County launches free, COVID-safe family activities during ‘Screen-Free Week’

COME OUT AND PLAY! — Screen-Free Week runs from Monday, March 29 to Saturday, April 3. It’s a great time for kids and families to disconnect from electronics and re-connect with each other and the great outdoors! Local organizations are providing free COVID-19-safe activities to give kids more chances to play, create, explore and imagine! For a full schedule, go to stfrancisfarm.org/screen-free-week-2021/. For details, find Screen-Free Week on Facebook at facebook.com/ScreenFreeWeekPulaski.

Screen-Free Week Oswego County is March 29 – April 3

OSWEGO COUNTY —  Community organizations in Pulaski, Sandy Creek, Richland and Orwell will provide free non-electronic activities for families to enjoy during Screen-Free Week. The event is traditionally scheduled during local schools’ spring break week, Monday, March 29 through Saturday, April 3.

Screen-Free Week is an opportunity for people to disconnect from electronic devices during their free time and reconnect with themselves; their families, friends and neighbors; and the natural world. In “Hamlet’s BlackBerry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age,” author William Powers writes, “The point isn’t that the screen is bad. The point is lack of proportion. For all the good work our screens do for us, there are some experiences they just can’t deliver, and these happen to be the most important ones.” This special week gives kids the chance to read, learn, play, create, hike, explore and have fun enjoying those other experiences.

Last year, after a successful 13-year run, local activities were cancelled at the last minute due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, participating organizations have put together a collection of family-friendly and COVID-19-safe activities for children and families to enjoy free of charge. Most are non-electronic as usual; however, event organizers also recognize that people are doing more of their connecting online due to the pandemic. With this in mind, one of the activities offered by Selkirk Shores State Park involves an augmented reality game.

Students in the Pulaski school district will receive packets with materials and suggestions for activities to do at home. These packets were copied, collected and distributed by the Half-Shire Historical Society and the Rural and Migrant Ministry of Oswego County.

The Ainsworth Memorial Library, 6046 S. Main Street, Sandy Creek, will give away free children’s books to those from newborn to age 17, and early literacy activity booklets to those from newborn to age 5, while supplies last. The library also participates in a Museum Pass program where patrons can check out passes at free or reduced rates to the following places: The Children’s Museum of Oswego, The Empire Pass for NYS Parks and The Wild Center at Tupper Lake. For more information, call 315-387-3732.

The Pulaski Public Library, 4917 N. Jefferson Street, Pulaski, offers craft materials and book/activity kits. Call ahead to make an appointment for pick-up. Take-and-make craft bags let you paint your own suncatcher, birdhouse and more. Story hour bags contain five to seven books and activities on themes including dinosaurs, pirates, outer space and more. The library has expanded its hours for the break week. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, March 29; from 2 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 30 and 31; and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, April 1. For details, call 315-298-2717.

The Salmon River Fine Arts Center, 4848 N. Jefferson Street, Pulaski, offers over 75 assorted kits designed for children between the ages of 5 and 15, while supplies last. Each kit includes all materials needed, as well as step-by-step instructions. Projects include fun fish mixed media kits; solar printing; bandana painting, and acrylic, watercolor, sponge and coffee painting projects. The art center will extend their hours for the week to allow more time for families to come in and get a kit. Pick-ups will be available between 1 and 5 p.m. Friday, March 26; and between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday, March 27, Monday, March 29 and Tuesday, March 30. For more information, call 315-298-7007 or email sr.fine.arts.ctr@gmail.com.

Selkirk Shores State Park, 7101 NYS Rte. 3, Pulaski, will be open from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday, March 29 to Sunday, April 4, to offer the following items: take-and-make pinecone birdfeeder craft kits, Junior Naturalist booklets, and Junior Naturalist patches for young people who have finished activities from those booklets.

The park also offers several self-guided opportunities for exploring. Visitors can pick up color-coded maps for Screen Free Week adventures in the park. Go for a walk along the Frog Pond trail to enjoy the book “Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring,” by Kenard Pak, or search along the Marsh Rim Trail for items on the scavenger hunt list in the goody bag sent home from school. Kids who didn’t get a goody bag can stop by the park office to pick one up.

Participants can also look for signs of spring along park trails to complete the “Selkirk Shores Signs of Spring Mission,” an augmented reality game on the Agents of Discovery app. Organizers recommend downloading the free app at home using WiFi before coming to the park. Once installed on a smart, GPS-enabled device, the app will not use data to play the game and complete the mission. For information on all the park has to offer, call 315-298-5737.

St. Francis Farm, 136 Wart Rd., Orwell (between Co. Rtes. 22 and 48) invites people to come and walk its nature trails through woods and fields by ponds and streams. Trails are marked with blue dots on the trees so they’re easy to follow. Magnifying glasses, binoculars, and identification aids will be available outside. Participants are asked to stay outdoors and keep a safe social distance from other groups of people. Guided nature walks are available by appointment. Visitors are encouraged to contact the farm ahead of time to find out if the woodcocks have begun their spiral-flight courtship displays at dusk. Call the farm at 315-298-2844 or email stfrancisfarm@yahoo.com. More activity suggestions can be found online at stfrancisfarm.org/live-and-learn.

The Half-Shire Historical Society, 1100 Co. Rte. 48, Richland, offers free starter kits and research assistance to help participants build their family tree. There will also be a special drawing to win an Ancestry.com DNA kit. Guests can register for the drawing anytime during Screen-Free Week. Hot chocolate and treats will be available all week. The society is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Visitors: face mask and social distancing required. For more information, call 315-298-2986.

More activities, not yet fully planned, will be offered by the Cogswell Free Library in Orwell. An updated schedule will be viewable online at https://www.stfrancisfarm.org/screen-free-week-2021/ and on Facebook at facebook.com/ScreenFreeWeekPulaski.