Keeping kids occupied, energized, and educated during winter vacation is no easy task. We all want our kids to relax and enjoy some freedom after the holidays, but winter break can quickly turn into winter boredom if we’re not careful. Check out my tips for keeping young minds fresh (and keeping your sanity) during those long winter days!

The key to a balanced winter break is incorporating a little bit of learning into each day. If we make it fun, kids won’t even realize that we’ve put an educational twist on their holiday break! (Shh! I won’t tell them if you won’t!) So we’re going to focus on adding some math, reading, science, art, and physical education to their daily agendas. Ready? It’s not as hard as it sounds, I promise.

Math

Travel Opportunity: You might roll your eyes at this one, but sometimes just taking a shopping trip can be an educational math experience. Give kids a small amount to spend, or send them on a shopping scavenger hunt to see if they can find items that total up to $5.00. Try visiting a bank (you’d be surprised how many kids have never been inside a bank), especially if it has a coin machine.

At-Home FunPlaying “store” is always a favorite for practicing math skills. Kids can add up the cost of items and use a pretend cash register, like this one from LeapFrog, to play. One of my all-time favorite easy math games is called Pass the Pigs by Winning Moves, and most kids don’t even know they’re practicing math when they use it! It comes in a variety of ‘pig sizes,’ too.

Toy Insider Tip: Check out some great math games via the Toy Insider here.

 


 

Art

Travel Opportunity: Visit a local art museum. Libraries often have free passes for many art museums. If you really can’t find a local museum or are unable to travel, consider a virtual trip, and see if you can find a museum tour online.

At-Home Fun: There are a myriad of art kits on the market for kids of all ages. While you’re out doing your holiday shopping (or even when you spot some holiday clearance sales), grab some kits that you think your kids might like and put them aside. Some of my favorites include the Creative Roots Paint Your Own Mosaic Stepping Stone or the Crayola Crayon Melter. When all else fails, just grab some paper and washable paint. I mean, how many kids really get to paint anymore?

Toy Insider Tip: View tons of arts and crafts ideas and reviews from The Toy Insider here.

 


Science

Travel Opportunity: There are so many fun indoor science travel opportunities for kids! Check out local science museums, planetariums, and traveling science shows at libraries. Don’t forget that zoos are often open year round, too!

At-Home Fun: Create your very own science lab right in your kitchen! So many toys make it easy these days. My favorites include Beaker Creatures Liquid Reactor Super Lab from Learning Resources, which allows kids to release a cute little collectible from a fizzing pod, as well as other suggested experiments included in the set. Another favorite is Discovery’s Extreme Chemistry Lab by Horizon Group, which comes with more than 20 suggested experiments and everything you need to carry them out. If you’re looking for something on a smaller scale with less mess (maybe just some excavation and discovery), check out Treasure X from Moose Toys, which allows kids to unearth a treasure map, coins, artifacts, cool action figures, and more!

Toy Insider Tip: You can view The Toy Insider’s STEM 10 list here, which includes plenty of ideas for science, tech, engineering, and math!

 


Reading

Travel Opportunity: Visit your local library or bookstore (you’d be surprised how much fun you can have at a bookstore, even without buying anything). Go to a story hour, peruse the shelves, or make plans to meet friends there.

At Home Fun: Any kind of reading is good reading, in this old teacher’s opinion, so broaden your choices to include comic books, graphic novels, and magazines for kids, too. Create a little book corner in your house with cozy pillows and blankets, so kids have a fun place to read. You can even set up a play tent inside (like Twinkle Play Tents or Pacific Play Tents) for an awesome reading space.

Toy Insider Tip: There are some really fun reading suggestions at The Toy Insider. Check them out here!


 

Physical Education

Travel Opportunities: Seek out your local indoor play areas, from bounce and play sites to sports centers. If you live somewhere warm (lucky you!) hit up those playgrounds, beaches or parks to get some exercise. If it’s cold and snowy where you are, well, you know the drill- get out those sleds and snow toys!

At-Home Fun: Indoor games like Laser X by NSI International or Nerf by Hasbro offer infinite possibilities for movement! For the little ones (5 and under), try some games that get them up and moving, such as Movez by Kekson Kids (a find it, act it, do it kind of game) or think big with your own Skee Ball set from Buffalo Games.

Toy Insider Tip: The Toy Insider has plenty of suggestions for outdoor fun here, many of which can be used indoors, too.

Hopefully, your winter break will be filled to the brim with fun and relaxation, but if you’re still stuck for ideas, check out this post of Winter Boredom Busters for Kids for even more suggestions. You can also read through these tips from my fellow Parent Panelists at The Toy Insider. Happy Winter Break!