Holiday break is about halfway over, cue the: “I’m bored.” “I don’t want to do homework.” But it’s breakkkkk!” Have you heard these phrases leave your child’s lips? If you have, you’re not alone. Despite best efforts to keep our kids busy over break, the boredom and the protests against anything school-related will inevitably begin.
As a parent, you know that keeping your child’s brain engaged is important, especially if he or she struggles academically. But if forcing your son or daughter to do math or reading worksheets sounds like torture (for the both of you)—don’t worry—there are options! If you’re looking for engaging educational activities to do with kids this holiday break, here are a few suggestions:
For Kids Who Struggle with Processing / Verbal Language:
It’s incredibly difficult to teach a child processing skills. It’s even harder to help him or her verbalize. The best way to help your child with these sorts of skills (outside of professional help, of course) is to engage him or her in something that feels like play.
HedBanz is an excellent game for visual processing. One player puts on a headband (picture facing outwards) that the only the others can see. The goal is for the other players to visually describe the picture and give the ‘wearer’ clues so that he or she can guess. This helps kids to think about aspects of the picture like color, texture, purpose, and other descriptions. Not only is this challenging processing skills, but it also assists with verbalization of these ideas under (fun!) pressure.
Memory Games, like this Frozen II Memory Game or this Wonder Forge & Marvel Memory Game are great educational activities to do with kids because they don’t feel like work. When kids are asked to remember certain places on the board, it helps them with visualization, recall, processing, and retention—all great skills for the classroom.
You can also get creative with your memory games and create customized ones, based on skills your child needs to learn.
For example, my son needs to work on his basic multiplication and division facts, so I created a Pokemon Memory Game (his favorite characters!) to engage him and challenge him to solve problems in order to make matches.
You can check out and purchase the bundle for multiplication and division right here!
Taboo is an advanced game, so it’s a bit better for older children. The goal is to look at a card and use other words/descriptions to describe the main word (without saying anything else on the card!). This will definitely be a challenge for kids who struggle with verbalization and processing, but as they advance, it can become more fun! You can also play in teams to have scaffold support, while still keeping the competition alive.
Buy the Kids & Parents version here!
For Kids Who Need Speech Practice:
Speech is an area that can be practiced with a variety of games and activities, depending on your child’s learning level. For example, any of the above games can work! But if you’re looking for something a bit more specific, here are a few speech-related educational activities to do with kids this holiday break.
Watch Ya Mouth
Watch Ya Mouth is by far the best (in my opinion!) because it normalizes speech difficulties and makes children comfortable and relaxed, regardless of their abilities. The game uses big plastic inserts that open your mouth, making it near impossible to say or understand anything. For kids that regularly struggle with pronunciations, lisps, or other speech impairments, this game will give them a chance to be silly and laugh at other players. It will also remind them they’re not alone.
Name That Word
Another amazing game for kids who would benefit from verbalization, speech practice, and development of expressive/receptive language skills is Name That Word. This game challenges individuals or partners/groups to give verbal or pantomimed cues to help figure out a given word. Similar to Scattegories, but on a basic (fun!) level, this will help your kid(s) feel like they can keep up with the adults or stronger learners.
For Kids with Lower Vision Skills:
If your child struggles with his or her vision, has glasses, or simply needs more practice with vision-related activities, there are ways to make it fun (without your child even realizing he or she’s doing ‘work’!).
Mazes are one of the most simple, yet most effective ways to give children practice with their visual skills. Over the past year, Austin (my boyfriend’s son) has been doing a Vision Therapy program. This increased his abilities tremendously! One of the best and most engaging ways he was able to practice his skills was through mazes.
You can find a bunch of great mazes for kids right here.
Step-by-step drawing books or pages make excellent educational activities to do with kids over break. In fact, most kids won’t even realize they’re doing work because it will feel like coloring, doodling, or drawing.
I got Austin this ‘Draw a Pokemon’ Book which goes through, step-by-step, how to draw each character. It’s an excellent way to practice hand-eye coordination, as well as following lines, copying (figure-ground), and other visual skills.
For Kids Who Need Fine-Motor Practice:
Hi-Ho-Cherry-O is a great game for strengthening fine motor skills. Players are required to pick up cherries (ideally with pointer finger and thumb) and place them in different places around the board. This encourages precision and patience, too.
Operation is another favorite, especially for younger kids. Players have to move little pieces and parts around the game without making the buzzer go off. It requires concentration, focus, sustained attention, and fine motor repetition in the format of a high-pressure (but fun!) game.
LEGOS and LEGO kits are simple, yet so profound when it comes to fine motor play! Whether your child is free building or following instructions for a kit, this will help to reinforce small motor movements, as well as reading and visual-spatial skills.
Who knew you could find fun educational activities? These are a few of my favorites. If you have some, or would like to recommend a game that you/your company created, feel free to drop a comment below or send me an email.
PS: Read more games and mom hacks right here.
Featured Image Credit: Kelly Sikkema