Well…. Christmas Break is upon us once again Strong Mamas. And, I don’t know about you, but the days leading up to Christmas aren’t so bad. Those days are charged with anticipation and frenzy. Its the days AFTER the holiday that seem to drone on forever. And to that end, I thought I would give you a gift. Something you could really use. I have pulled out of my bag of tricks my go-to list of activities to tame the Monster of Boredom and the Fiend of Chaos. Merry Christmas Break!
Important… These are PG! Meaning Parental Guidance Encouraged!
Most, if not all, of these ideas are designed to be done WITH your kids. My goal when I compiled this list years ago was to spend quality time with them in order to MAKE MEMORIES. And also to give me alternatives to plopping them in front of my favorite babysitter: Lady Screentime. Hey, I’m transparent on this blog. I know the damage screens can do to the minds of our kids, but that doesn’t mean I don’t fall prey to how easy it is to use them sometimes. Remember, this is a no-judgment zone!
To My Toddler Mamas in the Trenches
One more thing. My heart goes out to all the Strong Mamas with toddlers. I remember those days when I had used up all of my ideas in the first hour they were awake and had 10 more hours until bed time!!! The best book you can ever buy is “The Toddler’s Busy Book” by Trish Kuffner.
I prefer it to scrolling for hours on Pinterest to find ideas. There is something for everyone and they are all in one place. Besides, searching online for ideas of things to do with our kids can truly be a trap. I have spent many a morning at my computer looking for something to do when I could have actually JUST DONE SOMETHING with my kids!
So…. enough of that. Here’s the list. I’m also including it as a Word document for you to print out here: mamastrong xmas break activity list (this list doesn’t have the 3 bonus activities cuz I thought of them later).
- Play an epic game of Hide n Seek!
- Let’s play some serious card games. Go Fish, Rummy, Spades?
- Do a messy activity like fingerpainting with jell-o or painting each other!
- Bake cookies (from scratch!)
- Create an invention using items you find around the house!
- Coin Toss Field Trip! (jump in the car and every time you come to an intersection or turn, flip the coin to see which direction you will take! I’d take a snack for this one and determine in advance how long you’ll be out)!
- Play-Dough! Nuff said!
- Watch an old Christmas movie or family classic with hot chocolate! When was the last time you watched Shrek, Finding Nemo or the Lion King?
- Read books and cuddle with mom with a snack!
- Make cards or write letters for someone and drop them at the Post Office (or your mailbox)!
- Do a craft!
- Trip to the Bookstore with a budget of $5 each!
- Find something in common with the world: go online and look up pics of kids in other cultures (or news stories, etc.) and list 3 things we have in common with them!
- LEGO LEGO LEGO!
- Trip to the mall with a budget of $10! You’d be amazed what you can do at the mall for free!
- Bundle up and hit your favorite playground or Chic-Fil-A play place!
- Trip to Michael’s to get a craft or project to do together!
- Let’s pull out the board games! Scrabble, anyone?
- SMASH STUFF. (This is one of our favorites. We put on our safety goggles, get hammers and breakable things and put out a tarp on the driveway and smash things… very carefully.)
- Join My World: one of my kids’ favorites. I simply ask them, “What is the one thing you would like me to do with you today?” and then we do it. Period.
- Email family members! Or FaceTime them!
- Makes a couch fort! Bring in all the stuffed animals and have lunch in there!
- Color (when was the last time you just sat and colored with your kids?)
- Do some crazy art together! Get a canvas (or the back of a box) and get to painting!
- Go to the Library! (Try to actually get a BOOK and not a DVD)
- Make snowmen ice cream treats (vanilla ice cream scooped out in three balls with various candy to decorate a snowman to devour-lots of ideas for this on Pinterest!)
- Make paper snowflakes!
- Watch a brand new movie!
- Get some Model Magic or Plaster of Paris and get creative!
- Bonus Idea #1: Load up and go to the movie theater! This one costs more than $10 but if you sneak your own snacks in it can truly be a great time. Yes, I know that sets a bad example for my kids. But hey, I ain’t perfect!
