Winter break is all about lazing around at home, snuggling inside a warm blanket with a book, drinking lots of hot chocolate and getting ready for the end-of-the-year festive season. It is understandable that children want to take it easy during this time because they would have just finished their pre-holiday tests and are eager just to play and relax.
But parents need to be aware of what comprises play. Is it sitting for long hours on the couch with video games for company? Or engrossed in the laptop or tablet, watching movies or checking out YouTube? Research has suggested that children lose a lot of learning during the summer and winter breaks because they are cut-off from all study activity. We are not suggesting that you urge your kids to take out their school books and start studying to make up for the lack of learning. Instead, why not involve them in some fun and meaningful activities during the winter-break that will not only keep them engaged but also work up their brains as well as their bodies?
Here are some exciting activities that children can try during the holidays:
1. Go off electronic, try handmade toys
Suggesting this might initially put your children into panic mode, considering most children these days love electronic toys as well as video-based content. But, if you give them a really exciting alternative, it could work wonders. Teach them to make interesting handmade toys at home using simple materials. They can play with the toys, and these will keep them busy for a long time. This particular activity is recommended for children in the 5-9 age group, who are still playing with toys and have the dexterity to make one, of course, with help from parents.
What you can make --
- A race track out of an old shoe box, where they can put up props and cars to play a racing game with friends
- a doll out of cotton wool and cloth
- a periscope with a PVC pipe
- Animal masks/finger puppets in animal shapes
2. Play some traditional games
As the world is moving towards online games and video-based content, our children are losing touch with the regular games that give good exercise to the mind and body. Teach your children to play Indian games that were popular in our childhood but are slowly losing their significance today. Some of the games you can introduce to them include Lagori (seven stones), Kho Kho, Gilli Danda and board games like Pachisi, Aluguli Mane and Paramapadam (snakes and ladders). It will keep kids involved for long and teach them various skills such as analytical thinking, precision, running, decision-making and so on.
3. Take them on a local excursion
It’s not the mall we are thinking of! Winter-break is the perfect time to get out for a picnic, visit a museum or make a trip to your city’s marine aquarium. Planning a day outdoors, with a visit to the natural history or science museum followed some relaxed time in the park incorporates both fun and learning. Children will imbibe knowledge without even consciously being aware that they are learning something. If you have small children, encourage them to get on a swing or see-saw in the park or to try the jungle gym.
4. Make home-made playdough
Haven’t you seen kids feeling elated when they get all messy, even though they will pull a mock-sad face when you give them an admonishing look? Children love getting their hands dirty, so give them an activity which will allow them to make a mess while teaching them a few things. Making playdough at home will help them get creative and use their imagination while working on a lot of different skills. They learn Math (what to add and how much), questioning, get information about different materials, learn language skills and so on.
Here is a simple playdough recipe --
- Mix two cups of plain flour to half a cup of table salt in a bowl.
- In a smaller bowl, mix one tbsp of oil with one cup of water and a few drops of food colour.
- Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly, then knead the dough till it is smooth.
- You can refrigerate the dough for a few hours.
- Make many batches of different colours, and your little one will be thrilled to play with it.
5. Join a library
Encourage your children to get into the habit of reading when they are small so that you inculcate in them a love of books. While many of us often buy books for our little ones, there is nothing like stepping into the neighbourhood library and taking in the whiff of old books. Turning the pages of books in a library gives you a feeling that is like no other and introducing children to this amazing world of the written world will reap reach benefits. Make it a point to schedule regular weekly visits with your child, even after the holidays are over.
Holidays allow you more time to bond with children, and these activities will give parents the perfect opportunity to build lasting relationships with them.