Winter break is only a few weeks away, and already the kids are getting restless. If you’re wondering how you’re going to keep them busy outside of school, don’t worry! We’ve put together some fun—and educational—ideas for how to keep kids learning during the holidays.
Now is a great time to boost those literacy skills by having your kids read holiday- and winter-themed books. We’ve already shared some of our favorite bilingual and bicultural titles, but don’t forget the classics, such as The Polar Express, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Night Before Christmas, The Nutcracker, and of course, A Christmas Carol. As a reward, you might even consider taking your child to see one of these stories on stage or in the theater, or at least rent one on DVD.
Dig out those cookie cutters and put on some aprons because cooking with kids is not only fun, but educational, too. From science and math to history and literature, making gingerbread men is a lesson in itself. Your preschooler can count out “buttons,” while your elementary student discovers how her sense of smell impacts her ability to taste by holding her nose closed while she samples the ingredients. Older children can study the history of gingerbread men, or maybe name three books (Sorry, Shrek!) that feature gingerbread characters. And what better way to celebrate all that learning than by washing down the rich cookies with a tall glass of milk?
Learning to read notes or play a musical instrument has been found to have a number of unexpected benefits for students. Musical training actually changes your brain, improving memory and the ability to focus, as well as helping with language acquisition and literacy. The holidays are a great time to explore music, with caroling being one of the more common musical activities associated with this time of year. Try and take the time to teach your child how to read musical notes. Or if you are not musically trained to do so, ask around and see if any family or friends are interested in sharing their knowledge. Before you know it, your son may be helping you to learn middle C!
Read Related: MommyMaestra’s Favorite Holiday Books for Children
SHOP FOR IT!
The holidays are a time to encourage giving to others, so involve your children in the shopping experience. Ask them to make a list of names of family and friends for whom you need to buy a present. Then, brainstorm ideas. Perhaps you would consider putting them in charge of, for example, five family members on your list? Then give them a certain amount of money ($50), and ask them to divide the money up equally before going shopping. This challenge can help your child learn to create a budget and shop responsibly.
Break out the thank-you cards, and sit your child down. Have him keep track of who gave him gifts and emphasize the importance of expressing gratitude. To make the writing process a little more fun, use special thank-you cards that they’ve picked out themselves, or received in their stocking. (Hint, hint.) Remember that younger children should keep their notes short and sweet, while older children can be expected to be more expressive and include greater detail.