Winter break is almost here and that means…weeks and weeks of time where you need to keep your children engaged! The excitement leading up to the holiday is enough to keep many kids occupied. There are cookies to bake, shopping trips to take and gifts to wrap and shake. There is also the chance to make gifts. Bookmarks are easy to cut out and decorate - attach a photo of your child and it is an instant keepsake. Have your child write and illustrate a story for a favorite relative or friend. When family visits, encourage your children to share their favorite books.
There are many fun children’s books written about every holiday and many series put out special editions, too. Series examples include Pete the Cat, Pinkalicious, Sesame Street, Clifford, Curious George, Duck and Goose, Llama Llama, and many more. Visit the library several weeks in advance as holiday books are in demand.
Once the holidays have passed, the presents are opened and the novelty has worn off the shiny new toys, what do you do next? Don’t forget that in all the excitement, sometimes kids just need some down time. Encourage them to choose one of their new books and give them the space and time to read. Can’t get them to calm down? Here are some fun activities that incorporate reading, grammar and spelling, but don’t tell them!
WRITE THANK YOU NOTES
Let’s get this one out of the way…have your children write their thank you notes. While the gift is still fresh in their minds, assist your children in writing thank you notes. This is great writing practice and really allows your child’s personality to shine.
BROWSE FOR BOOKS
Use your bookstore gift cards. Browsing in a bookstore and getting to choose their own books is a big step toward independence for children. Your gentle guidance may be necessary, especially if you decide to redeem online.
MAKE IT A MOVIE NIGHT
Watch a movie based on a favorite book. Have a movie marathon if the entire book series has been adapted to the big screen. After the movie, discuss how the book and the move differ, asking your child to recall any scenes that were different. If your child is too young for a full-length films, there are many great picture book adaptations available as well. Some of my favorites come from Weston Woods and also include study guides for many titles.
PLAY A GAME
Play a game. There are age appropriate versions of Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit available and these games really promote learning and spelling skills. These family friendly versions of the games also reinforce dictionary use skills.
MAKE A PLAYLIST
Taking a road trip during your vacation? Don’t forget the audio books! Choose a title that the entire family can enjoy, or download free audiobooks from your local library for each family member on their own device.
GO TO THE LIBRARY
Speaking of audio books, teachers and librarians know that listening to an audiobook while a child follows along in a printed book is a great way to reinforce spelling, vocabulary and comprehension skills. Encourage your kids to checkout both formats from the library to enhance the story time experience.
ACT IT OUT
Put on a play, or act out scenes from your favorite books. A favorite in our house is the Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems. The banter between the two main characters is often fraught with emotion, making it fun to perform.
COLOR COLOR COLOR
Share the joy of coloring. Did your kids get a new box of crayons or colored pencils for the holidays? Join the adult coloring craze, a great stress reliever, while bonding with your kids. Unleash your creativity and tie-in to popular books such as the Harry Potter series.
MAD FOR MAD LIBS
Mad Libs, a fun grammar game that has been around since the 1950s, is a perennial favorite. Help your kids learn the difference between adjectives and adverbs, and produce giggle inducing stories in the process.
READ AND DO
Enhance the reading experience for your younger children by exploring our themed Read and Do activities or check out our Printables that promote reading readiness.
You’ve done it, you’ve survived the winter break and enriched the lives of your children while having fun in the process, way to go! Now don’t forget to find some downtime for yourself to relax with a good book. Happy reading!
I am a BOOK IT! Team Member who is passionate about reading and pizza. It has been less than 1 day since I last ate Pizza Hut pizza, and about 20 minutes since I stealthily read a few pages of a book.
I truly believe that kids shouldn’t read because they have to, they should read because they want to! Find the right book, and get them hooked on reading for the fun of it. These recommendations are based on my 20+ years as a public library director, my 13+ years as a mother, and my 40+ years as a reader. Please don’t try to do the math - I’m experienced, let’s leave it at that.