Voluntown Elementary marks Screen-Free Week with carnival

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Voluntown - posted Mon., Jun. 17, 2013
Kyle, 10, takes steady aim at a stack of cans during the Voluntown Elementary School carnival that capped Screen-Free Week. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
Kyle, 10, takes steady aim at a stack of cans during the Voluntown Elementary School carnival that capped Screen-Free Week. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

Prying kids away from the television or computer screen, even for a few hours, isn’t easy. So when teachers at Voluntown Elementary School decided to organize a Screen-Free Week, they also decided to pack the weekday evenings with fun activities so that maybe, just maybe, students wouldn’t be tempted to flip the switch.

“It’s so hard when all they write about is video games and TV,” said Hailie Davis, the school’s Title 1 interventionist. She recalled a Screen-Free Week from her own school days, and decided to spearhead a similar program at VES, open to all students from the 3-year-olds in pre-K through eighth-graders.

Participating students did not have to sign a pledge, but there was some accountability, said Davis. “They had to keep track and check off days when they didn’t watch TV,” she said. Students also had to write about what fun activities they did instead of watching television.

To sweeten the pot, every night of the week featured a themed activity at the school. One day was board game night; another was craft night, complete with make-your-own pizzas and fruit skewers. One evening featured a picnic and hike into the woods with parents and teachers; another offered a story time, with kids attending in their pajamas, and a book swap, so children could share books they’d finished and expand their library of new books.

Friday night, which capped off the week, featured a backyard carnival at VES, complete with bouncy tent, ring toss, die-cast car “races” and softball throw.  Along with the carnival games and their token prizes, the final event featured pizza and popcorn for all.

Davis said that, all told, between 40 and 50 students participated in the nightly activities at school, but more than 100 kids and their families showed up for the carnival.


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