So you're wondering how to keep kids busy during the school holiday? It can be challenging for parents to keep their kids entertained, 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 that work 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 24 Kids' Holidays Activities
The holiday season brings magical opportunities for family fun. This list covers engaging indoor and outdoor activities to keep kids busy over the holidays. Learn how to create adventures and projects that will delight children of all ages.
1. MAKE A PLAN
To start, have your kids make a list of desired holiday activities. They'll be more engaged if involved in the planning process. Categorize activities into "at home" and "out of home" to ensure plenty of options for rainy or cold days. Getting input from children ahead of time results in a fun list of things to keep them happily occupied over the holidays, no matter the weather.
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2. PLAN A PICNIC
Picnics make for fun and affordable kids' holiday activities. The fresh air works wonders for children's mental health, reducing anxiety and boosting moods. If your fridge is well-stocked, a picnic can cost nothing yet still get the kids out of the house.
Picnics also present a great opportunity for quality family bonding time. Kids tend not to enjoy sitting still for too long, so bringing along some lawn games and encouraging active play provides a nice change from TV or dining in. For birthdays or other special occasions, consider hosting a picnic party outdoors.
3. Arrange an Obstacle Course
Be original! Designing an obstacle course is a fantastic way to keep kids active and entertained, and it can easily be done in your own home or backyard. Utilize everyday objects like cones, jump ropes, and cushions to create exciting challenges such as crawling through tunnels, jumping over hurdles, and balancing on beams. You can also enroll your child in a professionally organized obstacle course fitness class where they can test their agility and skills in a safe and supervised environment. For a wealth of creative obstacle course ideas, we encourage you to explore the Hot Ground Gym blog to create a thrilling and engaging experience for your little ones.
4. LEARN TO COOK
Cooking builds essential life skills and offers a chance to instill healthy eating habits in kids. Baking and meal preparation also make for delicious holiday activities that bring families together. Handing down treasured recipes weaves family history and culture into your celebrations.
Get kids involved in cooking traditional dishes or trying recipes from around the world to create new traditions. With proper supervision, annual holiday cooking sessions can become much-anticipated family bonding experiences.
5. TEACH YOUR KIDS ABOUT ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Behavioral experts recommend teaching kids financial skills starting as young as age three. The holidays present fun opportunities like baking cookies or holding garage sales to instill lessons on earning, saving, and investing. Guiding children through experiences of making and selling goods teaches the value of money earned.
Use these hands-on holiday activities to set your kids up for financial responsibility and entrepreneurial success later in life. With parental supervision, kids can gain practical money management skills and understand key concepts like budgeting, spending wisely, and saving for the future.
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6. QUIZZES, PUZZLES, RIDDLES
Keep kids engaged and learning with holiday puzzles, quizzes, and riddles. These mentally stimulating activities build critical thinking and problem-solving skills beyond traditional academics. Puzzles allow kids to work independently or collaborate with family and friends using books or online resources.
Riddles and quizzes entertain children while expanding their knowledge. These screen-free options can pass time during travel and waits at the airport. Each new challenge completed teaches children something new in a fun format they'll love.
7. MAKE NEW FRIENDS
Getting kids out of the house over winter break is essential. Arrange playdates or enroll children in Hot Ground Gym's extracurricular holiday camps and classes. Many of our camps and classes are dedicated to team-building activities designed to build social skills.
Our team-building activities facilitate friendships, develop confidence, and strengthen collaboration. Kids can make new friends and learn to work together toward common goals in our camps. Our holiday programs provide the perfect environment for children to bond socially while being active and engaged. With a focus on team-building, our camps teach cooperation, communication, and unity.
8. SHARPEN SKILLS
The holidays present a great opportunity for academic enrichment too. For kids needing a boost in school, winter break allows time to review class material with parents or a hired tutor. Working through lessons and assignments can strengthen skills and improve grades. Gamifying the experience by offering toys, treats, or fun activities as rewards can provide extra motivation.
If you notice your child struggling in certain areas, chat with their teacher before the break about where they need to improve most and ask for recommended resources to support learning at home. Making academics fun while addressing problem subjects will get kids on track for success when school resumes.
8. SIGN UP YOUR KID FOR A FITNESS CLASS
Encouraging kids to stay active and fit is important for their overall well-being. One great way to do this is by enrolling them in a fitness class at a local gym. Fitness classes tailored for children offer a fun and structured environment where they can learn new skills, improve their coordination, and develop a love for exercise. From dance and martial arts to swimming and gymnastics, there are a variety of classes available to suit different interests and abilities.
10. SET UP A MOVIE THEATER
Create a special movie night at home for fun holiday bonding. You can transform your living room into a homemade theater by projecting a movie or just having the kids get cozy with blankets and pillows. These movie nights work great for sleepovers too. Make it an extra memorable family slumber party by letting the kids pick their favorite snacks to enjoy during the movie. Getting everyone together in pajamas to watch a feel-good film is a simple way to make staying home feel like a fun event over winter break.
11. 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 to make it that much more meaningful.
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.
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11. Enroll Your Kid in a Camp
Enrolling your kid in a camp isn't only a fun experience but also an excellent way to keep them active and engaged. Full-day summer camps offer a range of activities that encourage physical fitness and outdoor activities. From hiking and swimming to team sports and adventure challenges, camp programs provide a structured environment where kids can stay active and develop new skills.
