Winter Break Activities: Ways to Promote Learning at Home

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By Amie Knowles
December 26, 2021

Learning doesn’t have to stop when school’s out!

Christmas is over and New Year’s is still a few days away. That means the kids are still at home because school’s not in session.

If you’ve watched all of the cartoons your brain can stand, it might be time to try something new. Thankfully, Emily Donovan, a Virginia teacher, shared four fun ideas with us and we’re happy to pass that knowledge on to you. She teaches kindergarten, first, and second graders at Mount Daniel Elementary School in Falls Church City.

As an added bonus, each of these activities promotes learning using Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and/or Math. When those five elements meet, you’ve probably heard the conglomeration called by a different name: “STEAM.”

So let’s STEAM along into some fun learning opportunities to round out the year!

1. Code a Friend

Beep-bop! Robot coming through. This STEAM activity’s sure to be a hit with budding coders in the home.

  1. Take turns being the coder and the “robot.” Have the coder give the robot step by step instructions to do different activities. 
  2. The coder needs to remember to be very specific when giving the instructions. Your “robot” doesn’t know what “walk across the room” means. You need to code your “robot” step by step!
  3. Now switch roles and have the coder become the “robot.”

2. Treasure Hunt

Arg! It’s time to walk ye plank, mateys. There’s a buried treasure ashore! And by ashore, we mean somewhere in the house. But with a little imagination and creativity, the whole fam can venture out to the Caribbean over winter break with this fun activity. 

  1. One person hides a “treasure”. This can be anything, even a picture they draw.
  2. That person then writes step-by-step directions for how to find the “treasure.”
    Take six steps toward the kitchen table.
    Turn to the right.
    Take three jumps toward the backdoor.
    Turn to the left.
    Take one giant step into the dining room and lift up the rug at your feet.
  3. If your treasure hunter can’t find the treasure, go back and see where your code needs to be fixed. Debug your code and try again! 

3. What Can I Do With a Box?

With Christmas happening just a few days ago, it’s very likely you’ve got box after box hanging around the house right now. Before putting the cardboard in the recycling bin, consider ways to turn packaging into additional toys. 

  1. Ask a grownup to help you find some boxes that are ready for recycling. 
  2. What can you turn them into? A rocket ship? A mouse house?
  3. How tall can you stack the boxes? Does stacking them in different ways change how tall you can make your tower?

4. Candy Cane Science

We’ve got to admit. At Dogwood, we like learning best when there’s food involved. Especially if that food’s candy. For this science activity, you’ll need a few things you can probably find around your house this time of year.

  1. Ask a grownup to help you get three candy canes. 
  2. Place one candy cane in a glass of water.
  3. Place one candy cane in a glass of vinegar.
  4. Place one candy cane in a glass of oil.
  5. Which candy cane dissolved first? Why do you think that happened? Is there another liquid you want to try?

Which activity are you most excited to try? Send us photos of the fun you’re having while learning this week! Who knows, you could be featured in an upcoming social media post.

  • Amie Knowles

    Amie is Dogwood's community editor. She has been in journalism for several years, winning multiple awards from the Virginia Press Association for news and features content. A lifelong Virginia resident, her work has appeared in the Martinsville Bulletin, Danville Register & Bee and NWNC Magazine.

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