10 Winter Break Learning Activities

5 min to read
Mom and son making sugar cookies in the kitchen during the Christmas holiday.

While students welcome winter break because it gives them time to relax, many parents worry that these few weeks off are too much of a learning break. Research shows that most children lose about two months' worth of math skills over summer break. Reading skills have also been shown to decline during this time. While a short two or three weeks in December doesn't have the same impact as three months of summer vacation, some families may still be concerned.

To help overcome your fears, we have compiled a list of learning activities for winter break to help keep your students on track. 

Learning Activities for Winter Break

1. Skittles Science

f you’re looking for fun winter break activities for elementary students or even middle school students, you’ll want to put this Skittles activity on your list.

Start by placing Skittles around a plate. Then pour some hot water in the middle. You want there to be enough water that it reaches the Skittles but doesn’t drown them. 

In a few seconds, you’ll notice the colors start to come off, making beautiful rainbow art! Since the coating on Skittles is made of mostly sugar and food coloring, the warm water causes the color and sugar to dissolve and diffuse through the water. This is a quick science lesson that’s also fun to watch.

2. Visit a Museum

Schedule a family day trip to a museum. This can include a natural history museum, aquarium, or zoo. Any of these places can be fun and educational at the same time. 

Rather than choose the location for them, have your student decide where they want to go. When you put them in the driver’s seat, they’ll have more of an interest. If you’re having a tough time finding a spot, this resource can help you find a museum in your area. Or, if weather or time isn’t permitting, try a virtual field trip to a museum instead. 

3. STEM Projects

When it comes to activities for winter break that can also teach a lesson, you can’t go wrong with a STEM project. Teach Kids Engineering is one resource that is dedicated to raising the next generation of engineers. You can also view family-friendly videos, tutorials, and DIY projects. Many fun and exciting activities for winter break found here are easy for kids to try at home.

Some fun activities your student will find here include different LEGO projects like dancing robots, a LEGO music box, and a SpeedCuber Alarm Clock. 

If your student doesn’t find anything interesting there, they can always do a quick Google search to find plenty of fun and easy STEM projects to do during winter break.

Two young females on an ice rink in pink coats ice skating and enjoying a snowy winter day.

4. Go Ice Skating

While you may think that ice skating is just a physical activity, it is a mental activity, too. Skating requires a great amount of hand-eye coordination, requiring children to determine how to make different movements and motions work together. Whether you visit an ice-skating rink or live in an environment that allows you to skate outside, plan an ice-skating day to get your student moving while working on these skills.

5. Attend a Winter Camp

Camp isn’t just for summer! Your local parks and recreation department and YMCA may offer winter camps for children during their winter break. These can provide great opportunities to learn new skills while making new friends. YMCA camps can include activities like arts and crafts, swimming, music, and more

6. Bake Together

The holidays are a time for sweet and savory treats. Take advantage of delicious winter recipes, and indulge in a little math and science, too!

Encourage your child to help bake cookies, but double or triple the batch to practice measurements. Discuss the techniques you might use to achieve a cake-like or chewy cookie, and how science plays out inside the warm oven walls. When it's time to serve up a slice of chocolate cake or pecan pie, use fractions to figure out how much of the cake or pie is left over for tomorrow.

7. Read a Book for Fun

When school is in session, students are busy reading for their classes. Why not encourage them to read for fun during winter break? Let them choose a book that interests them and have them devote time each day during their break. You could even get the family involved by creating a winter break reading bingo challenge.

8. Write Thank You Notes and Holiday Cards

We can’t talk about activities for winter break without mentioning taking a moment to reflect on what you are grateful for.  Does your family send out holiday cards? Or maybe your child wants to thank an online school teacher? Keep your kid writing, even when the homework is complete! Winter break is a great time to practice handwriting and vocabulary skills.

Not only will your child get practice with the format and tone of a letter, but they will also have the opportunity to think about and express what they are thankful for and what they appreciate in others. Writing thank you notes and cards to the important people in their lives can help them feel more satisfied overall.

9. Make Handmade Holiday Gifts

When you’re looking for what to do over winter break, try creating some handmade holiday gifts. A gift made by hand carries special meaning. Younger kids can gather craft supplies such as markers, glue, pipe cleaners, glitter, and scissors while older kids might try their hand at knitting, painting, or even writing a song. Let your kids really make their project their own, and you can rest easy knowing your artist's imagination is getting a workout, too! 

10. Go on a Hike

Combine education and exercise in one activity by going on a hike. If the weather permits, take time to stop and notice the plants and animals around as you get the blood pumping. Note how different the environment is in winter than it is at other times of the year. Are there other plants or animals that you never noticed before? Check out animal tracks and even do some bird watching, if you can.

Make new memories and keep your student learning with these engaging activities for winter break. See how many your student can check off the list for a well-rounded, fun, and educational winter break.

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