Blog home

Fun Ways to Keep Your Kids Learning Over the Holiday Break

Fun Ways to Keep Your Kids Learning Over the Holiday Break

posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - December 26th, 2015

When my kids were young, I had a love-hate relationship with that two-week school vacation they’d get over the holidays. I always took time off from work, so this was a real opportunity for us to make beautiful memories together. It was also a heck of a lot of pressure! Could I make the time fun for them? Could I get through the break without either child whining, “I’m bored!” Then I came up with a solution that the kids loved and that led us to some of the best bonding times we ever had together.

Keep Your Kids Learning

At the beginning of the break, the 3 of us would sit down and brainstorm a list of the most fun activities we could think of to do in the coming days. All ideas were written down on a small piece of paper and dropped into a “magic” hat. Then, every day of vacation, each child pulled a slip of paper from the hat and those became our activities for the day. Here are some of the most fun things we did through the years. Our activities were NYC based – but every city has its own local attractions. Some of our ideas were pretty basic, while others required imagination and creativity. I hope our list will inspire you and your kids to make your own list for having family fun and making memories this holiday season!

  • Make our own movie;
  • Go to the library and check out books for each other;
  • Go to the Museum of Natural History;
  • Watch “It’s a Wonderful Life”;
  • Put on a singing show;
  • Bake brownies and eat half the batter (Yes, we did this; It wasn’t good for us);
  • Have a treasure hunt with a prize at the end;
  • Clean out old toys; make a play store and sell them to our friends (donate what doesn’t get sold);
  • Write our own picture books (I still treasure these);
  • Make dinner together in our crock pot;
  • Take a kids yoga class together;
  • Go out for afternoon tea;
  • Have a lemonade and cookie sale in our building;
  • Make a fort in the living room; snuggle inside and read Harry Potter (Sam’s idea);
  • Go to the park and build a snowman;
  • Take the boxes gifts came in for Christmas and turn them into ovens, cars, doll houses, etc.
  • Go caroling and have cocoa afterwards;
  • Invent our own game;
  • Make a gingerbread house;
  • Decorate our windows with pictures made from Window Crayons;
  • Go look at the tree at Rockefeller Center;
  • Go look at the store windows on 5th Avenue (Schuyler’s favorite!);
  • Go ice skating;
  • Decorate the kids rooms for the holidays;
  • Make our own wrapping paper and wrap all our gifts using it;
  • Go to a movie and write a review afterward;
  • Go to the top of the Empire State Building;
  • Make up our own recipe and bake them for the doormen in our building;
  • Make our own YouTube Channel with our favorite Videos;
  • Have a Scavenger Hunt.


Where’s the learning in all this you ask?

Brainstorming ideas with the kids was a great way to teach them thinking and problem solving skills, but they just thought it was fun. Then, once we chose our activities, we would make a schedule for the day (sequential thinking – mathematics). This also involved research, planning and negotiations on the kids’ part – whose activity would be first? How long would we do each? Do we need to go shopping for supplies? Where is the place we want to go? etc. If we were cooking, there would be math. If we were doing a physical activity, there would be gross motor skills. If we were inventing our own game or activity, there would be imagination and creativity! Although learning wasn’t the #1 objective, it always happened by osmosis, but more than that, each child loved it when we did an activity that he or she came up with, we had fun and we made beautiful family memories together each holiday break.

Online activities were on our list, too – these are fine, but make them educational. For example, gives you access to 30 premium learning sites where your kids can do fun activities in the areas of math, reading, science, history, etc. Let them do this instead of mindless video games.

Share this article

Tell us about your experiences

Need help? - Contact Support