Be sure to plan some winter break activities to keep everyone learning while out of school!

Being a parent can be pretty challenging, especially with the kids home for winter break. If you’re looking for some fun AND educational activities to keep your kids from destroying your house busy, look no further! We’ve put together a list of family winter break activities designed to keep everyone learning.

Having a reading contest can be a fun and competitive winter break activity for the whole family.1. Winter Reading Challenge

Check with your local library to see whether they are sponsoring a winter reading challenge. If not, start your own family tradition! Challenge everyone to read a certain number of books over the holiday break and set a grand prize for the person who reads the most books.

2. Computer Science Unplugged

Looking for a way to cut back on screen time? Computer Science Unplugged has a ton of great downloadable activities that teach computer science principles in a truly unique way: without a computer! The activities are primarily aimed at kids from 5 to 12, but they can easily be adapted to appeal to older ages.

Cooking is a great way to include STEM learning in your daily lives!3. STEM in the Kitchen

Cooking is, at its essence, little more than a chemistry experiment. Bake up some cookies and sneak in some math and science! For younger kids or math-phobes, try doubling or halving recipes to practice with fractions or work on unit conversions by following a recipe written with metric units. And if math truly isn’t your thing, look at the scientific side of cooking and baking. Science of Cooking is a great place to start if you want to understand exactly what’s going on in that delicious cookie!

Take advantage of the web and find tons of fun science experiments to do at home.4. DO Try This at Home

The web has TONS of fun science experiments to do at home, and a lot of them require basically no preparation. For example, learn about physics and civil engineering by building a bridge out of drinking straws; dig through the recycling bin to do an at home egg drop challenge; learn about pressure and force by making a backyard bottle rocket (adult supervision most definitely required); or inspire a budding architect with a gingerbread house challenge.

5. The Spirit of Giving

Encourage students to learn about empathy and social responsibility by working together as a family to put together holiday gift baskets for the charity of your choice – a most admirable winter break activity.

Working together as a family to give or serve is always an admirable winter break activity.

6. The Finances of Giving

Giving is great. Generosity is a wonderful trait. But why not add some life (and math) skills to the mix? If your family participates in a gift-giving holiday this season, consider giving each child a budget with which to purchase gifts for friends and family. Aside from the arithmetic required to stick to a budget, this on-going activity allows for plenty of teachable moments about finances and budgeting—important skills later in life!

Take turns reading a book. Your kids will improve their skills and you'll share a great bonding experience.7. Family Read Aloud

There are tons of benefits to reading aloud, even if your kids are well past bedtime story age. Build reading, listening, and thinking skills by reading aloud together as a family each day of winter break. Take turns reading and pass the book from person to person. At the end of each reading session, talk about what you read. What you choose to read is up to your family! Perhaps you’ll go with a classic (Dickens is a wonderful read aloud option) or maybe a fun choose your own adventure has more appeal. No matter what you read, you’re sure to gain a great family bonding experience.

Take advantage of your local sites that can provide plenty of teachable moments.8. Field Trips

There are probably plenty of local spots that your family rarely, if ever, visits—and a lot of them are great learning opportunities! The zoo, the aquarium, the children’s museum, the art museum, the history museum, and any other local sites you can think of can provide plenty of teachable moments for kids of all ages.

Just because the kids are out of school doesn’t mean the learning has to stop. Take the time to learn together as a family this winter break!