Changes to Screen-Free Week for 2024 and beyond!

Changes to Screen-Free Week for 2024 and beyond!

Thank you so much for being a part of Screen-Free Week in the past or your new interest in our event! At Fairplay, there are so many things we love about Screen-Free Week: the real life connection, the giggles, the chances to explore new things.

We also love how unique each celebration is. Last year’s celebrants hosted game nights, put on magic shows, had tea parties, and read lots of books. Some people celebrated in May while others found it easier to unplug during school vacation. To allow for even more unique participation, we’ve made some changes to Screen-Free Week, making it even more flexible than ever!

The new! Screen-Free Week:

  • Can be celebrated anytime! We’ve removed the dates from many of our resources so that your celebration can happen when you want and where you want. You can always feel free to celebrate during the first full week of May (next year, it’s May 6-12, 2024), but you don’t have to!

  • Can be celebrated anywhere! Our robust resource library is filled with resources to help you host a celebration or celebrate yourself, whether at home, at your library, at school, at a business, and more! The resource library will remain available and FREE!

  • Doesn’t require registration. We’re making participating as simple as possible: no need for registration or pledges through our website.

  • Can be renamed at your discretion. Many people have expressed that the name just doesn’t work for them anymore. We don’t care what you call the week (okay, maybe not “We Love When Big Tech Companies Monetize Kids Week”) as long as you celebrate!

This year, you’ll see fewer emails from us promoting Screen-Free Week, but the spirit remains the same. Plus, we’re still here for you– email us at with your questions!

Happy unplugging!

Screen-Free Week 2023: You did it!

Screen-Free Week 2023: You did it!

That’s a wrap on Screen-Free Week 2023!

It was another great year, with more than 33,000 people pledging to participate or attending a registered Screen-Free Week event (and thousands more participating on their own). All told, our marketing efforts were seen by close to a million people!

People from across the world joined us for Screen-Free Week 2023, from the US and Canada, as well as Mexico, UK, Scotland, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Poland, Netherlands, Spain, Brazil, Columbia, Nigeria, Cyprus, Pakistan, India, Cameroon, Fiji, and Australia.

Our largest event series continues to be in Wisconsin, where Screen Free Week Washington Ozaukee hosted a whopping 19 events including a King’s coronation tea party and a story walk (pictured).

Families of all shapes and sizes participated this year, spending time outside and in, and going on adventures in their community. For example…

We went to the Children’s and History Museums as well as the Science Center. We went to the park, we learned a lot of new card games and played some board games. We generally just enjoyed each other’s company.

-Devyn Shaffer

Hundreds of schools got in on the action this year too! Roanoke Ave Elementary School started their week with a “Read Aloud Milk and Cookies Night.” Ben Franklin Elementary School painted rocks for the school garden and brought in an ice cream truck. Mathewson Elementary School had a magic show.

Perhaps our biggest success this year was the growth in events sponsored by libraries and librarians around the world (have we mentioned lately that we love libraries?), as well as book publishers, many of whom offered discounts on their titles throughout the week.

The WWP Library in Farmingdale, NY collected pledges for kindergarteners (pictured) and did crafts. The Berkhamsted School Library in England had Screen-Free Bingo and games. Bronxville Public Library produced a “May the Fourth: Star Wars Lego Challenge.” Chilton Public Schools District Librarian, Sue Salzsieder produced a full week of events with a swim night (pictured above) and a chance to design your own couch potato (pictured right)!

This year’s Screen-Free Week also held some surprises for us! A host of new types of organizations, companies, and individuals participated in the week, like Wi-Fi free coffee shops, grocery stores, cabin rentals, healthcare systems, pediatricians, travel agents, workout studios, toy companies, IT and cellular service providers like US Cellular! Even a police department and heating and plumbing company participated!

We’re thrilled to see that the idea of Screen-Free Week resonates with so many different types of people!

Lastly, we want to thank our 2023 event partners—Let Grow, The Digital Wellness Institute, The American Academy of Pediatrics, and Children’s Book Week—for their support of this year’s event. We’re also sending a big shout out to our many awesome endorsing organizations. We appreciate every tweet, Facebook post, Instagram story, or email mention you sent out on our behalf!

Don’t forget! If you participated in this year’s Screen-Free Week, we’d love to hear how it went (doing so will enter you in a drawing to receive a free book!) Our online feedback form will be open until Sunday, May 21!


