We love to enjoy our kids home for winter break, but after a few days, a few newly broken Christmas toys, and the third trip to the store to get more batteries, it’s time to unplug and have some simple fun, and that means 31 opportunities for family bonding. From indoor and outdoor activities to explore the world beyond your walls. So here are 31 things for kids to do inside and out during winter break.
1. Playing with a friend in a sandbox
Parallel play, or the type of game in which kids play next to each other, starting in toddlers. But even for older kids, parallel play can help improve critical social skills.
2. Jump rope
An essential part of how young kids minds develop is through free, self-directed play. According to David Elkind, Ph.D., author of The Power of Play: How Spontaneous, Imaginative Activities Lead to Happier, Healthier Children, free play is critical now more than ever, as recesses are shortened or eliminated, and kids calendars are busier than ever.
3. Independent reading
Most of us know that improving good habits (and hopefully a love of reading) is critical to doing well at school. However, homework can actually conflict with the time that kids can spend on reading.
4. Have a book festival
Most of us know that developing good habits (and hopefully a love of reading) is critical to doing well at school and make sure save some time to look through the works by new authors and find a new adventure to fall in love with new books.
5. Work On Puzzle
Being able to play a game on their own without adults (called “solitary play”) builds trust in kids and makes them more relaxed.
6. Help With Dinner
Kids who learn about new foods and how to make them may be more likely to choose more nutritious foods later on.
7. Practice an instrument
According to one research. Kids who participate in musical activities – those who practice an instrument during winter or holidays or regularly and participate actively in music groups – may have brains who are better wired for literacy skills.
8. Write a story
By writing down stories, kids can show their feelings, stretch their imaginations, and practice their fine motor skills.
9. Take pictures
Photography can help improve a child’s voice, vision, and identity as it pertains to their family, friends, and community.
10. Ride a bike
Physically active kids – as well as adults! – Have stronger hearts, lungs, and bones. They are less likely to have cancer or be overweight and more likely to feel good about themselves.
11. Play “Simon Says”
During cooperative games in the winter season, kids help to reach a common goal. There may be a leader, and kids begin to learn about social contracts and social rules.
12. Learn to knit
Knitting, crocheting, sewing, and are hobbies that can help improve excellent motor skills, improve coordination, and develop longer attention spans.
13. Create a collage
Constructive play– building a fort, making a snowman – is goal-oriented and requires kids building something using tools and materials. Constructive play also has an essential role in improving kids communication, mathematical, and socio-emotional skills.
14. Go up a slide backwards
Risky play—activities like climbing a tree—is suitable for kids. Children need to explore their limits, to be able to assess risks and to learn how to negotiate their environments.
Researchers theorize that risky play, found over all cultures and in other mammals, has an evolutionary role in preparing offspring for life without their caretakers.
15. Dig in the dirt
Another type of play, sensory play, is also risky for kids development. When kids shape clay or finger paint, they are stimulating their senses. “Sensory experiences,” explains one early childhood educator, “provide open-ended opportunities where the process is more significant than the product; how children use materials is much more important than what they make with them.”
16. Volunteer at an animal shelter
Even kids who don’t have pets at home can help from being around animals. The psychological and emotional benefits of being around animals can also be found when kids care for injured animals and take on care-taking duties for other people pets.
17. Plant a garden
Kids who work in gardens may have more important achievement scores in science than those who don’t. That because they’re actively engaging in scientific concepts and practicing math skills as they learn about plants.
18. Hang out at Grandma’s
Encouraging multi-generational relationships can yield several lessons for kids. They can learn how other adult role models in their lives who love them handle battle, create and negotiate rules and routines, and embrace family traditions.
19. Participate in a community service project
Through volunteering, kids can become more grateful, empathetic, and feel more joined to the wider community.
20. Do a science experiment
Kids are generally curious and want to know how things work. Scientific exploration outside the classroom may be particularly useful at teaching kids during winter about scientific thinking.
Kids also benefit from meditation. Studies have found that mindfulness and meditation can develop behavior, focus, and reduce impulsiveness.
22. Listen to a long bedtime story
Babies, children, and adults sleep better when they have a regular (not rushed) bedtime routine. Kids who don’t have bedtime habits are more likely to have behavior problems, be hyperactive, and suffer from emotional difficulties.
23. Play hide and seek
Playing hide-and-seek gives a child any significant physical benefits as well since the exercise helps them build stamina and aids muscle development. The challenge of getting into the perfect hiding place will help develop their balance, agility, and coordination.
24. Make a snowman outside
Having small children, we chose not to make it in what might be considered traditional, with three varying sized snowballs on top of each other. Alternatively, ours seems a little more like a mountain-shaped body with a snowball shape for the head. Possum loved it because it looked like Olaf.
25. Make a mural
Kids brainstorm ideas, do sketches, make the painting, and work together to paint this inspiring mural. This project was sent in by an exceptional program called Free Arts, developed to help abused children.
26. Go for a hike
Hiking as a family sounds like such a peaceful way to spend the day, but the reality isn’t as simple. With small children, you can’t just grab a water bottle and hit the trail. You need to prepare, so you are ready not only for scraped knees but also for your kids’ attitudes going from “gung ho” to “get me home now” at the most inopportune times.
27. Go on an alphabet hunt
Ask a kid if they want to practice an alphabet, and you’ll likely get snubbed. But ask if they’d want to play letter detective? You might catch yourself a fish.
This game benefits kids to practice their letters, test out their vocabulary knowledge, and get some writing under their belts all at the same time. You only require a magazine, a big sheet of paper, glue, markers, and a willing participant to get the sleuthing started.
28. Make your own constellation
This is a beautiful activity for preschoolers interested in constellations and space. Gather your materials. You want black or dark blue paper, some white or yellow chalk and some sticker stars. Draw any picture you need on the paper using the chalk.
29. Make a snowman inside
I like snowmen and am so excited that my 2-year-old looks to share this love. Snowmen are great because they aren’t attached to one religious tradition or a specific culture. This craft is an easy and relatively mess-free way to add sparkles to your holiday decor.
30. Turn your playroom into a grocery store , toy store or coffee shop
This isn’t the first time we have made a grocery store for pretend play, but it was the first time with both kids, and because it was such a hit the 2nd time around, I thought I might as well post about what made it so much fun.
31. Play dress up
The importance of imaginative “pretend” or “fantasy” play for kids creativity and future problem-solving skills is hard to overstate. When kids play, they’re superheroes they’re learning about social roles, setting the stage for later acquiring, and processing ideas from the world around them. Some research recommends that kids who don’t engage in fantasy play may strive in the classroom later.