Surviving Spring Break

Spring Break... I'm sure it must have been people who did not have young children who came up with that name. With kiddos getting a week break from school and classes, as parents its great to have some fun activities to explore to reduce the temptation to rely on tablets and TV screens to keep everyone entertained. I find that if I give my girls an hour or two of my undivided attention they transition into unstructured, independent playtime much more easily (and without the whines of "I'm bored!"). 

Here are 4 days worth of activities that will help you survive and ENJOY Spring Break with your children!

Day 1:

Cooking: Pancake fun!: What kid doesn't love pancakes! If you normally have to hurry your children to school or other activities in the morning Spring Break offers a chance to have a more leisurely breakfast schedule. Using a whole wheat pancake mix and using apple sauce instead of oil or butter adds fiber and lowers the fat content. But since kids don't generally worry about that stuff, check out this video from Betty Crocker on how to make fun letters and shapes the kids will love!

Dance/Music: Brain Play: After breakfast get your kids bodies moving and their brains grooving through Brain Play. These 8 movement patterns not only integrate mind and body but encourage physical activity music and early literacy skills. Check out our Brain Play blog for videos on each rhyme and song!

Game: Tunnels and Mountains: Teach your kids about spatial relationships by playing this over and under game. Make a tunnel with different parts of your body and have your children explore ways they can crawl through the tunnel and travel under you. Next try making your body into a mountain (curl up like a ball, lay flat on the ground, etc) and let your children try different ways on climbing over the mountain. Kids love it when grown ups get on the ground and play with them. If you grow weary of being their play apparatus find things in the house (chairs, cushions, etc) that they can try going over and under. 

Arts and Crafts: Home made Kool-Aid Play Dough: What is more fun then play dough? Play dough that smells yummy! Check out this recipe. Just make sure to read ALL the instructions! Also check out our previous post on using feathers, googly eyes, and popsicle sticks to make play dough puppets

Story Time: Going on a Bear Hunt: This story based on a popular children's poem works perfectly for call and answer interactive story time. The fun illustrations and sounds for each part of the journey will keep kids giggling the whole way. Think of simple actions or have the kids act out the story as you read it to add some physical activity. 

In your Community: The Library: Why not check out your local library at the beginning of the week so the kids can pick some new books, music, and movies! Many libraries also have story times, crafts, and other activities planned for children over spring break!

Day 2:

Cooking: Worms and Dirt: This is probably my favorite treat to make with kids. A great special treat for Spring Break! Check out the recipe here!

Dance/Music: Make a Music Video: My girls can't get enough of watching themselves on the videos we make. Turn on the tunes, grab your video camera, maybe even put on some costumes and have the kids dance their hearts out as you film. Try different kinds of music and encourage them to dance the way the music makes them feel. Once your done plug the camera into the TV and watch your creations. Download the videos to your computer and send them to relatives. Burn them onto a DVD so you can show your kids these memories when they are older. 

Game: Alphabet Treasure Hunt: Create a sheet with all the letters of the alphabet and a space beside each large enough to write a word or draw a small picture. The object of the game is for each player to find words or objects that start with each letter of the alphabet. This game can be played anywhere! If you are feeling brave enough to venture outside, go for a walk and see if you can find a word for each letter of the alphabet in your neighborhood! 

Arts and Crafts: Painting with Cars: I love this project for the Artful Parent! All you need are small toy cars, paint and lots of paper. Let the kids dip the car wheels in paint and create their masterpiece by driving the cars all over the paper. I suggest looking for a big roll of paper and putting on the kitchen floor. This is a project that should entertain kids ages 1-8!

Story Time: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom: With bold, colorful illustrations and fun rhyming words this classic story about the Alphabet introduced children to both uppercase and lowercase letters. 

In your Community: Indoor Playgrounds: If it is still a snowy mess in your area try taking the kids to a local indoor playground! It is recommended that kids get 60 minutes of physical activity daily, but long winter days can make it hard to take little ones out in the cold. Indoor playgrounds provide a great option for kids to play! Invite a friend with kids around the same age and enjoy a visit while the kids burn off some steam! While it may be busy (and noisy) during Spring Break, most kids enjoy making new friends in a lively environment!