Search for Treasure Everyday: Have Fun as a Family Without Screens

Search for Treasure Everyday: Have Fun as a Family Without Screens

Each year, we invite the authors from our Screen-Free Children’s Booklist to contribute to our blog, to illustrate why unplugging from screens is important to them! In this post, republished from Lawley Publishing with permission, Treasure Hunt author Stephanie Wildman offers some awesome screen-free activities and discusses how she uses the book to inspire creativity! Also be sure to check out Stephanie reading Treasure Hunt here and additional resources for use with the book here. Treasure Hunt is illustrated by Estefania Razo. También en español (squeda del Tesoro).

by Stephanie Wildman, author of Treasure Hunt


Screens are everywhere in modern life. From television to smart phones to computers, children see us engaging with screens. Naturally, children want to know what screens are about and want to watch, too.

Treasure Hunt character Luis holds up clues to his younger siblings.

Doctors have found that too much screen time is not healthy for cognitive, social-emotional, and overall development. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting digital media use to no more than 1 hour a day for ages 2 to 5. A Journal of American Medical Association 2019 study showed screen time adversely affects brain development in pre-school-age children. (Find that article here:

A 2022 study by the same authors in Scientific Reports further reinforced concerns about brain structure and functions, even while recognizing that the use of screens has continued to expand. (Find that article here:

We all understand that the screens are here to stay. When used judiciously, they can provide a kind of downtime for children and parents. Nonetheless, we all want to avoid overdoing the screens for our children and ourselves. We want kids to read books, not just stare at screens. We want them playing outside, moving and being active, and engaging indoors with puzzles, board games, cards, baking or cooking, as well as reading books. We want them to search for the treasure in every day, not just spend time glued to a screen.

Providing an alternative to screen time can be challenging. In this post I want to share some activities my family developed. These ideas, generated during the pandemic, led to the story in Treasure Hunt, illustrated by Estefania Razo, where Luis, the older brother, creates a fun substitute for his twin siblings’ screen time using empty toilet paper rolls and a cardboard box.

Crafts with Empty Toilet Paper Rolls and Cardboard Boxes

When parents worked from home on screens and the oldest of my grandchildren attended school via zoom, I spent a lot of time with the youngest, who would otherwise have been attending pre-school.

He and I created puppets out of toilet paper rolls. We wrote a story using the puppets about a little boy who saved the rainbow after overhearing someone tell a child to “eat the rainbow.” With the help

of a wise wizard, the boy in the story travelled to all the rainbow colors’ houses to warn them of the danger. At each home, the boy found delicious fruits and vegetables in the gardens that matched that rainbow color. It turned out that “eating the rainbow” meant fashioning a diet full of these colors – the rainbow wasn’t in danger after all! We drew illustrations for the gardens and created a puppet theater out of an old cardboard box to put on a show for the family.

Websites with ideas for creating puppets out of toilet paper rolls abound, findable with a simple search. Results will include YouTube videos and puppets ranging from simple birds and animals to copyrighted movie characters. Encourage your children to tell you a story with puppets or make puppets to fit a story.


Treasure Hunting

Whenever the grandkids came to my house for a sleepover and I had bought them small gifts, I would hide these items throughout the house. Searching for these gifts was just as much fun, if not more, than opening the gift itself.

Because of their age difference, I had the grandkids hunt as a team, as Luis does in the story, so that the oldest wouldn’t automatically win every time. Each person finding the treasure (usually the oldest, but not always) would stand in the center of the room without revealing the location of the hidden object.

Only when all searchers met in the middle could the hiding spot be disclosed by the one who had found it first. They especially delighted in hunts where grandpa joined in and the kids found the treasure before he did.

Craft supplies (like the ones Luis hid for the twins), stickers, and pens are all fun objects to hide. To minimize wear and tear in the house, we had rules like “it’s in plain sight, so you can’t move anything” or “you can only open cabinets below your chin” or “no closets.”

With the found treasures, in addition to puppets, you can create a blank book with paper and staples for stickers and drawings. Have your child draw and use stickers to tell a story. You can add words if the children aren’t writing themselves yet.


Write a Poem

If your child isn’t drawn to a story, try a poem. Yes, really! You can create a “fill-in-the-blank” poem template like the one below or make up your own. For this example poem, give the instruction to write about “your important person” (mother, father, grandparent, aunt, caregiver). Note the last line should end with the important person’s identity like “She is my mother.” The first line should be a descriptive noun, like “protector,” “influence,” “comfort,” or “encourager.”

She is my __________________.
When I am as sad as ever,
She _______________________.
When I go crazy like a bucking bronco,
She _______________________.
When I go to a friend’s house,
She _______________________.
With the rising sun I see her _______________.
And as it sets, I see her _____________________.
I see her talking on the phone,
and I feel __________.
I want to tell her I love her.
She is my _______________.

