Make the focus of learning activities during winter break on having fun, learning new things that interest kids and keeping skills sharp. Now is not the time for tests, quizzes or formal projects. Here are 10 of the best educational winter break activities for elementary and middle schoolers.
A webquest is an online task that has kids find information on the Internet and use that information in meaningful ways. There are thousands of webquests online. Some of my favorite collections of webquests can be found at the University of Connecticut Literacy Web and Lee’s Summit.
Visit an Online Museum
Too snowy during winter break to get out and visit your favorite museum? Don’t fret. You and your child can visit many museums across the U.S. virtually over the Internet. Some of my favorites are the Online Titanic Museum,
Olga’s Gallery Online Art Museum, Smithsonian Online, and Museum Stuff which is a clearinghouse of thousands of online museums.
Play math games and puzzles
Looking for an easy effective way to practice your child’s math skills over winter break without having to hear moans and groans? Try math puzzles and games. Kids won’t even realize they’re sharpening those math skills.
Conduct Science Experiments
Have your kids engage in winter science experiments this winter break. They can build a winter weather station and observe local weather conditions. Have them keep a journal of their investigation and findings. TLC has a nice collection of winter science experiments.
Educational Car Rides
Winter break is a time when many people travel to see family. Use that extra car time to help your child practice school skills. Younger kids can practice their letters, counting and numbers. Be on the lookout for letters on license plates and numbers on road signs. Have kids count objects they see along the road and find certain colored cars.
The Internet is a fantastic resource for educational winter break activities. Suite 101 has some excellent learning games, as does PBS. NASA offers a program called build a space station. National Geographic’s prehistoric virtual journey is simply amazing.
Read for Pleasure
Book reports and required reading have their place, but that place is not during winter break. Let kids read what they want and watch their reading skills improve. Read aloud to kids or take turns reading from holiday stories as a family. Afterwards, ask kids comprehension questions to deepen their learning. Encourage reading by giving books as gifts.
Cook Up Math & Science Lessons
Cooking is an easy way to teach kids about math and science concepts during winter break. Reading recipes can even improve their reading skills. Baking cookies or helping with Christmas dinner can help kids learn about fractions, measurement and even chemistry.
Write Thank-You Notes
Writing within authentic contexts is a great way for kids to sharpen writing, spelling and penmanship skills. Have kids write notes of thanks to people who give them holiday gifts- teachers, friends, family members and even Santa. Help kids brainstorm what they want to write. Writing thank-you notes is also a great way to teach kids about addressing envelopes.
Use the Internet to Teach Kids to Read
Online reading programs offer kids an opportunity to learn to read or strengthen reading skills. Scholastic has an excellent collection of reading games and activities. Starfall features phonics games.