Your kids can’t wait for winter break, right?  No school for how many weeks?????

I’m excited too (not as excited as my third grader, but still).  But you and I know that as much as our kids can’t wait to be on vacation, they’re going to be bored faster than you can say “You broke it already?”  Being bored is par for the course when you’re a kid on school vacation.

Regular readers of my posts know that I’m a huge advocate of free play when our kids are bored.  Unstructured time gives our children the chance to imagine and create.   When we leave our children to their own devises, they plan, organize, negotiate and make decisions.  In turn, their creativity and autonomy blossoms.

So what can we do to help our kids find meaningful vacation activities so we can have our own free time this holiday season?  (Personally, I’m looking forward to reading.  My mother-in-law always gets me the newest version of Best American Short Stories over the holidays—please don’t forget this year Laura. . .)

So what do we do this break when our kids say they’re bored?

First, we need to pay some attention to them.  Now that I have older children as well as younger ones, I know how quickly they stop coming to me when they’re bored.   Whether we play a game, read a story together or just hang out for a bit, the key is to connect with them and give them the attention they deserve before sending them on their way.  After all, as I know from my older ones, it won’t be long before they stop coming to us to play at all.   🙁

For this winter break, let’s see how long we can keep them off screens and creatively engaged.  Here are six fun and nearly screen-less activities to try:

Three Fun Things to Do Together

  • Create a treasure hunt (with clues) for the rest of the family to do. Older kids can create these on their own. We like using clues that rhyme.  (“You’ll find the next clue near a wall that is blue in a place where we eat where we try to be neat.”)

  • Cut up holiday cards that you’ve received and make holiday placemats for next year (you can find loads of fun and easy ways to do this craft on-line).

  • Create your own version of Mad Libs (or buy the official versions).  I often write a quick and silly short story about a princess or superhero or some such, then scratch off key nouns, verbs and adjectives and ask my daughter for her words.  And now that she’s old enough, she writes stories for me to complete as well.  Don’t forget to double space so you have room to add for your child’s words.

Three Fun Things for Our Kids to Do On Their Own (Or With Their Friends)

  • Have them create and illustrate a book of jokes, riddles and mazes (when they’re done they can give it to a friend or sibling).

  • Mix liquid hand soap, cornstarch and food coloring into washable paint and paint the inside of the bathtub. (When they’re done give them a book to read, lock the door, and take a relaxing bath yourself!)

  • Have fun with balloons.  Give your kids a head start on an upcoming Right At School unit that we’re launching in January.  Give them a bag of balloons and tell them to invent three new sports, three new art projects, and three crazy world records.

Being bored is not a punishment; it’s an opportunity for creativity.   Have a great winter break!




Mark Rothschild, Ph.D.


Right At School

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