With the holidays approaching, many parents are making plans for how to entertain the kids. While there will be time for merriment and traditional activities, the break from school is also an excellent time to explore new ideas and learn new things.
As parents know, children are at risk of backsliding over the holidays. Kids can forget what they’ve learned at school during term time and take a couple of weeks to get back up to speed when they go back to school.
The good news, though, is that there’s plenty that you can do to arrest this process and keep their minds active over the winter break. Here are some of the best holiday activities that you might want to try this year.
Ask Children What Gift That They Would Give The World
The holidays are a traditional time to give gifts, ostensibly to show your appreciation of the people around you. Unfortunately, this isn’t always how it plays out. Often it’s a negotiation between parents and children on how much money they’re willing to spend.
Many parents want to change the dynamic. Instead of getting children to tell you what they want, ask them what gifts they would give the world if they could.
The great thing about this activity is that it refocuses their attention outward from themselves, and towards humanity. What they come up with is often very interesting.
Sometimes, they’ll ask for inventions that solve humanity’s problems, like rockets that let people get to space cheaply (Elon Musk is working on this). Other times, they’ll ask for solutions to the issues that they think are important, such as more toilets in Africa. Find out which problems they want to solve and then prod them to come up with ways of solving them that involve the giving of gifts. Their ideas are usually quite astounding.
Buy Educational Toys
For kids, Christmas is all about new, fun toys. But as the Le Toy Van Christmas Gift Guide makes clear, toys aren’t just about play – they’re educational too.
The most educational toys tend to be those that you can pull apart and then put back together. Simple toys, like block sets, are great for younger children who are only just getting to grips with the way that reality works. More complex toys, like Lego, are better for older children.
These toys allow kids to construct things, pull them apart, and then come up with better designs. The more that parents can encourage their children to play creatively with toys, the more they’ll master their environment, and the less they’ll backslide over the holidays.
Do Some Christmas Research
Questioning the status quo is always important and something that kids do naturally. After all, they’ve been exposed to it for less time than we have.
The holiday period is peppered with all kinds of seemingly arbitrary traditions that are worth exploring. You could set any of the following questions:
- Why do people put trees in their living rooms over the holidays?
- Why are there twelve days of Christmas?
- Why do people eat turkey for Christmas dinner?
- What is the meaning of Boxing Day?
You get the idea. What’s fun about these questions is that the answers are a lot more interesting and nuanced than you might think. A single sentence response won’t suffice. Plus, it teaches your children that culture is essentially something transient and malleable, not permanent and fixed. They can create their own cultures if they want.
Some of the most famous poems ever written were inspired by the holiday season. How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Night Before Christmas, and so on are all classics.
You and your kids can sit down, read the poems, and then analyze them for meaning. By delving into the lyrics, you’ll give your kids an understanding of the context that led to their creation and why the people who wrote them said what they did.
It’ll also teach your children essential concepts, like rhyme and rhythm.
Learn Why Snowflakes Are All Different
Kids are often fascinated to learn that every snowflake that falls from the sky is different. Most parents, though, don’t know why.
The holidays, therefore, are an excellent time for a science lesson. You can start with basic ideas, such as why water freezes, and then move onto more advanced concepts, such as the combinatorial theories that explain snowflake diversity.
How you pitch it depends on the age of your children. Save the more advanced concepts for when they get older.
Talk About All The Winter Holidays And Where They Come From
Most kids have a working idea of where Christmas comes from. Initially, people set up the holiday to celebrate the birth of Jesus. But it is by no means the only holiday tradition. In fact, the Christmas that we celebrate today looks a lot more like traditional pagan religions than it does anything, strictly speaking, Biblical.
It’s often interesting for children to find out that various traditions are often a melding of multiple histories. Pagan religions and Christianity combined in the middle ages and gave birth to the Christmas that we have today.
Solve Christmas Math Puzzles
Kids love brain teasers, especially if they involve Santa Claus.
Santa Claus is a busy man on Christmas eve. Working out how fast he has to travel during the night to put presents down every chimney in the country is fun.
Remember, if you know the distance and the time, you can work out the speed. The time is however long Santa has on Christmas Eve to make deliveries, usually between 10 pm and 5 am. That gives him seven hours. Santa also has to travel to all of the millions of homes in the country. Working out the distance between all of them is a little trickier.
Speed is equal to distance over time, so you divide the distance Santa traveled by the time that he had to do it, and you end up with a final figure. Fun or what?