Easy Ways to Incorporate Learning Into Your Holiday Fun

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Updated on Dec 18, 2013

Any adult who has worked with children knows that after Thanksgiving things get crazy. There seems to be a daily half-life to the amount of productivity that goes on. Every day, a little less work and learning and little more distraction and lack of attention. 

However, there are strategies that can help weave learning into the season, while taking into account what the kids found interesting and fun. Remember, no matter where you are or what you celebrate, the cultural literacy of the season is important.

Depending on where you live and the weather, and the holidays that you celebrate, you might be able to tweak these ideas for each school subject to work for your family celebrations:

Math. Many of us have special meals and baking that we do this time of year:

  • Make lists of food and discuss healthy choices.
  • Choose the recipes and determining whether any are being halved, doubled or tripled.
  • Work the math for the ingredient quantities and make a shopping list.
  • Learn to shop, use unit prices, work within a budget, and come home with everything they need to help create the recipe.
  • Measure ingredients, understand different oven temperatures and witness the changes of state between something before it's cooked vs. afterward.

History. This time of year is filled with special days and special people in history. During this season visit:

  • The library to find and read books about the history of a holiday, a person who is part of the holiday you celebrate, or a culture that celebrates the holiday in an interesting way.
  • A person who could share about their childhood celebrations of a holiday or season or talk about their country of origin and its traditions.
  • A place that is holding a special celebration. Create a tradition for your family of taking part in something new like this.

Science. Seasons are changing in most places, and with them, the weather changes too. During this time start watching what is happening outside your home and:

  • Watch the weather where you are and track the temperature and what the sky looks like daily.
  • Choose a location in the country and another location in the world and using the internet, track their temperatures and weather.
  • Compare and contrast the three locations.
  • Discuss what it must be like and what activities a child the same age as yours might do during the season due to the weather where they are.
  • Find creative ways for your child to understand temperatures that they might not be accustomed to, whether hot or cold. How cold is your freezer anyway?
  • For the New Year, don't forget to discuss time zones and how the new year starts for others before it starts for you.

Reading. Pull out seasonal books that are put away during the other 11 months.

  • Borrow some books from the local library or add a few new ones to your family bookshelf.
  • Find a few classics and read a chapter a day. A Christmas Carol, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, The Gift of the Magi and others fit the Christmas theme. The Miracle of Hanukkah, Light the Lights! and  The Ziz and the Hanukkah Miracle are fun, even once Hanukkah is over. Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanza Story, Seven Candles for Kwanza, and My First Kwanza are good reads for Kwanza. There are stories about the New Year and you can discuss how different cultures place the new year differently but that most of us follow the same calendar.
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