Another fun idea for older children is creating a reverso poem, where the first half of the poem repeats in reverse as the last half of the poem. Picture book author and poet Marilyn Singer offers this example in her blog post on the topic (which you can find here:

A cat
a chair:

A chair
a cat.

In a reverso, the poet changes capitalization and punctuation to make the words meaningful.

For a tour de force of this genre, I recommend Amah Faraway by Margaret Chiu Greanias, illustrated by Tracy Subisak, about a child’s visit to a grandma and the grandma’s visit to the child.

Read, Read, Read

Reading books with children, of course, provides a non-screen focus with wonderful time together.

Many of the books available through Lawley Publishing have educational materials available, which you can do as an activity after reading the book. For example, the extensive resource guide for Pigs Dancing Jigs by Maxine Rose Schur, illustrated by Robin DeWitt and Patricia DeWitt-Grush, includes activities aimed at Pre-K through first grade that cover every letter of the alphabet, even X! (Find it here: ). You can find the educational material under the “Resources” tab at the top of the Lawley Publishing website. Activities, including coloring pages, for Treasure Hunt can be found here:


Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies


  • 1 stick Butter
  • 1/4 c. Apple Sauce
  • 1 c. Honey
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Dark Baking Cocoa
  • 2 ½ c. Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 1/3 cup quality Chocolate Chips (I favor Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In large bowl, cream together butter, apple sauce, and honey. Beat eggs in a separate bowl and then mix in.
  3. Add cocoa, flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt and stir until combined. Stir in chocolate chips
  4. I use two spoons to create balls on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Baking should also work with parchment or a greased sheet as well.
  5. Bake for 9 -13 minutes, depending on your oven.


Sometimes I add 1 tsp. of mint or vanilla. You can also use this recipe to make 6-8 giant cookies.

So skip the screens; read some books; write stories and poems; bake some cookies; and search for treasure in every day.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephanie Wildman is the author of Treasure Hunt (illustrated by Estefania Razo; translated into Spanish as Búsqueda del Tesoro by Cecilia Pópulus-Eudave) and Brave in the Water (illustrated by Jenni Feidler-Aguilar; translated into Spanish as Valiente en el Agua by Cecilia Populus-Eudave).

Meet Our New Screen-Free Week Coordinator

Meet Our New Screen-Free Week Coordinator

Hi, my name is Jen, and I’d like to find more joy in my life.

Care to join me? 

For more than 25 years I’ve been working in marketing, communications, and events, promoting all sorts of stuff to all sorts of audiences.

Most of this work happened during the digital revolution, which meant I was an early adopter and a promoter of countless digital platforms and tools. I trained CEOs to tweet, created endless piles of online content, and helped ordinary people become “influencers,” (my apologies).

By 2016, I noticed that many of these tools were starting to cause overt harm, compromising personal data, sowing societal division, increasing social inequities, monopolizing children’s time, fracturing attention-spans, and flooding the marketplace with some flat-out garbage information.

This sucked a lot of joy out of my life.

So, I made a change and shifted my focus to digital wellness consulting and eventually landed this unicorn gig where I get to promote…

  •     Opportunities for uninterrupted play and creativity
  •     Space for daydreaming and imagination
  •     Precious moments of social connection
  •     Lazy hours filled with deep rest and relaxation

They’re all things you can find during this year’s Screen-Free Week, an opportunity for you, your family, your co-workers, or your community to turn down the noise in your lives and find some room to breathe, think, and sit in the driver’s seat of your own life.

And that, my friend, is an idea that brings me oodles of joy.

Participate in this year’s Screen-Free Week however you like…

  •     Maybe your family goes a week without devices at the dinner table
  •     Maybe you have a roommate hide your gaming console for a few days
  •     Maybe you go for a walk every morning instead of scrolling the latest headlines
  •     Maybe you give up ALL your entertainment screens and take the big plunge for the whole week.

However it looks for you, however long it lasts, there are no wrong choices when designing your week. For me, it’ll likely involve banning Netflix binges and Buzzfeed quizzes. (Which means I’ll sadly never know which fruit matches my personality type!)

What else can I tell you about me?

I read an enormous amount. I love animals. I’m a mom. I live in Minnesota. (Yes, in January this is NO FUN. However, the summer here is truly magical. Everyone runs away “to the lake,” which is not terribly impressive considering we have 10,000 of them). Lastly, I’m pumped to go on this journey with you.

If you’ve read to the end, first know that this means I automatically like you. (Remember, reading is my jam!) Secondly, consider this post as a sign from the universe to join us May 1-7 for the 2023 Screen-Free Week!