Here are some ways to keep kids, from toddlers to teens, entertained during the holiday break from school.
- Take advantage of local programs: There's lots going on in the community for kids over winter break, and many of the offerings are free. Check out the Evanston Public Library, the McGaw YMCA, the city website and, of course, our calendar of events for local listings.
- Art: You can create an art kit for your kids with just a shoebox filled with colored pencils, crayons, pens, scissors, tape, a glue stick and a small sketchpad available at Blick Art Materials, Target or even Walgreens. Tweens and teens will find inspiration to start drawing, doodling and journaling from books such as Carla Sonheim’s Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun, The Art of Silliness: A Creativity Book for Everyone and Drawing and Painting Imaginary Animals: A Mixed-Media Workshop with Carla Sonheim. Other examples are Dawn DeVries Sokol’s books Doodle Diary: Art Journalizing for Girls, Art Doodle Love: A Journal of Self-Discovery and Doodle Sketchbook: Art Journaling for Boys. Also worth checking out is Journal Bliss: Creative Prompts to Unleash Your Inner Eccentric by Violette. Check the Evanston Public Library for these selections and more.
- Indoor fort-building with paper snowball fights: Natalie Kryger, a mom of four boys under age 15, encourages parents to not overbook kids with activities over the break. “Boredom is often the mother of invention. Make a fort in the living room with blankets and have an indoor snowball fight with wadded up wrapping paper from Christmas.”
- Pizza and movie party: Kryger says “have your own pizza party with a personal size pizza dough ball" - you can purchase pizza dough at local grocers including Jewel, Dominick's, and Whole Foods. "Have them choose toppings from a selection on the table, bake and let them settle in with a favorite movie."
- Go outside and play: We haven't has substantial snow yet, but that could change. Even if we don't get enough to get out and build a snowman, you could bundle up and take a nature trek along the lake with the whole family.
- Play with paper: The traditional Japanese art of origami offers hours of fun and enhances your child’s spatial skills. Tom Angleberger’s Star Wars-themed origami books including The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee, The Strange Case of Origami Yoda and Darth Paper Strikes Back offer both reading and origami fun.
- Puppet show: Attach a clothesline or rope across a doorway. Throw a sheet over it for a curtain and use a box below on the floor for the stage. Give kids paper bags and crayons for easy DIY puppets. Break out the socks and gloves, yarn, foam, puff balls, glue gun and googly eyes for fancier versions. Miyako Kanamori's Sock and Glove: Creating Charming Softy Friends from Cast-Off Socks and Gloves is a great resource, also available from Amazon.
- Break out the board games: Younger kids will love playing games such as Apples to Apples with you, and older kids will enjoy classic board games like Scrabble and Monopoly. If you don't have any board games, you’ll find them on sale—and often in great condition—after the holidays at resales shops like Hand Me Downs or the Junior League Thrift Store.
- Bake: My mother bakes cookies with my son and daughter every year during the holiday break, teaching them how to make the cookies her Lithuanian mother made for her as a child. You can bake at home with your kids, or have grandparents deal with the mess at their house!
TELL US: What do you plan on doing with your kids during winter break? Share in the comments below.