Winter break is coming soon. It is a wonderful time to enjoy the holidays with family, clear the mind, and take stock of the upcoming new year. Most adults appreciate the opportunity to take some time off, but often we hear from our children that they are bored.
Here are some family-friendly, low-stress suggestions to share with parents as your students head out for that well-deserved winter break. Consider including these ideas on your class website for parents to access anytime.
- Read a book:
- Check out books from your local library to read digitally
- Choose from the many online options at Just Free Books (reviewed here). Children’s book titles include classics such as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Little Women, and The Jungle Book.
- Get ideas from Book Club for Kids Podcast (reviewed here)
- Learn a language:
- Duolingo (reviewed here) – Select from many different languages to learn. Duolingo encourages users to learn through daily lessons that use game-like features.
- Lyrics Training (reviewed here) – Select a language and choose from the provided music videos to begin learning one of the languages offered by Lyrics Training. Each game is available in four levels, from beginner to expert.
- At-home math games/activities:
- Boddle Learning (reviewed here) – learn and reinforce math skills using game-playing activities. Activities adapt to student responses.
- Prodigy (reviewed here) – Prodigy provides elementary students with math and language arts games. Players battle in mystical worlds to earn new spells to progress further within the game experience.
- Write letters and thank you notes:
- Handwritten – No tech required! Write and mail thank you notes to friends and relatives for holiday gifts or to say hello.
- Digital – Create a simple one-page website to share thank-you notes with family and friends. Most sites have easy-to-modify templates that are perfect for sharing holiday information. For example, use a portfolio template found on Carrd (reviewed here) to create a thank you page that includes images of the family celebrations taken during the holiday season, then share the link with family and friends. In addition, Carrd offers an option to add a password to your sites for added security and limits viewing to only those with the link and the password.
- Learn about countries around the world:
- Window Swap (reviewed here) – Travel the world by opening windows found around the world. Click on the link to go to Google Maps to explore the area further (free registration is required, or open a new tab to visit Google Maps and search for the location in the window).
- Google Maps Treks (reviewed here) – Where do you want to go? Click on a link to visit Samburu National Reserve in Kenya, meet the elephant families of the reserve and learn about steps to protect the elephants. Other treks explore Germany, Canada, Brazil, and more using Google Maps placemarks and vivid images.
- Try some science experiments:
- At-Home Science from Exploratorium (reviewed here) – This site has many science experiments to complete at home using commonly found materials. For example, explore mixtures by making outrageous ooze, make a Pringle’s pinhole camera, or grow crystals from Epsom salt. This site shares plenty of ideas for experimenting every day over winter break!
- Discover your passions:
- Thriveley (reviewed here) – Visit the student section to take the free assessment to discover individual strengths and interests and explore career options.
Middle and High School Students:
- Begin writing a college essay:
- College Essay Builder (reviewed here) – Learn how to write a powerful college essay using the step-by-step tools on this free website.
- Study for standardized testing:
- Khan Academy Official SAT Practice (reviewed here) – Maximize test scores using the official practice test created in cooperation with the College Board. The interactive activities include questions, videos, and test-taking strategies.
- Number2.com (reviewed here) – This site provides information and resources for standardized tests and quick activities. Scroll down on the home page to find ACT, SAT, and GRE questions and words of the day. Use these short practice activities to gear up and prepare for spring testing.
- Build a volunteering resume:
- Find featured causes, volunteer opportunities, scholarship opportunities, and more at DoSomething.org (reviewed here).
- Career exploration:
- What do you want to do for a living? The US Department of Labor’s My Next Move website (reviewed here) guides users through exploring careers in three different ways. One option uses keywords to begin exploring dream careers; the next provides pathways through specific industries, and the final option uses the O-Net profiler to find jobs that match individual interests and training.
- Learn something new:
- Take advantage of lectures, podcasts, and information shared on TED-Ed (reviewed here) to learn about a topic of interest. Explore the site by topic or search by Playlists. Playlists provide an excellent starting point for exploring popular content found on TED.
- Alison (reviewed here) – This free learning platform offers over 4000 courses on various topics. Many offer certificates for successful completion.
- Prepare new recipes:
- Foodista (reviewed here) – This community for food lovers shares recipes, food news, and a popular blog. Try one of the most popular recipes or find healthy eating ideas for the new year.
- Begin searching for scholarships and grants:
- Start at College Scholarship Information (reviewed here) to find links to the most popular scholarship search sites, lists of online and in-person colleges, women’s colleges, and more.
- Visit RaiseMe (reviewed here) to earn micro-scholarships from over 300 partners starting in 9th grade. Unlock scholarships based on your portfolio, including academic achievements, club activities, volunteering, and sports.
- Read classic books/watch classic movies:
- Visit the Library of Congress (reviewed here) to find and read classic books online.
- Watch classic movies on Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube. Start with this list of the 40 Best Classic Films Ever Made to find ideas.
- Find new podcasts:
- Stuff You Missed in History Class (reviewed here) – These podcasts are educational and entertaining. The hosts use storytelling to take listeners behind the scenes to learn more about the history behind historical events.
- The Math Dude: Quick and Dirty Tips (reviewed here) – This is an engaging podcast, even if math isn’t your favorite subject. Discover why a circle has 360 degrees or the magic of the number 9. Each podcast includes a transcript that makes math easier!
Winter break should also be a time to relax. Try starting or ending your day with Do Nothing for 2 Minutes (reviewed here) to calm your mind. Can you sit and relax for two minutes?
Build community and stay in touch with families and students over the winter break by creating a topic on Flip (reviewed here) to share their activities. For example, students might share a new recipe found on Foodista or discuss a virtual visit to the elephant sanctuary.
Winter Break is an excellent time for relaxing and pursuing individual interests without the time restrictions and demands of keeping up with classroom activities. What suggestions do you have for stress-free kid activities? We always enjoy learning from our readers; share your thoughts in the comments below.