The Christmas holidays will be here before we know it and the children can take a well deserved break from the school routine. However, learning doesn’t have to stop at Christmas time. In fact, there are many day to day activities in which children can practise and expand on what they have learnt at school. Here are some great ways to engage your children in maths, literacy and other subjects over the festive period.
The Christmas countdown.
An advent calendar is great for encouraging young children to practise their counting. Each morning, start counting from number 1 again, until you get to the correct number for the day. Repetition can be a very effective way to learn something.
If you want to be a bit more creative with your advent calendar, you could make your own ‘lucky dip’ jar with 24 pieces of folded paper, each with a fun activity written on it. If you don’t mind starting your advent countdown two days early (from the 29th November) you could even have an activity for each letter of the alphabet! Another alternative advent idea is to wrap 24 books and place them under the Christmas tree. Each evening, unwrap one and read together as a bedtime story. They don’t need to be expensive books, you could scour the local charity shops to find some pre loved bargains.
Wrap up warm and learn about nature in winter (use the activity sheet from last month’s Exploring Outdoors in Autumn and Winter article for inspiration). You could talk about the seasons and compare photos of the garden from different times of the year. If we’re lucky enough to get snow this year, you could ‘paint’ the snow with food colouring, or collect some in a tray, bring it indoors and watch what happens as it melts and the colours mix together. If it doesn’t snow, you could try this with coloured ice cubes instead!
Classic family board games are a traditional part of Christmas in most households. Introduce the kids to Monopoly, Scrabble and Charades, which can be great practise for maths, spelling and communication skills without them even realising they’re learning.
Baking mince pies or gingerbread men promotes a whole host of skills, from reading and understanding instructions, measuring ingredients, timing how long they have to be cooked for and of course, creativity.
Christmas themed puzzles and worksheets, such as wordsearches or dot to dots can be both fun and educational. Here is a simple colour by numbers sheet with three different versions to suit different levels of learning. The first is based on shapes rather than numbers, the second uses simple subtraction with a number line and the third is left blank for you to add your own key using whatever you think your child needs to work on. For older children this could be multiplication or division, or for an extra challenge they could create their own key!
There are many other ways you can encourage learning over the holidays, from days out and writing diaries, to making board games and even simple skills such as learning to tie their own shoelaces. But remember not to overload your child with new information and give them time to play and enjoy their Christmas holiday so they can return to school in the New Year feeling refreshed and ready to learn more!