At the click of a button, there’s an entire universe of entertainment, education, connection, and distraction available to us. The advantages are numerous: technology allows us to connect to family and friends around the world, to enjoy movies in the comfort of our own home whenever we want to, and to read about world events as they unfold.
But for many people, technology has become a constant presence – a never-ending stream of emails, funny videos, social media and more that crowds out reading, relaxing, and conversations. And for parents, the battle over screen time (and the debates about what kinds of content are valuable or harmful) can seem endless.
Technology isn’t going away but there’s a growing awareness of the value and enjoyment to be found from making thoughtful changes to our use of it. One of those is the idea of “Screen-Free Sundays” – a commitment to keep the screens turned off and put away for one (or more) Sundays each month.
But if you’ve gotten out of the habit of filling a day without technology, you might need a little help to get started. Here are a few ideas for family-friendly activities in the Vancouver region for a fun-filled and screen-free Sunday.
Explore the universe
For an out-of-this-world day, head to H.R. MacMillan Space Centre. Located in Vancouver’s Vanier Park, the centre has a variety of displays and exhibitions for all ages that explore the connections between science, space, earth and people. For the little astronauts in your family, this may be an ideal destination to spark imaginations. The Planetarium’s Star Theatre runs a series of films throughout the day on everything from the science of the sun to the search for dark matter; check the schedule for specifics and to see age recommendations.
Have fun with fishing
The Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC has you covered with two unique programs aimed at getting rods into the hands of kids and adults of all ages. Their two programs – Learn to Fish and Rod Loan – run throughout the year at different locations around the Lower Mainland and throughout the province. Learn to Fish is an introductory program appropriate for kids aged five to 15 and their families, with a half-day course to learn the basics of how, when and where to catch fish in freshwater. Rod Loan offers no-cost “rentals” of spinning rods with reels and a basic tackle box at pre-designated locations. Check out the site’s event calendar to find upcoming sessions and sites and plan ahead for a fun day of fishing.
Take a tropical escape
Regardless of the time of year, there’s a tropical paradise in the heart of Vancouver – complete with birds, plants and warm weather. Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park just celebrated its 50th anniversary in December. The conservatory’s large dome is an iconic Vancouver site. Inside, more than 120 exotic birds and 500 exotic plants and flowers thrive in the temperature-controlled interior. The facility is run by the Vancouver Park Board and the Vancouver Botanical Garden Association. Low-cost entry admission is a bonus – and kids four and under are free. After the visit, stop at the library on the way home to pick up some kids’ books about plants and animals from around the world.
Road trip into history
For a full-day adventure, pack some snacks and hop in the car to head out of the city and right into the past. Britannia Mine Museum, on the Sea to Sky Highway at Britannia Beach, is about equal distance between Vancouver and Whistler. This national historic site tells the story of the long-running mine, the people who worked there, and the community it created in the surrounding area. The museum has recently launched BOOM! – a new attraction described as “imaginative storytelling unlike anything else in North America.” It features 30 speakers, multiple screens and thrilling special effects that help bring the mill back to life in all its colours and sounds. The always-popular mine cart ride into the dark tunnels will entertain kids of all ages – just be sure to don your safety gear first.
Get the kids in the kitchen
Get your kids into the kitchen with a class that teaches them some basic cooking skills aimed at their age. There are plenty of options out there: check out your local parks and rec for community-centre classes and camps, or look into one of the local businesses and organizations that host cooking classes such as the Burnaby-based Posh Pantry or Sprouting Chefs Society. Or keep it simple: pull out the cookbooks, let the kids choose a starter, main meal and a dessert, then head to the store to pick up the ingredients then spend the afternoon chopping, steaming, baking and broiling. It’ll help the kids learn kitchen skills and may introduce them to new flavours and recipes.
Breathe in the fresh air with family
When you live in a place that rains a lot, it’s easy to get holed up indoors. But there’s a common expression in Scandinavia that reminds us to get outdoors, regardless of the time of year: there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. So while it may seem like a good idea to wait for that rare sunny winter day, don’t let the rain hold you back. Find your rain boots and zip up the warm jackets – then get outside. There are few places in the world as rich in outdoor trails, parks, and attractions than the Lower Mainland, and they’re all free to boot. Check out Metro Vancouver’s park’s listings to find something close to home (or further afield) for a day of fresh air, dirt, and yes, maybe even rain.
Tagged under: Vancouver