by Stacie Palka | Lakeshore Merchandising Manager
The kids finally have a break from schoolwork, and they couldn’t be more excited that the holidays are here. Still, it’s important to keep children’s skills sharp even over the short holiday away from school—so they can pick right up after the New Year without missing a beat. The good news is that there are a number of super-sneaky ways to keep kids learning over the winter break—that your kids will actually love doing!
- Bake cookies and other holiday treats! Cooking offers tons of ways to teach kids practical math & language skills—from reading a recipe to measuring ingredients. As you and your child bake together, point to the recipe as you add ingredients and ask pointed questions that encourage your child to add, estimate, measure and more. For example: Can you find the ½ mark on the measuring cup? How many cookies do you think will fit on the baking sheet? How many cookies will we need for everyone in the family to have three?
- Read winter- or holiday-themed books together! Reading is one of the most important things your child can do to keep their skills sharp over the winter break. Take a trip to the library together and select storybooks that echo your own family celebrations—or introduce new traditions from other cultures. Be sure to include a few nonfiction titles, such as books about winter weather or how animals adapt to snow and freezing temperatures. When it’s reading time, make the experience extra-cozy—and memorable—by curling up in front of the fire or snuggling under a blanket together.
- Decorate! Kids will love decking the halls with paper snowflake chains, red & green construction paper chains or strings of popcorn. Not only will kids be exploring their creativity—which boosts cognitive skills and encourages children to become expert problem solvers—they can also incorporate math skills by measuring the space they want to decorate before they start crafting their decorations.
- Take a trip to an aquarium, museum, or observatory—and let your child plan your day! Research your destination beforehand and print out a map of the location from the Internet. Help your child use the map to plan an itinerary of how you’ll spend your day, jotting down the approximate times you’ll spend in each location—and being sure to include lunch breaks and any timed events you want to take in! On the day of your trip, encourage your child to use the map as you make your way from one exhibit to the next—and check your watch to make sure you’re sticking close to your schedule. Kids will build time-telling and planning skills, as well as practice map reading.
- Create and write thank-you cards for holiday gifts. This activity teaches children to show appreciation for the gifts they receive, lets them engage in simple writing & spelling practice and allows them to exercise their imaginations as they decide how to decorate the cover of each card. You can find blank note cards and envelopes at craft and hobby stores—or make your own!