(StatePoint) — The holidays are a time for family and friends, new traditions and old. And many parents may look forward to the school break as a time to bond with their children.
It’s also important that children engage in some educational activities over the holidays, especially those that continue to develop reading and math skills.
“Take advantage of the break from your regular routines to show your children how learning is an everyday activity,” says Emily Kirkpatrick, vice president of National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL). “The days leading up to the holidays are an exciting time, and many children are thrilled to do something new.”
Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, here are some fun holiday activities to do with kids:
• Read Holiday Stories: In the weeks before the holidays, gather your family’s favorite holiday books and read one story or chapter together nightly. Have children participate in following along, turning pages and by asking them questions about the story. Reading the characters in funny voices and acting out the stories can help even the biggest Grinch warm to reading.
• Learn Fun Facts: Do you know why all snowflakes are different? Or why we make New Year’s resolutions? If you don’t, finding out the answers can be fun with your child. Educational websites like Wonderopolis.org, created by the NCFL, lets parents and children explore short videos that explain the answers to many trivia questions — including why people kiss under mistletoe!
• Make Holiday Cards: Have kids make a list of recipients. Then help them write holiday messages and decorate holiday cards before mailing them. If kids are too little to write a message, have them help you create one and then sign their names or add drawings. Grandparents will appreciate these more than store-bought cards.
• Volunteer Together: Whether it’s in your local soup kitchen or hospital, the holidays are a great time to teach kids about the importance of volunteering and spreading joy. If you think it might be difficult for your family to spend a day with strangers, consider baking cookies or a cake for an elderly neighbor or relative. Have kids read recipes, measure ingredients and keep things organized. This helps develop reading, counting and organizational skills while sharing.
• Track Santa: Not all traditions have to be traditional. If your children feel more comfortable in front of a computer than in the kitchen, use that to your advantage when considering new family holiday activities. For example, starting each December, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) “tracks” Santa’s movements at www.noradsanta.org. Children and adults alike are sure to get a kick out of it. ••
For more ideas for fun activities for kids, visit www.wonderopolis.org.