Why does it feel like we are always so pressed for time in December? Oh, yeah, because it’s the holiday season, children are off from school, for some it’s year-end at work or for small business owners, and we have to clean, cook, shop and entertain! That’s a lot to cram into a few weeks, not to mention all the other daily activities and…life. I know it may seem impossible, but there are ways to get a little bit of extra help from your kids and even teach them a few things!
Here are 5 fun in-home learning activities you can do with your children this holiday season and actually receive a bit of help in the process.
1. Holiday Sensory Bin (Ages 0-3)
I love sensory bins. They are an easy way to stimulate the minds of little ones, practice fine motor skills, and entertain them for a while so you can get some to-do items knocked off your list.
- Here are some objects you can add to a sensory bin with a holiday theme: Marshmallows, shatter-proof bells, holiday bows, shatter-proof ornaments, reindeer figurines, soft tree sprigs, poinsettia leaves, candles, fake snow, spoons or measuring cups for scooping, large tweezers for grabbing, etc.
- Give children something to accomplish if they are a bit older and have them find or take out all of a certain object, then another, and so on…
The items to add to sensory bins are endless!
2. Baking Cookies (Ages 2+)
Why does it seem like we bake cookies for the whole month of December? Oh, right, we do. Well, include the kids (maybe not in all, but some of the cookie baking)! Baking is a perfect opportunity to teach a bit of math, science, and fine motor skills.
- Math: Measuring out ingredients, adjusting recipes, adding measurements to the bowl, counting eggs, etc.
- Science: Turn the oven light on and watch the cookies bake!
- Fine motor skills: Holding spoons, holding spatulas, stirring, holding measuring spoons, filling measuring spoons, etc.
- Safety: Practice hand washing, appropriate use of kitchen tools, tools not to touch, etc.
Don’t drive yourself crazy with this one! Maybe just pick one item to focus on.
3. Interactive Storytime (Ages 3+)
One of my favorite things to do with children is read. Break out those holiday themed books and have an interactive story time!
- Ask questions during the story about relatable topics
- If it is a book you read to your children often ask them what happens next
- For older children, take turns reading pages from the book
Get the whole family involved! Put on a short play from a scene in the book, make simple costumes and create small lines for the play - maybe even put the play on for your family on Christmas Day or throughout Hanukkah.
4. Writing Out Holiday Cards (Ages 4+)
Why do this all yourself? Who wouldn’t love to receive a holiday card from a grandchild, niece or nephew?
- Practice drawing or writing skills!
- Have children choose who they would like to send the card to, address it (or let them do that), and then let them take it from there (with some writing help if needed)
This should make writing out all of your holiday cards a bit more fun and engaging!
5. Delegate Responsibilities (Ages 5+)
There is so much to do, so, delegate! Give each of your children a responsibility this holiday season and let them take charge.
- Tag or label the holiday gifts (or help you wrap)
- Set the table (or count out plates, cups, forks, spoons, napkins, etc.)
- Set the kid’s table
- Babysit! Pay older children $5 dollars to watch (play with) your 2 or 3-year-old niece or nephew for an hour or two
- Help you make a side dish
- Dry dishes after you wash them (or non-breakable items for younger children)
Create a "Holiday Responsibilities" list and hang it on the fridge so everyone knows who is responsible for what this month!
Now, it may not all turn out as smoothly as you would love for it to, but children will certainly enjoy be included in the holiday preparation.
Good luck and happy holidays!