During the month of December I find that our usual homeschooling routine can sometimes feel like just too much. The weeks before Christmas are filled with events and traditions that make the in-between days feel a little too ordinary. I have found that it is a good time to take a break from some of our daily school work and do some unconventional learning instead.
Take a winter nature hike
Although it is tempting to stay inside during cold weather days, taking a hike with your kids is an excellent thing to do for strong bodies and minds! It doesn’t need to be complicated, just walking together and observing your surroundings is enough for a fulfilling experience.
Pay attention to any plant life or animals and talk about how they look different during the winter months. The picture book When Winter Comes is one to check out from your library. It is a sweet book for little ones who may not yet have the stamina to spend a long period of time outside during cold temperatures.
And for those days when your kids have waaaayyy too much energy use a stopwatch to time how long it takes them to run around your house… then encourage them to try to beat their time!
Experiment in your own kitchen
Let your kids practice their math and science skills while they measure out ingredients to make dough ornaments or Borax Crystal Snowflakes. Read about this family’s adventure with a Candy Cane Science Experiment and try one of your own.
Maximize your couch time together
Winter is our favorite season to spend extra time reading aloud together. I shared some of our favorites from years past in this post. You can also try writing and illustrating a story together as a family, or one on one with a single child. It will pass the time and make a great keepsake!
On those days when you need to get something done and need to keep your kids entertained at the same time, pull out an audiobook. Our library connects to an app where we have countless options, but if you don’t have this resource try out Librivox. This is a free audiobook site that is produced by volunteer readers from around the world.
My younger kids also enjoy The Good and The Beautiful Storytime website. It is a great alternative to turning on a show for your little ones. My four through eight year olds especially enjoy these books.
We also have a “book a day” tradition that we like to do in December. Over the years I’ve accumulated a collection of winter or Christmas themed picture books that I only bring out during this month. I will often order a few books from the library to add some new choices. The entire pile is kept in a big bag where we pull out one random book to read each day. If you’re feeling really ambitious you can individually wrap each book in wrapping paper!
Set the table with brain enriching activities
Boredom can be the best motivator when it comes to creativity in our kids. Sometimes just setting out a new activity on your table can entice a child to come and participate.
Print out this questionnaire and help your kids do a phone interview with someone elderly to learn about their life.
Having some Christmas cards or stationary (plus envelopes and stamps!) ready to go makes writing a letter to a grandparent much easier.
Figure out this Christmas message by breaking the code.
Get out a stack of games to choose from (HERE are some of our favorites)
Set out strips of paper and a stapler or glue stick to make a Christmas paper chain.
Hand draw Christmas cards and mail to someone who might need some cheer. For some geography practice you can print out a map to keep track of where you send cards to.
Cut up old Christmas cards or photos to make into puzzles… or draw pictures to design your own!