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Enriching Christmas Break: Fun and Educational Activities for the Holidays

Enriching Christmas Break: Fun and Educational Activities for the Holidays

posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - December 17th, 2023

As the snowflakes start to fall and the sound of jingle bells echoes in the air, children everywhere rejoice over the much-anticipated holiday break from school. Christmas break is an exciting time for kids, filled with festive cheer, family time, and a break from the routine of schoolwork. But for parents, it can be a challenge to fill those weeks with activities that are not just enjoyable, but also stimulating and educational.

Ashlee, a mother of three kids aged 4, 7, and 11, knows all about the struggle to keep kids entertained and engaged during the holidays. “Christmas break is a balancing act,” she says. “You want to keep the magic of the holidays alive, but also continue to foster their curiosity and learning outside the classroom.”

To help parents like Ashlee, we’ve made a list of educational activities for kids of different ages. Not only do these activities promise tons of fun, but they also incorporate elements of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math), fostering continued learning during the holiday break.

1. Cooking and Baking with a Twist

The holidays and delicious food go hand in hand. What better time than Christmas to get your children involved in the kitchen? Baking cookies and making festive dishes are great ways to teach children about measuring, fractions, and chemistry.

For example, you could explain how yeast makes dough rise or discuss why cookies harden as they cool. You can also practice math skills while doubling a recipe or converting units of measurement.

Ashlee’s approach is simple but effective. “I get all my kids involved in making our traditional Christmas dinner,” she shares. “My 4-year-old helps wash veggies, the 7-year-old measures ingredients, and my oldest is responsible for setting the oven temperature and timing. It’s a hands-on way for them to learn about math and science while making cherished family memories.”

2. DIY Holiday Decorations

Making holiday decorations at home is a fantastic way to unleash your child’s creativity. This could involve crafting ornaments, designing holiday cards, creating paper snowflakes, or even building a gingerbread house.

These activities not only spark imagination but also help develop fine motor skills, problem-solving, and spatial awareness. Ashlee’s 7-year-old, for example, loves to make homemade ornaments using craft materials, clay, or recyclables. This activity allows him to think creatively and experiment with different materials, improving his cognitive flexibility and hand-eye coordination.

3. Explore the Science of Snow

If you’re lucky to have a white Christmas, take the opportunity to explore the science of snow with your children. Talk about why snowflakes have six sides, observe different snowflake patterns, or discuss why it snows.

One fun activity is making your own snow crystals at home. You can do this by cooling a bottle of distilled water in the fridge, then placing it in the freezer for around 20 minutes. Once ice crystals start to form at the top, you can “seed” your snowflake by adding a small piece of ice to the bottle, then watch as a beautiful snowflake grows.

4. Christmas Themed Reading and Writing

Encourage your child to continue practicing their reading and writing skills over the break by incorporating Christmas-themed books and writing activities. For younger kids, Christmas picture books can be a great way to engage them in storytelling.

For the older kids, Ashlee encourages them to write their own holiday-themed stories or poems. “My 11-year-old daughter loves writing. Every Christmas, she writes a short story about Santa’s journey around the world. It’s a great way to keep her writing skills sharp and let her imagination soar,” Ashlee shares.

5. Digital Fun

With the advent of technology, there are numerous educational apps and online resources that offer holiday-themed activities. Websites like ABCMouse, Adventure Academy, or provide learning games that cover everything from coding to math to language arts.

By weaving education into your holiday activities, you’re keeping your child’s mind engaged while they’re having fun. And the best part is, these experiences often don’t feel like learning to children. They’re simply enjoyable activities that happen to enrich their knowledge and skills.

Research supports this approach, too. According to a study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, students can experience a “summer slide” during long school breaks (which includes winter Christmas breaks), where they lose some of the academic gains they made during the school year (Allington & McGill-Franzen, 2018). Engaging in educational activities during these breaks can help mitigate this effect.

As parents, our role is to foster a love of learning that extends beyond the classroom. And what better time than a holiday break to create enjoyable, educational experiences that our kids will remember for years to come.

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