The holidays are here and so is winter! Gifts of books and word games and puzzles go a long way to promote literacy in your home as well as giving the kids educational and fun things to do on cold snowed-in days. Also, encouraging activities that use the imagination will keep kids engaged for hours.
Remember, there are more ways to entice your kids to read than books. Try some of these:
- Word Games like Scrabble and Boggle
- Crossword Puzzles and Word Searches
- Magazines like Sports Illustrated for Kids, Ranger Rick, National Geographic for Kids, American Girl
- Riddle and Joke Books
On Snow Days, my sister and I loved to play “School.” Have plenty of pencils, paper, notebooks and even a dry erase board handy. My children used to become “authors” when they wrote and illustrated stories. And, kids just love, love, love to write plays and then perform them for parents.
My children and I lived in small apartments or houses when they were growing up but we always, always had a huge covered cardboard box filled with construction paper, markers and crayons, scissors, glue, stencils, and scraps of gift wrap, ribbon, and gift cards. Let their imaginations go wild!
Don’t forget that there is a lot of power in a big old box. If you or a neighbor received a gift in a big cardboard box, drag it into the garage, basement, or yard and let the kids play in it.
Feeling brave? Let the kids make “forts” in the living room, family room, or their bedroom using sheets and pillows.
It can be fun to work along with you children and take imaginary trips abroad. Pick a destination like Egypt or Africa and, together, do some research with library books and the Internet to find out all about your special place. Wouldn’t it be fun to research castles in Scotland? Build one with blocks or Legos. My girls always loved making things for their dollhouses.
Plan a Winter party for family or friends and let the kids make invitations, food, and a craft. You also might want to do some cooking together and wind the evening down with a gentle movie together. The next day, they might want to write a new ending to the story.
In the midst of a lot of academic responsibilities and work, kids still need to have free time to be themselves – unplugged – with just themselves and their imaginations as company. I’ve always argued that children have no way to get good at “thinking outside the box” when studying literature in school if they never practice by playing make-believe at home.
So, from my home to yours, happy holidays and happy winter fun! I’d love to hear what you and your kids are up to during the long winter days. “Happy Reading!”