Can you believe winter break is just around the corner? Winter break is a time when families spend more time indoors together, busily preparing for anticipated celebrations, snow play, trips away from home and fun winter stay-cation field trips. For virtual schooling parents, it's also a time to celebrate the educational growth their children have made. This year, the educators from Connections Academy have a great idea about how you can combine the excitement of winter break with teachable moments.
- Create your very own winter break mini-camp! The whole family can enjoy a mini-camp atmosphere filled with affordable, hands-on, entertaining, and educational experiences close to home. Perhaps your winter break mini-camp will start a new family tradition. Each creative activity below offers a chance to reinforce valuable skills and educational concepts. Keep it simple, keep it fun and enjoy your winter break!
“Campify” your Mini-Camp – What’s a camp without a camp song, a mascot, a T-shirt? Kids will love to customize their camp with these brain boosting activities. For your song, incorporate rhyming, alliteration, and onomatopoeia. Have each camper write a verse. When choosing a mascot, research its meaning. And show your artistic side by making camp T-shirts (fabric paint or Sharpie markers will do the trick).
- Get Cooking! – Cooking and baking offer numerous learning opportunities. Preparing a recipe uses math and fine motor skills by measuring, counting, sifting, sorting, and pouring. Want a challenge? Ask your child to double the recipe! Or, on your next shopping trip, have children compute the costs of ingredients to determine the price of a given recipe. Looking up culinary words in the dictionary targets reading, writing and vocabulary skills. Various cooking techniques, like boiling, even offer an opportunity for a science lesson.
- We are Family… Tree – Here’s a wonderful and personal project that incorporates research, writing, storytelling and history – record your family tree! Start with your immediate family and research the answers to questions like, “what were the top news stories when grandfather was born… who was the president… where did they live and how did they live?” Chronicle your family’s story on paper or on the computer.
- A Spoonful of Science – Conduct exciting, safe, science experiments in your own kitchen like the students enrolled in Connections Academy’s Science in the Kitchen club. Check out experiments like “Balloon Blast Off” ,“Goop Galore” and “Hot Air Aircraft”. Visit the Connections Academy website for details and instructions.
- Signed, Sealed, Delivered – Holiday cards and letters offer a great opportunity to practice writing skills. Talk about the parts of a letter including the salutation, body, and closing. And, P.S., talk about what “postscript” means. Give a nod to geography and explore a map to identify where your card recipients live – who lives the farthest away? Who lives north or south of your home? How many different states or countries are you mailing to?
- Wrap it Up – When wrapping gifts, build math and measuring skills by asking kids to measure gifts with a tape measure or ruler to determine the correct amount of wrapping paper needed. Or get creative (and green) and ask kids to design their own wrapping paper out of reused brown paper grocery bags.
- Homemade Museum – Everyone in the family has items that they treasure. Whether it is a special doll or photograph or found object like a feather or crystal, showcase treasured objects in your family museum (aka living room). Designate a curator to direct the exhibit, gather and write detailed descriptions of the objects. Encourage public speaking by having children conduct “tours”. Business-savvy kids will be waiting for visitors in their homemade museum gift shop.
- Road Trip! – Escape camp life for a day with a road trip. When traveling in the car, test geography knowledge by trying to name all 50 states and their capitals. Play the "license plate game" and take along trivia questions like those from Connections Academy’s Quiz Bowl Challenge. Have fun developing and asking questions like, “how much will it cost for 10 gallons of gasoline if the gallon price is (fill in the blank)?” Or, “If we drive 60 miles per hour, how long will it take us to go 10 miles, 100 miles, 139 miles?”
- Recess – Get out and play! In addition to the countless health benefits of physical activity, active games and sports can help strengthen social skills, memory, and analytic abilities. From Red Rover, Red Rover, and Red Light. Green Light to Touch Football and Soccer, kids will enjoy a game that all can play and feel successful playing. Younger children enjoy making their own games. Why not suggest that they invent their own game and then play as a family. You’re sure to be amazed at their creativity. If you live in colder climates, enjoy what the weather offers – go sledding and ice skating and talk about the science behind snow formation, and the properties of ice.
- And everyday...read! – Stock up on “camp reads” and use vacation time to immerse yourselves in good books. Visit your local library as a family and spend the afternoon exploring the shelves and selecting books. Read with your children everyday. This is one habit you’ll want to keep and one of the most valuable educational gifts you can give to your children.
Teachable moments are everywhere and some of the best ideas come from other Learning Coaches and parents just like you. Please share your favorite ways to keep family learning alive over winter break by adding them to the comments below!