Tuesday, April 30, 2013

screen free week: letterboxing

As I mentioned yesterday, we're celebrating Screen-Free Week at Naiya's Waldorf school.  It's a bit odd actually since one of the tenets of early childhood Waldorf education is to maintain an almost completely screen-free environment for all the children.  Like us, many families have exposed their kids to little or no tv, movies, computer screens, video games, ipads or cell phones and likely won't until they're 9 or 10. 
Yup, we're those people.  
Feel free to run screaming from our nuttiness at any time you choose.
There are folks at our school for whom being screen-free isn't a regular practice however.  A lot of them are new to Waldorf education or just struggle with (or oppose) the concept for various reasons.  Since we've not had screens in out daughter's life from the beginning and we're not big screen folks ourselves (other than internet usage and blogging :), having a young child who doesn't watch movies, tv or use a smart phone for anything is pretty easy for us.  (I think it's a lot harder if screens have previously been in your life and then you try to give them up.  Kuddos to all those struggling with that transition!)  We don't really miss screens and spend a lot of time making crafts, telling stories, gardening, doing chores and exploring nature.  Others struggle though to reduce screen-time or to understand why they should.  It can be hard to wrap your head around.  That's why we're sharing information and ideas by celebrating this campaign, and today we're hosting a play date to help inspire families to enjoy the out of doors (a fantastic way to replace screen time) in new and interesting ways.

About two years ago our family discovered Letterboxing and that has become a big part of our  outdoor family time. 

But what IS Letterboxing you ask?

For those unfamiliar with this fun and interesting pastime, Letterboxing is an intriguing outdoor hobby combining elements of art, puzzle solving, orienteering and exploring and is great fun for children and adults alike.  It originated in the 1850's in England but has morphed over the centuries into a worldwide, more modern sort of game wherein seekers follow clues (found on various websites, through local clubs or discovered by word of mouth) to find small, waterproof boxes hidden in public places. 

Each box contains a logbook and rubber stamp and explorers likewise carry a stamp and logbook when out on a quest.  When a letterbox is discovered, finders make an imprint of the letterbox's stamp in their book and leave their personal impression, the date and perhaps a small note in the letterbox's visitor's book. The rubber stamps are most often hand carved and can be amazingly intricate and beautiful.  The clues range from very straightforward directions telling one exactly where to go to complicated puzzles or riddles that offer only vague inferences to a box’s locale.

It’s like a treasure hunt where the treasure is both taken and left behind!  (It’s also a little like geocaching if you’ve heard of that but with more artistic flair and no plastic trinkets.)  It’s also a great way to find beautiful places when on a road trip or visiting out-of-town relatives or friends.

For our Screen-Free Week play date, we planted three letterboxes in a local park and handed out logbooks, stamps (store bought) and clues to those who came to join us for the day.  We'll not post those clues here since we pulled them after the event but for those interested in trying out letterboxing in your local community we'd suggest checking out the Atlasquest or Letterboxing North America websites.  Both are filled with tutorials, tips and thousands of clues to boxes hidden all over the world.  There's probably a letterbox near you!  (If not, maybe you can plant one!)  Why not join the letterbox community and enjoy some great screen-free fun?


  1. I really like this Letterboxing idea, I'm going have a look at the websites you have mentioned and try and get some friends involved.

    1. It's really great fun. Those sites have boxes listed all over the world but seem primarily directed at North America. In Europe, you might try just searching the internet for "letterboxing". If you get over to England much, I hear letterboxing in Dartmoor (where it originated) is crazy popular. Hope you find something and enjoy the adventure!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...