Tips for a Screen-Free Summer

Kids playing soccer

Between remote schooling, long distance family gatherings, and streaming tv shows, screen time has dominated many children’s lives over the past few years. So, it’s more important now than ever to give kids an opportunity to get outside and explore their world without screens.

Luckily, here in Seattle we have plenty of opportunities to connect with nature and our community, especially during the summer. And no matter what you decide to do with your free time while school’s out, our Curiosity at Home activities have you covered for ways to connect your outings to some fun science activities. Print or preview these free online activities, and then try them out with your learner in conjunction with a day of exploration. No screens attached.

Get Out on the Water

What could possibly be a better way to spend a summer day than on the lake? The Center for Wooden Boats has great boat rental programs available, including their free rowboat rentals. Explore Lake Union, or visit the University of Washington (UW) Waterfront Activities Center and rent a canoe to row out and birdwatch at Union Bay Natural Area. Before you go, be sure to try out our Boats Afloat activity to design a boat of your very own, then compare the shape of your boat to the one that you borrow. 

Take a Hike

Two kids hiking

Depending on what difficulty level your group is interested in, there are lots of great hikes around the Seattle area. Consider exploring Discovery Park for beautiful vistas and beaches surrounded by native plants, or go to the UW Arboretum and encounter plants from far away. Or for a more rigorous hiking experience, take the Trailhead Direct bus to Little Si for a 1300-foot climb to a scenic view. Wherever you choose to walk, bring along a copy of our Pattern Hunt activity, and keep your eyes open for fractals, spirals, and other natural geometric shapes while you walk. 

Celebrate culture & music

Technically, the Festál event series runs all year long. But with the sun shining and outdoor events in full swing, summer is a perfect time to come to the Seattle Center for Festál events.  Celebrate culture and community through food, dance, and music, then later continue the fun by making your own musical instrument with our Curiosity at Home activities Rubber Band Box Guitar and Pin Plinker. View the Festál event page for more details

Play Ball

Whether your learner joins a league, plays pickup games with neighborhood kids, or enjoys a one-on-one game with you, sports are a great way to build confidence and make friends as well as improving physical fitness. Grab a ball and play a favorite sport with your kid, then try out a physics experiment with our Ball Bounce activity. Or learn how your respiratory system gives you the oxygen you need to keep playing with Make a Model Lung

See the Stars

Campground with tents and chairs

Camping and starry nights go together like chocolate and marshmallows – that is to say, it’s a perfect summer tradition. While the sky may get darker much later during the summer, the great weather for camping more than makes up for it. If your camper stays up late enough to stargaze, build a star finder or astronomical navigation tool. Then get away from the city for a night under the stars, and see what you can find together!

No matter how you decide to unplug this summer, Curiosity at Home is here to help you plan out some exciting STEM connections to your days out. With over 100 free printable activities for learners in grades K-8, families and educators can find activities to cater to any interest, and any potential outing. So choose an activity to take with you and get outside!