Educators encouraged kids to get real for a week. Some kids made signs to put over their families’ TV screens during the challenge.  photo by TL Brown
Educators encouraged kids to get real for a week. Some kids made signs to put over their families’ TV screens during the challenge. photo by TL Brown
Screen-Free Week was celebrated school-wide for the first time this year at Sisters Elementary School. The international event encourages kids, schools, and families to eliminate unnecessary screen time — and find hands-on activities to take its place.

“There was a lot of enthusiasm in our building and conversations with students about Screen Free Week,” said principal Joan Warburg.

Warburg and her staff printed out bingo cards that made the challenge into a game. In traditional Bingo, a caller picks letters and numbers at random, like “B-23” or “G-5.” Players cross out those spaces on their cards until they get five in

a row.

Instead, screen-free bingo features a real-life activity in each space: “Bake something” and “Build a fort,” for example. Players cross off spaces by actually doing each activity.

It gets kids excited to try out new things, and encourages families to play games and take hikes together. The result can be a lot more fun as a family. “I wish we had a bingo card once a month!” said parent Annie

Reed.

Reed’s daughter worked hard to black out her whole Bingo card. “She and her sister actually had lots of conversation and planning about how they were going to complete the tasks.”

Warburg reported that 50 percent of SES students turned in their Bingo cards with at least one Bingo finished. All those students earned a free recess.  

Two classrooms at SES earned over 130 Bingos, meaning that each student completed multiple lines on their Bingo cards. “Our five student winners, one from each grade level, received a gift card to Paulina Springs Books courtesy of SPTC,” she said.

Mrs. Holden’s class won first place for the most bingos won. They celebrated with an ice pop party, also provided by SPTC.  

SPTC is the Sisters Parent Teacher Community, a group that supports community awareness and educational enrichment at the elementary school. At a recent meeting, a friendly group of educators and parents discussed Screen-Free Week at Takoda’s.

They noted that the first school-wide try at SFW coincided with the NBA playoffs — and the Portland Trailblazers made it to the playoffs this year. Many adults and kids alike wanted to watch those basketball games.

SFW also coincided with a busy time of year at the school, Warburg observed. The schedule may change in the future.

“We are already beginning to plan next year’s Screen-Free Week,” she said.

More about the international Screen-Free Week initiative can be found at www.screenfree.org. Information, meeting schedules, and volunteer opportunities regarding SPTC can be found at www.sistersptc.

com.