Tune Out Challenge


Children will give up at least one favorite TV show and replace it with an activity that does not involve "screens" (such as video games or computers)

Materials and Preparation:

  • Print the Tune Out Challenge worksheets
  • Copy one worksheet for each upper elementary child
  • Large paper or chalk board plus markers or chalk
  • Optional: copy the Tune Out Challenge parent letter to send home
  • Optional: post-it notes or small pieces of paper and pens (for part-two)

Imformation for Leaders:

This two-part activity may take place over 2 or more days, depending upon how much of a challenge you want to give the group. In the first part, children will name the shows that they regularly watch and identify the shows that they would be willing to give up. Challenge them to give up one show that day, if they were planning to watch TV (tell them that if they are not going to watch TV but plan on playing a video game, they can give that up too!). By doing so, they should identify other activities or forms of entertainment that can replace "screen" (TV, video games, movies or computer) time.

In the second part of the lesson, they will share what they learned by giving up one show or video game time. They will then create a menu of fun or educational activities that they can use to continue to reduce the amount of TV (or video games, internet surfing, etc.) that they watch.

  • Modifications are listed below for different grade levels
  • Upper elementary children will use a worksheet to personalize the challenge, while younger grades may work together to make the lists.


Part One -

  1. Ask the children to name their favorite TV shows. Record on the board or on flip chart paper, and save for Part Two.
    • Distribute Tune Out Challenge worksheet to upper elementary children and invite them to work in pairs to complete the worksheet table and questions on videos and computers. Alternatively, you can have a younger and older child work together on the Tune Out Challenge worksheet.
  2. Ask the children to name the show (or shows) that they would be willing to skip tonight (or the next time they plan to watch TV). Circle those shows.
    • If children filled out the Tune Out Challenge worksheet, instruct them to circle the show to give up on their worksheets.
    • They may also circle one of their favorite video games or computer activity to remind them that other "screens" should not replace TV!
    • Have children complete the worksheet by writing down three things that they could do instead of watching TV or playing a video.
  3. Challenge the children to give up one show tonight, or tomorrow morning before school. If they are not planning on watching any shows that night or the next morning, challenge them to go without other screen time, such as video games or movies.
    • Children may also be challenged to give up a show and video/computer time.

Part Two -

Instructions for lower elementary children:

  1. Ask the children which shows they actually gave up last night. Place check marks next to those shows. Ask: Was it hard to turn off the TV?
  2. Ask: What did you do instead? Record this list of non-TV activities.
  3. Review the list of activities. How many children were physically active?
  4. Brainstorm together to expand the list of things they like to do when they tune out the TV. Think about seasonal activities or indoor/outdoor fun, and encourage children to include things that get their bodies moving.

Instructions for upper elementary children:

  1. Ask the children which shows or videos they actually gave up last night and instruct them to place check marks next to those shows on their worksheets. Ask: Was it hard to turn off the TV?
  2. Distribute post-it notes or small pieces of paper (2-3 per child) and have the children write down at least one thing that they did last night to replace their TV shows or video time (only one activity per post-it).
  3. List some categories of activities (see elementary instructions above) on the board or on large pieces of paper (one category per page). Invite the children to post their activities under the appropriate category (children may also come up with their own categories). For instance:
    • Educational activities: school work, reading, doing a project
    • Quiet time activities: playing cards, doing a puzzle, coloring or other artwork, listening to or playing music
    • Cooking or baking
    • Active things: doing chores or helping parents, going for a walk, playing a sport, dancing
  4. Did many children choose active things in place of TV? Work together to brainstorm more ideas for being physically active, and think about categories of activities. For example, think about seasonal activities/sports or indoor/outdoor fun.

Over the next few days at pick-up time, chat with parents to see if there has been any change in kids' attitudes/behavior regarding TV versus other activities. Encourage parents to support their children in accomplishing this activity and coming up with ideas.

Extenstion Activities

  • Extend the challenge for another day or the whole week (consider taking a "Turn-Off TV Week" challenge- go to www.TVTurnOff.org for ideas).
  • At the end of the week, ask the children if it is getting easier to limit their TV viewing. Ask about challenges and have group give feedback. Remind them that when they watch TV or play video games, their bodies are not moving! It's a good idea to go slow with the TV and include some active time every day. Even if someone else is watching TV in the room they have the option not to watch!
  • Create a large chart to keep track of how often children give up watching TV to do other activities. Encourage them to record their progress at home and report back!