Screen time is a major issue for today’s parents. But the type we’re talking about has nothing to do with your little one looking at an actual TV, tablet, smartphone or computer screen. Nope. These screen time activities are purely screen free.
Are you confused yet? Don’t be. Your young child is all about pretend play, and these ideas are meant to foster their sense of imagination. They also help your kiddo to get creative, problem-solve, communicate, and learn about subjects such as science. Instead of spending the day looking at a real screen, your child is going to get crafty and create one for acting out imaginative adventures.
Don’t worry. There are no techy skills needed for this type of TV — it’s purely pretend. What do you need to build this television? To start, you need a large cardboard box. Bonus points here if you use the box your real flat screen came in!
Draw a large rectangle on the front of the box, leaving at least a few inches on each side. Cut the rectangle out. The thick cardboard is probably too tough for little hands to cut, especially with safety scissors. This means you’ll have to do the cutting. But let your child do the decorating. They can use tempera paints, crayons or markers to color in the TV. Cut paper and use glue to add on buttons or to make a remote control!
Now it’s time for some brainstorming. Ask your child to list TV shows they might want to act out. This doesn’t have to only include your child’s favorite character shows (even though it can). Include talk shows, the weather report, or even the morning traffic report.
Get some education time in during your brainstorming session. Use show ideas such as “the weather” to bridge science concepts or use a talk show with firefighter guests to talk about community helpers. You get the idea here. Keep going and connect each show to a learning or knowledge topic.
Your child has the front of a TV to work with. But what about the background? Break out the crayons, pencils, and markers, and have your creative kid draw a few different backdrops onto butcher paper or unrolled white gift wrap.
What should your child draw? That depends on the TV show. For example, if they’re doing the weather, your child can draw a map of the country as a backdrop. They can then draw and cut out weather symbols, such as a sun or a cloud, from card stock paper. Use tape loops to attach these to the weather map. Other ideas to draw out onto the backdrops are an audience for a talk show, a favorite character for a cartoon, or cars to do the traffic-cast.
Prop the TV cut-out on a table and hang the backdrop on the wall behind the play area. Your child can get in the screen, literally. Of course, your young actor, newscaster, game show host, or talk show host needs the clothes to play the part. Raid the dress-up bin, or your own closets, to make cute costumes for each show.
When your child is dressed for their on-screen debut, it’s time to get down to business. Pretend play business, that is. Your child can stand behind the cardboard cut-out, and in front of the backdrop, and act out the chosen show.
Keep the pretend play going and “change channels.” Every time you change the TV channel, your child needs to change their costume and act as a new character. Keep going until your child has gone through the entire show set list.
Don’t forget your camera! Capture the precious pretend play moments in pictures that you snap as your child acts out each role. You can even add them all to a screen time photo book, with each page showing each TV role. Along with this, don’t forget to let the real camera roll. Take a video and replay it anytime your child wants to watch themselves on, and in, TV!