Here are 10 fun ways to keep kids from toddlers to teens entertained and off screens during the upcoming holiday break.
- Day trip adventure: Meagan Buckmaster-Ross of Duvall, WA is an art teacher and author of the parenting blog An Adventure Every Day. Buckmaster-Ross, who has four kids between the ages of seven and 17, says your adventures can take you outdoors to local parks or indoors to a museum or other kid-friendly attractions. Either way, you should pack your car with the essentials for the day. This includes food and beverages, mittens and hats, and extra tops and pants in case kids get muddy or wet. She also carries clipboards, paper, markers, color pencils, crayons and an assortment of fruit suckers to pass out occasionally as treats.
- Art: You can create an art kit for your kids with just a shoebox filled with colored pencils, crayons, pens, scissors, tape, a glue stick and a small sketchpad available at Michael's on Route 9 North in Freehld or Staples on Route 9 North in Marlboro. Tweens and teens will find inspiration to start drawing, doodling and journaling from books such as Carla Sonheim’s Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun, The Art of Silliness: A Creativity Book for Everyone and Drawing and Painting Imaginary Animals: A Mixed-Media Workshop with Carla Sonheim. Other examples are Dawn DeVries Sokol’s books Doodle Diary: Art Journalizing for Girls, Art Doodle Love: A Journal of Self-Discovery and Doodle Sketchbook: Art Journaling for Boys. Also worth checking out is Journal Bliss: Creative Prompts to Unleash Your Inner Eccentric by Violette. All of these are available on Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble in Freehold.
- Indoor fort-building with paper snowball fights: Natalie Kryger, a Snoqualmie, WA mom of four boys under age 15, encourages parents to not overbook kids with activities over the break. “Boredom is often the mother of invention. Make a fort in the living room with blankets and have an indoor snowball fight with wadded up wrapping paper from Christmas.”
- Pizza and movie party: Kryger says “have your own pizza party with a personal size pizza dough ball" (available from Wegmans or Super Stop & Shop). "Have them choose toppings from a selection on the table, bake and let them settle in with a favorite movie."
- Go outside and play: Winter is a great time to get outside and play, especially if you have snow. Try a new activity such as ice skating, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing together as a family. You can rent equipment and seasonal clothing at Great Escapes, located in the Towne Pointe Shopping Center on Route 9 South and travel to the Poconos or New York to enjoy some skiing, snowboarding, and tubing.You can skate indoors at the Old Bridge Township Ice Skating Rink, located in Old Bridge Plaza. Please don't try to go out and skate on Lake Weamaconk in Englishtown as the Borough can not guarantee the safety of the ice.
- Play with paper: The traditional Japanese art of origami offers hours of fun and enhances your child’s spatial skills. Tom Angleberger’s Star Wars-themed origami books including The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee, The Strange Case of Origami Yoda and Darth Paper Strikes Back offer both reading and origami fun. All available on Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.
- Pool party: Going swimming is a special treat in the cold months of winter. Head for as wim at the indoor pool at the YMCA of Western Monmouth County, located at 470 E. Freehold Road in Freehold.
- Puppet show: Attach a clothesline or rope across a doorway. Throw a sheet over it for a curtain and use a box below on the floor for the stage. Give kids paper bags and crayons for easy DIY puppets. Break out the socks and gloves, yarn, foam, puff balls, glue gun and googly eyes from Michael's for fancier versions. Miyako Kanamori's Sock and Glove: Creating Charming Softy Friends from Cast-Off Socks and Gloves is a great resource, also available from Amazon.
- Break out the board games: Younger kids will love playing games such as Apples to Apples with you, and older kids will enjoy classic board games like Scrabble and Monopoly. If you don't have any board games, you’ll find them on sale—and often in great condition—after the holidays at Englishtown Auction Sales.
- Bake: My mother bakes cookies with my son and daughter every year during the holiday break, teaching them how to make the cookies her Lithuanian mother made for her as a child. You can bake at home with your kids, have grandparents deal with the mess at their house, or bring your kids to a cooking class for children at Young Chefs Academy in Marlboro.
TELL US: What do you plan on doing with your kids during winter break? Share in the comments below.