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Family Fun - Keeping Kids Busy During Holiday Break

by Desi Sowers

Holiday break.  It sounds like fun. It should be fun. You start the break with images of snuggling up to read stories, making hot cocoa and going for adventures outdoors.  But sometimes it can be challenging for parents to figure out how to fill the hours of free time kids have over the holiday break. Before you know it, you are in survival mode – just trying to get through the break with your sanity intact.  That is why it is a prudent idea to start the break with a plan in mind. It certainly can’t hurt to have a few activities planned to fall back on to keep your kids entertained and engaged.  Here are five budget friendly ideas to keep your kids busy during the holiday break.

1. Creative Coloring 

A box of crayons and some paper can keep toddlers occupied, but as children grow, they may need a few more creative ideas for how to use those crayons to stay busy. Here are some creative coloring options:

  • Coloring wrapping paper. Who doesn’t need more wrapping paper for the holidays? This is a twofold activity. You get your wrapping paper at a low price, and you keep your kids busy awhile. Just buy rolls of cheap, plain-colored wrapping paper. (The cheap kind is thin, so darker colors work best.) Roll it out a few feet at a time on a table or a hard floor, and let the kids go to town.
  • Upside down coloring. Turn coloring on its head – literally – with this easy activity. Just tape coloring sheets to the bottom of a table, and turn your child into a tiny Michelangelo. This is a great way to keep them busy and build upper arm strength.
  • Color the windows. Kids love being able to use crayons on surfaces that are usually off-limits. Crayola makes some crayons specifically for coloring on windows. Grab a pack of these, and let kids decorate the windows for the holidays.
  • Try complex coloring sheets. Older kids may think freestyle coloring is boring. Try printing off complicated geometric coloring sheets. Kids can create gorgeous designs, and the challenge keeps them engaged longer. (Note: They may need colored pencils and a good sharpener to be able to tackle these detailed designs.)

2. Indoor Games

Probably the worst part of the holiday season is that it may be too cold to play outside. And you probably don’t have a gym like your kid’s school does where they can release their pent-up energy. Luckily, with some creativity and basic supplies, you can create your own indoor gross motor games to burn off that extra energy.

  • Obstacle courses. Obstacle courses are surprisingly easy to create, and you can customize them for kids of any age – even elementary-aged kids would love a superhero obstacle course. These can be heavy on the prep work, but one course could keep your kids busy the entire day. (Worth it!) This letter recognition course is simple. This yarn laser maze is great for older kids, as is this pompom racing course.
  • Hopscotch. What better way to burn off energy than with hopscotch? Crafty parents can put together this adorable indoor hopscotch mat to use again and again, or you can just make a hopscotch course with masking tape. Here’s another variant you could use to teach shapes or colors.
  • Scavenger hunts. You may think scavenger hunts are just for outside play, but you’d be surprised. You can put together some fun indoor scavenger hunts. These are a great way to get kids to play independently or in teams while you get other stuff done. (Or just relax with a cup of coffee for 20 minutes!) This indoor bug hunt is great for little kids. You can come up with any number of scavenger hunts tailored to your kids’ ages and interests.
  • Tossing games. Throwing balls in the house is usually off-limits. But indoor tossing games turn that rule on its head. This newspaper and spider web activity is great for practicing hand-eye coordination in a safe way. Or try this shape tossing game to work on identifying shapes with younger kids.

3. Arts and Crafts 

Before the holiday break starts, plan some crafts for your kids to do during the break. Then, hit your local craft store sans kids, and pick up the supplies you need. Stick supplies for each craft into a gallon-sized bag, and write the name of the craft and any necessary instructions on it with a marker. This may seem over the top, but when your kids are in the throes of boredom two days into break, you’ll be glad you have an activity to pull out and run with. Here are some craft ideas to try:

  • Holiday gifts. Kids love to make things to give to others, and if you have a lot of people on your list, you can keep them busy all break long making DIY gifts for the holidays. Hand-painted ornaments are always a great option, and these handprint ones are especially cute. Grab some canvas aprons, and let the kids decorate them with fabric paint as gifts. Older kids can also make no-sew blankets and pillows without much supervision.
  • Winter crafts. Kids of all ages will love to make and play with this snow clay, which you could use to make ornaments for gifts. This adorable luminary jar ornament would be great for older kids, or try this snowman slam game, which you can make and then play with. And, of course, kids of all ages love to make paper snowflakes!

4. Service Projects 

This is the time of year when many of us are trying to find ways to give back. Why not involve your kids in giving back this year? Some ideas include raking leaves or shoveling snow for older neighbors, baking cookies for local police officers or firefighters, or making boxes of goodies for ill children. Another option is to make cozy fleece scarves for a local hospital or nursing home. Older kids can even plan, shop for and make a meal for ill or elderly neighbors, or the couple down the street with a new baby and no time to cook.

