Whether you’re vacationing or staycationing for spring break, we bet you could use a list of activities to keep your kiddos engaged during their time off from school. Here’s a list of some of our favorites for 4- to 12-year-olds. Our aim is to keep them learning while having fun!
Zoo Scavenger Hunt
Have your child make a list of zoo animals and create a “book” of fun facts about them – pictures included! Take the book to the zoo and use it to provide scavenger hunt clues. For example, if you said, “These are the largest carnivores on land,” they would say, “Polar bear!” and find the exhibit. It’s a great way to learn about the animals, as well as to practice reading maps.
Write a Letter
Remember how much fun it was to send and receive letters? Relatives will love finding a note from your child, of course, but it’s also fun to think of others to surprise. Who does your child interact with on a regular basis? School teachers, dance or karate instructors, babysitters, neighbors, and school friends would be delighted get mail! To make this activity even more interesting and meaningful, your child can design their own stationery.
Off the Beaten Path
A couple of totally free destinations in Chicago and San Francisco might reveal the artistic side of your child!
On Chicago’s west side, the Garfield Park Conservatory offers a splendid display of plants and flowers in their two acres of indoor space. Take a sketchbook and pencils to record favorite species!
In San Francisco’s Mission District, the Balmy Alley murals may inspire storytelling, so take a notebook to jot down those creative ideas! The murals are always changing, making this a fantastic place to keep on your “must visit” list.
Math and Executive Functioning in the Kitchen
Baking and cooking require both math and executive functioning skills like following directions, planning, organizing, and time management. Working in the kitchen also offers opportunities to think creatively and make mistakes – two things that are often stymied in school.
Kids Take Charge
Let your child flex their ownership muscle and plan a day’s outing. It could be as contained as an afternoon in the park or as extensive as a day touring a city (even your own). Depending on their age, they can create all or pieces of the door-to-door itinerary: choosing the activity, researching the location and price, scheduling in a meal, and coordinating transportation (e.g. take the el or Metra in Chicago; map out driving directions). Tip: discuss any non-negotiables like cost limits before they get to work!
On the Playdough to Plato website, you’ll find a huge variety of science projects appropriate for younger children (and some that even the big kids will enjoy). We really like bridge building because kids can modify their structures to make them stronger – gets them thinking like a scientist! The rainbow jar project is an easy activity that beautifully illustrates the concept of density.
We hope you’ll get as much out of these activities as your child. We’d love to hear about your experiences!