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Story published: 03-13-2013 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Unplugged entertainment....does it still exist?


By Paula Walter

Across the world, adults and children alike can be found glued to their televisions, video games, computers, laptops, electronic readers, iPads and cell phones. The majority of us are guilty of scrolling through our smart phones to check messages on social networks and responding to text messages while carrying on a face-to-face conversation with someone else. It has become the new norm for many. We have become a people dependent on technology not just for information and education, but also for entertainment.

What would happen if there was no electricity for a day or even longer? How long could we last without our gadgets and gizmos? Have you ever considered initiating a technology free day in your household? It did not take much digging to uncover a plethora of suggestions to keep adults and children alike entertained, all without the use of an electrical outlet.

The list of activities to keep our minds busy is endless. There are new languages to learn, old-fashioned books to be read and stories to be shared. Consider taking a yoga or dance class, plant and tend to a vegetable garden, or perhaps paint a mural on that blank wall in your hallway you pass each day on your way out to the garage. Perhaps you could create a memory scrapbook for your children, grandchildren or even aging parents as they fight dementia. Write down your childhood memories and share them with your loved ones. You and your family can create special times camping together, even in your own backyard. There are lightening bugs to catch, marshmallows to roast and stars to count. Consider building a fort with the youngest of your family members and watch their imaginations soar.

Special memories are built spending time together sitting around a kitchen table with an assortment of board games. These activities are not only fun, but also they build confidence, creativity and even boost problem solving skills. Some favorite board games for adults and children alike include Risk, Monopoly, Trouble, Clue, Sorry and the classic, Twister. For those who enjoy playing cards, games such as Crazy Eights, Go Fish, Old Maid and Snap offer hours of fun for kids of all ages. There are brainteasers, crossword puzzles, Sudoko, and old-fashioned puzzles of all shapes and sizes that challenge our brains.

Sometimes the messier the playtime, the more fun children have. Combine two cups of flour, one cup of salt, two tablespoons of vegetable oil and two tablespoons of cream of tarter. Now is the time to add in any food coloring, sprinkles or glitter to give your own homemade play dough some bling. After the ingredients are mixed well, pour in one and a half cups of hot, boiling water into the mixture. Mix the ingredients well until it forms dough. Pull out your cookie cutters and your children and grandchildren will be entertained for hours.

On this same vein of entertainment, making your own starch slime offers hours of messy fun. Add one-quarter cup of water, one-quarter cup of white craft glue and one-quarter cup of liquid starch. Pour the glue into a large bowl, add the water and mix well. Now is the time to put in food coloring if you want the slime to be colorful. You donít need a lot as approximately six drops will suffice. Add in the liquid starch and stir well. As your child plays with the slime, it stretches and is easier to work. When you are finished, the homemade slime stores well in a plastic zip lock bag.

Your child can create their own erupting volcano with baking soda and vinegar. With some play dough or clay, they can shape their volcano to include a dip at the top to hold the necessary ingredients to activate their own Mount Vesuvius. Insert a small container into the top; add baking soda, not baking powder, and some vinegar. The baking soda reacts with the acidic vinegar. Carbon dioxide escapes, causing the volcano to erupt. Your kitchen may be worse for the wear, but these experiments offer hours of fun. It goes without saying but parental supervision and guidance is a definite must.

With warmer weather on the way, consider pulling the bicycles out of the garage or basement, give them a good brushing off, shake off the cobwebs from the helmets and head out to explore Johnson County. With plenty of hills and mountains to ride, the area offers beautiful scenery as you make your way up and down the roads. The Creeper Trail in Damascus is a just short drive away. Not only can you take one of the vans up to White Top Mountain and cruise back down the hills, but you can also choose the option to pick up the Creeper Trail near the old caboose in the park in Damascus. You can ride at your own pace along the trail towards Abingdon. Itís simple enough to turn around and head back at any time. Laurel Bloomery can boast walking trails, as well as Gentry Creek Falls that offers a moderate hike with approximately 15 creek crossings. Ralph Stout Park also has a nine-hole disc golf course.

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