games twice a week showed improved fluid reasoning and speed of cognition. The average student showed a 32% improvement on their IQ test after eight weeks of playing games. Fluid reasoning and cognition are brain functions that occur in regions of the brain that were previously thought to be unmalleable, or unable to adapt.

Recent research has supported that the brain is like a muscle, the more we use it and challenge it, the better it functions. This means that even adults are winners when they choose to spend their free time playing games.

Great Games To Get You Started

Families with preschool aged children:

  • Chutes And Ladders
  • Uno Moo
  • Concentration
  • Go Fish
  • Old Maid

Families with school aged children:

  • Set
  • Qwirkle
  • Skip Bo
  • Blokus
  • Clue

Video Gamers Are Winners Too

Ninety percent of school aged children play video games. But wait, their parents are not far behind with seventy percent of the heads of the household playing video games as well. Rather than playing separately, families can enjoy an evening of video gaming together.

Some game systems now include an option for motion detection so players are no longer tethered to a cord, or bound to the couch. You can enjoy everything from golfing, to dancing, to battling it out with lightsabers.

Recent studies have found that video gaming also has brain building benefits. Investing in multi-player games and extra controls is a great way to share the love of gaming as well as improve hand-eye coordination, cognitive speed, and other brain functions.

The following video explains how video game benefits are being studied to better understand how to capitalize on video gamings ability to improve vision and brain function.

Winning With Video Games

Choosing The Right Video Game

When selecting a video game for the family, be sure to consider the age of your youngest family member. Not only should the content of the game be appropriate, but you want to ensure that the skill level required is not beyond younger children.

The catalogue of available games is ever changing, making a fairly large selection available in both the new and used markets. To help you make an informed decision on your next video game purchase, check out the reviews for the title you are interested in at CommonSenseMedia.org. This website is free to use and provides helpful information about content that exceeds what is provided by the manufacturer.

Dancing Games Are A Great Way To Get Off The Couch

Family Fun For All

Family is forever, but family time is precious, and oftentimes too short. So try to capitalize on every moment by engaging in activities that will create memories, promote relationship, and encourage personal development.

And of course, have fun while you're at it!

Join the discussion on family activities...

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    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 

      3 years ago from the short journey

      Great topic covered in an interesting manner. Good for you for encouraging important family activities.

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