Holiday Breaks & Kids: 9 Ways to Stay Active and Engaged
Holiday breaks can be exciting, maddening and fun – all at the same time. With kids out of school on extended breaks and parents working or taking only a few days off, it can be difficult to keep youngsters happy and productive. Furthermore, finding educational activities to do with kids over breaks often proves challenging.
However, it can be done! By planning ahead, building new traditions, watching for teachable moments, and encouraging time with family and friends, parents can actually make holiday breaks joyful and educational for the whole family.
Leaving Stress Behind
Holiday breaks for parents of young children can be stressful. See if this sounds familiar.
Early in the morning, your kids come running and shrieking into your bedroom, jumping on the bed and demanding breakfast. You drag yourself out of bed, serve breakfast in your robe, and put on a Disney movie for the kids – while trying to pry your eyeballs open with a cup of hot Joe.
The rest of the day isn’t much better. You squeeze in a shower (if you’re lucky), plan playdates for your kids (hopefully at someone else’s house!), and finally send them off to their rooms to entertain themselves – all the while thinking to yourself, “I have how many more days of this?!”
Whether you’re taking an extended vacation to spend time with the kids, a babysitter is coming to your home, or you’re dropping them off at their grandparents, there are less stressful, more meaningful ways to spend holiday breaks. By planning some fun and educational activities that children love – while at the same time maintaining their routine and schedules – your family can enjoy amazing school breaks that everyone looks forward to.
9 Ways to Enjoy Holiday Breaks
We’ve got some great ways to keep your kids active and engaged over holiday breaks. Let’s get into some productive ideas so you can start planning ahead now and actually enjoy your children during school breaks this year.
#1: Break out the Baking Supplies
Forage through your cookbooks or search online for holiday cookie recipes. Let your kids choose what they’d like to bake (within reason, of course).
Afterward, shop for the ingredients together, and ask your children to calculate how much of each item they need. Then, have them keep a running tally of how much they’re spending using their math skills. In addition, ask them to compare their tally with the final cost, adding in the taxes at the register. Finally, let the kids measure out all the ingredients at home and complete the baking (with adult supervision.)
Educational activities like baking allow everyone to have a blast, practice their math – and enjoy a sweet holiday break to boot!
#2: Play Music They Love
Together with your children, make some playlists of music they love. Then gather the family together for a dance party or karaoke competition.
Based on your kids’ interests, ask them to teach everyone some dance steps they know or the words to some of their favorite songs. Singing and dancing together during holiday breaks won’t just result in family bonding and happy memories. Additionally, it offers an opportunity for some much-needed exercise and a chance to use their music skills!
#3: Create a DIY Obstacle Course
Here’s one idea many parents don’t think of. Using materials you already have at home (or purchase from your local dollar store), create an obstacle course in your backyard or at a local park. With only a few low-cost items and some imagination, this is one of many educational activities you can do together to promote creativity, movement and problem-solving. (Of course, kids will need supervision to ensure they don’t take any unnecessary risks and stay safe during this activity).
When they complete the course, let the kids produce a fun video to show friends and family how it works. With one child narrating and another demonstrating, there’ll be lots of learning and fun along the way.
#4: Pull out the Craft or Science Kits
If your children tend toward the creative, give them some art supplies during holiday breaks. Next, cover a table with an old sheet – and let them go to town!
Some artistic items youngsters might enjoy include:
- Sketchbooks and drawing pencils
- Paint brushes and paint
- Rulers and glue
- Popsicle sticks
- Decorative items (pom-poms, googly eyes, beads, etc.)
- Pipe cleaners
- An eraser and pencil sharpener
- Washable, colored markers
For children who love science, explore the science section at your local craft store. Allow them to choose a model or science kit they can experiment with at home. As a result, they’ll stay happy and engaged over holiday breaks, promoting peace and harmony at home.
#5: Turn on That Show
Make it a family TV night. First, pull out the popcorn and snacks, and then choose a historical or entertaining documentary, biography or movie. Second, ask your kids questions about what they learn or see. Get their brains working by inquiring what they think will happen next – and why. Third, find out what they do or don’t like about what you’re watching together, and ask how their selection might differ next time. Fourth, when the program ends, ask older children to lead younger ones in a brief discussion about the show, asking question and prompting them for details.
Educational activities like this are relaxing and fun. You may even learn some things about your kids in the process!
#6: Read & Write Together
Now that everyone has some time off, head to your local library – or cuddle up together on the couch with some good books. Read out loud, with kids taking turns reading and listening. Additionally, have kids help one another pronounce words or explain events in the story that help reveal the plot. This provides a great opportunity to work on language and reading skills.
Alternatively, attend library story times. Kids love listening to stories along with their peers. It also gives whoever’s watching them, whether you or a sitter, quiet time to rest and recoup.
Some holiday breaks are also ideal for students to practice their writing skills. For example, if you send out holiday cards each year, have your children help. If your family exchanges gifts with extended family or friends over Christmas or Hanukkah, have your children create personalized thank-you notes afterward. Sit with them and help with vocabulary, spelling and handwriting. Then let them decorate and personalize the cards to make it more fun.
#7: Get Their Hands Dirty
Depending on your children’s ages, encourage them to spend some time playing outside. Bundle them up and send them out with sidewalk chalk or a bug kit. Encourage them to jump rope or play hopscotch, street hockey or basketball with neighborhood friends.
If your little one enjoys digging in the dirt (who doesn’t?), offer them plastic shovels and pails. Then, show them how to use sticks to dig up earthworms, beetles or ladybugs. Alternatively, ask the kids to rake all the leaves into a pile – and then jump in the pile with them, before finally bagging them up. Also, work together to pick up sticks for an outdoor fire the whole family can enjoy later. Or, spend some time looking up at the sky and talking about the clouds (or the stars at night).
Educational activities like these may provoke a love of science, geology or even meteorology as children get older.
#8: Pass out the Games
Play retro board games, such as Monopoly, Sorry!, Life or Candyland. For kids who enjoy a little more strategy, let them try their hand at checkers, chess or Backgammon.
As they prepare to play, let children read the rules to each other, choose their own playing pieces and collaborate to help each other play the games. Emphasize the importance of being a good sport, and demonstrate what that looks like.
Many kids also enjoy card games, such as playing cards, Uno or Old Maid during holiday breaks. These types of games require skills like pattern matching and recognition, grouping and sorting, valuable exercises that benefit youngsters throughout their lives.
#9: Spend Holiday Breaks with KidzToPros
Holiday camps represent one of the best ways to keep kids happy, active and engaged when school lets out on breaks. We keep bodies and brains performing and creating, just like they do in school.
KidzToPros’ holiday camps blend a wide range of STEM, arts and sports topics to avoid limiting students to just one pathway. So, whether they love playing sports, programming robots, creating beautiful works of art – or all three – your youngsters get a taste of it all at our holiday camps.
Spending Time with the Kids
Time off should be relaxing and fun, not stressful and frustrating. So try some of these activities and spend quality time with your children over holiday breaks this year. There’s no better time than the present – and you’ll be so glad you did!