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5 Learning Activities To Help Children Through The Holidays

Updated: Dec 22, 2022

5 Learning Activities To Help Children Through The Holidays
Learning with a holiday twist!

With the winter holiday break fast approaching, families will gather together to celebrate the passage of another year. This holiday season should be an especially familial and close-knitted celebration after the COVID-19 pandemic forced thousands of families to remain separated last holiday season.

Part of the holiday season also means a temporary break from the school year for children in kindergarten all the way through Grade 12 and even university. For up to two weeks, children will not be in class (or online) participating in their regular school sessions. Instead, they’ll be at home or on vacation for a brief getaway with the family.

However, just because the schools will be closed for the winter break doesn’t mean that learning has to be placed on pause. The human mind is just like the body; the more exercise it receives, the better it can function. Learning and development are exercises for the mind and, for developmental minds in young children, especially, every day should be an opportunity to learn.

To help your child remain focused on their studies and mental prowess this holiday season, we’ve put together a list of five learning activities to help your children remain mentally focused throughout their temporary break. These games will test your child’s skills and knowledge so that they can go back to school in the new year as sharp and determined as ever.

Bingo & Bells: A Christmas math game for the entire family

  • This math game is a favourite with any family of children. Playing with any age group around the fireplace brings out the best of the holiday spirit when you win.

    • Step 1: Segment by school level

      • Elementary: Choose any operation you want (addition, division, subtraction, multiplication).

      • High school: Choose any math algebraic equation you want too.

    • Step 2: Like regular Bingo, families will now have to solve math (or algebraic) problems to know what number (algebraic answer) to strike off their page.

    • Step 3: Make a list of 75 math problems and write the answers on the same page.

    • Step 4: Create 5X5 bingo cards. Provide a Math Bingo Card for each participant playing. Use wrapped chocolates, or small ornaments to mark their answers.

    • Step 5: Randomly write answers to cards using the solutions from the 75 math problems list.

Gingerbread Man Math: A sweet test of the numbers

This game can be played both indoors by a warm fireplace, and/or outdoors in the snow. However, if played outdoors, layer up with boots and mitts to keep the cold out and the fun in!

Indoors, you can create a winter wonderland using festive coloured (traditionally red & green and 2021 gold) pieces of paper. Using Chalk scratch out a number from 1 to 9 on each piece of paper cut out in the silhouette of a Gingerbread man, Stockings, or a Wreath. Then, use the Christmas themed silhouettes of paper to test the child’s multiplication skills. Children hop from cut-out to cut-out, and each number they land on requires them to run through the multiplication table for that number from 1 up to 12.

For example, if the child lands on the Stocking cut-out labelled with a 6, they would list out 6x1=6, 6x2=12, 6x3=18, and onwards up to 6x12=72. Then, they would hop over to another Gingerbread Man silhouette and perform the same with that specific number. Like the word count game, this is another effective tool to improve kinesthetic learning and stimulate the mind this Festive Season.

Snowballs & Candy Canes: Ready, aim, count

Note: Family members need to be in Christmas pyjamas and can only play this game around the Christmas Tree. Cover a snowball style beach-ball with numbers using either stickers of numbers or permanent marker ink. While in pyjamas, one player can pitch the inflated snowball to another player and have them call out the number that the left pinky touches by using their finest festive voice.

After completing the task, they throw it to the next player who does the same and then adds their number to the first. This game must be endured for five minutes, and the total sum must be recorded. To monitor your progress, add the total sum to a graph whenever you play.

Play along with the spirit of the 12 Days of Christmas with 12 days of playing this game and then ask yourselves: On which day was the greatest sum achieved – reward yourself with that many Christmas candy canes.

Brain Tickler: Use a good mix of integers, decimals, and fractions to create a little competition.

Merry Christmitts: A math twist on gift wrapping & unboxing

To make this game work you will need a large dining table, a pair of dice, a Christmas hat, oven mitts and a WELL WRAPPED gift. I mean REALLY WELL WRAPPED!

This is a great game to test your “tables strength” and gross motor skills all while guaranteed to liven up any holiday get together. The first family member unwrapping the gift, MUST always wear the Christmas hat and oven mitts.

As the first family member begins unwrapping the gift, a second family member recites the multiplication tables (starting from the ones times tables) while rolling a pair of dice to achieve doubles. The hat, mitts and gift are passed on until the gift has been unwrapped in full. Enjoy!

Plop The Potato: Waddle for the win

To make this work you’ll need two even teams, 4 buckets, 12 potatoes, and a magic marker.

Number and mark each potato from 1 to 6, then split the family into two teams. Line up the two teams in a single file, and place a set of buckets with 6 labelled potatoes in front of each line and another bucket on the other end of the room.

Grab a potato out of the first bucket, read the number of the labelled potato out-loud, place the potato between your legs and while waddling to the other end of the room, recite the multiplication tables of the number listed on the potato between your legs and POOP/PLOP it into the bucket, like you would POOP/PLOP in a toilet. The first team to successfully “POOP/PLOP” all the potatoes into the bucket across the room wins!

Happy Holidays Everybody!

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