Fun Family Learning Activities to Enjoy Over Winter Break

By Dr. Raymond Huntington

Winter break is a perfect chance for busy children to unwind and catch up on some sleep and social time. If family time is also on your agenda, here’s some great news: There are many games and activities that are both fun and educational, reinforcing academic skills without being heavy-handed. Here is a list of ideas to keep on hand for when the final school bell of the year rings this December: 

Bake cookies, cakes and treats. You won’t get much argument from your child when you suggest concocting some tasty sweets, and you’ll be teaching them some practical math while you’re at it. Baking involves measuring and estimating. It’s a hands-on way to show your child how to conceptualize fractions (e.g., by using measuring cups and spoons) and multiply (e.g., by doubling and tripling a recipe). Baking also introduces many science concepts. Research and discuss how baking soda works and why it’s an important ingredient for cookies and breads (and how it is different from baking powder). Talk about how temperature changes the state of food. 

Play card games. A deck of playing cards can keep your child entertained every night of winter break. Games like UNO and Go Fish incorporate early math concepts like recognition, strategy and reasoning. Teenagers might like more complicated games like cribbage. Search online for classic or teacher-created card games that will help your child develop a variety of academic skills. 

Play math games. Browse your local bookstore or department store for kid-friendly math games. Rummikub is the game where players try to use all of their numbered tiles by combining them in consecutive order or in sets of the same number. It involves strategy and sequencing and can easily be adapted for more of a challenge. Yahtzee is a classic dice game that has players think and plan ahead on how to earn the highest possible score. These are just two examples; look around online and you will discover many fun board games wherein math is an integral element or a more subtle aspect of play. 

Explore your area’ museums or cultural sites. An outing or two to a natural history, art or science museum can be eye-opening and fun for the whole family. Even something like a walking tour of your downtown is a great way to learn facts you didn’t know before about where you live. No museums in your town? Perhaps one of the prominent employers in your area would be willing to give you and your child a tour of the facility and talk about what they do.  

Learn real-world money management by playing Monopoly. Monopoly is a game you may own already that teaches so many valuable money lessons about saving, how to generate income, the power of compound interest, why investing pays off over the long term, and why it’s important to plan for unexpected life emergencies. Monopoly makes all of this real-world “grownup stuff” highly entertaining, and chances are, your child will remember these lessons for years to come. 

Read a book-turned-movie together. There are several popular books series that appeal to children of all ages and are excellent options for a family winter break book club. You could spend the first week and a half of break reading the book aloud together at night (while serving up some of those tasty baked goods you made) and then plan a night to watch the movie as a family. This could spark some enjoyable conversation about the plot and detail differences between the book and the film and which you and your child liked better. 

There are opportunities to learn everywhere. Of course, winter break is also an opportune time for children to catch up in school if they need a boost in one or more subjects. Huntington is here to help. Call 1-800 CAN LEARN to explore our individualized tutoring programs. Help your child make the most of this break from school so that they start the new year off on the right foot.