How to keep kids busy during the school holiday? It can be challenging for parents to keep their kids, especially for those who have to work. While TV and online games are convenient ways to entertain kids, they're certainly not the healthiest.
Fortunately, many creative and fun ways exist to stave off boredom, especially for those living in Libertyville and Arlington Heights. There's something for everyone, from art classes and education programs to outdoor activities and fitness classes.
As advocates of physical movement and mental health, Hot Ground Gym has put together a list of school holiday and family fun ideas, no matter the season.
When Are the School Holidays in Illinois?
School closings in Illinois vary by district. So, it's essential to check the Chicago Public Schools website for the most up-to-date schedule. The proposed dates are as follows:
- Spring Break: Monday, 27 March 2023 – Friday, 31 March 2023
- Summer Break: Monday, 12 June 2023 – Friday, 18 August 2023
- Thanksgiving Break: Thursday, 23 November 2023 – Friday, 24 November 2023
- Winter Break: Monday, 25 December 2023 – Friday, 5 January 2024
Top 21 Kids' Holiday Activities
The holiday season is a magical time of year. Whether you’re looking for an outdoor adventure or an indoor project, this list of fun kids' holiday activities will teach you how to keep kids busy during the holidays.
1. Make a List
First things first! Get your kids to draw up a list of holiday activities they’d like to do. They're more likely to participate if they’re invested in the process. You might divide activities into groups, for example, “things to do at home during the school holidays” and “things to do outside the home,” this ensures there’s plenty to keep them occupied on rainy days too.
2. Plan a Picnic
Kids' holiday activities, like picnics, are novel, easy to arrange, and can involve family and friends. Fresh air does wonders for kids' mental health, reducing anxiety and improving mood. Picnics are cheaper than eating out — if your fridge is well-stocked, you won’t have to spend a cent.
They’re also a great excuse to spend quality time bonding with your kids. Most children don’t like sitting around for too long, so taking some lawn games along, and encouraging a run-around, brings a welcome change from watching TV or eating at home. Arranging an outdoor birthday party may also be a good idea for a special occasion.
3. Offer Physical Activities
Enrolling kids in extracurricular classes alleviates the need to keep them busy constantly and offer parents some rest and relaxation. Hot Ground Gym’s obstacle course fitness classes are suitable for children five years old and up.
Our classes are divided into three age groups to focus on appropriate fitness and team-building challenges that strengthen kids physically, mentally, and emotionally. Themes and activities to keep kids busy change every week to keep things fresh and exciting.
4. Learn to Cook
Besides being an important life skill, cooking with kids expands their horizons and provides an opportunity to teach them about healthy eating habits and nutrition. Holiday kid's activities that involve baking or cooking also bring the family together.
Because family traditions are often passed down through food, cooking with your kids is a delicious and exciting way to weave together history and culture. You can also get your kids to cook recipes from other cultures, exposing them to new experiences.
5. Teach Your Kids About Entrepreneurship
Behavioral researchers encourage parents to teach kids about money from as young as three years old. Holiday activities for kids, like creating cookies to sell at a local market or selling clothes that no longer fit them, can teach your children about entrepreneurship.
When you create an opportunity for them to earn, you help them understand the value of money, and this affects how they spend it. You can also use this opportunity to teach them about saving and investing.
6. Quizzes, Puzzles, Riddles
During the holidays, kids can have lots of fun doing quizzes, puzzles, and riddles. Quizzes are a great way to test their knowledge and keep them entertained. Puzzles and riddles help to stimulate the mind, encouraging critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
They allow kids to work alone or with family and friends, whether online or in books. Puzzles and riddles can also help pass the time while waiting at the airport or during a long car ride. As a bonus, kids will also learn something new with each quiz, puzzle, or riddle they complete
7. Spend Time with Peers
Arranging playdates with friends or allowing them to partake in extracurricular kids' holiday activities at Hot Ground Gym gets children out of the house and is one of the best winter break activities for kids.
Many of our camps and classes are also dedicated to team-building activities designed to facilitate social cohesion, develop confidence and strengthen collaboration. Kids make new friends and learn to work together with others as they accomplish common goals.
8. Sharpen Skills
For kids needing to improve academics, the holidays offer ample time to brush up on skills by working through syllabus work with their folks or hiring a tutor to help boost academic performance.
