Back when I read the Tech-Wise Family (here) I marked this page.
It wasn’t so much tech-oriented, (although the purpose was to get kids away from technology), but it made me think about how I “entertain” our kids…or let them be entertained.

The author was talking about having a “creativity station” (I don’t think he used those words, but they have a nice ring, don’t you think?), where kids can put their creative juices to work, building and constructing beauty of all sorts.  And then he talked about how, when we do turn on screens for entertainment, we should choose things that we find satisfying.

I thought it was interesting since sometimes we let that slip over here.  We rarely turn on a television (although now we finally got remote controls that work so maybe that will change…), but my girls will watch some things on the family computer once in a while that drive me completely nutty even to listen to (I’m not a fan of laugh tracks:).  And this made me think about helping them gravitate to more inspirational/educational things. 

…Which description makes me sound like I’d like to look for something boring.  Ha!  But does that make sense?  There are some awesome things to watch in this world of ours.  Things that can help create discussions and thinking more outside of ourselves.  I have kept track of a list of lots of them as people have suggested things over the years, and now that I’m sitting here writing this post the only ones I can find are these few:

The Good Lie
Queen of Katwe
On the Way to School
or even little things like Grit: the power of passion and perseverance
(Sure, you can’t have a toddler watch a TED talk and hope they gain anything from that, but my kids are all old enough to really grasp stuff like that.)

Ok, that’s not a very long list, and most of those may make teenagers roll their eyes at the thought, but my point is that there are lots of cool things to watch in this world of ours…and I’d love to help my children take advantage of that.

I also realized that Lucy was reading some pretty sub-par books.  Sure, any time you can get a kid to read it’s a plus in my mine (Lucy is losing her love of reading and it makes me sad, but that’s an entirely different post).  We started reading this:

(Suggested by a blog reader…thank you!)

And we are loving it.  We read together at first because Lucy thought that it looked like the most boring book of the world, but we forced some time to read, with Claire too, and we’re loving that thing.

Anyway, lots of thoughts here, but just thought I’d share what’s been rolling around in my mind lately about “entertaining kids.” 

I think it’s so easy in our day and age to just throw our hands up and go with the flow and ease of letting screens and sub-par programming infiltrate into the lives of our children.  There is so much accessibility the good as well as to the mindless laugh-tracks, I’m just trying to veer more to things that bring on thinking….

…and creativity!

When Lucy’s friend was over the other day we pulled out all the paints that have been gathering dust and those girls put their creative juices to work.

This chapter in the book (and specific section in the first picture on this post) stood out to me specifically because as much as I have ideas to pull out the arts and crafts, or read a good book together, I have often been guilty of letting life get in the way.  Especially as my kids have grown older.

And it made me wonder:
Are my children just growing out of the creativity module of their childhood, or am I not nurturing it enough?  OR, are screens and technology taking over?  Are they taking over ME and making me quit trying to seek out the good entertainers?

When my children were little there was rarely a day we didn’t have paints pulled out or an evening when we weren’t huddled together reading a book, their fingers working magical creations in my hair as I read to them.  We were together more, and we were much more creative.

(Ha ha!  That is Max.)

Now, of course, a great deal of what has changed is that my children area older.  They are going from school to sports to church activities and staying up to all hours of the night working on homework.

And when they are together, they are often coming up with games like this:

(who can airdrop the funniest picture)

But they can still have creative and uplifting entertainment! (I actually thought the airdrop thing was pretty creative…:)

Sure it’s messy.  Sure it takes more work to figure things out and help kids gravitate to what will build more.  But that work only draws my heart closer to my children.


  1. I think we can forget when they are not in our physical presence that at school they get art and music and gym and are entertained doing activities like sports, church, lessons after school. Their downtime is actually very short. When they were little they didn’t have all that.

    1. I wish that was all still true. I know most schools in the very district my kids go to only have art and music because the PTA pays for it. Teachers tell kids to bring phones…it’s the battle of our lives

    2. You're right. There is power in boredom!

      And Unknown, I am so sad so many things are being striped out of schools because of funding. We have to fight to keep these good things going!

  2. Have you considered audio books for Lucy? We started listened to A GIRL WHO ATE THE MOON on a road trip and my middle schooler liked it so much we kept listening together at home.

    In our house we turn off all screens at 8:30 on school nights which is our youngest' bedtime. My husband cuddles up with the little one and my big boy (12) and I hangout in my room reading our books silently and then when he's ready to go to bed we listen to a book on tape or NPR podcasts together in his room and discuss. when he's all relaxed I say goodnight and leave. This routine works really well for us and allows some cozy time even though he's big

    1. She does love audio books when we listen together, but I'm trying to get her to listen more on her own. She just earned an iPod to listen to music with, and I'm hoping that leads into listening to books as well.

  3. I feel this, too! Thanks for writing another it. It reminds me of a podcast episode I listened to recently (my current favorite form of entertainment). The podcast is 3 in 30 Takeaways for Moms. Episode 3 with Jennifer Brimhall of Raise the Good talks about plugging in to great entertainment.
    I hope this helps someone else too.

  4. Shawni, as vision loss progresses the transition from print to Braille can be challenging until she becomes more skilled/efficient. Students of mine often use the Braille and Talking Books Library for Braille and audiobooks. Lucy’s TVI likely registered her. Ask if she has a BARD account, too. The audio books can also be downloaded as digital files with the BARD account and played on the BARD iPhone app, or on the BookPortPlus from APH (TVI can Order this). I have some ideas of how to help Lucy transition to reading books in Braille if she hasn’t yet mastered the Braille code. (I present on Braille Literacy at conferences). Please let me know if I can answer any questions.