Moreover, camps are one of the great ways to keep kids occupied on school holidays, providing them with opportunities for socializing, learning, and experiencing new adventures in a safe and supervised setting. Whether it's a sports camp, nature camp, or art camp, summer camps offer memorable experiences that foster physical activity and personal growth.
13. PAINTING AND SKETCHING
Engaging kids in arts and crafts activities like painting can provide important developmental benefits. Simple fun activities like painting, drawing, and cutting with scissors promote hand-eye coordination, manual dexterity, and other motor skills. Arts and crafts also nurture creativity and self-expression as children experiment with color, shapes, and designs.
Spatial thinking skills are strengthened too as young minds learn about space and dimension. The great thing is you don't need fancy supplies, just paper, paint, crayons, or markers. For more fun activity ideas, choose from the many arts and crafts kits available, like paint-by-number sets, beadwork, or coloring books. Freeing creative juices with kids paint and other crafts will make for a fun-filled break that also enhances essential skills.
14. GROW A GARDEN
Spending time outdoors can provide great life lessons for kids over winter break. A Cornell University study found children who participated in a 1-year gardening program increased their overall life skills by 1.5 points compared to non-participants. Gardening teaches responsibility, cooperation, and patience as kids care for plants. It also builds reasoning abilities through exposure to weather, basic construction, and nature.
Don't have space for a garden? You can still reap the benefits by letting kids grow potted plants or beans. If gardening isn't possible, simply playing outside allows fresh air, exercise, and a change of scenery from being cooped up indoors. Discovering the natural world nurtures curiosity and exploration. Getting creative with outdoor activities makes for a fun and enriching holiday.
15. EXPLORE NATURE
Studies show the average American child spends only 4-7 minutes a day outdoors but over 7 hours in front of screens. Buck this harmful trend by getting your children outside as much as possible. Outdoor play provides vital benefits for growth, healing, and physical strength. A day at the beach lets kids burn energy exploring the shore and testing physical abilities.
Nature walks build stamina while nurturing curiosity and appreciation for the natural world. No matter the activity, being outside usually means more exercise than sitting on the couch. Swapping screen time for fresh air and movement keeps children healthy in body and mind. This holiday, give the gift of outdoor play by making it a daily priority.
16. VISIT AN ANIMAL FARM OR THE ZOO
Animal farms and petting zoos, such as the renowned Lincoln Park Zoo, are great activities for kids during summer break. These excursions provide opportunities to teach kids about environmental awareness and animal care, especially when they're young. Some zoos even offer specialized educational programs and host special events, like nighttime outings, conservation days, and themed days focused on specific animals.
17. Arrange a Dance Party
Arranging a dance party is a fantastic way to engage your kid in physical activity while having fun. Dancing provides a full-body workout and helps improve coordination, flexibility, and cardiovascular health. You can create a lively atmosphere at home by playing their favorite songs and encouraging them to move and groove. Whether it's a solo dance-off or a dance party with friends, dancing is a fun-filled way to keep your kid active and entertained.
18. 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 guidance, the whole family can explore the fascinating world of science and technology.
19. 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 and tap into their creativity. It encourages them to think outside of the box and work on problem-solving skills.
With this fun 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.
20. LEARN TOUCH TYPING
Touch typing is essential for kids to learn in today's digital world. Encourage kids to learn 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.
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21. 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 masterpiece. To start, gather materials such as photos, fabric, paper, buttons, ribbons, and anything else you can think of.
Then, have the kids share their own ideas and create a design on paper or cardstock. Next, they can start gluing the materials onto the paper until they have completed their final product! Encourage kids to use their imaginations and be creative.
22. TRY ORIGAMI
Other fun ways to keep kids generating during the break include learning origami. This is good for developing fine motor skills, focus, and creativity. Set up a designated area in your home with supplies such as origami paper, scissors, and instructions to create an at-home art studio.
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.
23. Go on Clean-Up Scavenger Hunts
Going on clean-up scavenger hunts is a wonderful way to enjoy the fresh air while positively impacting the environment. Engage your kids in outdoor activities by organizing scavenger hunts where they search for and collect litter. You can even make a game of it, giving certain points for different items. Not only will they be physically active as they explore the outdoors, but they'll also learn about the importance of taking care of nature and keeping their surroundings clean. It's a win-win activity that promotes environmental awareness and physical fitness.
24. GO FISHING
Step outside of the city and take your child to explore nature. 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 is doable because kids are busy the majority 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
It's essential to find ways to keep kids entertained during break while maintaining your work schedule. Our team has outlined some school holiday survival tips for working parents:
#1 BE PREPARED
Research is key. School holidays are pre-planned, so make sure to plan ahead to figure out when your children need care, which programs they're 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 may 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
Your family is here to help! 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. Use this opportunity to let your kids form bonds with extended family.
#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.
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#5 REQUEST FLEXIBLE OR DEVIATED HOURS
If possible, amend your work 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: 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 and reduce 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: 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
Hot Ground Gym provides a range of indoor and outdoor activities for kids. From summer camps and obstacle courses to fitness classes and skill-building programs, there are plenty of options for every child. Encourage your kids to explore their physical abilities, develop confidence, and have fun at Hot Ground Gym. Enroll your child today and start their journey towards an active and fulfilling lifestyle.
Contact Hot Ground Gym Today!
Enroll your child today and start their journey towards an active and fulfilling lifestyle.