Gamifying the experience, and incentivizing extra effort with a toy, treat, or fun activity can motivate them more. If need be, chat with their teacher about where they should improve and ask for resource recommendations.
9. Set Up a Movie Theater
You can go all out and buy a projector or just set up a simple movie theater night by getting the kids to “camp out” in the lounge. Holiday activities for children like these work well for sleepovers too. Make it extra special by turning it into a family slumber party and having their favorite movie snacks at home.
10. Research Family Tree
At some point, all kids ask about their family history. Creating a family tree is a fun winter break activity for kids that teaches them where they’re from and how they’re connected to others. If possible, print or find old photos for them to add to their family tree diagram.
Kids can create their trees online or with pen and paper, depending on their age. You might involve the whole family, including grandma and grandpa, and ask them to bring old photographs and share family stories.
11. Consider Leadership Camps
Wondering how to keep kids busy during the holidays? Send them to leadership camp, where they’ll develop personal skills that apply well beyond school. Hot Ground Gym’s leadership camps are filled with fun obstacle course activities that allow kids to learn from each other.
While building physical strength, they also boost confidence and grit. Our programs encourage peer cooperation and provide opportunities for kids to take on leadership roles within group activities.
12. Painting and Sketching
Winter break activities for kids, such as painting and sketching, enhance hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity. A simple action like using scissors can improve a child’s ability to do other things like tying shoes.
Arts and crafts also teach kids about spatial relationships and nurture self-expression. All you need is some paper and paint; better yet, you can always buy DIY kits, like paint-by-numbers, beadwork, or coloring-in books.
13. Grow a Garden
A study by Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences found that kids who partook in a one-year gardening program increased their overall life skills by 1.5 points compared to those who did not participate.
Growing a garden teaches kids responsibility, cooperation, and patience. It also exposes them to reasoning as they learn about the weather, simple construction, and nature. If you don’t have the space, you can always substitute a patch of garden for a pot plant or simple bean growing.
14. Explore Nature
The average American child spends about four to seven minutes a day playing outside and over seven hours sitting in front of a screen. Playing outdoors isn’t just enjoyable but necessary for growth, healing, and mental health.
Spending the day at the beach and going on nature walks allows children to explore the natural environment and test their physical limits. Regardless of what they’re doing, being outdoors usually involves more exercise than sitting on the couch.
15. Visit an Animal Farm, or the Zoo
Animal farms and petting zoos are great activities for kids during summer break. These day excursions provide opportunities to teach kids about environmental awareness and animal care, especially when they’re young. Some zoos offer educational programs and special events. For example, nighttime outings, conservation days, or days dedicated to specific animals.
16. Suggest a Science Experiment
Other things to do at home during school holidays include fun science experiments. From making homemade lava lamps to creating ice cream, these experiments provide a hands-on way for kids to explore scientific concepts and learn more about the world around them.
Not only are these experiments fun, but they also help children develop problem-solving skills and understand how things work. With a few simple materials and some knowledge, the whole family can explore the fascinating world of science and technology.
17. Host a Fashion Show
Getting kids to play games where they host a TV fashion show is a great way to get them excited about the potential of creating content. It encourages them to think creatively and work on problem-solving skills.
With this game, kids can learn about processes and how to see creative projects through. It can also be an opportunity for parents to get involved and help their children hone their creative skills in these areas.
18. Learn Touch Typing
Touch typing is essential for kids to learn in today's digital world. Get kids interested in learning touch typing by:
- Start by introducing them to basic typing games and lessons.
- Allow them to explore different typing software and resources that can help them improve their accuracy and speed. You can also encourage them to practice regularly and set goals for themselves, such as increasing their typing speed or accuracy.
- Offer rewards and recognition for their progress while learning.
19. Let Kids Come up With Collage Ideas
Collage art is a fun and easy way for kids to experiment with different materials and textures to create a unique work of art. To start, gather materials such as photos, fabric, paper, buttons, ribbons, and anything else you can think of.
Then, have the kids create a design on paper or cardstock. Next, they can start gluing the materials onto the paper until they have completed their masterpiece! Encourage the kids to use their imaginations and be creative.
20. Try Origami
Other fun ways to keep kids generating during the break include learning origami, which is good for developing fine motor skills, focus, and creativity. You set up a designated area in your home with supplies such as origami paper, scissors, and instructions.
