Christmas, Fun and Learning
Another Yuletide Season that brings with it a couple of weeks of holidays from classes for the children. This holiday season does not need to be a period when learning comes to a halt, but it should be a time when learning is almost accidental – a spinoff from games and other fun activities.
A Great Time For Reading
Christmas is a great time to read to children, especially the younger ones. It’s fun to curl up on a couch, wrapped in a blanket and listen to a good Christmas story. There are hordes of good Christmas theme books. The older readers can have the luxury of some time to read by themselves. Most kids have a few favorite books or authors and Christmas can be a good time to spend with them.
Sometimes the holidays involve a few hours of travel to visit relatives, or go to events like hockey tournaments. What better way to pass the time than with some sort of book. My grandchildren will make good use of a sticker book or a coloring book when they are en route. They are still a bit young for independent reading.
And For Board Games!
Board games and card games can also be great opportunities for incidental learning. We have replaced Snakes and Ladders with Candy Canes and Christmas Stockings during the Christmas season. You go up the candy canes and slide down the stockings. The board can be changed to count by 1’s forward or backwards or by 2’s, 5’s, 10’s or any number you wish until you have numbered all 100 blocks.
Older children can while away hours playing games such as Monopoly. It incidentally teaches them about money, budgets, debt, investment and planning, all in the guise of fun.
My grandson often asks to play a card game where the card with the higher number wins. The game lasts until one player has lost all of his cards. This usually happens when two identical cards are played, then you must add three more cards face down and then a final card to determine a winner. I lose my best cards in the three that are face down. But Sam gets to practice the concepts of larger, smaller or equal and loves telling me which pair wins.
So during these holidays, after the kids have been out in the fresh air and need to come in and get warm, use the time as an opportunity to steer them away from Angry Birds and into books or games. For what it’s worth, I find that playing the game with them makes the activity last a lot longer than when they are left to play with a sibling. It’s also good for you.