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Asia Citro discusses “150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids” at Village Books

Seattle-based writer and creative-play advocate Asia Citro will be at Village Books this weekend to discuss her new “150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids” and offer a science-based game for children.

It’s more than just another activity book. It’s packed with fresh ideas for engaging children of all ages; recipes for various play doughs and slimes; and simple DIY strategies for toys such as Hatching Egg Bath Bombs, Sensory Boards and a Recycled Car City.

Citro, a science teacher turned stay-at-home mom, emphasizes sensory play, messy play and imaginative play in her book and at her blog, Funathomewithkids.com. She’s a strong voice for sibling interaction, so her activities are designed to be fascinating and safe for children who are a few years apart in age to play together.

“My daughter loves showing my son how to do things and he loves looking to her to learn,” Citro said.

Citro will discuss her book and creative play ideas at 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15, in the downstairs Readings Gallery at Village Books, 1200 11th St. She’ll have an activity to engage the youngest members of the audience so the adults can focus on her talk.

“I have these adorable little frogs that have been trapped in some ice,” she said. “The object is to rescue the frog.”

Citro thinks it will take about 30 minutes for the children to free their frogs, which they’ll get to keep.

Many of the activities in her book use recycled materials or those that are readily available around the house or at a supermarket. Her aim was to spur parents to create spontaneous playtime without investing a lot of money and time.

“The flavor of the book is easy, budget-friendly — quick and easy activities to set up,” she said. At her blog, she often discusses more permanent and in-depth projects, such as ceiling rings or an indoor climbing wall.

She’s also fond of giving children the freedom to make a mess — within reason. At home, Citro uses drop cloths to protect her floors and furniture, and sets limits with her children.

“I love messy play, but I will admit that I more like ‘clean’ messy play,” Citro said. “I don’t let them put anything in their hair, but they can paint their arms, legs and stomachs.”

Projects in the book can entertain infants to school-age children, and older. Many of the activities prep children for understanding basic chemical reactions, such as a snowman she made from baking soda, salt, dish soap and water on KING-TV’s “New Day” program.

“That is the very best way to learn, when you’re having fun,” she said. “Learning through play is awesome. They’re such perfect little scientists. From the time when my daughter was very young, she was always curious and always exploring.”

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