By Laura Reagan-Porras
First, we hear, “I can’t wait for Christmas.” “I’m so tired of school.” We may even have an amazing holiday vacation planned. Eventually, the presents are wrapped and unwrapped, the turkey is eaten, holiday sweets are no more and school is not back in session yet. Despite the new toys to play with, at some point parents may hear, “Mom, I’m bored!” “Dad, let’s do something.”
Children can create their own imaginative ideas for post-holiday fun away from the television set, computer and digital games. Most importantly, children will feel empowered by meeting their own needs. Kids may simply need a parent to start or guide the discussion. Here are a few ideas.
- Kids can plan their own New Year celebration. This could involve a learning activity by researching information on the internet to review the history of the holiday. Or kids may need to read the newspaper to check the community calendar of events.
- Children can “re-decorate” their rooms with a New Year or winter theme including a new homemade poster. The poster can highlight their hobbies and interests. All it takes is a trip to the store for posterboard, markers, paints and more. You may encourage them to cut out pictures of their favorite topic from old magazines and newspapers to make a theme collage.
- Children can plan and prepare a family picnic for indoors or a nearby park if weather permits. The planning will involve the meal and activities. They can make the grocery list and do the shopping for the picnic themselves. The shopping may also involve some budgeting which is a great applied math lesson.
Children can also find meaning in summer volunteerism. Summer time service learning can build character in children. Volunteering as a family can create lasting memories. Teaching service is most effective when children give something meaningful to them. An example of an age appropriate, meaningful service project for first and second graders is a teddy bear drive for abused children of domestic violence in shelters or hospitals.
Children can be encouraged to give a stuffed animal of their own that is in good shape or earn the money by doing household chores to make a purchase themselves. Children can also travel to the shelter to drop off the stuffed animals so that the “giving” is concrete.
Some service ideas are the following:
- Rake leaves or shovel snow for an elderly neighbor’s yard.
- Collect new or like new books for the children’s wing of the hospital. To make the service personally impactful, children can deliver the books to the hospital auxillary to distribute. Take the wagon and go door to door with a parent along for support and ask the neighbors if they would like to donate gently used books to the hospital.
- Older children can write letters thanking soldiers for their service.
These lists are meant to serve as suggestions only. You and your children will have many more ideas for creative or service learning. There is literally no end to the fun and meaning you and your children can enjoy this holiday.
Laura Reagan-Porras is a parenting journalist and child advocate. She is the mother of two daughters.