    1. I would love any suggestions you could send my way! From what I understand, it's difficult to really read Braille successfully while you still have enough working vision, but it would probably be a good time to transition. For now she can still see the words, but I think it's tiring for her and therefore not as appealing as it always has been. Her TVI did register her for some audiobooks but she is so stubborn it's difficult to get her talked into listening. Send any ideas you may have on over! And thank you!!

  5. During the school year my kids have no screens Monday-Thursday I think it does help us all to be more creative! My kids are 12 and under, though, so we are in a different stage of life. I do make an exception to the rule on Wednesday nights since my husband has meetings late into the evening and we do a "What I Wonder" night via YouTube as a family. It is something we all look forward to! We have learned how bubble gum is made, the 10 tallest people in the world, etc., etc.

  6. We loved listening to almost anything that Jim Weiss put out. He is a storyteller and has several excellent CDs. My son would often draw pictures of what we heard.

  7. TedEd might have videos Lucy would find interesting. Also, as many above have mentioned, audiobooks may be a good change for her. Maybe if she can play with the dog or Legos while listening to a book, or listen along while reading the same book in Braille she would keep her love of books around for a long time.

  8. Take a look at The Good and the Beautiful, run by Jenny Phillips. It has a great book list ($5.00 online) full of amazing, uplifting, and inspiring books. My kids have loved almost every single one so far.

  9. Read Aloud Revival (website and podcast) has fantastic audio book and read aloud suggestions. I get most all of my reading lists from there. One book my teens LOVE is The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt. It's all about relationships (familial and friendship)…with some hilarious Shakespeare references. Great, great book!

  10. Thank you so much for all these suggestions, I have taken note of all of them and will have to report back about which ones speak to us! Keep other suggestions coming if anyone has any…there are so many good things to watch and read and fill our time with in this world!

  11. Thank you Shawni and everyone else for the many intriguing suggestions! I'm looking up some of them already. We have a system called Imagination Points that helps our kids exercise creativity while earning screen time. They choose a project to do from a list with these categories: drama, painting, crafts, music, drawing, creative writing, sculpture, and sewing. Each option has the number of screen time minutes listed. And we have a craft room filled with supplies. It works pretty well, though not perfectly. We have gotten some great projects and fun experiences from this family tradition.

  12. I love reading all these great comments and ideas! I wanted to share a couple of great book recommendations. The Lions of Little Rock by Kristen Levine and Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhaa Lai are excellent. I'd highly recommend them both for you to read with your girls. Both have compelling stories with a lot to think about and discuss. Another thing we love to do is watch the movie of a book we've read. Our next movie to watch is Gifted Hands (The Ben Carson Story). We're just waiting for it to be available through the library. 😉 We don't do any screens from Sunday-Thursday, which works well for us with kids ages 5-12. Though we will watch something together from time to time on a Sunday evening. I think there's something much different in collectively consuming screen media as a family rather than doing it alone. I love seeing kids come home from school and play play play! Thank you for sharing, Shawni! I picked up The Girl Who Drank the Moon from the library today. Looking forward to reading it!

    1. I totally agree that watching something together is different from watching it on your own. We are not television watchers but I'm actually trying to change my ways and watch some good things with my kids. There's so much good out there, so much to discuss and learn from! Thank you so much for the great suggestions, movies and books too!

  13. "Stuff You Should Know" is a great podcast for curious people of all ages; I highly recommend for you and the kids! It's random topics every episode ("How Octopuses Work," "How Barbie Works," "How Attila the Hun Worked," "How the Space Race Worked," "How Occam's Razor Works," etc.) and has 2 nice, light-hearted hosts who banter so well and are appropriate but not at all Barney-esque. It's twice a week and professionally done, and there are over 1,000 of archived episodes to choose from. Our comfort go-to is "let's listen to Josh and Chuck!" We hope to see them in a live show as a treat next time they come to our area. Great guys; great podcast.

    I'm so sorry Lucy's love for reading is waning; I hope she can still love learning, exploring, and entertaining new ideas, as well as reading in ways beyond sight.

    Wishing you all the best.

    1. Definitely trying out those podcasts! They sound awesome. Now I just need to come up with a road trip to have them all confined in one space for long enough to listen to all this good stuff together! 🙂

    2. Great! Yeah, ha, I mean.. we subway-commute to everything, so there's that headphone time, but also cleaning-house time is great, too. Just today we learned randomly about pterosaurs. 🙂 Happy long weekend (it's SO needed here)!

  14. I totally am guilty of letting my kids watch stuff that I wouldn't watch. It's not inappropriate per se (not violent or sexual or bad language, etc.) but it's inane and stupid. I can do better. There are great movies for kids that adults also enjoy. And I want to encourage family/social media viewing instead of solitary media viewing.

    We have recently enjoyed podcasts and audiobooks a lot more as my kids are getting older. We listened to the entire first season of The Unexplained Disappearance of Mars Patel (a podcast) on our trip to Yellowstone this weekend and we were all entertained!! My oldest (9) liked it the most, but the 7 and 4 year old listened, too, and the parents were hooked, too!!

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