Winter break is fast approaching! To some, it’s a welcome relief, some well-earned time off to spend with loved ones. For others, winter break means figuring out how to keep kids busy, entertained, and, if possible, learning. To help you do that, we’re sharing 5 winter break activities for kids, all of which are easy, cheap, and fun to take part in.
5 Fun Winter Break Activities for Kids of All Ages
One of the best ways for anyone to spend their free time is to read, and making books available to kids is a great way to get them more interested in reading. (Check out our tips for helping teens remember why reading is a great way to pass the time.) The library is an excellent resource for books, reading recommendations, and even ebooks and audiobooks. And if your child would rather own their books, check out local bookstores, garage sales, and secondhand stores for great deals on books for people of all ages. Remember, reading improves both body and mind, and is great for things like developing empathy, expanding vocabularies, and cutting down on stress!
2. Get out of the house.
If you live in the desert, you know that December and January are great times to be outside! But if you live in a place that experiences snow and cold temperatures, don’t be afraid to incorporate some outdoor time into your day. Spending as little as 20 minutes outdoors decreases stress and gives kids the opportunity to get physical activity, use their imaginations by playing and pretending, and socialize with other children. If spending time outdoors isn’t an option, visit a local museum (check for discounted family days before you go), or go to a cultural event. By showing kids different activities that help them pass the time and learn, you’re helping to keep their minds working hard, and possibly even foster and develop interests they might not have otherwise discovered.
Help your kids stretch their skills and talents by asking them to create something. For younger kids, coloring and building structures out of blocks or household items can help them keep their gears turning. As kids get older, they can continue to do these activities, but make sure to increase the challenge. Buy teens coloring books that require precise coloring, or give them materials to build robots or other technology. If kids are old enough to work in the kitchen, ask them to make dinner or a baked good. Or engage in some storytelling with graphic novels or comic books, or detailed still-life drawing. There are so many ways for kids to be creative, and there are real benefits to doing so (like higher scores on standardized tests), so give kids the opportunity to explore their interests in a more challenging way.
4. Play games.
There are so many games available, many of which can be accessed for free with an Internet connection. Playing games help kids learn cooperation, creativity, focus, and willingness to learn, with the added benefit of quality family time. Look for games that are age-appropriate, and involve elements of learning. Stretch your kids’ math skills with games like the 24 game (one of my favorites as a kid). Work on strategizing by playing Stratego or fantasy games. Expand spelling and vocabulary skills with Scrabble and Boggle. Video games and puzzles can help kids work on hand-eye coordination, too. Figure out what your kids are most interested in, and find games that will entertain them as they learn.
5. Provide explicit learning opportunities.
Another great option is to enroll them in a camp or intersession school. Doing this can help to provide structure during a longer break from school, help working parents, and keep students thinking and learning, which can help cut down on learning loss. If these things aren’t offered in your community, see if your kids can continue working in any online learning programs they use at school. Working ahead can mean more time spent on reinforcement of what they’re learning, and more free time for them during the school year, which kids of any age can benefit from.
Winter break offers a great opportunity for students to take a break and recharge, but that doesn’t mean learning has to stop. There are so many fun winter break activities for kids of all ages that’ll keep them busy and learning so getting back into the routine of school in January won’t be such a challenge. Even if you can’t take your kids to libraries, cultural events, and museums every day (or at all), it’s possible to keep them thinking with a few well-placed comments. How will you be keeping your students and kids busy? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook, and enjoy your time off!