Between work and school, families don’t get to spend a lot of quality time together during the week. However, during school break, school is removed from the equation, opening up a bit more free time and giving families a chance to slow down and enjoy each other’s company. These family-centered activities will help you use school breaks as an opportunity to enjoy some positive interaction with your kids, bring some learning into your household, and accomplish something pretty incredible in the process.
No activity will fit every family perfectly, but these activities can be easily adapted to work for your family. They’re all designed to get you working together and interacting with your kids during the school break.
1. Writing Stories
Use school break as the opportunity to write a story together as a family. It could be a story about the ultimate family vacation, an exaggerated event of something that happened to a member of your family, or a new fairy tale that you’ll pass along to generations. You can purchase a blank storybook from a teaching supply or craft store and fill it with your own words or pictures, or just type up the story on the computer and print it out for everyone to enjoy. Want to take it a step further? Turn your story into a short play or movie.
Not interested in writing an elaborate story? Sit around and play the “finish the story” game where you each take turns adding lines to an oral story. You can also check out Help Teaching’s Seasonal and Holiday worksheets which feature story starters and images designed to spark kids’ imaginations so they can write short creative stories, as well as other fun learning activities to keep kids’ brains sharp during school breaks.
2. Going on a Treasure Hunt
If there’s somewhere your kids have always wanted to visit, why not turn it into a treasure hunt or a map-reading adventure? You can use some of Help Teaching’s free geography printables to brush up on your map-reading skills. Then you can work with your kids to create a map and follow it to the treasure or the special place. While you may have to drive the car, your kids can still a good bit of the navigating.
If you don’t want to travel too far, look for geocaching or letterboxing activities in your area. With these activities kids must learn to read coordinates and uncover clues to help find unique messages, treasures, and other fun items left by other people.
3. Creating a New Invention
Let kids combine science, creativity, and problem-solving to come up with their own inventions during school break. With a kit like those from MaKey MaKey kids can make all kinds of computer-programmed inventions, such as a game controller made from Play-Doh or a piano made from bananas. The possibilities are endless and will get kids to not only have fun, but to make something really cool in the process.
While MaKey MaKey is really cool, you don’t have to spend money on an expensive kit either. Get kids to use items around the house to come up with simple inventions. For example, they may use a plastic soda bottle to make a holder for their MP3 player or a special wrist brace from a coat hanger and a sock. Did you know that the popsicle was invented by an 11-year-old and a 6-year-old invented a fanny pack for video games? Think of the cool things your kids could invent with your help. If you don’t have the materials on hand to make it, draw a photo and write a description of the invention so you can build it later.
4. Designing a Program
Similar to creating a new invention, help kids build their tech skills by learning to code and creating computer programs. As a family, you can use programs such as Scratch, Hopscotch, and Tynker to create games, stories, and fun animations. You may also have fun building and interacting in a virtual world with a program like Minecraft or just have fun building virtual cities and other LEGO creations as you play around with Build with Chrome. While computer-based activities may not seem like a family-centered activity, you can always pull up an extra chair to the computer desk and talk to each other as you design and build collaboratively.
5. Conducting Research
Maybe you’ve always wanted to explore your family’s history or there’s a topic you and your kids share an interest in. Use school break as a time to conduct a family-centered research project. Just like kids complete group projects at school, you can assign roles and have each family member contribute to the research. Then you can come together to share what you’ve learned. While you may not write a traditional research report, you could add details of the research to a family scrapbook or write a short book about your findings to add to your bookshelf.
6. Decorating Your Home
School breaks also give you a chance to enjoy some fun decorating projects around the home. While you may not want your kids’ help with decorating your living room, you could work on creating fun decorations for their own rooms or even let kids re-arrange or redecorate their entire room. Help Teaching’s art worksheets provide activities such as color wheels and quizzes on colors and tints to help get kids thinking about the color schemes they want in their rooms. You can work with them to draw up blueprints, head to the hardware store to find paint chips, and go to the fabric store to look for swatches, and then put it all together into a fun new room design. Even if funds don’t allow kids to really re-decorate their rooms, it can be fun for them to dream.
Which activity are you going to do with your kids during their next school break? Share your project ideas and results in the comments.