Nine Ways to Engage Kids’ Minds Over Winter Break

Nine Ways to Engage Kids’ Minds Over Winter Break

(Phoenix, Arizona) – For many families Winter Break means events, shopping and time to build memories. Kids relish time-off from formal learning, not realizing this break presents great opportunities to stimulate their brain with hands-on learning and new experiences.

Madison Elementary School District Superintendent Dr. Quinn Kellis has helpful advice for caregivers and parents to keep brains growing over the winter break.

“Kindergarten through third grade is a critical time for children to meet important literacy and learning milestones that will lay the foundation for future academic and life success,” Kellis said.  “Most parents may feel the holidays are crammed with events and activities, but with a little creative thinking, can turn winter break into a opportunity to expand young minds and encourage learning.”

He continues, “In addition to reading, writing and critical thinking, early literacy involves skills such as vocabulary, phonemic awareness*, print awareness** and learning to listen. Parents can help kids develop these and other important academic skills while enjoying typical Winter Break activities like the ones below”:

  1. Letter to Heroes and Expressions of Thanks: Practice critical writing and reading skills with writing, or drawing letters to servicemen and woman. Younger children can practice writing their name and drawing pictures that will be sure to spread holiday cheer. Use a globe to locate the areas our nation’s heroes are serving to expand geography comprehension. Thank you notes for holiday gifts received is a great variation on this.
  2. Snow Writing: If you do venture to the snow this winter break, practice writing letters, numbers and words in the snow. Younger children can practice their name, while older ones try to spell unfamiliar words or write a short story.
  3. Holiday Vocabulary: What is a Dreidel, yuletide, caroler? Stretch kid’s vocabulary by relating new holiday words with ones they already know.
  4. Educational Car Rides: If driving a long distance to visit family and friends, make it a game by looking for letters, numbers and colors on license plates and billboards. “I Spy” can even be fun for older children.
  5. Listening in Your Backyard: Sit in your backyard next to your child, close your eyes and have them listen and identify sounds like the birds, dogs, leaves rustling in trees or different types of vehicles driving by. For younger children, ask what letter each word starts with.
  6. Shopping List: Have older children write out a shopping list and help compare prices for the best deal. When getting ready to pay, have them review the receipt to make sure the math is correct, then allow them to count out cash to pay.
  7. Family Game Night: Winter break is the perfect time to play board games as a family. Allow younger children to count spaces, while older children read the instructions or cards at their turn.
  8. Book a Night: Commit to reading a book a night to your child/children over the winter break. Keep a few stories in the car that a parent in the passenger seat can read out loud while driving home from evening events.
  9. Cook up Learning: Having children cook with you, measure ingredients, and read words and numbers from recipes will be a delicious way to keep their brain active and make tasty memories. Be sure to cover safe kitchen and cooking practices beforehand.

Kellis added, “No matter how you spend your winter break, thinking about ways to encourage literacy and learning in your young children will have them refreshed and ready to return to school in January.”

* Phonemic awareness (share how words are made of different sounds)

** Print awareness (show how printed letters are symbols for sounds and words)

Learn more about Madison Elementary School Districts high-performing schools at .

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