Day 3:

Cooking: Hard boiled Mouse Eggs: This is a fun and simple snack ideas for kids from Family Fun. Full of protein and easy to transport eggs make a great on the go snack!

Dance/Music: Scarves: If you give a child a scarf it just seems to make them move! Scarves are also great for indoor play as there is relatively no damage or pain that can be inflicted. Check out my previous post on scarves for some active fun!

Game: Doggy, Doggy, Where's your Bone?: Using a piece of cardboard cut out a bone shape. One at a time each child will be blindfolded (use a scarf from your earlier play) while another child hides the bone somewhere in the room. After the bone is hidden take the blind fold off and chant:

Doggy, Doggy Where's Your Bone?

Someone stole it from your home!

Guess who? Maybe You! 

Maybe the Monkey from the Zoo!

Let the blindfolded child try to find the bone. When they are getting close to the bone say "warmer" when they are moving away from the bone say "colder". 

Arts and Crafts: Rubbings with Crayons: Rubbings are a fun simple way to learn about texture! Leaf rubbings are popular as shown on Chalk in My Pocket's post. I also like this use of Silly Bands to create rubbings in shapes. But you can pretty much use anything around the house that has texture. Crayola makes these great triangular shaped crayons that would be great for rubbing. Or make your own rainbow muffin crayons for a large rubbing crayon. 

Story Time: Harold and the Purple Crayon: Harold, is a curious four-year-old boy who, with his purple crayon, has the power to create a world of his own simply by drawing it. Harold wants to go for a walk in the moonlight, but there is no moon, so he draws one. He has nowhere to walk, so he draws a path. He has many adventures looking for his room, but, in the end, he draws his own house and bed and goes to sleep.

In the Community: Art Gallery: Your local art gallery is a magical place! Colors, textures, and expression brought to life! Even the youngest artist can appreciate great works of art. Contact your art gallery to see if they provide tours specifically for children.  

Day 4

Cooking: Green Eggs and Ham!: Lunch or dinner has never been so fun (or colorful!). To go along with our story of the day make this simple meal with your kids help! 

Dance /Music: Break Dancing!: Kids love music with a strong beat! Find some kid friendly urban tunes (Search iTunes in children's music) and have a break dance party. Try different ways of balancing on different body parts, spinning and rolling, jumping, and fancy foot work. By moving around on the ground like break dancers your children will increase their upper body strength which aids in fine motor skills such as writing, cutting, and catching a ball! Plus you kiddos will feel like the coolest kids on the block!

Game: Board Games: Check out your local toy store or education supply store for some indoor fun the whole family can enjoy! Some of our favorites include: Who Knows Whose Nose (Ages 2-5), Candy Land (ages 2-8), Hungry Hippos (Ages 3-8), and Feed the Kitty (ages 3-6). Card games such as Memory, Go Fish, or Old Maid are also great for the 3-8 age group. Critical thinking skills and social skills are only some of the many benefits of board games. 

Arts and Crafts: Cardboard Box Creations: Kids love building with cardboard boxes. Houses, space ships, castles, kids will work together on cardboard box creations for hours! Check out Teacher Tom's blog post about the Cardboard Box City he created with his preschool. Go to your local grocery or hardware store if you don't have any boxed around they house. They usually are happy to give their extra boxes away. Here is a Box house Bria built last spring!

Story Time: Green Eggs and Ham: This Dr. Seuss classic will make your little ones giggle. A perfect book if you have a picky eater encouraging to at least trying one bite before deciding if something is good or not. A favorite in our house!

In the Community: The Science Centre: Creativity and learning all in one place. With more and more centers catering to young children many centers offer exhibits that are hands on and discovery focused, perfect for your little scientist. Don't have a science center in your area? Check out this site offering many at home projects and activities!

Have a fabulous Spring Break! I'll be thinking of you all while I lay by the pool ;)