5. Sensory Bins

Finally, crawlers to elementary-age kids love sensory bins. (They can be surprisingly fun for parents, too!) Yes, these can get a little messy. The best trick is to set up a sensory bin on an old-fitted sheet. Weigh down the elastic corners with books, and you’ll create a little valley to catch most of the mess. Here are some sensory bin ideas for the holiday season:

  • Apple pie bin. This simple sensory bin is just dough (flour and oil), a pie plate and some measuring cups. You could add in cinnamon for apple pie smells, and include red gems to look like apples.
  • Cotton ball snow bin. For a less messy sensory bin, fill up a tub with cotton balls. Add in some measuring cups and winter-themed toys, and you have your very own (not-so-messy) snow-scape.
  • Decorate a tree. This is a genius idea that may keep some of the sensory bin materials more contained. Instead of measuring and pouring, this decorate-a-tree activity lets kids carefully place decorations on their own tree.
  • Sparkly snow bin. This sensory bin features sparkly snow made from Epsom salt, iridescent flakes and tinsel garland. Add in some winter-themed plastic animals, and you’re good to go.

So, if your kids are bickering or complaining that they are bored, save the day with these fun, inexpensive activities and enjoy the holiday break!

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/A-Home-for-the-Holidays-5-Reasons-to-Buy-Now

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Making-Holiday-Guests-Feel-at-Home

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Putting-Your-House-on-the-Market-During-the-Holidays

New River Valley Summer Camp Guide 2017

by Desi Sowers

School is out for summer and now it’s time to figure out how to keep your kids engaged, entertained and happy while they are on their break.  Whether you are looking for child-care or simply want some fun activities for your little ones, there is something for everyone in the New River Valley.  Here is sampling of summer programs available: (click links for camp web sites)

Mike McGuire Basketball Camp at Radford University
Radford University’s Women’s Basketball Head Coach, Mike McGuire, will be hosting basketball camps on the campus of Radford University this summer. Mike McGuire Basketball Camps is committed to providing an educational and fun experience for all ages and abilities. Basketball camp is a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow in many ways and we hope you will want to join us at Radford University this summer!

Astro Camp
AstroCamp Virginia Science & Adventure Summer Camp! The rolling hills of Staunton Meadows and Lake Harvey create a unique summer camp experience for boys and girls ages 8-14! AstroCamp Virginia is a science and adventure summer camp located in Clover, Virginia. Campers come each summer to make memories, have fun, and get hands on science and astronomy training while participating in a variety of activities from the scientific to the fun! AstroCamp is a STEM program that pushes campers to deepen their science understanding by participating in space explorations, playing in our state-of-the-art labs, build and launch rockets, and have time nearly every night to use our large array of telescopes to explore the night skies. For those seeking more adventure in their summer camp experience, one of our biggest draws is our motorsports program. Campers can get behind the wheel of our karts or off-road vehicles and strap in for the ride of a lifetime. After the track, campers can enjoy other outdoor adventure activities from swimming, hiking, mountain and BMX biking, craftsmanship and art, and take in our nightly events that change every summer. See more details of our program by clicking here. Campers come to AstroCamp Virginia from all over the country and even internationally to live for a week in our serene and beautiful camp setting. Participation in AstroCamp Virginia programs are open to everyone regardless of race, color, gender, national origin, sex or disability.

GEMS Camp - Girls Empowered at Mountain Shepherd
GEMS are Girls Empowered through exploration of seven survival priorities: positive mental attitude, first aid, shelter, fire, signaling, water, and food. During a five-day overnight experience, GEMS learn the practical skills associated with each priority. Girls also discover the parallels between each survival priority and their lives in the “front country.” GEMS gain an appreciation for their natural and social surroundings through fun — and deceptively educational — activities such as night hikes, team-building games, and biodiversity studies. After five days, GEMS leave with confidence and compassion, knowing more about themselves and how they interpret and interact with their world.

Jo Eloe Productions Camps
In 2017,LoCo Arts’ Summer Shakespeare camp joins forces with JoELoe Productions, LLC to present Hamlet. 8:30am-5:00pm    This week-long theatrical experience provides an opportunity for young thespians to collaborate with an experienced instructor to produce a fun and inventive reimagining of William Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy! Students will learn the fundamentals of acting and theatre production as they grow into a close-knit cast, and build their confidence onstage! The group’s hard work will be showcased at a matinee performance in the unforgettable, historic Newport Community Center theater on July 15, 2017. Family and friends are invited to the post-production, pot luck cast party. Don’t miss this exciting opportunity!

Camp VA Jaycee
Camp Virginia Jaycee serves children and adults with special needs in an outdoor camping environment. The counselor to camper ratio is 1:3 and there is a Certified Health Care Provider on duty at all times.

Visit our website for updates on things to do in the New River Valley. Thinking about buying or selling a New River Valley VA Real Estate, Call your local expert Desi Sowers 540-320-1328

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