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Unplugged: Activities to Discuss Screen Time with Students

“Unplugged” by Steve Antony was a favorite right from the first time that I read it.  Unplugged tells the story of Blip, she is an adorable robot that loves to be plugged into her computer…it may sound like some kids (and adults) that you know!  It is a great story about unplugging from electronics and embracing the things around us.  In a time where students are used to screens, zoom calls, and a virtual world; Unplugged is a refreshing story that encourages kids to look beyond the screen to enjoy what’s happening around them.

In the story, a power outage forces Blip to unplug from the computer.  The power outage forces Blip to go outside.  She has some really great adventures, doing new things, and making new friends.  At the end of the day, Blip heads back home and plugs back into the computer, but she remembers and misses all the fun that she had.  The illustrations start out gray and dark. As Blip goes outdoors and meets new friends and tries new things, the illustrations begin to change.  The symbolism of the illustrations is a great talking point with your students and their own feelings when they step away from screen time.

Skills to teach with “Unplugged”:

  • Character development
  • Theme
  • Inferences
  • Beginning-middle-end
  • Connections
  • Compare and contrast
  • Sequence of events

Important Discussions:

  • Technology is an important tool, but should be used with limits
  • The benefits of technology
  • The benefits of unplugging
  • The importance of trying new things and nurturing multiple interests to find hobbies that you like

5 Favorite Activities for “Unplugged”:

Here are some of my favorite activities that you can do with your students after reading the book.

1. Screen time rules

As you read about Blip and the changes she feels when she disconnects, students can begin to think about screen time rules.  Students can create their own rules for screen time.  You can create an anchor chart and write down some of the common suggestions or discuss them together as a group.  Students may have similar ideas for screen time rules; it is a great opportunity to discuss rules and limits with devices.

2. Outdoor activities

Just as Blip enjoyed being outside, I’m sure your students have outdoor favorites too.  You can have students write some of their favorite outdoor activities  They can brainstorm things that they like to do outside in each season throughout the year and share as a group.  Everyone might find some new ideas to try outdoors as students share their outdoor favorites.

3. Pros and cons

While the theme throughout the story of Unplugged is to unplug, there are also many benefits to technology.  Brainstorm with students some pros and cons to using technology.  There are some really great uses for technology and it is important to help students understand both the positive and negative aspects.

4. Monitoring your own mood

Just as the illustrations change throughout the book, discuss with students the changes that we may feel when disconnecting from the screen.  Have students write about how they feel when they go outside and get fresh air.  

5. Unplugged

Lastly, have students think of 3 benefits to being unplugged.  After considering the benefits, setting rules, discussing the pros and cons; students can decide for themselves the 3 main reasons they would like to unplug. 

Blip is sure to be a favorite character as soon as you introduce her to your students.  Many can understand her love for technology and also relate to her feelings when she stops to take a second and enjoy life outside of electronics.

I hope you and your students love this book and all of the amazing discussions and lessons that come along with it.

You can grab a free one-page guide for using this book in your classroom here:

You can find more of my favorite read-aloud books HERE.

And read more about why I think reading aloud is so important HERE.

You might like this blog post about self-love.

Check out all of my favorite read-aloud books and grab free guides for reading them aloud HERE.

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Happy Teaching!

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