Look online for origami tutorials and resources to share with your kids. You can even create origami together as a family, which can be a rewarding activity for all family members.
21. Go Fishing
Fishing is a great way to introduce kids to the outdoors and help them appreciate nature. Start by taking them to a local pond or lake and showing them the basics of casting and reeling in a fish.
If you can, take them to a tackle shop to pick out their fishing rod and reel so they can have something to call their own. Show them how to bait their hooks and the importance of releasing their catch. Explain the different fish they may encounter and the importance of conservation.
Holiday Complications for Working Parents
Managing school and work are doable because kids are busy most of the day. However, parents often struggle to manage work and spend quality time with their children during the school holidays. According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, nearly half (48%) of working parents said that managing work and school holidays was a source of stress.
That's because working parents may have to take time off work to look after their children or arrange childcare or other activities to keep them busy. This can lead to financial strain and stress. Luckily, there are ways to balance managing school and work, keeping kids occupied, and maintaining work productivity.
Tips for Managing School Holidays by Working Parents
Finding ways to keep kids entertained during break and maintaining your work schedule is vital. Here are some school holiday survival tips for working parents:
#1 Be Prepared
Make sure to do your research. School holidays are pre-planned, so you should plan ahead to figure out when your children need care, which programs they are interested in, and make sure you have all the necessary paperwork ready so they can secure their spot quickly. A schedule that includes time to spend with your family and alone is essential.
#2 Partner up with Friends
What do working parents do during school holidays? Provide much-needed support for one another. This could involve exchanging childcare duties on certain days, having a private caretaker look after children during school breaks (some after-school carers are willing to do this), or helping one another's children find a friend to attend the same school holiday activities.
#3 Bribe Your Family
Take advantage of family resources during school holidays and let your children spend time with cousins, grandparents, and other relatives. Depending on the distance and age of your children, this could be a day or overnight visit.
You may even consider doing a "child share" with another family member, where you exchange kids for a few days. Grandparents are also a great source of comfort and companionship for children, which can be especially beneficial during the school holidays.
#4 Talk to Your Employer
Employers are typically obliged to offer flexible working arrangements to employees who have been with the company for 12 months or longer, provided that the request is reasonable.
Working parents may be allowed to work from home, work reduced hours, or even take the holidays off during school holidays. You can balance this out by putting in extra hours during school terms or by accepting a pay cut to accommodate the flexibility.
#5 Request Flexible or Deviated Hours
Working flexible hours lets you create a schedule that works for you and your employer, enabling you to spend quality time with your children and cut childcare costs, among other benefits:
- Avoid the Commute: You reduce fuel costs and gain extra time before and after work to spend time with your family and do things like admin, etc.
- Higher Productivity: You can tailor your schedule according to when you work best, increasing productivity.
- Increased Flexibility: You can work around your family's schedule. Dropping off and fetching kids from holiday activities becomes more manageable, as do household errands.
- Reduced Stress: Because you have more control over your schedule, you can better plan your days, which reduces general stress.
- Improved Work/Life Balance: Working from home allows you to prioritize your family life while still managing your job responsibilities.
- Time With Family: Parents who work from home have more opportunities for family bonding time during work hours.
- Control Over Environment: You can create a comfortable, personalized environment that reduces stress.
#6 Check Community Agencies
Community agencies often offer a wide range of programs for kids during the school holidays. Programs may include day camps, sports activities, educational classes, art or music classes, field trips, and volunteer opportunities to keep your kids entertained during the break.
These programs help keep kids engaged and active during the school holidays. They also provide an excellent opportunity to interact with peers and explore the local community. Additionally, some community agencies offer special discounts or subsidies to ensure that all families have access to these programs.
#7 Consider Taking Time Off
If your partner is around during the break, discuss whether you can both take time off to look after the kids. Ideally, the holiday leave and your overlapping breaks should provide enough days for the children to spend quality time with you both. If that's not an option, consider taking some time off. Being at home with your kids could be liberating and enable you to enjoy time with your family instead of worrying about work.
Keep Your Kids Busy at Hot Ground Gym
Having a list of fun holiday activities for kids on hand eliminates the stress of devising plans when the holidays are in full swing. What do working parents do during school breaks? They let them participate in Hot Ground Gym’s energizing holiday camps in Arlington Heights and Libertyville. Contact us to enroll them today!