8 Ways to Enjoy Winter Break

by Jacquie Fisher

xKids love to have time off from school and winter break allows for some unique exploration opportunities!  Here are eight ways to enjoy winter break and your vacation time (and maybe learn a little too).

Pair a Book with a Winter Activity

It’s always good to keep the kids reading, but sometimes you need to entice them a little.  Why not match a book to a fun winter activity?  Getting ready to build a snowman?  Try reading Snowmen at Night or The Biggest Snowman Ever.  Heading out to go ice skating?  The kids would enjoy listening to Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates as a read aloud.

Go Out & Explore Nature

Bundle up and head outside to see what’s going on with Mother Nature at this time of the year.  Do you see any animals in your yard or neighborhood – what are they doing?  What types of birds are still living near you and haven’t migrated?   Grab a notebook or journal and record animal activities each day to see if there are any patterns to their behavior.

Have an Indoor Camp-out

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a fun activity like camping.  Set up a tent or build a fort in your playroom.   Or pull the sleeping bags into the living room for the evening.  Grab a flashlight and some books for a fun read-in or turn out all the lights and tell spooky stories.  Make s’mores for a snack (you can make s’mores in the oven) and play some fun games like hide and seek or Simon Says.

Become a Citizen Scientist

Anyone can become a citizen scientist – it just means that you are involved in gathering information and data for a huge science project.  From December 14th through January 5th, you can participate in the Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count.  Families can register to join a local circle or even count birds visiting your own backyard.  The data collected is entered online and then used to learn more about our feathered friends and their winter behaviors.

Try a New Type of Art

Spend an afternoon exploring your local art museum.  Find a new type of painting, sculpture or piece of artwork and re-create something similar at home.  Have you ever tried painting like Michaelango?  Tape a sheet of paper under the table, put some old towels underneath and lie down to paint a picture.  Or explore the art of making paper snowflakes by cutting various designs to see which unfold into the most beautiful creations.

 “Visit” Hawaii

During the dreary winter months, why not visit someplace sunny!  Head to your library and check out a travel guide and video about the Hawaiian Islands.   Dress in some fun summer clothes (you may have to turn the heat up a little to stay warm) and enjoy a mini-vacation right from your own living room!  You might also borrow a cookbook with some fun Hawaiian foods to try for dinner that night.  And if you have access to an indoor pool at a local gym or YMCA, include some swimming fun in your ‘island day’ too!

Help Others

Why not spend a few hours helping others during your winter vacation?  Clean out your closets and donate to a local shelter, shovel a neighbor’s driveway or sort items at a local food pantry.  There are many people in need during the winter months so food and clothing donations are very much appreciated.  You could even organize a neighborhood food drive and have your friends help to collect the donations!

Learn about the Olympics

The Winter Olympics will begin in February 2014 and are being held in Sochi, Russia.  Have you ever tried ice skating, cross country skiing or curling?  You might enjoy one of these new winter activities.  You can also hold your own mini-Olympics at home over winter break.  Decide on 3 or 4 physical events that your family would enjoy and ‘compete’ to see who will win – who can build the biggest snowman in 10 minutes?  Who is the sock-skating champion in your house?  Make the events fun and give out homemade medals.

Or maybe you’re curious about other counties – there will be athletes from more than 70 different countries competing in the 2014 Olympic Games.  You can learn more about the counties participating, the events and Sochi on the official Winter Olympics website.

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