3 ways to make learning fun this holiday season

By: Invest in Kids

Author: Canadian Living


3 ways to make learning fun this holiday season

By: Invest in Kids
As the holidays approach, festive decorations, music, and special events captivate all of us. Children are especially bubbly with excitement as they write their wish lists and anticipate the celebrations ahead. 

As a parent, you may worry that the holidays will spoil your child. But as long as you remember to highlight the true meaning of the holidays -- giving to others and celebrating cherished rituals together -- you need not worry about your child's materialistic desires.

With these three holiday ideas from the parenting and child development experts at Invest in Kids, you will spend time with your children and they learn more about giving to others while advancing their social, emotional and intellectual development.
1. Donate to charity

If you and your children collect food and other essentials to give to those in need, your children will begin to demonstrate their concern for others. They'll also gain an appreciation of how their actions can contribute to someone else. 
Giving food, toys, clothing and other essentials to help those in need encourages children to think about ways they can help others. This is an important social value.

Explain to your children why you're collecting these items and how people will be helped by your efforts. Allow your child to pick items from the grocery shelves and gently encourage your children to part with toys they no longer plays with.

Talk with your children about the shapes and sizes of the items you've collected together. Your child will love sorting the items into groups -- by size, shape or type. While you're both having fun doing this, your smile is also an acknowledgement the improvement in his or her eye-hand coordination, counting and grouping skills. Remember to always provide positive reinforcement when your child shares and shows compassion.

Read books together like Beatrice's Goat by Page McBrier (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2001), The Teddy Bear by David McPhail (Henry Holt and Co., 2002), Bone Button Borscht by Aubrey Davis (Kids Can Press, 1996) and Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn (Lee & Low Books, 1997). These books invite children to ask questions and talk about the experience of being in need and the importance of caring for others by sharing.

Page 1 of 2 -- Spend an afternoon crafting with the little ones and give your holiday presents a handmade touch! Find two easy, kid-friendly Christmas projects on page 2
2. Make a gift
Encouraging children to create gifts for people they care about teaches them how to express their feelings for those who are important to them. Making these colourful friendship bracelets is a creative way to do just that! Your children will use their imagination to explore patterns, shapes and colours. They'll also practice fine motor skills and strengthen hand-eye coordination. As you do this craft with your children, encourage then to talk about why certain people are important to her, the characteristics of a good friend and the ways of making and keeping friends.
What you'll need:
•    12-inch pipe cleaners
•    An assortment of beads
•    Containers to hold the beads (e.g. egg cartons or small bowls)
How to do this craft
•    Create a loop at the end of the pipe cleaner to prevent beads from falling off
•    Add beads to the pipe cleaner
•    When the pipe cleaner is full, tie the ends together to secure the beads

Related activity 
•    Look at pictures of your child spending time with a friend or relative and ask her open-ended questions like, "What did you enjoy most about this day?" This will help your child talk about his or her relationships with others.
3. Send a homemade greeting card
This is an activity that will encourage your children to use words and art materials to express their feelings for someone else. But before you begin, explain to your child that on different occasions, people give each other greeting cards with messages like 'Happy Holidays'. Show your children some samples and read the messages.

By creating their own greeting cards and writing messages with your help, you will teach your children to think about the feelings of others. Drawing pictures and cutting and pasting collage materials enables children to communicate their ideas in creative ways. When you write down the words your child dictates to you, your child will learn to make connections between the spoken and written word.

What you'll need
•    Construction paper
•    Stickers
•    Collage materials (e.g., cotton balls, scraps of tissue, old magazines)
•    Scissors
•    Glue
•    Markers or crayons
How to do this activity 
•    Fold the construction paper in half
•    Help your child add a special message (write the words he or she dictates and read them back to be sure the message is correct)
•    Decorate the card 
•    Put the card in the mail

Related Activity:
•    Supply dress-up props so your child can role-play being a mail carrier delivering mail and messages to friends and relatives.

This content was created by the child development and parenting experts who
developed Visit the site to learn more about the ages and stages your young child is experiencing and to share in the parenting journey of other parents just like you.

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3 ways to make learning fun this holiday season