Ever wonder if your kids know about that alternate universe that doesn't run on "e" and "i"? If you hand them a book, do they try to figure out how to recharge it or where to plug it in? Do they look for the delete button when you hand them a plate of veggies? Do they reach for the fast forward when you are talking to them? Are they "married" to several people on FB? It might be time to disconnect for a little while.

Here are 101 suggestions to encourage your children to disconnect and connect with the real world:

  1. Bake cookies and deliver them to an elderly neighbor or relative

  2. Learn to jump rope

  3. Start a band

  4. Work a jigsaw puzzle with a group of friends

  5. Start a small business

  6. Volunteer at an animal shelter

  7. Become a clown and visit nursing homes

  8. Start a poetry club

  9. Find a pen pal

  10. Collect stamps and find people to swap with

  11. Make a mosaic

  12. Carve soap into a figurine

  13. Work with clay and a potter's wheel

  14. Walk dogs for neighbors

  15. Build a model

  16. Get a group together and break a world record in something

  17. Start a neighborhood newspaper

  18. Lie in the grass and look at the clouds

  19. Read an entire dictionary

  20. Set up a scavenger hunt for your friends

  21. Go on a photo safari

  22. Paint a picture

  23. Learn to play chess

  24. Grow an herb garden

  25. Make a movie with your friends

  26. Knit a sweater

  27. Embroider a bib for a baby

  28. Do yoga

  29. Learn a new language

  30. Do a chore without being asked (and watch the magic happen)

  31. Leave love notes all over the house

  32. Direct a neighborhood talent show

  33. Raise money for a charity

  34. Raise a caterpillar into a butterfly and release

  35. Wash the dog or clean the bird's or hamster's cage

  36. Mold chocolate candy

  37. Blow bubbles

  38. Make a scrapbook of your life

  39. Make a time capsule and bury it in your back yard to dig up when you are 20

  40. Cook a five-course meal and serve your family or a group of friends

  41. Record a song

  42. Start a book club

  43. Spend an entire day in the library reading

  44. Pick a bouquet of wildflowers for your mother

  45. Make a rock collection

  46. Play with the hose

  47. Build a snow fort

  48. Make a quilt

  49. Go on a hike and camp out

  50. Earn and save money for something big you have been wanting

  51. Participate in a charity event

  52. Write a fan letter to a celebrity you admire telling them why

  53. Spend the day getting to know a younger sibling

  54. Learn to belly dance

  55. Make sandwiches and deliver to the homeless

  56. Write out a plan for your future and see how close you come to it

  57. Make candles

  58. Dry or press flowers

  59. Learn calligraphy

  60. Lie in the grass and look at the stars and identify them

  61. Create a superhero and write his story in a graphic novel

  62. Wear a blindfold or earplugs all day to help you better comprehend how blind or deaf people live

  63. Plan a family night with an activity and snacks

  64. Spend an entire day praying and talking to God

  65. Read a book series (Harry Potter, Series of Unfortunate Events, etc.) to a child

  66. Listen to an opera

  67. Try a new food

  68. Sew a pillow

  69. Tie-dye a T-shirt

  70. Learn to batik

  71. Collect coats and gloves for the needy

  72. Make a loom and weave place mats

  73. Paint your bedroom

  74. Jump on a pogo stick

  75. Try water skiing or tubing

  76. Bake bread

  77. Work a crossword puzzle

  78. Read a newspaper front to back

  79. Teach someone something you know how to do well

  80. Tutor someone in a subject in which you are strong

  81. Run for something (class president, most like to ...) or run a campaign for a friend

  82. Start a petition for a cause you believe in

  83. Write a congressman about something that concerns you

  84. Draw a floor plan for your idea of a perfect house

  85. Run a day camp for neighborhood kids (summer, winter break, spring break)

  86. Skip everywhere you go for one full day

  87. Try to answer everyone who talks to you by singing a song

  88. Play with toys in a bubble bath

  89. Redecorate your room with a theme

  90. Throw a surprise party for someone for no particular reason

  91. Create a new holiday

  92. Work at a soup kitchen

  93. Make a budget

  94. Play in the dirt or mud

  95. Grow a frog from a tadpole

  96. Go fishing

  97. Make a rubber band ball as big as you can

  98. Speak in pig-Latin for an entire day

  99. Take a picture of yourself wearing the same thing in the same place every day at the same time for a year and then make a movie of it

  100. Go to school in formal wear with a few of your friends

  101. Build a better mousetrap

There you have it. A list to hand your children when you ask them to unplug and they say they are bored. Make substitutions and either hand them the list, or cut into strips and put in a jar and let them draw one out each time they whine. They may discover hidden talents, untried passions, or a lifelong hobby. You may discover a little peace.

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