- Bonus Idea #2: Head to the Dollar Store or 5 Below!
- Bonus Idea #3: Tour the Fire Department or your local bakery (call ahead!)
10 IDEAS FOR YOUR TODDLER! Every one of these ideas is from the Toddler’s Busy Book.
(WARNING: Please use safety sense when trying these ideas! Make sure you are being careful of any choking hazards, etc.)
- Make a doll bed out of boxes, cloths, towels! We would pretend our dolls were sick and needed medicine, too!
- Indoor Sandbox: FAMILY CLASSIC! Fill a box or plastic tub (I used and under-the-bed plastic bin from Target back in the day) and fill it with cereal or rice (both cheap). Put down a large sheet, place the tub on top, add various cups and let them go to town! Keep the vacuum cleaner close by. This was a family favorite! Messy but clean-up is easy!
- A Box of Tissues: They cost about $2. This was one I used when I was desperate. Give them the box and let them TAKE THEM ALL OUT ONE BY ONE! They love it and it costs pennies and is easy to clean up. Just make sure they don’t eat the tissues!
- Squishy Bags: Get sandwhich bags and fill them about halfway with items such as ketchup, shaving cream, mayo, lotion, toothpaste, fingerpaint, pudding or hair gel. Then let them go to town-watch them to make sure the bags don’t open!
- Flashlight Fun: This is great to help kiddos get over a fear of the dark and build vocabulary. Just give them a flashlight and go in a dark room. You shine the light on items in the room and call out what they are as you do it. For instance, shine the light on the bed and say, “This is a BED.” Do that to various items in the room, then ask your toddler to do the same. You say, “Shine the light on the bed.” And give them a chance to do that. This was a great activity to build vocabulary as well for my kiddos with learning differences!
- Toy Wash! Get their cars or Barbies or blocks and set them up at the kitchen sink. Put a sweatshirt on them because they are gonna get wet and maybe a little cold! This was another family favorite. I’d put down towels and set them up on a chair or stool. This gave me a little time to tidy the kitchen or cook something, and I also added anti-bacterial soap to the water so everything got a good disinfecting!
- Paper Towel Drawing: Set your toddler in her highchair and give her a couple of markers and a piece of paper towel! Easy clean-up!
- What Is It? Blindfold your kiddo and give him objects to identify using touch, taste and smell. If your toddler doesn’t like the blindfold they can just close their eyes. I always started with something sweet to get them interested in the game.
- Go on a Color Hunt: Another favorite at my house! Get out different colors of construction paper. Choose one for your toddler, talk about the color, and then go through the house looking for all things that hue! I was always amazed how excited my kids got about this. For older toddlers you can also add a math element by making tallies on the paper each time they find something. You can also make it a competition of you have more than one toddler, which is a great way to teach them how to be a graceful loser (or winner). They gotta lose if they are going to learn how to lose well!
- Paper Plate Number Hunt: You’ll need 20 paper plates for this. Write a large number 1 on 2 plates, then number 2 on 2 plates and so on up to 10 (you should have 2 sets of plates when you are done, 1-10). Hide one set around the house (or room). Hand the other stack of plates to your toddler and have him find the match! We made a huge deal about this when we played this game! Tons of screaming!
Fun Ways to Present The Activities to Your Kiddos
Now, you can be as creative as you want in your presentation of this. In the past I have wrapped each idea in a little box and we opened them together each morning. Other years I wrote each idea on a little card and put them in a grab bag and we took turns pulling ideas out of the bag. I’ve also done my version of a Christmas Break Basket like the one pictured here, with a numbered item for each day of break. And just in case this post doesn’t float your boat, I’ve got a ton more ideas for your to peruse on Pinterest here and here!
However you present it or however you spend your break, I’m praying your time will be filled with laughter, fun, and great memories! Most of all I hope it is a help to you!
And I would LOVE MORE IDEAS!! WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE ACTIVITIES OR TRADITIONS YOU DO OVER CHRISTMAS BREAK WITH YOUR KIDDOS? Help a sista out!
Merry Christmas Break Ladies!
Stay Strong Mamas! Love, DJ
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